Viktor Korchnoi's 80th birthday clock simul

4/4/2011 – A week ago we celebrated Viktor Korchnoi's 80th birthday in Zurich. There was a gala dinner with chess prominence, but before that the octogenarian gave a handicap clock simul against ten talented members of the Swiss juniors. Viktor Lvovich won the match 8-2 and played some very attractive games. The juniors sent them to us with their notes. Big pictorial report.

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Viktor Korchnoi's 80th birthday clock simul

Pictorial report by Frederic Friedel

On March 23, 2011, Viktor Korchnoi turned 80. There was a week of celebrations, held mainly in Zurich, which is not far from where Viktor Lvovich and his wife Petra live. The culmination was an event on Saturday, March 26, which started with a clock simul against the Swiss youth team, followed by a gala dinner in the Festival Hall of the Hotel Savoy Baur en Ville in Zurich. There were some prominent visitors, as we told you in our previous report. Today we concentrate on the clock simul. The opponents were put together by the Youth Commission of the Swiss Chess Federation and included three of the best players of the SG Zurich. The team consisted of two girls and two players each from the U12, U14, U16 and U18 groups.

Viktor Korchnoi was playing a clock handicap simultaneous exhibition in Zurich

His opponents were ten talented youngsters from the Swiss Youth team

Incidentally: one of the guests at the gala celebrations in Zurich made Viktor an offer: if the eighty-year-old simultaneous master would become overcome with fatigue he could enlist the assistance of an unrated player who was willing to jump in for him, for a move or two. However, Viktor refused: he would do the job by himself, but thank you very kindly for the offer, Garry Kasparov!

In the above picture you see Viktor playing pondering against the youngest opponents, who were playing atypically cautiously. In the background is an elderly gentleman kibitzing.

This is Edgar Walther, whose best-known game, played fifty-two years ago here in Zurich, can be found in any endgame book. You will also find it, extensively analysed, as game number nine in Bobby Fischer's "My 60 Memorable Games", Faber 1969, pp. 62–67, where it is introduced as follows:

Bewixt the cup and the lip

Here, against a minor European master, Fischer appears to be busted after seventeen moves, and admits he was ready to resign on move 36. Nevertheless, he extracts a miraculous draw from a hopeless ending, two Pawns down. Time and again Walther fumbles, allowing Fischer to prolong the struggle until he gets his break on move 54.

What makes this game memorable is the demonstration it affords of the way in which a Grandmaster redeems himself after having started like a duffer; and how a weaker opponent, after masterfully building a winning position, often lacks the technique required to administer the coup de grace. As Capablanca remarked, "The good player is always lucky."

Walther,Edgar - Fischer,Robert James [B99]
Zuerich, 1959
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Nbd7 9.0-0-0 Qc7 10.Bd3 b5 11.Bxf6 Nxf6 12.Rhe1 Bb7 13.Kb1 Rc8 14.g4 Nd7 15.g5 Nb6 16.f5 e5 17.f6 gxf6 18.gxf6 Bf8 19.Nd5!

"Black's busted" is Fischer's comment to the position. 19...Nxd5 20.exd5 Kd8 21.Nc6+ Bxc6 22.dxc6 Qxc6 23.Be4 Qb6 24.Qh5 Kc7 25.Bf5 Rd8 26.Qxf7+ Kb8 27.Qe6 Qc7 28.Re3 Bh6 29.Rc3 Qb7 30.f7 Bg7 31.Rcd3 Bf8 32.Qxe5. Fischer: "Should be decisive. Any resemblance to chess is purely coincidental." 32...dxe5 33.Rxd8+ Ka7 34.R1d7 h5 35.Rxb7+ Kxb7 36.c3 Kc7

"Ordinarily the curtain would be drawn here, but I just wanted to see what he'd do next." (Fischer). 37.Ra8 (?) "The wrong track. On 37.Re8! Black resigns" (Fischer). 37...Kd6 38.Rxa6+. "I was still prepared to resign after 38.Re8! Black has absolutely no moves. White simply strolls his King to e4, creating zugzwang" (Fischer). Bobby went on to actually draw the game, two pawns down. 38...Ke7 39.Re6+ Kxf7 40.Rxe5 b4 41.cxb4 Bxb4 42.h3 Kf6 43.Rb5 Bd6 44.Be4 Re8 45.Rf5+ Kg7 46.Bf3 Re1+ 47.Kc2 Rf1 48.Rd5 Rf2+ 49.Rd2 Rxd2+ 50.Kxd2 h4 51.Kd3 Kf6 52.Kc4 Ke7 53.Kb5 Kd7 54.a4 Kc7 55.b4 Kb8 56.a5 Ka7 57.Kc4 Bg3 58.Kb3 Be1 59.Ka4 Bd2 60.Bh5 Be1 61.b5 Bf2 62.Be2 Be3 63.Kb3 Bd2 64.b6+ Kb7 65.Ka4 Kc6 66.Bb5+ Kc5 67.Be8 Be1 ½-½. Your contemporary chess fan felt there was still a trace of melancholy to be seen in Edgar Walther's face.

