Monokroussos on Viktor the inimitable

5/2/2005 – When a chess player ages, he often quits the game, or plays a far weaker brand of chess. That’s true for most of us, but not for the inimitable Viktor Korchnoi. In his mid-70s, he still continues to play a fighting brand of chess that ought to shame those quick-draw artists less than half his age. Dennis Monokroussos elucidates.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes: When a chess player ages, he often quits the game, and those who don’t quit typically play a far lazier and weaker brand of chess than they did in their prime. It’s only natural, right? We have less energy, we grow jaded and the passions subside.

That’s true for most of us, but not for the inimitable Viktor Korchnoi. He’s not as strong as he once was, of course, but even now, in his mid-70s, he is still in the world’s top 100, he still wins tournaments, and he continues to play a fighting brand of chess that ought to (but probably doesn’t) shame those quick-draw artists less than half his age.

One of Korchnoi’s many virtues as a chess player is his willingness to enter non-stereotyped, unbalanced positions, not fearing the possibility that he’ll tire coping with the new situation or worrying that his younger opponents will out-calculate him. He’s seemingly fearless, and in this week’s show we’ll take a look at one of his relatively recent trips to terra incognita, a peculiar but extremely interesting game with German GM Christian Gabriel played in Zurich in 1999.

The game features so many imbalances that it beggars description: Korchnoi, playing Black, has a mighty central pawn wedge but almost no development or activity. Gabriel, on the other hand, plays the whole game with a worthless and immobile Bf1 and without any central play; however, he starts off with a queenside initiative and threatens to develop one on the kingside as well. It’s a strategically and tactically rich game, and very entertaining one to boot, as I trust you’ll agree if you join me this Monday night (EST). See you then!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Tuesday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.


Dennis Monokroussos is 38, lives in South Bend, IN (the site of the University of Notre Dame), and is writing a Ph.D. dissertation in philosophy (in the philosophy of mind) while adjuncting at the University.

He is fairly inactive as a player right now, spending most of his non-philosophy time being a husband and teaching chess. At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S., but quit for about eight years starting in his early 20s. His highest rating was 2434 USCF, but he has now fallen to the low-mid 2300s – "too much blitz, too little tournament chess", he says.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for seven years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

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Atlanta * Mon 21:00 Kabul Tue 05:30 San Francisco * Mon 18:00
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Bangkok Tue 08:00 Karachi Tue 06:00 San Salvador Mon 19:00
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