Viktor Korchnoi: My Life for Chess (Part two)

6/26/2012 – Born in 1931, twice contender for the world championship, Viktor Korchnoi is a living chess legend. In his career spanning over 60 years he has crossed swords with practically every great player of the past and present, including Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. In this special Monograph DVD, "Viktor the Terrible" describes a life devoted to chess. Review by Prof. Nagesh Havanur.

Viktor Korchnoi: My Life for Chess

Review by Prof. Nagesh Havanur

In his illustrious career Korchnoi has played a number of memorable games. For this review I have chosen his game against Kasparov from the DVD. Garry also annotated this game in brief for the Informant. I have made use of his comments as well.

Garry Kasparov-Viktor Korchnoi, Brussells 1986 (E11)

Korchnoi calls this game a shameful encounter and says, Kasparov also concurs with his opinion. Nevertheless, it’s marvelous entertainment. Unfortunately, the game had an adverse psychological effect convincing him of Kasparov’s invincibility. He was never to win a game against Garry after this fateful encounter.

[Event "Brussels"] [Site "?"] [Date "1986.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Kasparov, Garry "] [Black "Korchnoi, Viktor "] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "E11"] [Annotator "Viktor Korchnoi/Garry Kasparov"] [PlyCount "83"] [EventDate "1986.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 {For this game I had prepared a variation that would be little known to Kasparov.} c5 {A move brought into practice by the Riga master Vitolins, which had been rarely employed in Soviet events.} 5. g3 $6 ({Subsequently the theoreticians came to the conclusion that the strongest move is the immediate exchange on b4.} 5. Bxb4) 5... Qb6 $5 $146 6. Bg2 {Kasparov thinks, this follow-up could have waited-NSH} ({He recommends } 6. Nc3 $5 $11 {instead.}) 6... Nc6 {Only a few moves have been made, and white is already losing a pawn. The world champion has to think-how to give it up, such that it looks like a sacrifice.} (6... cxd4 7. Nxd4 Bc5 8. e3 $5 (8. Bc3 e5 9. Nf5 Bxf2+ $6 10. Kf1 O-O 11. b4 $1 $13) 8... Bxd4 9. exd4 Qxd4 10. O-O $44) 7. d5 {In the past Kasparov had sacrificed numerous pawns and won games this way. But the situation on the board is somewhat different, non-standard, and it will be harder for White to develop an initiative.} ({ Giving up the pawn in another way came into consideration:} 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. O-O Qxb2 9. Nc3 O-O 10. Na4 Qa3 11. Bc1 Qb4 12. Bd2 Qa3 {It is probable that White's initiative does not compensate for the lost material. Even so it would be interesting to test this in practice.}) 7... exd5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. O-O ({How about the sacrifice of a second pawn?} 9. a3 Bxd2+ 10. Nbxd2 Qxb2 11. Nc4 Qc3+ 12. Nfd2 {It is probable that White's intiative does not compensate for the lost material. Even so it would be interesting to try it in practice.}) 9... Nde7 $1 ({Kasparov gives} 9... Bxd2 $2 10. Nbxd2 $16 {If} Qxb2 $2 11. Nc4 {-NSH }) 10. e4 $146 {A novelty improvised over the board-NSH} ({Neither I nor my opponent suspected that all this had already occurred before. That game went} 10. Be3 d5 $1 11. a3 d4 12. Bf4 Ba5 13. Nbd2 Bxd2 14. Nxd2 O-O 15. b4 {with some activity for the sacrificed material. (Tukmakov-Salov 1984).}) 10... d6 $1 ({Kasparov gives} 10... O-O 11. Be3 d5 12. exd5 Rd8 13. Ng5 $16) ({and} 10... Bxd2 11. Nbxd2 $14) 11. Be3 {A trappy move.The threat is a2-a3 and b2-b4, winning the bishop.However, it turns out to be a loss of tempo as soon the bishop has to move to f4. After the immediate} (11. Bf4 Bg4 $1 12. Qxd6 { "White would have regained the pawn with a roughly equal game. However, the world champion probably thought that 'a roughly equal game' with White was insufficient for him." Kasparov continues the line with} Bxf3 13. Bxf3 Nd4 14. Bd1 $15) 11... Qc7 $1 (11... Bg4 12. a3 Qa6 13. Qxd6 Rd8 14. Qf4 $13 {-Kasparov }) 12. a3 Ba5 13. Bf4 $6 ({Kasparov gives} 13. e5 $5 Nxe5 (13... dxe5 14. Bxc5 $44) 14. Nxe5 dxe5 15. b4 cxb4 16. axb4 Bb6 17. Nc3 $1 $44 O-O 18. Nb5 Qb8 19. Bxb6 axb6 20. Rxa8 Qxa8 21. Qd6 $13) ({In a later game White succeeded in improving on the world champion's play.} 13. Nbd2 Bxd2 14. Nxd2 Be6 15. Re1 a5 16. f4 f6 17. Qh5+ Bf7 18. Qg4 O-O 19. h4 $16 {(Chiburdanidze-Chandler, Hanige 1988)}) 13... Ne5 $1 $17 14. b4 $5 {Kasparov does not think it possible to play a position a pawn down without initiative-you must aim for initiative at any price! And so he gives up a second pawn, but that is not all. In this game he will have to give up even more material...} cxb4 15. axb4 Bxb4 16. Qa4+ N7c6 17. Nd4 a5 $6 ({Kasparov gives} 17... Bc5 $19 {leading to more exchanges and consolidating Blak's material gains .}) 18. Nc3 $1 Bd7 $1 ({Not} 18... Bxc3 $2 19. Nb5 Qd8 20. Nxc3 O-O 21. Rfd1 $15 {-Kasparov}) 19. Nd5 Qd8 20. Nf5 O-O { After parrying the serious and minor traps Black has completed his development, retaining a solid position. White's pieces, especially his knights, are actively placed. It's time for White to create threats to the opponent's king.