A Filipino stamp from the match. Photo: Wikipedia. Karpov vs. The dissident. The psychoanalyst Vladimir Zukhar staring from the front row. The world championship match between Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi had it all, and thus came in number six on Chess.

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As a four times Soviet Champion and a regular participant in the Candidates tournament, he actively participated in the battle for the chess crown, yet he was always overshadowed by a fellow countryman. In the 60s, both Petrosian and Spassky proved to be stronger and in the 70s, young Anatoly Karpov. Their individual clash in the Candidates final was won narrowly by the younger player.

However, the match was not only significant from the competitive point of view, but also from a historical perspective. You see, throughout the 60s, Viktor Korchnoi has always had the feeling he is being sidelined by the Soviet authorities in favour of other players. For instance, although he was the Soviet Champion in when the organizers of the Pitagoirsky Cup sent three invitations, only Keres and Petrosian were allowed to go.

Throughout the 60s, he has always had the feeling someone is working against him. That someone else is the chosen one. When young Karpov appeared on the horizon, a similar pattern repeated itself.

He immediately became the favourite of both the public and the authorities. Therefore, they should focus on the development of the younger players… Naturally, Korchnoi, who had just qualified for the Candidates final, was outraged.

Such a statement was incentive Soviet authorities were just waiting for. Probably somewhere around then Korchnoi started seriously considering the way out — defection to another federation.

After Karpov inherited the title of the World Champion, the iron hand of the authorities loosened its grip a bit — they wanted to prove that Karpov was a worthy champion and he needed to compete against the strongest opposition. He then went to a nearby police station to defect. Thus Korchnoi became the first Soviet grandmaster to defect to West.

Moreover, the Cold War was not yet over and Leonid Brezhnev had risen to power. All these events set the stage for the most controversial match in the chess history, match filled with mutual accusations, drama and high political tensions. Just as in the Match of the Century, Soviet authorities very much feared that chess title would escape to the West.

This time it was arguably even worse. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. The cycle started with the two separate Interzonal Tournaments, held in Manila and Biel in the summer of They were joined by Fischer and Korchnoi to form the Candidates quarter-final pairings.

When Fischer declined to participate, Spassky, as the losing semi-finalist of the previous edition, was granted the opportunity to play instead. In any case, after beating the trio of the Soviet- Grandmasters — his nemesis Petrosian, the great opening expert Lev Polugaevsky and Spassky himself, Korchnoi reached the World Championship final and qualified for the match against Karpov.

The match was played in Baguio City, Philippines. For the first time in the history, the World Championship Match was held on the Asian soil. How did it come to be? The bidding process was straightforward. Five weeks after the candidates final match, sealed bids were to be delivered by interested parties.

Seven bids were received. Match conditions were also changed. For the first time since the Alekhine — Capablanca match , the number of the games was unlimited. The first player to win six games draws not counting, would be declared the winner. Also, the rematch clause, abolished back in before the Botvinnik — Petrosian match was reintroduced. As already mentioned, the match was played under dramatic political circumstances. It is not surprising there were numerous off-the-board intrigues in my opinion, this match is the most controversial match in the history of chess, surpassing the infamous Kramnik — Topalov, Toiletgate in Elista by a small margin.

Some of the notable off-the-board events were: Korchnoi insisting on bringing his own chair and Karpov demanding it is exhibited. A couple of days before the match, the chair was X-rayed in a nearby hospital. Korchnoi wearing sunglasses and Karpov complaining it deflected light in his eyes. A yoghurt being passed to Karpov during one of the games and Korchnoi claiming it contained some sort of prohibited substance.

Korchnoi complaining about the infamous Dr. Starting from the 18th game onwards, Korchnoi started bringing his own yogis, Dada and Didi, as a measure against Dr. These two members of the Ananda Darga movement supposedly helped Korchnoi meditate and relax before the games. The only problem was they were wanted for the murder of the Indian diplomat in the very same country the match was held. The events happening on the board were no less dramatic.

Korchnoi retaliated in the 11th game. But then in the 13th game, he outplayed the Champion with the White pieces, but then made a tragic blunder that lost the game.

Karpov built upon his success after breaching the Open Ruy for the second time in the 14th game. Then, in the 17th game, another shock followed.

Korchnoi once again outplayed Karpov convincingly but was once again unable to find the most precise way of converting. But in the second half, miracles started to happen. First Korchnoi won the 17th game: Then a long series of draws followed, demonstrating for the first time the absurdity of the unlimited match format. Then, in the 27th game, Karpov won once again and Korchnoi found himself in a desperate situation.

However, incredibly enough, in the next four games, Korchnoi managed to win three times and to level the scores. The crisis had reached its peak — the loss of the title became a reality. Zukhar who has been sitting in the back seats beforehand sits in the very front row. In any case, in the 32nd game, Korchnoi played rather badly, mishandling the Black side of the Pirc defence and suffering quite a devastating loss. Thus, after 32 dramatic games, Karpov managed to endure the pressure and to remain the World Champion, while Korchnoi would have to wait for another three years for the next opportunity.

The controversy of the match did not end with the match as well. Many years later, Korchnoi claimed he very much feared for his life in the event of him becoming the World Champion.


Karpov vs. Korchnoi | World Chess Championship 1978‎

Both GMs will press hard, but neither will collapse. It will be an exciting match: the styles and personalities of the players are almost totally opposite. Korchnoi will have to be very careful. Korchnoi is perhaps too much an artist, an expressionist who tries to superimpose his own personality on every game. Karpov accepts the essence of the game and allows himself to flow along harmoniously. Really miss the days gone by when we had real intense drama in the Championship Match.


Karpov-Korchnoi: 40 years after

After their divorce, Victor lived with his mother until , then with his father, paternal grandmother and later his adoptive mother Roza Abramovna Fridman who took responsibility for his upbringing when his father was killed during the siege of Leningrad in , and later lived with him in Switzerland. Model had earlier played a major role in the development of future World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik , while Zak, who later co-authored a book with Korchnoi, had also helped train future World Champion Boris Spassky. He won 21 medals for the USSR. He excelled in difficult defensive positions.


Viktor Korchnoi

Nimzo-Indian, 4. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nge2 d5 6. Nxc3 cxd4 8.

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