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Chessic Unrest (my own) and the 1978 W.Ch. Match

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I have got over 400 Chess books in several languages (English, Russian, German, Spanish, Serbocroat, Estonian, Czech, Hungarian). Many of them are devoted to strategy, tactics,planning,endgames,calculation of variations and so on.  But sometimes it seems that the more you read/study the less you seem to understand about how Chess is played.

(The 1978 World Chess Championship was full of tension. There were excellent games, short draws, less goods games and interesting situations. Karpov was the Soviet World Chess Champion. His opponent, V. Korchnoi had left the USSR slamming the door, and was an enemy of the state.


This position is from the 3rd game  (White: Korchnoi) which ended in a draw.  Here Korchnoi played 21. g4. Nevertheless, analysts pointed out 21. f5  as the blow leading to White’s victory. Others found a defence for Black -Do your own work on the position-. After  21. g4 , Qc7 22. f5? (It is not the same!) Here Salo Flohr pointed out that the winning manoeuvre started with  22. Rh3! (IF 22…, Kg7/ 23. f5 , Ng8  24. f6!)  22. .. , ef5!/   and it was a draw on move 30th. )


And I have realised that the leading GMs and the World champions, may have written a lot of books, analysed hundreds of game, but if you take the whole work, you will realise how little information it contains about their thinking process. Either they did not want to give away any secret or simply they are at a loss for words as to how the process takes place. Many analysis,many ideas post-game, but NO INSIGHT into the work of their Chess minds (lots of references to “intuition” though…

5th game after 75...Ka8

(This famous  position if from the 5th game. (W.: Korchnoi) and it ended in stalemate on move 124. The position was analyse by Averbakh in 1954. Black draws no matter if he has to move first!. Evidently, both players knew it. But their relations were far  from  “heartfelt”…)


Concerning the above mentioned matter of the top GMs , some questions assault me:

1.- Perhaps things are not so straightforward and methodical in the GMs Chess minds?

2.- Perhaps the only thing we can do is to study Chess letting our intuition work alone afterwards?

3.- Maybe we can extract a lot of considerations but it is impossible to describe any Ches thinking process unless we make suppositions?.

4.-Perhaps the only explanation as how top  GMs are able to play is that of   “I simply  saw it”?.

5.- Maybe books contain too many  “because’s” but very few  “how’s?.

  7th game


(This position is from the 7th game of the Baguio match. (W.: Korchnoi). Apparently Black’s position seems much better and some GMs present thought Karpov was winning. They were suddenly awoken when after Korchnoi’s sealed move was made: 42. Qh8  a draw was immediately declared.  Both camps had made their homework and though the analysis contains some complicated lines,  it shows there is no way of winning. At least, that was the conclusion.

The following moment I want to recall took place when in the 10th game, Karpov introduced a novelty in a well-known line in the Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game):

W.: Karpov

B.: Korchnoi

Chess World Championship 1978

1. e4 , e5 /2. Nf3 , Nc6 /3. Bb5 , a6 /4. Ba4 , Nf6 /5. 0-0 , Nxe4 / 6. d4 , b5 / 7. Bb3, d5 / 8. de5 , Be6  /9. Nbd2 , Nc5 / 10. c3 , d4 / 11. Ng5 !!?.  Korchnoi found his way through the complications and the game ended in a draw in 44 moves.

This line was played later in other GM games. The curious thing is that once I saw the game I decided I had to play it one way or another. .. But I had to wait around 20 years (!) to have the opportunity of using it in one of my CC games. Incidentally, I won that game thanks to a last-minute imprecision on my opponent’s part…

The last position I want to show is from the 22nd game (W.: Karpov), when the score was 4-2 in Karpov’s favour. Had he won this game, perhaps it would have meant a somewhat easier victory instead of the disaster he was about to suffer in the final part of the match (in the last six games, Karpov lost 3 of them allowing Korchnoi to level the score 5-5. At last, Karpov won the 32nd game and kept the world title…

 22 game  W.: Karpov

The game continued: 30. f5, Ng4 / 31.Ne3!, Nf6 / 32. d5, Nxh3/ 33. d6, Rd7 / 34. Nd5!, Nxd5 / 35. Rxd5 , Ra8 / 36. Be3, Ng5 / 37. Bb6, Ne4 / 38. Rfd1, a4 / 39. R5d4, Re8 / 40. Rxb4, Rxd6 / 41. Rxd6, Nxd6/  And here Karpov could have sealed his next move. If that had been 42. Rxa4 Korchnoi would have resigned according to M.Stean, one of his seconds at Baguio. Instead, Karpov played on and spoiled the victory! : 42. Bc7?! Re1/ 43. Kc2 Ne8 / 44. Ba5, a3 / 45. Rb8 , Re7 /46 Bb4??   definitively spoiling the game! . Larsen wrote “46.ba3 wins , 46. b4 wins”.  The game ended in a draw  in 64 moves…


Have the reader ever felt the pains I have here exposed?. It’s a real nightmare. This is why , from time to time, one gets the odd feeling that one knows nothing at all of Chess. How can it be possible and continue living????


