gcg_korc-karp_cm1974-hdr.gif, 04 KB

We will examine a beautiful game below ... first, I wanted to give a little background information about the winner of this contest.  

 Korchnoi's first major international triumph. (gcg_kor-kar74_CTBuc1954.gif, 19 KB)

  One of Korchnoi's greatest international tournaments. (gcg_kor-kar74_CT1961.gif, 15 KB)

  Maybe Korchnoi's greatest triumph? (gcg_kor-kar74_CT1973.gif, 20 KB)

gcg_korch-01.jpg, 22 KB

gcg_korch-02.jpg, 09 KB

 A pic of a young(er) Korchnoi. 

 A photo of Korchnoi in 2002. 

GM Victor Korchnoi, (spelled in the CB database as "Kortschnoj"); has long been one of my favorite players

When I first learned of this player (I was about seven years old when someone first told me about Korchnoi.); ... and his many exploits ... I was immediately enthralled. I was eighteen years old ... and playing in a tournament ... when I first heard the news that Korchnoi had defected. Naturally, the departure of one of the world's strongest GM's from the {former} Soviet Union sent out shock waves that were felt in every corner of the chess world. 

On his page of "peak ratings" (based on a three-year average); Jeff Sonas ranks Korchnoi as #12 of all time!!!  


  • Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi was born in Russia, just outside of Leningrad, in 1931. 

  • He underwent the hardships of WWII as a boy, certainly the trials of this period of history made him stronger. Today, he is recognized as one of the toughest and most tenacious masters who ever lived. 

  • He learned the game at the age of six, and at age twenty (1951); he became a recognized (national) master. 

  • He was awarded the GM title by FIDE in 1956.

  • He has won literally dozens and dozens (if not hundreds) of International Chess Tournaments, one of his first triumphs in a "super-event" was the <<Maroczy Memorial>> in Budapest, (HUN); 1961. (+9, =5, -1) Not only did we win an incredible event, he was in clear first ... two points ahead of Filip and Bronstein ... who tied for second!! See the first graphic - given above - for the full cross-table of this great event.  

  • In Gyula, 1965 ... Korchnoi won. But it was not the fact that he won that attracts attention, it was HOW he won. He refused to make draws, even with other strong masters. His phenomenal final score of + 14, = 1, -0; was FIVE-AND-A-HALF POINTS ahead of the second place finisher!!!  

  • At the Leningrad Interzonal of 1973, Korchnoi had one of his best performances ever. Sonas ranks his PR as over 2800, but by the hyper-inflated standards of 2006, this would be easily over 2900. See the second graphic - given above - for the full cross-table of this great event.

  • From 1954 to 1990, Korchnoi played in about 70 strong International Tournaments, (not counting World Championship events); and he won or tied for first FORTY TIMES, many second place finishes, and came in below third place ONLY SEVEN TIMES!!!!!!!!!!! {Source: "The Oxford Companion to Chess," -- by Hooper and Whyld -- the Second Edition.}  

  • He won the Championship of the {old} USSR ... no less than FOUR TIMES!  [See the list of winners.]  

  • He defected to the west in 1976. At an age when most masters begin to decline, Korchnoi had some of his best-ever results. 

  • Korchnoi played two world championship matches with Karpov, (1978 and 1981); and since Fischer did not defend his title in 1974, Korchnoi's Candidates Match of 1974, {played in Moscow}; has become today considered to be (also) a WCS event. (The winner - Karpov - was declared the Champion by default ... when Fischer refused the absurd demands placed upon him by FIDE, the governing world body of chess.)  

  • One example of his excellent post-defection results are: OHRA / Amsterdam, 1988, (Cat. XIV, clear first place).  

  • Since 1995, Korchnoi has won approximately 15 International Tournaments and matches. (This is based on the dossier of this player that was generated by the program, ChessBase 9.0)  

  • Korchnoi is a true chess fighter, most often disdaining quick and easy draws. He is a formidable attacking player, (as this page amply demonstrates); in endgames, he is easily in the top twenty who ever lived. In defense, he is perhaps second only to Petrosian, and his tendency to snatch the most dangerous looking pawns - and survive! - puts him in a league all by himself!!!!! 

  • Today, (at age 75); Korchnoi is recognized as being one of the greatest players of all time. Not only this, when it comes to the duration of his career and his continued excellent play ... at age sixty and beyond ... he has passed even {the paragon of} Emanuel Lasker, and is considered to be in a class all by himself.  


   [His chess games.]     [Some biographical data and trivia about this great player.]     [His Wikipedia entry.] 

   [CB, Korch going strong at 75.]     [CB, Korchnoi wins International event at age 73.]     [CB, K takes Berlin.] 

   [CB, Dennis Monokroussos on this great player.]   [Another page, with more Korchnoi info and links.]  

I continue to enjoy Korchnoi's games. My friend, (Stephen Davis); and I always try to go over his games together at chess club. I celebrate every time he wins, and I can only pray that he will continue to delight his fans for many years to come!  

