Kortchnoi Zurich Chess Challenge starts next week

by Frederic Friedel
4/5/2017 – In honor of the unforgettable chess legend Viktor Kortchnoi, who passed on June 6th, 2015, the Zurich Chess Club is organizing an Easter tournament, from April 13th to 17th 2017, at the Kongresshaus in Zurich, Switzerland a Grandmaster Tournament with the two world champions, Vladimir Kramnik and Viswanathan Anand, and the world class players Hikaru Nakamura, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Peter Svidler. Come and watch – everyone is welcome, entry is free.

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Kortchnoi Zurich Chess Challenge

Viktor Korchnoi, two time World Chess Champion challenger [photo by David Llada]

Press release – The two world champions and world class players are joined by the best player of the "Nutcrucker Event" 2016 in Moscow and the best Swiss chess player Yannick Pelletier. They will play seven rounds with the New Classical time control of 45 minutes and 30 seconds per move, and a Blitz Tournament with a time control of 10 minutes and 5 seconds per move on the last day.

The Kortchnoi Open

At the same time a strong Open Tournament will be held to which all chess friends around the world are wellcome. Seven rounds will be played with a time control of 90 minutes and 30 seconds per move.

The hosts are also happy to announce, that to date 13 grandmasters with an Elo rating of 2600 and higher have registered for the Kortchnoi Open that will be played parallel to the Grandmaster Tournament. Among them are well-known world class players like Alexei Shirov, Alexander Motylev, Eltaj Safarli, Eduardo Iturrizaga, Aleksandr Rakhmanov and Loek van Wely.

More information about both tournaments in January 2017 can be found on the tournament website.


Zurich Chess Club, Oleg Skvortsov (IGC, Moscow), Aviora Holding AG Baar, Accentus Schach Schweiz, Savoy Chess Corner Zurich and other chess friends.

«IGC International Gemological Laboratories» is a Russian institute providing gemological services, such as diamond grading reports, enhanced diamonds identification, man-made/synthetic diamonds and imitation detection as well as certification of diamonds, gemstones and jewelry in the Russian Federation. IGC is the Russian branch of GCI — a group of gemological laboratories located wordwide. Oleg Skvortsov from «IGC International Gemological Laboratories» is the creator of this chess event. He not only loves chess, but also plays chess and supports chess events. Furthermore, Mr. Skvortsov knows many of the greatest chess players in the world personally and has played a lot of games with them.

Sponsor Oleg Skvortsov with his wife Natalia and Women's World Champion Hou Yifan. Natalia Skvortsova a thoroughly charming lady who we discovered is the driving force behind the Zurich tournament.

The «Savoy Chess Corner» was founded in 2004 and is an informal group of amateur chess players, mostly businessmen, doctors, attorneys, still active or retired, all friends of the Schachgesellschaft Zurich. The members pay an annual fee which is dedicated to promote chess in Zurich and also to finance events with illustrous guests at the famous Hotel Savoy in Zurich.

The «Zurich Chess Club» is the oldest chess society in the world. In its long history it has staged numerous world class events, regularly attracting the elite of the day. In 2009 it celebrated its 200-year jubilee with a spectacular chess show involving all living World champions. And it has not been idle since: 2012 the first edition of the Zurich Chess Challenge between Vladimir Kramnik and Levon Aronian, the most prestigious training match ever held, was yet another highlight in this long serie of extraordinary chess-events, organized by the Zurich Chess Club. The tradition was then continued with the Zurich Chess Challenge from 2013 to 2016 and in 2017 it will be held in honorable memory of the two times Vice World Champion Viktor Kortchnoi.

Last year in Zurich: special guest Manjul Bhargava, Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, who is known (well, world famous actually) for his contributions to number theory, chatting with Anand

In 2014 one of the visitors was Charles Aznavour, above with compatriot Levon Aronian and sponsor Oleg Skvortsov. The legendary singer, 89, provided the "musical inspiration" for round four.

2017 Kortchnoi Zurich Chess Challenge

This event will start on 12 April in the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville with an impressive opening ceremony that is highlighted by a musical performance of four superb musicians: Ilya Gringolts, one of the most inspirational violinists today, Boris Adrianov, a multiple international prize winner for his amazing cellist talents, Dmitry Illarionov, probably the most talented guitarists of modern Russia, and Leonard Schreiber, a Belgian violinist with a reputation of being a preeminent soloist, who has had the honour to play for several Heads of States and Royalties even in private concerts. The audience in the Savoy can therefore expect a musical performance of an outstanding artistic value.