Now one game from Baguio 1978:

W.: A. Karpov (1)

B.: V. Korchnoi (0)

Baguio 1978. World Championship Match.

1.e4, e5 / 2. Nf3 Nc6 / 3. Bb5 ,a6 / 4. Ba4 , Nf6 /5. 0-0 , Nxe4 /6. d4 , b5 / 7. Bb3 , d5 / 8. de5 , Be6 /9. c3 , Bc5 / 10. Nbd2 , 0-0 / 11. Bc2 , Bf5 / 12. Nb3 , Bg4 / 13. h3 , Bh4 / 14. g4 , Bg6 / 15. Bxe4 , de4 /16. Nxc5 , ef3/ 17. Bf4, Qxd1 / 18. Raxd1 , Nd8! /19. Rd7, Ne6 /20. Nxe6, fe6/ 21. Be3 Rac8 /22. Rfd1 , Be4 /23. Bc5 , Rfe8/ 24. R7d4, Bd5?! /25. b3 , a5 /26. Kh2, Ra8 / 27. Kg3, Ra6? (27…Bc6 -Larsen) / 28. h4, Rc6 ( according to Larsen, the decisive mistake)   /29. Rxd5!, ed5/ 30. Rxd5, Rce6 / 31. Bd4, c6 /32. Rc5, Rf8/ 33. a4!, ba4 / 34. ba4, g6  /  35. Rxa5, R6e8/ 36. Ra7, Rf7 / 37. Ra6!, Rc7 / 38. Bc5, R7f8 / 39. Bd6, Ra8 / 40. Rxc6, Rxa4 / 41. Kxf3, h5/  (Adjourned)   42. gh5 , gh5 / 43. c4, Ra7 / 44. Rb6, Kf7 / 45. c5, Ra4/ 46. c6, Ke6/ 47. c7, Kd7/ 48. Rb8, Rc8/  49. Ke3 , Rxh4/ 50. e6!   and Korchnoi resigned.

To make justice to Korchnoi, I include the excellent endgame he won in the 29th game. (You can learn a lot trying to guess White´s moves and trying to understand all the possibilities.):

 29th game Position after 40…, Be7/

W.: Korchnoi (1)

B.: Karpov (0)

29th Game

41. Rh6, Kf7/ 42. Rh7, Kf8 / 43. Rh8, Kf7 / 44. Bd2,Nf8/ 45. Rh1, Kg6/ 46. Rd1, f5   (Defending actively. Larsen believes this is a conceptual mistake and advocates a passive defence) 47.Nf2, Bd6 / 48. Bc3, Nd7 /49. gf5, ef5/    50. g4!,  Nb6/ 51. Kf3, Be7/ 52. Ba5, Rf6/ 53. Kg2, fg4 / 54. Nxf4, Re6/ 55. Kf3, Bf6 / 56. Nxf6, Rxf6 / 57. Kg4!, Nc8 / 58. Bd8!, Tf4 / 59. Kg3, Rf5 / 60. a4, Kf7 / 61. Rd3, Re5 /62. Kg4, Kg6 /63. a5, Re4 / 64. Kf3, Tf4 / 65. Ke3, Rh4/ 66. Rd5, Rh3 / 67. Kd2!, Rxb3/ 68. Rxc5, Rb8/ 69. Rc6, Kf5 / 70. Rxa6, g4/ 71. Rf6, Ke4/ 72. Bc7!, Rb2/ 73. Kc3, Rb7/ 74. Bh2, Rh7/ 75. Bb8, Rb7/ 76. Bg3, Rb1/ 77. Rf4!, Ke3/ 78. Rf8, Ne7 / 79. a6 and Karpov resigned. 



2 Responses

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  1. Excellent post. Someday I will have to count my chess books.


    November 29, 2012 at 10:11 am

    • Dear Chessmusings,
      Thank you very much for your comment and I hope you will like the post to come.


      November 30, 2012 at 8:10 am

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