} 21. Qd1 Bc5 22. Rc1 $1 {Black intends to push his a-pawn.By staying a1 this rook would have prevented the pawn from queening. But White, being two pawns down is obliged to play actively.The White pieces must advance and create threats. It has to be agreed that Kasparov has a wonderful feeling for attack!} a4 23. g4 ({After} 23. Qh5 {Black has two good replies, 23...g6 and 23...f6, both of which would have shown that the queen had joined the attack too early.} g6 (23... f6)) 23... a3 24. g5 a2 {Black already needs to watch out for the threats to his king.} 25. Qh5 ({After} 25. Nxg7 $2 {Black has only one, but a sufficient reply.} Bg4 $1 (25... Kxg7 {gives White some practical chances, although they also prove insufficient-NSH}) 26. Nf6+ Qxf6 27. gxf6 Bxd1 28. Rfxd1 Bd4 $19) (25. Nh6+ {also does not work:} gxh6 26. Nf6+ Kh8 27. Qh5 Rg8 28. Qxh6 Rg7) 25... Bxf5 {Korchnoi thinks, this move is forced. However, Kasparov shows a stronger alternative-NSH} (25... Nd3 $1 26. Nf6+ (26. Rc3 Nxf4 27. Nxf4 a1=Q 28. Rh3 h6 $19) 26... gxf6 27. Qh6 Bxf5 28. gxf6 Qxf6 29. Qxf6 Nxc1 30. Rxc1 Bg6 $19) 26. exf5 Bd4 $1 27. Bxe5 $138 {White must exchange one of the defending knights as early as possible.} ({After} 27. Be4 $2 Re8 28. Bxe5 Rxe5 {is very strong.}) ({Kasparov shows,} 27. f6 $2 {will not work on account of} Ng6 28. Be4 Re8 $19) ({Instead} 27. Ra1 $5 {deserves attention according to him.}) 27... Nxe5 $138 28. Be4 Re8 $8 {The only move. The e7 square needs to be defended.} 29. Rc7 $1 {What else? There is a struggle in progress for the e7 square. However, it is not hard to imagine that in this struggle White is doomed to fail.} ({If} 29. f6 $2 Ng6 30. Ne7+ Rxe7 $1 $19) 29... a1=Q 30. Rxa1 {White must remove his king from a possiible...Nf3+ as a preparation for his sacrificial operations.} Rxa1+ 31. Kg2 $19 Ra2 $6 {A natural move in time trouble.} (31... Re1 $1 {was more energetic, and if} 32. Bc2 Rc1 $1 {-when this bishop is eliminated, White will not have any attack.} 33. f6 Rxc2 34. Ne7+ (34. Rxc2 Ng6 35. Rd2 Re5 36. Rxd4 Rxd5) 34... Rxe7 35. fxe7 Qe8 36. Rxc2 Nc6 $19) ({Kasparov gives} 31... Ng6 32. fxg6 fxg6 {as winning. But it only appears to draw.} 33. Bxg6 hxg6 34. Qxg6 Re2 35. Qf7+ Kh8 36. Qh5+ {and White has perpetual check-NSH}) 32. Re7 $1 {If there had been even five minutes each on our clocks, the world champion-a rook and two pawns down would have had to resign. But our flags were hanging, for the last eight moves we had less than a minute left .Therefore he had the moral right to prolong resistance, and even had some hope, although a faint one of saving the game. There are no saving moves, and all that remains is to hope for a miracle, for the psychological effect of some surprise. And the champion finds the most surprising move in this position! White threatens both f5-f6 and also Nf6+ gxf6, g5-g6.} (32. f6 Ng6 33. Bxg6 hxg6 34. Ne7+ Qxe7 $1 (34... Rxe7 {also wins.} 35. fxe7 Rxf2+ 36. Kg3 Qa8 $1 37. Qg4 Qa3+ $19 {-Kasparov}) 35. Rxe7 gxh5 36. Rxe8+ Kh7 $19) ({If} 32. Ne7+ Rxe7 33. f6 Ng6 34. fxe7 (34. Rxe7 Nf4+ $19) (34. Bxg6 Rxf2+ 35. Kg3 Re3+ 36. Kxf2 hxg6 {followed by...Qxc7 wins.}) 34... Rxf2+ 35. Kg3 Rg2+ $1 36. Bxg2 Nxe7 {and Black is three pawns up.}) 32... Rxf2+ 33. Kg3 Rxe7 $4 {It is most difficult to win after this obvious move.It has to be admitted that at the chess board 13th world champion is a subtle psychologist.} (33... Ng6 $1 {a move planned long ago would have won without difficulty.}) 34. f6 $1 Ng6 35. Nxe7+ Kf8 ({It was not yet too late to lose the game. After} 35... Nxe7 $2 {Black would be mated} 36. Qxh7+ Kf8 37. Qh8+ { etc.}) 36. Qxh7 Bxf6 $2 {Black's nerves fail him. Apparently my opponent had persuaded me that I was threatened with dozens of mates.} (36... Nxe7 $2 37. Qh8+ Ng8 38. Qxg7+ Ke8 39. Qxg8+ Kd7 40. Qxf7+ Kc8 41. Qxb7#) ({After} 36... gxf6 $1 37. Bxg6 (37. Nxg6+ fxg6 38. Bd5 Qe8 $19) 37... fxg6 $1 (37... fxg5 38. Bxf7 $1 Rxf7 39. Ng6+ Ke8 40. Qg8+ Kd7 41. Qxf7+ Kc8 42. Ne7+ Kb8 43. Kg4 $15 { _|_}) 38. Nxg6+ Ke8 39. Qg8+ Kd7 40. Qf7+ Kc8 41. Ne7+ Kb8 42. g6 f5 43. g7 ( 43. Nxf5 $4 Qg5+ $19 {-NSH}) 43... f4+ 44. Kh3 Bxg7 $1 $19 {If} 45. Qxg7 Qd7+ { wins the knight with the attack continuing-NSH}) 37. Nxg6+ fxg6 38. Kxf2 $2 { A bad move. White is again on the verge of defeat. He is two pawns down and his king is under attack.} ({It was correct first to exchange queens by} 38. Qh8+ Kf7 39. Qxd8 Bxd8 {and then only take the rook.} 40. Bd5+ Kf8 41. Kxf2 $11 ) 38... Qb6+ $2 {Korchnoi does not question this move.} ({Kasparov prefers} 38... Bd4+ $19) 39. Kg2 Qb2+ 40. Kh3 (40. Kf3 {was correct.}) 40... Bxg5 $2 ( 40... Be5 $1 {would have won.} 41. Kg4 (41. Qxg6 {is not possible on account of mate in three.} Qxh2+ 42. Kg4 Qg3+ 43. Kh5 (43. Kf5 Qh3#) 43... Qh3#) 41... Qe2+ 42. Bf3 Qc2 $19) 41. Qxg6 Qf6 ({After} 41... Bf6 {White would still have had to solve some problems. But not too serious ones-the opposite colour bishops would gurantee a draw.}) 42. Qxf6+ {This game, in my view a shameful one for both grandmasters, left its mark on our chess relations. It is probable that the world champion convinced me of his infallibility, his invincibility. After it I lost seven times to Kasparov, without reply... (I have taken the liberty of adding Kasparov's own analysis to this game from Chess Informant No.42 wherever necesssary-NSH)} 1/2-1/2

