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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. 



Viktor Korchnoi. Part 2.

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If you think about Korchnoi’s career you see his heyday (a long one, by the way),coincided with the golden age of the Soviet Chess. Thus, in the fifties and sixties (20th century),  he had to battle against players like Smyslov, Keres, Geller, Tal, Stein, Bronstein … And when he started his World Championship path (1962) Petrosian was on top, and then Spassky. He was unable to overcome such a formidable opposition. In the late sixties and the seventies, it was first Fischer and then Karpov. He seemed to be always in the middle of a whirlwind. His character and behaviour did not help either and in 1974 Karpov, the young star, was “preferred” by the Soviet Chess authorities so as to try to recover the title in Fischer’s hands. Some of his fellow-colleagues in the USSR said he was always complaining about something, always blaming others, etc. The human condition… During the last years he also created some problems in the tournaments when he railed against some much younger players who protracted games looking for a mistake on his part, or for not resigning when he considered it was high time, and so on. This has gained him some animadversion of late. Evidently he belongs to a different generation though he still wants to win above all!.

I met Korchnoi in 1994. I was at a tournament hall waiting for him to appear , with a book with his games, hoping he would be so kind of signing it to me. He arrived and immediately notice my presence (we have never seen one another before and as happen with Karpov or Spassky I had been waiting too many years to see one of my early heroes). I asked him to please sign the book and he did it. Then he looked at me tried to ask some sort of question ,I tried to help but suddenly he realized where he was and hurried towards the playing room!. I never had another opportunity to meet him.

Today he , at 81, keeps on playing  as the Nestor of the chessboard. He is an example of will-power and love for Chess.

(Years ago I told a friend and opponent of mine in Britain that I had always admired Korchnoi’s stubborness, willpower,determination to overcome terrible personal situations, etc. ,but that I was unable to became a Chess admirer because the more I studied his games the more difficulties I found to understand his decisions. My friend replied that was because I admired him more as a man than as a chessplayer…)

W.: Korchnoi (1)

B.: Polugayevsky (0)

Evian (Fra) 1977

(A beautiful game)

1.c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. d4 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dc4 7. Bc4: b5 8. Bd3 Bb7 9. 0-0 b4 10. Ne4 Be7 1.Nf6: Nf6: 12. e4 0-0 13. Qc2 h6 14. Be3 Rc8 15. Rfd1 c5 16. dc5 Ng4 17. Bd4 e5 18. h3 ed4 19. hg4 Rc5:  20. Qd2 a5  21. Rac1 Qd7  22. Rc5: Bc5:  23. g5! hg5  24. Qg5 Qe7  25. Qh5 g6  26. Qh6 Qf6  27. Bc4 d3  28. e5 Qf5  29. Rd3: Be4  30. Rd6 Qg4  31. Rf6 Bf5  32. b3  Bd4  33. Nd4: Qd4:  34. Rg6: Bg6:  35. Qg6: Kh8  36. Qh6 Kg8  37. e6 Qe4  38. ef7: Rf7:  39. Qf6 Qb1 40. Kh2 Qh7 41. Kg3 Qd3 42. f3 Qc4: 43. Qd8!  Black resigned.

W.: Korchnoi (1)

B.: Kovacevic (0)

Wijk aan Zee (Ned) 1980

1. c4 e6  2. g3 d5 3.  Bg2 Nf6  4. Nf3 Be7  5. d4 0-0  6. Nbd2 c6 7. 0-0 b5 8. c5 Ne4 9. Ne5 f6 10. Nd3 f5  11. Nf3 Bd7  12. Nfe5 Be8  13. a4 a5  14. f3 Ng5  15. g4 b4 16.Kh1 Bf6  17.Be3  Ra7  18.Rg1 Kh8  19. Qe1  Nf7  20. gf5: ef5:  21. Bh3 Ne5: 22. de5:! Bh4  23. Qd2 Na6  24. Nf4 Nc7  25. Qd3 Qc8  26. Qd4! Qd8 27. Rad1 Bd7                28. Rg7!! Kg7:  29. e6  Bf6 30. Rg1 Kh8  31. ed7:! Qd7:  32.Nh5 Ne8  33. Nf6: Nf6:  34. Bh6 Rf7  35. Bf4 Qe6  36. Be5 Ra8  37. Rg5 Rg8  38. Rf5:  and Black resigned.

