London Chess Classic 2009 – Korchnoi guest of honour

by ChessBase
11/20/2009 – Viktor Korchnoi is an all time great of chess. He fought two world title matches against Anatoly Karpov and generously replayed a match he had won by default against Garry Kasparov. In December you can hear Korchnoi comments at the Chess Classic or play him in a simultaneous display. To get you in the mood tournament director Malcolm Pein has annotated a recent Korchnoi brilliancy.

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The London Chess Classic 2009 is the highest level tournament in London for 25 years and will be the first in a series of events designed, according to the organisers, "to increase enthusiasm for chess in the UK and promote the game and its undoubted educational benefits in schools and communities." It is also their objective to bring the World Chess Championship to London in the Olympic year 2012.

Guest of Honour Viktor Korchnoi Simultaneous

Monday 14th December, 7:00pm

The London Chess Classic is delighted to announce that Viktor Korchnoi, one of the all time greats of world chess, has agreed to be the tournament’s Guest of Honour. Korchnoi still plays high level chess at the age of 78 and recently played on board one for Switzerland at the European Team Championship.

Korchnoi fought two world title matches against Anatoly Karpov in 1978 and 1981 which captured the imagination of the world. A man who had defected from the USSR and made into a non-person took on the might of the Soviet chess machine while his son was imprisoned by the Communist authorities.

Even in defeat Korchnoi has shaped the future of chess. It should not be forgotten that he sportingly agreed to play Garry Kasparov in a Candidates semi final after the Soviets had refused to allow Kasparov to take part in the match in Pasadena in 1984. Although he had already won by default, Korchnoi agreed to play in London and Kasparov eventually won and went on to challenge Anatoly Karpov.

Korchnoi’s longevity at the top level, nearly 50 years, is unparalleled. Visitors to the London Chess Classic which takes place at Olympia from December 8-15 will be able to hear him comment on the games or take on the great man in a simultaneous display at Olympia on Monday 14th at 7pm. You can enter here.

To put you in the mood for the London Chess Classic its initiator IM Malcolm Pein has annotated a recent brilliancy by Viktor Korchnoi for us. There is a replay button at the end of the game for our JavaScript board.

Korchnoi,V (2566) - Dizdarevic,E (2483) [A32]
17th TCh-Eur Novi Sad SRB (5), 26.10.2009 [Pein,Malcolm]

1.c4 e6. Korchnoi has occasionally favoured the development of the bishop to g5 against the Hedgehog. Usually it goes to e3 or b2 1...c5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 b6 4.e4 d6 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Bb7 7.Qe2 Nc6 8.Nxc6 Bxc6 9.Bg5 eventually drawn Kortschnoj,V (2695)-Gheorghiu,F (2605)/London 1980/MCD (59). 2.Nc3 c5 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 a6. Opting for a Hedgehog. 5...Nc6 and 5...Bb4 are more combative but there is nothing wrong with this of course [5...Bb4 6.Bg5 Nc6 7.Rc1 Qb6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 White won Kortschnoj,V-Furman,S/Moscow 1961/URS-ch (43). 6.Bg5

6...b6 7.e4 h6. Black later regrets this but at this stage it makes some sense to sideline the bishop slightly. 8.Bh4 d6 9.Bd3 Be7 10.Rc1 Bb7 11.Qe2 Nbd7 12.Bb1 Rc8 13.Bg3 Qc7 14.0-0

14...Qc5. Grabbing the c4 pawn in such positions is usually risky, the queen can get into trouble. In this concrete age of computer pawn grabbing it may be possible but most human players would reject it 14...Qxc4 15.Qd2 Qb4. 15.Qd1 0-0. With a pawn on h6 this is a little risky. Some alternatives 15...Qxc4 16.Nce2 Qb4 17.Rxc8+ Bxc8 18.Nc6 would certainly worry me; 15...Qh5!?; 15...h5 A computer suggestion to which it wittily suggests 16.Bh4 and not then 16...g5 17.Nb3. 16.Nb3 Qc7. 16...Qxc4?? 17.Nd5. 17.f4 Qb8 18.Qe2! e4-e5 looms so Black prevents it but gives away a couple of big squares and suddenly his position does not look like a Hedgehog anymore

18...e5 19.fxe5 Nxe5. 19...dxe5 20.Nd5 Rfe8. 20.Nd5 Nxd5 21.exd5. Nd4-f5 is a serious threat and the bishop on b1 is doing rather better than it's counterpart on b7. 21...Bg5. This helps the white attack. 21...g6 was the best defence. 22.Rc3 Rce8 23.Qc2 Ng6. 23...g6 24.h4 Bd8 25.h5. 24.h4 Be3+

Black is lost already h4-h5 is too strong 24...Be3+ 25.Kh2 h5 26.Rxf7 Rxf7 27.Qxg6 Rf6 28.Qh7+ Kf7 29.Qxh5+ Kg8 30.Bh7+ Kf8 31.Bg6; 24...Be3+ 25.Kh2 f5 26.Rf3 Bc5 27.Nxc5 bxc5 28.Rxf5. 1-0. [Click to replay]

The games will be under a classical chess time control: 40 moves in two hours, 20 in the subsequent hour then an additional 15 minutes plus an increment of 30 seconds a move until the end of the game. The tournament will further benefit from the use of Sofia Rules which disallow early draws. Players will receive three points for a win and one for a draw.

Tournament Schedule

Monday 7th December Press Conference + blindfold display  


8th December

Round 1



9th December

Round 2



10th December

Round 3


Friday 11th December Rest day and Community / School events  


12th December

Round 4



13th December

Round 5



14th December

Round 6



15th December

Round 7


The events below will run in conjunction with the London Classic, 7-15 December. Details of entry fees and prizes are now available on Online entries can now be made by clicking here a form suitable for download will be available soon as well.


The London Chess Classic 2009 will offer free admission to children for the duration of the event which runs from December 8th to 15th. Adult tickets are just £10 per day or just £50 for all seven rounds. Adult and junior ticket holders receive admission to the tournament, plus a guaranteed seat in the auditorium and access to the commentary room where some of the UK’s leading Grandmasters will give insights into the play and answer questions. You can buy tickets here or call +44-207-388-2404.


The games will be broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download the free PGN reader ChessBase Light, which gives you immediate access. You can also use the program to read, replay and analyse PGN games. New and enhanced: CB Light 2009!

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