Milan ‘J’adoubovic’ Matulović R.I.P.

Yugoslavian GM Milan Matulovic, 1935-2013, was better known for the nickname he earned after taking back a losing move he had just made versus István Bilek at the Sousse Interzonal in 1967. From Wikipedia: “Perhaps Matulović’s most notorious transgression was against István Bilek at the Sousse Interzonal in 1967. He played a losing move but then took it back after saying “j’adoube” (“I adjust” – spoken before adjusting pieces on their square, see touch-move rule). His opponent complained to the arbiter but the move was allowed to stand. This incident earned Matulović the nickname “J’adoubovic”. This reportedly happened several times, including in a game against Bobby Fischer.” (
In his book on Bobby Fischer, “Endgame,” Frank Brady writes about a match the fifteen year old Bobby played against Matulovic before the 1958 Interzonal in Portoroz. “Bobby’s training match opponent in his first formal game on European soil was Milan Matulovic, a twenty-three-year-old master who would become infamous in the chess world for sometimes touching a piece, moving it, and then-realizing it was either a blunder or a weak move-returning the piece to its original square, saying “J’adoube,” or “I adjust,” and moving it to another square or moving another piece altogether…In his first encounter with Matulovic, Bobby ignored the Yugoslav’s mischievous disregard of the rules and lost the game. So with three games left to play, Bobby told Matulovic he’d no longer accept any bogus “j’adoubes.” Bobby won the second game, drew the third game, and won the fourth, and therefore won the match 2 ½-1 ½. Both of Bobby’s wins were hard fought and went to fifty moves before his opponent resigned. Matulovic may have been a trickster, but he was also one of his country’s finest players, not easily defeated.”
Wiki has a section on his page devoted to, “Controversies,” where one finds: Controversy in actions both over and away from the board was nothing new to Matulović. Over the board he was known for playing out hopeless positions long after grandmaster etiquette called for a resignation, allegedly in the hopes of reaching adjournment (suspension of a game for resumption the next day, common in tournament play at the time) so that the news reports would read “Matulović’s game is adjourned” rather than “Matulović lost!”[2][3]
More seriously, in the aftermath of the 1970 Interzonal tournament at Palma de Mallorca, he was accused of “throwing” his game against Mark Taimanov in return for a $400 bribe, thus allowing Taimanov to advance to the Candidates matches,[4] where he was famously defeated by Bobby Fischer 6–0. The accusations centered on Matulović’s conduct during the game[5] and the alleged feebleness of his resistance. The score of the notorious Taimanov–Matulović game follows, from which the reader can draw his or her own conclusions:
Taimanov–Matulović, Queen’s Gambit Accepted: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bg4 5.Bxc4 e6 6.Nc3 Nbd7 7.h3 Bh5 8.0-0 Bd6 9.e4 e5 10.dxe5 Nxe5 11.Be2 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 Qe7 14.Bf4 Be5 15.Bxe5 Qxe5 16.Qe3 0-0 17.f4 Qe7 18.e5 c6 19.Rfe1 Rfe8 20.Qf3 Qc5+ 21.Qf2 Qxf2+ 22.Kxf2 Nd5 23.Nxd5 cxd5 24.Red1 Red8 25.Rac1 Rd7 26.Ke3 Rad8 27.Kd4 Kf8 28.f5 Ke7 29.Rd3 Re8 30.Rdc3 b6 31.Rc7 Rd8 32.R1c6 Ke8 33.g4 h6 34.h4 Rb8 35.g5 hxg5 36.hxg5 Rb7 37.Rc8+ Rd8 38.Rxd8+ Kxd8 39.Kxd5 a5 40.Rd6+ Ke8 41.Kc6 Re7 42.Rd5 1–0
The section culminates with, “Matulović was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and served nine months in prison for a car accident in which a woman was killed.”
While on duty at the Atlanta Chess Center one would often hear a player in the skittles room cry out, “What are you, some kind of J’adoubovic?” Most were too young to know much, if anything, about the man who earned the name of infamy. Yet every chess player on earth knows what a “J’adoubovic” is because of Milan Matulovic. He will live on in the lore of chess long after much better players have been forgotten. It is an everlasting tribute to a Grandmaster of ill repute.