W.: Suba (0)

B.: Korchnoi (1)

Luzern (Switzerland) 1985

1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nc6  3. Nc3 g6  4. Bg2 Bg7  5. Rb1 f5 6. d3 Nf6  7. e3 0-0  8. Nge2 d6 9. b4 a6  10.a4 a5  11.b5  Ne7  12. Ba3 Rf7  13. Qd2  c6  14. d4  e4  15. h4 Be6  16. d5 cd5:  17. Nf4  Qc8!  18. cd5: Nfd5:  19. Nd5: Nd5:  20. Rc1  Bc3  21. Rc3: Nc3: 22. 0-0 Na4:  23. Rc1  Qd7  24. Bf1 Rc8  25. Rc8: Qc8:  26. Qd6: Bb3  27. Qe5 Qd8  28.b6  Qb6:  29.Bb5 Qf6  30. Qe8: Kg7  31. Kg2 Nb6  32. Bc5  Kh6  33. Bd4 Qd6  34. Nh3 Rf8 35.Be5  Re8:  36. Bd6:  Rc8 37. Ng5 Kg7  38.g4 a4 / and Black lost on time in a desperate position.


Written by QChess

April 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

Viktor KORCHNOI: Part 1

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Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi (1931 – …)

My Chess relation with Korchnoi is difficult to explain. When in 1978 I began to study Chess seriously the Baguio match (Karpov-Korchnoi, World Championship match, Baguio , Philippine Islands ) was about to start. In those days the newspapers in my country were more interested in Chess than today. So there was a good coverage. I get acquainted with the Korchnoi’s story, the Soviet dissident who had defected to the West leaving his family behind. (For many years he fought to try to obtain the Soviet authorities permit to leave the country for them – his wife and a son-) His defection brought him a boycott on the part of the Soviet authorities: for some years Soviet chessplayers were not allowed to play in the same tournaments as him (with the exception of official World Championship matches), and many others from the Eastern block refused to give him the customary handshake at the beginning and end of the games. His Soviet ex-colleagues were also asked to sign a document against him.  Some sources said that Karpov did not sign it as well as Botvinnik, who alleged he did not sign collective documents… Though Korchnoi had always had problems with the authorities -he used to openly said what he thought- the final straw appeared when in 1974 he had to play final of the Candidates’ matches against Karpov, the favourite of the Soviet authorities for the match against Fischer (had he won this match he would have been the Champion of the World instead of Karpov, as Fischer refused to play in 1975 -and here comes my doubt as everybody takes this for granted: if instead of Karpov the challenger would have been Korchnoi, would Fischer have played? I say this because perhaps Korchnoi would have accepted Fischer’s conditions and, at any cost, there would have been a match, with the permission of the authorities or without it…) .

In 1974 Korchnoi had many problems to  find seconds who helped him as analysts. Some obscure manoeuvres took place during the match too. In the end, unable to contain his anger  and after finishing a tournament in Holland (1976) ,  he went to a police station and asked for political asylum. After living for some time in Holland and Germany, he finally settled in Switzerland.

Korchnoi was born in Leningrad in 1931. As many others, he suffered the hardships of WW2.  He obtained the GM title in 1956 and in 1959 got a university degree in History. He won the USSR Chess Championship in four times: 1960, 1962, 1964 and 1970.

Korchnoi was averse to make draws. He was characterized by a determined fighting spirit, stubbornness, will power, with a difficult character.

His Chess style is difficult to define. A firm admirer of Lasker, he is an aggressive positional player with a penchant for defence, who always liked defending difficult positions. As the rest of top chessplayers, he rarely speaks about stylistic matters: the better you are at Chess -I’m speaking of top-GM level-, the more difficult you find to speak about style (perhaps because they have to master every aspect of Chess and to them stylistic considerations are too narrow to define how they understand Chess).

Korchnoi opening repertoire has been wide: as White he prefers 1. c4 – 1. d4 but has played other moves, like 1.g3 and 1. Nf3. As Black he has been a staunch defensor if the French (playing 1. … e5 against 1. e4 , but also the Sicilian, the Pirc and even the Caro-Kann). Against QP games one of his pet lines has been the Grünfeld, though he has had many others in stock.

Many of you may admire Korchnoi and understand his games. I have always had many problems to clearly understand him. Sometimes I don’t even think if he prefers positions with dynamic balance or dynamic “unbalance”…

A player like Karpov had many difficulties to beat him in 1974 (Candidates’ Final). But in 1978  (World Championship match)  could have been even worse. From a 5-1 (the match had no game-limit with draws not counting),  Korchnoi made a frantic effort,  pulled himself up and reached a 5-5 . The match was plagued with incidents between both camps. Karpov and the Soviets had to retain the crown. Korchnoi was a defector, an enemy of the regime and had to be punished. The last game was a good victory for Karpov. But I will never understand why Korchnoi decided to play a Pirc turned in the end into  an unfavourable -in my opinion- variation of the Benoni…Perhaps he thought Karpov was groggy and wanted to deliver the final blow as quickly as possible. But Karpov was also fighting for more than the title… Had Korchnoi managed to protract the match with three or four fought-out draws and perhaps the history of Chess would have been different.