To return to the DVD, the database is also full of surprises. For starters, do not miss miniatures like the following:

[Event "Basel Hilton op 4th"] [Site "Basel"] [Date "2002.01.06"] [Round "7"] [White "Viktor Korchnoi, Viktor"] [Black "Dragan Solak, Dragan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A42"] [WhiteElo "2633"] [BlackElo "2501"] [PlyCount "37"] [EventDate "2002.01.01"] [EventRounds "7"] [EventCountry "SUI"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2002.03.14"] 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. e4 e5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. Bg5 f6 7. Be3 Nh6 8. dxe5 Nxe5 9. Be2 Nhg4 10. Bd4 c5 11. Bxe5 fxe5 12. Qd3 Nf6 13. O-O-O Ke7 14. Qe3 Qa5 15. Rxd6 Ng4 16. Qg5+ Kxd6 17. Qd2+ Ke6 18. Ng5+ Kf6 19. Nd5# 1-0

Viewing this DVD should only serve as a beginning for understanding this great player. There is a lot more to know about Viktor and his eventful life. For instance, in this DVD he does not get to speak of the harrowing years of war, a moving account of which is found in his autobiography, Chess is my Life (Edition Olms, 2004). It is also important to know that opponents like Karpov have a very different view of him. Don’t miss Anatoly’s book, Karpov on Karpov: Memoirs of a world champion, (Atheneum.1992).


Viktor Korchnoi:
My Life for Chess

Order the Viktor Korchnoi Monographs here


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