The clock simul games

In a clock simul the master gets the same time on his clocks as the players, i.e. he is at a ten-fold handicap. The players can move whenever they please, and can do so even when the master is not looking. But Viktor Korchnoi turned the clocks against the players, by playing very quickly and getting many of them into time trouble. The games, some with light commentary, were provided by the players. We were greatly assisted in collecting them by Pierre Meylan, who is was one of the organisers of the event.

Maria vs Viktor – the simul master urged her to go on playing

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Heinatz,Maria (1936) [D11]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80, 26.03.2011

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.h3 Bh5 6.Qb3 Qb6 7.Ne5 e6 8.g4 Bg6 9.Nxg6 hxg6 10.Bg2 Nbd7 11.Nc3 Rc8 12.c5 Qc7 13.g5 Nh5 14.Bd2 e5?

An error by Black which Korchnoi immediately exploits to gain a decisive advantage. 15.Nxd5! cxd5 16.Bxd5 Nb8 17.Bxb7. Now Maria Heinatz stretched out her hand in resignation, but Viktor Korchnoi debated it with her: "You have an extra piece, you should go on playing." But looking at the position on the board we do not know if he was serious or simply teasing. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Korchnoi executing the key move: 15.Nxd5!

Maria Heinatz, daughter of former GDR national player WIM Gundula Heinatz

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Grandadam,Patrik (2256) [B41]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80, 26.03.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Nc2 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5?! 9...Qc7! 10.0-0 (10.Ba3 b5=) 10...d6 11.Ba3 Ne5 12.f4 Ned7 13.Qe2 Nc5=. 10.0-0 0-0 11.Ba3 d6?! [11...Rd8=] 12.Bxd6 [12.e5! Nxe5 13.Bb4 Qa4 (13...Qd8 14.Bxd6 Nxd3 15.Bxf8 Kxf8 16.Ne1) 14.Bxd6 Nxd3 15.Bxf8 Qxc4 16.Nb4+/=] 12...Rd8 13.Bb4 Qc7 14.Qe2 Ne5 15.Rad1 a5 16.Ba3 Qd7? [16...b6!] 17.Ne3? [17.Nd4 b6 (17...Nxd3 18.Rxd3 e5 19.Rfd1+-) 18.f4+/-; 17.Ne1 Qc6 (17...Nxc4 18.Bc2+/-) 18.Be7 Rd7 19.Bxf6+/-] 17...Nxd3 18.Rxd3 Qxd3 19.Rd1 Qxd1+ 20.Nxd1 Nxe4 21.f3? [21.Kf1] 21...Rd2! 22.Qe1 [22.Qxe4 Rxd1+ 23.Kf2 Rd2+ 24.Kg3 Rxa2-+] 22...Rxa2 23.Qxe4 Rxa3 24.Qd4 h6 25.Ne3

25...a4? 25...f5 26.h4 Kh7 27.h5 Ra6 28.Qc5 Ra1+ 29.Kh2 Re1 30.Qxc8 Rxe3 31.Qxb7=; 25...Ra1+ 26.Kf2 Kh7 27.Ng4 (27.Qd8 Ra2+ 28.Kg1 Rb2 29.Ng4 e5 30.Qf8 Rb6-/+) 27...Ra2+ 28.Kg3 (28.Kg1 f5 29.Ne5 Re2 30.Nf7 b6 31.Qd8 Bb7 32.Qxb6 Ba6-+) 28...f5 29.Ne5 Re2. 26.Qd8+ Kh7 27.Qd3+?? 27.Ng4! e5 (27...f5 28.Ne5=; 27...Ra1+ 28.Kf2 a3 29.Nf6+ gxf6 30.Qf8=) 28.Nxe5 (28.Qf8 Ra1+ 29.Kf2 Bxg4 30.Qxa8 Be6 31.Qxb7 a3 32.Qb3 g5=/+) 28...Ra1+ 29.Kf2 a3 30.Nxf7 a2 31.Qh8+ Kg6 32.Ne5+ Kf5 33.Qf8+ Kxe5 34.Qxg7+ Kd6 35.Qd4+ Ke6 36.Qb6+ Kd7 37.Qd4+ Kc7 38.Qe5+=. 27...f5 28.g4 Ra1+ 29.Kg2 a3 30.Nc2 Ra2 0-1. [Click to replay]