After defecting in 1976, Korchnoi had to play three Candidates’ Matches to become the challenger. His first opponent was the man Korchnoi labelled as his “arch-enemy”: Tigran Petrosian. In a stormy match, he beat the ex-Champion by +2  -1  =9.  Next came another Soviet : L. Polugayevsky. He beat him too by +5  -1  =7 . The legend continued growing… The last opponent: Spassky. Another stormy event which ended in +7  -4  =7. At the end of everything, the defector, the enemy of the Soviet Union, the traitor, had swept away all his rivals and was threatening the supreme “Soviet” crown.

After Baguio he continued playing tournaments though it was not till 1981 that Soviet chessplayers were allowed to play in the same events (Lone Pine 1981).

In the next World Championship cycle, he beat Petrosian (+2 -0  =7). Polugayevsky ( +3  -2  =9 ) and Hübner (+3 -2  =3 -The German GM. abandoned the match). Again at the doors of the World Championship. This time Karpov beat him easily at Meran.

Korchnoi continued playing and playing winning tournaments in excellent fighting spirit, even in candidates’ matches he producied excellent games too. But his time had passed. During the 80’s and 90’s of the past century he took part in the GMA tournaments, with the very best leading GMs. You can find his games in magazines and databases.

In the final part of the post I will tell how I met Viktor “the Great, how I see him and will include some games.

(To be continued…)


Written by QChess

April 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Bobby Fischer

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In memory of Robert J. Fischer. ( March 1943- January  2008)

In 1971 I learnt the moves. Bobby Fischer was my idol…

Fischer’s contribution to Chess has been immense. Boris Spassky defined him as “the first trade unionist in chess”. Apart from the conditions he managed to impose on tournament organizers ,not only concerning fees, but also concerning the playing conditions, he rescued Chess from specialized magazines and brought it to front pages of newspapers all over the world. (You can find tons of information on the Internet).

Bobby jumped to fame when he was only a boy and appeared in the rich US chess scene, in the 50’s of the 20th century. A new Morphy was born.

Very soon he stated that his only aims in life were to defeat the almighty Russians and become World Champion. After many ups and downs, never-ending quarrels with the world, the Soviets,  he, walks-out and comebacks, with legions of journalists following him, it was not till 1970 when he managed to win the Interzonal Tournament and qualify for the Candidates’ series. The story is well-know: his first opponent was a Soviet GM: Taimanov. The result : 6-0. His next opponent was the Dane Bent Larsen, one of the best western player in those years. The result: another 6-0. And the last one was Soviet super GM and ex-World Champion T. Petrosian. The result:  6.5 -2.5.  The road to the World Champion Spassky was clear.

A new period of never-ending battles, threats, telephone calls, stress and fear on the part of the Icelandic organizers set the ground for the  match for the 1972 World Championship, a match dubbed as “The Match of the Century”.

Chess became popular in all the world , chess sets and books were sold by the ton.No other phenomenon had caused such stir…

In Rejkjavik Fischer smashed Spassky in a match plagued with incidents during its first games.The story is well-known.Bobby seemed ready to start quarrels about everything and with everybody. He lost the first game, lost also the second by default and put everybody on edge. A curious thing is that the amount of pressure he used seemed to affect mainly Spassky and the organizers, not himself.  (Karpov put forward a curious theory years later…) At one point Spassky disobeyed the order of coming immediately back to Moscow , conceded playing in a separate room and… was destroyed. Nobody knows what would have happened if Boris had followed the orders of Moscow…

(For those interested I would strongly recommend the book “Bobby Fischer Against  the Russians”)

To show Bobby at work, I have chosen the following game:

W.: O. Bazan (0)

B.: R.J. Fischer (1)

Mar del Plata 1960

( Most of the games in this blog will appear without comments. One should do one´s own work…)

1. Nf3 Nf6  2. c4 e6  3. Nc3 d5  4. d4 Bb4  5. cd5: ed5:  6 Bg5 h6  7. Bh4 c5  8.  e3 Nc6  9.Be2?! g5  10. Bg3 Ne4 

11. Rc1 Qa5  12. 0-0 Bc3:  13. bc3: Nc3:  14.Qe1 Ne2: 15. Qe2: c4! 16. e4 Be6  17.Bc7!?  Qc7:  18. ed5: g4

19. Nd2 Nd4: 20. Qe4 Qf4 21. Rc4 Qe4: 22. Ne4: Ne2  23. Kh1 Bd7  24. Re1 Kf8  25. Nf6?! Bb5  26. Rb4 Ba6

27. Nd7 Ke7 28. Nc5 Rhe8!  29. Na6: Kd6 30. Rb7 Ng3  31. hg3: Re1 32. Kh2 Re8 33. Rf7 Rcc1 34. White resigns.

Studying Fischer games to understand his style may well take years on end. I still think one of the key points in his  style is his overwhelming ability to see in-between moves…


Written by QChess

March 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm

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