Viktor Korchnoi wins World Senior Championship!! 

23.09.2006  This man has been a candidate for the world championship since the sixties, and although he never actually won the title (in spite of three finals against Karpov) he remained in the world elite for decades. At 75 he still plays in top events, but now has taken part in a Senior Championship, which he naturally won. 
A world title for Korchnoi! 

An explanation of the symbols that I use when annotating a chess game.  [replay - on another site]  

  GM Vicktor Kortschnoj (2670) - GM Anatoly Karpov (2700) 
  (FIDE) Candidates Match {final}   
  Moscow, U.S.S.R. / (R21) / 16,09,1974.  

gcg_kor-kar-cm74_medal.gif, 02 KB

  [A.J. Goldsby I]  

Miniatures and brilliancies at the very highest levels are extremely rare, players are often so evenly matched ... that a quick knockout is not really probable. But here is one of the best examples of this type of chess (at such a rarified plane) ... that I know of. 

 1.d4 Nf6;  2.Nf3 e6;  3.g3 b6;  4.Bg2 Bb7;  5.c4 Be7;  6.Nc3 0-0;   {Diagram.}  
By a slightly unusual move order, we have arrived at a fairly normal "tabiya" of the Queen's Indian. 
(>/= 6...Ne4 is the most popular move for Black in this position today.)  

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos01.gif, 10 KB

  rn1q1rk1/pbppbppp/1p2pn2/8/2PP4/2N2NP1/PP2PPBP/R1BQK2R w  


Today these lines are pretty thoroughly mapped out, however in the 1970's, things were not as clear. (It is also important to remember that this was played in "B.C." (BEFORE COMPUTERS. No Fritz, no PC's, no monster database of master-level games.) 

   [ See MCO-14, beginning on page # 555; for more information on this opening and analysis 
     of many of today's key, topical lines. ] 


 7.Qc2! c5!?;  (Hmmm.)   {Diagram.}  
Black must strike out at the center, but this leads to a position where White is clearly superior. 

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos02.gif, 10 KB

  rn1q1rk1/pb1pbppp/1p2pn2/2p5/2PP4/2N2NP1/PPQ1PPBP/R1B1K2R w  


 8.d5! exd5;  9.Ng5! Nc6!?;    {Diagram.}  
GM A. Matanovic
,  in  Informant # 18,  awards this a dubious appellation ...   
and I would be inclined to agree. However his recommendation of 9...g6 hardly looks like the answer to all of Black's problems. {It is also too similar to the actual game continuation to be a really big improvement.}   

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos03.gif, 10 KB

  r2q1rk1/pb1pbppp/1pn2n2/2pp2N1/2P5/2N3P1/PPQ1PPBP/R1B1K2R w  


 10.Nxd5! g6[];  (dark-squares)   {Diagram.}  
This is forced, of course if Black plays 10...NxN/d5??; then the simple 11.QxP/h7# is the answer.  
(And Black must block the diagonal, </= 10...h6??; 11.NxN/f6+ is of no help.) 

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos04.gif, 09 KB

  r2q1rk1/pb1pbp1p/1pn2np1/2pN2N1/2P5/6P1/PPQ1PPBP/R1B1K2R w  


 11.Qd2!N,   {See the diagram below.}   
A new move (TN) to master-level chess ... M. Botvinnik claimed that Korchnoi must have prepared this idea in advance. 

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos05.gif, 09 KB

  r2q1rk1/pb1pbp1p/1pn2np1/2pN2N1/2P5/6P1/PP1QPPBP/R1B1K2R b  


This is the current situation ... my analysis indicates that Black may already face some grave difficulties.  

[ In a previous effort, White played the try:  11.h4!? but Black drew  
   the game without seeming to ever be in any serious trouble.  

  C. Maderna - J. Bolbochan; / Mar del Plata, ARG; 1942. ]  


 11...Nxd5?!;  (Ugh.)    {Diagram.}  
This move causes the second player a great deal of difficulties. Now Black will face an attack from just three of White's pieces, but it turns out to be an extremely precarious situation for young Anatoly Karpov.  

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos06.gif, 09 KB

  r2q1rk1/pb1pbp1p/1pn3p1/2pn2N1/2P5/6P1/PP1QPPBP/R1B1K2R w  


"Karpov thought for eight minutes over this weak move."   '?' - GM Victor Korchnoi   
[ See the excellent volume, "My Best Games" (with White, Vol. I); game # 19 and page # 75. ]

Black gets a bad game ... and an extremely ugly pawn skeleton after 11...Re8. 
(But this still may be the best move for second party here.)  


 12.Bxd5 Rb8?;  (A blunder?)   {Diagram below.}  
There can be no other explanation for such a move ... other than the fact that Karpov must have missed his opponent's reply. 