Patrik Grandadam, 14, member of the Swiss Junior team

After his victory Patrik gets to meet another chess legend

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Meylan,André (2025) [C14]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80, 26.03.2011
1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 a6 7.Qg4 Bxg5 8.hxg5 c5 9.g6 f5 10.exf6?! 10. Qf4 and 10. Qg3 are more common and lead to sharp variations. But Korchnoi quickly goes for this side line. 10...Nxf6

11.Rxh7. The former world championship challenger thinks for a few seconds, nods and goes for the sacrifice! 11...Rf8. The complications begin on this board, and Korchnoi wins his first game. He is always so impressive... 11... Rf8 is the best defence: 11...Nxh7 12.gxh7 Qf6? White wins with 13.Nxd5! 12.Qh4?! Inaccurate. Better was 12.Qd1 as in Hovhannisyan-Nepomniachtchi, World Youth Stars 2006. 12...Nxh7 13.Qxd8+ Kxd8 14.gxh7 cxd4 15.Nce2

Black's position is better, but the Lion of Leningrad once again demonstrated his ability to keep fighting. 15...e5 16.f4 e4 17.Nxd4 Nc6 18.0-0-0 Rh8 19.Nb3 Rxh7 20.Rxd5+ Kc7 21.Ne2 Be6 22.Rg5 Bc4 23.Kd2 Rd8+ 24.Kc3 b5 25.Ng3 e3 26.Bd3 Bxd3 27.cxd3 Rd6. Only two games were still in progress, and Black has just twenty minutes left on his clock. He begins to feel the pressure. 28.d4 g6 29.Ne2 Ne7 30.Kd3 Nd5 31.Ke4

31...Rh4?? 32.Rxd5 Korchnoi says quite loudly "Thank you!", something he has done twice already in this clock simul... 32...Re6+ 33.Re5. The last game is still in progress, but the chess legend starts to analyse this one with his opponent. He says that the position (in the last diagram) was still better for Black! 1-0. [Click to replay]

"Thank you!" Viktor said to André Meylan, and took the piece. André drew
in a Kramnik simul in 2009 and beat Anish Giri in a simul last year.

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Berset,Alan (1971) [E01]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80, 26.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 e6 4.g3 Bb4+ 5.Nbd2 Nc6 6.a3 Bxd2+ 7.Bxd2 b6. Korchnoi frowns, and I notice that this move was not the best I could play... 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.cxd5 exd5 11.Rc1 Bg4 12.Qa4 Bd7 13.Bh3 Bxh3 14.Qxc6+ Qxc6 15.Rxc6 Bg2 16.Rg1 Bxf3 17.exf3 Kd7

Here I could tell that Korchnoi was not quite happy with the opening... 18.Rc3 Rac8 19.b4 Kd6 20.Kd2 c6 21.Re1 Rhe8 22.Rce3 Re6 23.f4 Rce8 24.Kd3 R6e7 25.f5 Rxe3+ 26.fxe3 Re4 27.a4 c5 28.bxc5+ bxc5 29.Rb1 c4+ 30.Kd2 Re7 31.Rb8 Kc6 32.Rg8 f6 33.Rc8+ Kd6 34.a5 Rb7 35.Rd8+ Kc6 36.e4 dxe4 37.Kc3 Rd7 38.Rc8+ Kd6

39.Kxc4. Immediately after playing this move Korchnoi started to shake his head. He could see that taking with the king was a bad decision. 39.Rxc4 Rc7 40.Rxc7 Kxc7 41.Kd2 Kc6 42.Ke3. 39...Rc7+ 40.Rxc7 Kxc7 41.g4 Kc6 42.d5+ Kd6 43.Kd4 e3 44.Kxe3 Kxd5 45.Kf4 Kc5 46.g5 hxg5+ 47.Kg4 Kd5 0-1. [Click to replay]

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Angst,Robin (1935) [A18]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80 BURDUR, 26.03.2011
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 d5 4.e5 d4 5.exf6 dxc3 6.bxc3 Qxf6 7.Nf3 e5 8.Bd3 Bd6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Be4

I did not know what to do and started to think. Korchnoi kept walking by and after the fourth time I heard him mutter: "What are you thinking about, in this position it is easy to find a move." 10...c6 11.d4 Bg4 12.Qd3 Bxf3 13.Bxf3 exd4 14.cxd4 Na6 15.Rb1 Rab8 16.c5 Bf4 17.Be3 Nc7 18.Rb3 Rfd8 19.Qb1 Nb5 20.d5 Nd4 21.Bxd4 Qxd4 22.g3 Be5 23.Rxb7 cxd5 24.c6 Rbc8 25.Rd1 Qc4 26.Qf5 Qxc6 27.Rxd5 Qc1+ 28.Kg2 Bf6 29.Be4 Qh6 30.Rxa7