In addition, the opening ceremony will welcome the 12th World Chess Champion and chess legend Anatoly Karpov, the 1993 Vice World Champion Jan Timman, the Russian/Dutch Grandmaster Gennadi Sosonko, who was, like Karpov and Timman, a long-time rival and competitor of Viktor Kortchnoi, plus several other honorable guests well-known throughout the chess world and beyond.

The ceremony will be followed by a round robin Blitz tournament of the eight participants of the Grandmaster Tournament. The entire event can be followed in a livestream that will be shown on the tournament website.


Date Wed, 12 April 2017 - Mon, 17 April 2017
Venue Opening: Hotel Savoy Baur en ville (Grand Ballroom),
Paradeplatz, Zürich Tournament: Kongresshaus (Gartensaal)
Participants GM Kramnik Vladimir (RUS), Elo 2811
GM Anand Viswanathan (IND) Elo 2786
GM Nakamura Hikaru (USA) Elo 2793
GM Nepomniachtchi Ian (RUS) Elo 2751
GM Svidler Peter (RUS) Elo 2747
GM Gelfand Boris (ISR) Elo 2724
GM Oparin, Grigoryi (RUS) Elo 2604
GM Pelletier Yannick (SUI) Elo 2541
Format/Time Control
  • 7 rounds New Classical, 45min + 30sec, April 13 to 16
  • 7 rounds Blitz, 10min + 5sec on 17 April
Program 12 April: 6 p.m.: Opening ceremony, concert and Opening Blitz
13 April: 5 p.m.: New Classical, 1st round
14 April: 12:30 p.m.: 2nd round, 5 p.m. 3rd round
15 April: 12:30 p.m.: 4th round, 5 p.m. 5th round
16 April: 12:30 p.m.: 6th round, 5 p.m. 7th round
17 April: 11 a.m.: Blitz tournament, 5 p.m.: Closing ceremony

According the the rules of the Zurich Chess Challenge 2017 the winner of a classical game is awarded two points for the overall standings. A draw gives each player one point, and the loser gets zero points. In the final Blitz tournament on Monday, 17 April, the winner is given one point, a draw gest a player half a point, and the loser gets zero points.

Viktor Korchnoi, 23 March 1931 – 6 June 2016

Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi was a professional chess player, one of the strongest grandmasters in the world, twice World Championship challenger, the strongest player never to have won the title. He was also, in recent years, the oldest active grandmaster on the tournament circuit. Korchnoi was born on 23 March 1931 in Leningrad, Soviet Union, to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. He learned to play chess from his father at the age of five. He graduated from Leningrad State University with a major in history. Read our obituary on the occasion of his passing last year.

In 2005, at the age of 73, Viktor visited us in Hamburg to record two fascinating DVDs on a life devoted to chess – a career that spanned more than five decades and six generations of opponents. Don't miss these historical and very instructive DVDs.

Viktor Korchnoi

Born 1931, two-times contender for the world championship, is a piece of living chess history. In the 60 years of his career, "Viktor the Terrible" crossed swords with practically all great players of the past and presence, including Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. A relentless fighter at the board, he expressed his never-ending love for the royal game in a very simple phrase - "Chess is my life".

In 2005, at the age of 73, Viktor visited ChessBase in Hamburg, to record two fascinating DVDs on a life devoted to chess – a career that spanned more than five decades and six generations of opponents. Kortchnoi was never one to mince his words. On these DVDs he created a vivid memorial to himself and his great chess career. In Volume 1, he presents eight of his most brilliant effort from the years 1949-1979, describing in detail the story around each game, never beating around the bush, sometimes harshly criticizing his opponents, but also lavishing praise on them when this is warranted. A highlight is the game against Karpov from the match for the world championship in Baguio 1978.

“My Life for Chess Vol. 1” offers more than three hours of first-class chess training, plus an extensive interview. A must-have for every chess fan! Volume 2 features about four hours of “Kortchnoi live”. The great chess legend presents among other things his games against Kasparov (1986), Spassky (1989) and Short (1990) in his typical gripping style. Embedded in the game commentaries are many details of Kortchnoi’s biography. For instance, before commenting his game against Spassky, the veteran speaks extensively about his personal relationship towards the ex-world champion. Throughout these lectures you can feel Kortchnoi’s ever-enduring love for chess. Whenever the great master gets to the heart of an opening (King’s Indian, English and French) or shows an astonishing move, one can see the joy sparkling from his eyes. No wonder – hardly any other chess genius has lived chess as intensively as “Viktor the Terrible”.

Order these very popular Korchnoi DVDs in the ChessBase Shop

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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