Black may already be lost here, but this move gives away the farm.  
[This game is annotated in the July 2006 issue of the BCF magazine, "Chess," beginning on page # 27.  
 Korchnoi makes the comment, <<That I later learned that this move was in Karpov's own "copy book.">>  
 If so, I imagine that whoever was really responsible for this analysis was quickly hustled off to the harsh  
 environs of a Siberian work camp!]  

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos07.gif, 09 KB

  1r1q1rk1/pb1pbp1p/1pn3p1/2pB2N1/2P5/6P1/PP1QPP1P/R1B1K2R w  


Take a look at this position.  


[ After the following continuation of:  >/=  12...Bxg5[]13.Qxg5 Qxg5;   
  (This looks nearly forced, Fritz gives 13...Nb4!?;  but in that line -   
   White eventually winds up with two Bishops for a Rook ... 
   and a won game.)  

  14.Bxg5 Na515.Bxb7 Nxb716.0-0-0,  ''   {Diagram?}    
  White has a positionally won game, but this is still better than getting   
  mated or losing the Queen! (Analysis by - GM A. Matanovic.) ]  


It is White to move in this position.  
 13.Nxh7!!,  (Delightful, yes?)    {Diagram.}  
There can be no doubt that this move came as a shock to Karpov, press at the match said that he turned White as a sheet after this incredible shot by GM V. Korchnoi.  

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos08.gif, 09KB

  1r1q1rk1/pb1pbp1N/1pn3p1/2pB4/2P5/6P1/PP1QPP1P/R1B1K2R b  


Tal is said to have "laughed out loud" when he saw that this move was played.  


 13...Re8;  (Forced?)   {Diagram.}  
Black cannot take the Knight, so he tries to prevent the loss of his Rook on the f8-square. 

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos09.gif, 09 KB

  1r1qr1k1/pb1pbp1N/1pn3p1/2pB4/2P5/6P1/PP1QPP1P/R1B1K2R w  


[ Instead, after the moves of:  </= 13...Kxh7?14.Qh6+ Kg815.Qxg6+! Kh8;   
  16.Qh5+! Kg817.Be4! f5[]18.Bd5+,  "+/-"   and Black is rapidly mated. ]   


 14.Qh6! Ne5;  15.Ng5 Bxg5[];   {Diagram.}  
Now here Black has no choice.  

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos10.gif, 10 KB

  1r1qr1k1/pb1p1p2/1p4pQ/2pBn1b1/2P5/6P1/PP2PP1P/R1B1K2R w  


[ </= 15...Bf6?16.Bxf7+ Nxf717.Qh7+ Kf8; 18.Qxf7#. ]  


 16.Bxg5 Qxg5[];  {Box.}   {Diagram.}  
Unfortunately for Karpov ... this was forced, as after 16...Qc8??; 17.Bf6, Black can't stop mate.   

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos11.gif, 09 KB

  1r2r1k1/pb1p1p2/1p4pQ/2pBn1q1/2P5/6P1/PP2PP1P/R3K2R w  


 17.Qxg5 Bxd5;  What next?   {Diagram.}  
Now take a look at this position, please study it carefully.  

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos12.gif, 09 KB

  1r2r1k1/p2p1p2/1p4p1/2pbn1Q1/2P5/6P1/PP2PP1P/R3K2R w  


Can White take the Bishop on the d5-square?  


 18.0-0!,   (bye-bye)    {Diagram.}  
This avoids Black's last possible resource. (Apparently Korchnoi was not sure if castling would be allowed here, and has to ask the arbiter if this move was legal!)  

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos13.gif, 09 KB

  1r2r1k1/p2p1p2/1p4p1/2pbn1Q1/2P5/6P1/PP2PP1P/R4RK1 b  


[ Of course not:  18.cxd5?? Nf3+;  winning the White Queen (on g5),  
   because of the Knight fork. ("-/+") ]   


 18...Bxc4;  19.f4!,  "+/-"   (Resigns.)   {See the final diagram - just below.}
Black throws in the towel, two pieces are no match for the mighty White Queen, not with the current situation on the board.   

gcg_karpov-korch_CM1974-21_pos14.gif, 08 KB

  1r2r1k1/p2p1p2/1p4p1/2p1n1Q1/2b2P2/6P1/PP2P2P/R4RK1 b  


A marvelous game by Korchnoi ...  
who played with great verve and energy in this contest. (When I went over this game at chess club on Sunday; July 30th, 2006 ... I knew that I had to add it to my collection of short games.)  


I have seen this game in many books and magazines over the years, but the best help -- in trying to annotate this historic struggle -- was a 'Chess Digest' pamphlet on the actual 1974 match.  


   Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2006. All rights reserved.   


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The analysis for this page was prepared with the excellent programs, ChessBase 8.0 and ChessBase 9.0.  

The HTML was polished with several different tools and programs, (mostly FP) ... the text was checked for spelling with MS Word. 

The diagrams were created with the program, Chess Captor 2.25.  

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