André Meylan had just lost his game and now I was the last player in the simul. Korschnoi sat down oppositie me. He had an hour on his clock, I had just 15 minutes, and a worse position. Everyone was standing around our game, which probably explains my next weak move. 30...Qg6? Korschnoi said something like "Ha? Well...". Then he saw the winning combination. 31.Qf3 Qh6 32.Rh5 1-0. [Click to replay]

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Thode,Gilda (1845) [E80]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80, 26.03.2011
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.f3 g6 4.c4 Bg7 5.Nc3 b6 6.Bd3 Bb7 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.Bg5 c5 9.d5 Ne5 10.Bb1 Qd7 11.b3 0-0-0 12.Qd2 h5 13.f4 Neg4 14.h3 Nh6 15.Bc2 Nh7 16.Bh4 f6 17.b4 a6 18.Na4 Qc7 19.bxc5 bxc5 20.Rb1 Kb8 21.0-0 Ka7 22.e5 fxe5 23.fxe5 Nf5 24.Bxf5 gxf5 25.exd6 Qxd6 26.Nxc5 Rb8 27.Bg3 Be5 28.Bxe5 Qxe5 29.Nd7 1-0. [Click to replay]

Gilda Thode, thirteen years old

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Welch,Fabian (1866) [E76]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80, 26.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g6 5.e4 Bg7 6.f4 Nbd7 7.Nf3 0-0 8.Be2 a6 9.0-0 Qc7 10.Qe1 Re8 11.Kh1 Rb8 12.e5 dxe5 13.fxe5 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 1-0. [Click to replay]

Succumbed to two brutal attack on g6: Leonard Zuest, 13

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Zuest,Leonard (1870) [C78]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80, 26.03.2011 [Commentary by Leonard Zuest]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 b5 6.Bb3 Bb7 7.d3 Bc5 8.Be3 Bb6 9.Bxb6 cxb6 10.Nc3 0-0 11.a3 d6 12.Re1 Ne7 13.d4 Ng6 14.Qd2 Qe7 15.Rad1 Rad8 16.Qg5 h6??

In a fairly equal position I play a losing move. But I had to go on, just to calm myself. 17.Qxg6 d5 18.Qf5 dxe4 19.Nxe5 Qd6 20.h3 Qe7 21.Ng6!

For the second time a attack from the square g6! Now I had enough and no desire to continue. 1-0. [Click to replay]

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Arcuti,Davide (1982) [D50]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80, 26.03.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bg5 d5 5.e3 c6 6.Qc2 Nbd7 7.Bd3 h6 8.Bh4 0-0 9.Nf3 Qc7 10.0-0 b6 11.Rac1 Ba6 12.cxd5 Bxd3 13.Qxd3 exd5 14.Bg3 Qd8 15.Ne2 Rc8 16.Qa6 Ne4 17.Qa4 Be7 18.Rxc6 Rxc6 19.Qxc6 Ndf6 20.Be5 Qc8 21.Rc1 Qa6 22.Bxf6 Bxf6 23.Qxd5 Qxe2 24.Qxe4 Qxb2 25.Qc2 Qb4 26.g3 Rd8 27.Kg2 g5 28.h3 Kg7 29.Qf5 Qb2 30.Rc6 Be7 31.Qe5+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

Kortschnoi,Viktor GM (2563) - Hoang,Harry (1922) [B54]
Zuerich, Simultan Kortschnoi_80, 26.03.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3 g6 6.c4 Bg7 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.Be3 0-0 9.Qd2 Re8 10.Rd1 Bd7 11.Be2 b6 12.0-0 Qc7 13.Ndb5 Qb7 14.Nd5 Nxd5 15.cxd5 Ne5 16.Rc1 Rac8 17.h3 f6 18.f4 Nf7 19.Qb4 Rf8 20.Nd4 Nh6 21.Bb5 f5 22.Bc6 Bxd4 23.Qxd4 Bxc6 24.dxc6 Qc7 25.Qd5+ Rf7 26.e5 dxe5 27.fxe5 Rd8 28.Qe6 f4 29.Bxf4 Nf5 30.Qxf7+ Kxf7 31.e6+ 1-0. [Click to replay]

The youngest, Harry Hoang, 11, gets to meet Garry Kasparov


My Life for Chess – by Viktor Korchnoi

Viktor Kortchnoi is doubtlessly one of the most electrifying personalities of the chess world. Still playing successful and attractive chess, the former double world championship finalist is also famous for his candid language. Kortchnoi was never one for mincing his words. Now you can experience this chess legend “live”: with the ChessBase DVDs “My Life for Chess”, Kortchnoi has 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, among them games against Smyslov, Geller, Tal, Huebner and Karpov. In each case Kortchnoi describes in detail the story around the 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. All in all, “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 portraits the second part of his eventful career, presenting 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”.

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