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  WCC Overview
Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1978
Baguio City, Phillipines

The 1978 World Chess Championship was played between challenger Viktor Korchnoi and champion Anatoly Karpov in Baguio City, Phillipines. The conditions of the match were changed for the first time since 1951: the 24 game format was replaced with an unlimited game format, with the first player to win 6 games being declared champion. The rematch clause for the Champion, which had been discarded since 1963, was brought back into effect.

 Korchnoi vs Karpov
 Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1974 Candidates Matches, Moscow
This was not the first match betwen Korchnoi and Karpov. In the 1974 candidates matches, after defeating Lev Polugaevsky and Boris Spassky in preliminary matches, Karpov beat Korchnoi in the 1974 candidates final by the close score of +3 -2 =19.

Korchnoi had been one of the USSR's top grandmasters for over 20 years. He had won the Soviet Championship on four occasions and had had reached the Candidates final twice. When Korchnoi dramatically defected from the USSR in 1976, he set the stage for one of the most bitterly contested matches in WCC history, filled with high political drama, tension, and accusations. The political ramifications of a Soviet defector winning the chess crown hung heavy on the match atmosphere.

Numerous accusations were traded by the two camps. Korchnoi continously complained that he was being stared at by a member of Karpov's team during play, a parapsychologist supposedly with hypnotic powers. Karpov objected to Korchnoi's wearing of sunglasses which he said deflected light on his eyes. At one point in the match the players stopped shaking hands and all further communication stopped. Draws offers were conveyed through the arbiter.

According to Grandmaster Robert Byrne:

Korchnoi, the challenger, thrives on rancor, developing instant aversion for every opponent he plays. Their mutual dislike began with Korchnoi's disparaging remarks about Karpov's play during their final Candidates' Match in Moscow in 1974. True enmity did not blossom, however, until their title match in Baguio City, the Philippines. After Korchnoi defected from the Soviet Union in 1976, his wife, Bella, and son, Igor, were prevented from joining him. Karpov was not amused when Korchnoi called him "the jailer of my wife and son", implying that Karpov could have obtained their release from the Soviet Union so they could have joined Korchnoi. Karpov retaliated by terming Korchnoi "immoral" for leaving his family behind when he defected to the West. Korchnoi screamed, "Filthy!" and Karpov would no longer shake hands.[1]

Karpov's FIDE Rating going into the match was 2725; Korchnoi's was 2665. The match opened with seven draws. Karpov opened up a 5-2 lead and seemed sure to win when Korchnoi made an astonishing comeback winning three games to tie the match at 5-5. Karpov, however, won the very next game to win the match.

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314151617181920

click on a game number to replay game 212223242526272829303132

FINAL SCORE:  Karpov 6;  Korchnoi 5 (21 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Karpov-Korchnoi 1978]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #8     Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1978     1-0
    · Game #17     Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1978     0-1
    · Game #31     Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1978     1-0


  1. Korchnoi Bids for Chess Title Karpov Holds, Robert Byrne, New York Times, 1981
        As Chess Matches Go, This One's Well-Behaved, New York Times, Dec 1 1987

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 32  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½18 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
2. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½29 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
3. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½30 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchE42 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 c5, 5.Ne2 (Rubinstein)
4. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½19 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
5. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½124 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchE42 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 c5, 5.Ne2 (Rubinstein)
6. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½23 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
7. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½42 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchE47 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3
8. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-028 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
9. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½41 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½44 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
11. Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-050 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchA07 King's Indian Attack
12. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½44 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC81 Ruy Lopez, Open, Howell Attack
13. Korchnoi vs Karpov 0-161 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-050 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
15. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½25 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
16. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½51 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC07 French, Tarrasch
17. Korchnoi vs Karpov 0-139 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchE47 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3
18. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½64 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchB08 Pirc, Classical
19. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½39 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchE06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3
20. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½63 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchB15 Caro-Kann
21. Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-060 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½64 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC07 French, Tarrasch
23. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½42 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
24. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½45 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
25. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½80 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchA22 English
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 32  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-06-12  Blunderdome: Actually, I believe they were played because the prize money would have been split in case of 12-12.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <perfidious>, <Blunderdome> You are both probably right but in this case (and in any other Soviet player vs. Soviet player world championship match) it would be a moot point since the Soviet Union would have appropriated all the prize money and the title remained in Soviet hands.

So I think that at this point (pun intended), all points are probably either minor or moot. :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <AylerKupp> Wonder what happened to Spassky's cut in '72-far more than his $1500 (or $2000, depending on the source).
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <perfidious> I can only assume that Spassky was obligated to give the money to the authorities in exchange for the subsidies that the top players received. So the money was probably used to finance some of these subsidies.

BTW, according to the prize fund was $ 250,000; the initial $ 125,000 and a further $ 125,000 provided by the British investment banker Jim Slater. I don't know how much went to Fischer and how much to Spassky, but a 5/8 or 3/4 split to the winner is probably not unreasonable, leaving Spassky with $ 62,500 (if a 3/4 split to the winner) or $ 93,750 (if a 5/8 split to the winner). That was a lot of money in 1972, particularly for about 6 weeks' of work. If I recall correctly my yearly salary that year was about $ 12,500. Then again, my chess playing was not up to their level. :-)

Dec-06-12  HeMateMe: Boris had his revenge. He got the losers share in his '92 rematch with Fischer, about $1.7million. He was living in Paris then, no one else's fingers in the pie.

BTW, that hustler who financed the '92 Fischer/Spassky rematch has gotten into all kinds of trouble since then, with shady deals (well, he IS a balkans money man, after all) and court appearances. He might be in jail now, not sure.

At least he had bigger stones than the USA corporate whimps who would never put up the money for a WC match in the USA.

Mar-02-13  diceman: <HeMateMe: Ten wins is unfeasible, and Fischer knew it.>

Just a bit over one and a half Candidates Matches for Fischer

Even did it as an "old man" in 92.

Mar-05-13  ozmikey: Redirected from the K-K 1987 page:

<HeMateMe><Regarding press conferences--This guy, I think his name was "Zhukar", not sure--was clearly irritating Korchnoi. He seemed to have a Tal like stare. This match was kind of important, it was for the world championship. Don't you think responsible people could have had this guy moved to another part of the viewing area, instead of being in the first row, game after game? Doesn't a world's champion contestant deserve *that* much respect? The only reason he was left there (in the first row) was because the Soviets knew the guy was getting under Korchnoi's skin. I don't know if it was Euwe or Camponmanes who was president of FIDE at the time, but there was no reason for letting some oddball sit in the front row of a world champion match and deliberately try and upset one of the players. I'm surprised that any serious chess fan visiting this site would side with the Soviets on this. Whether the guy did or did not have "paranormal powers", as Korchnoi thought, he simply didn't belong in the front row of such an important event.

I suppose mentioning this at the daily press conference was an embarrassment, but it was no worse than the Soviets coming to within a hair of forfeiting young Kasparov five years later. Also, it was no more pathetic than the Soviet boycott against Korchnoi (he defected in 1976) which blocked soviet chessplayers from competing in the same tournaments as VK. Absolutely disgusting that this was allowed, and that FIDE did nothing to pressure the Soviets to end the embargo. Restraint of fair competition. The boycott lasted seven years, and kept Korchoi from playing against most of the world's best players. It just shows how much clout the Soviet contingent had, in dealing with FIDE, that 1)they could boycott Korchnoi and 2) keep their looney guy in the front row of the match.>

First, on the Zukhar issue.

(1) Eventually, after repeated protests, the Soviets DID move him (although they subsequently moved him back to where he was - before the last game, if I remember rightly).

(2) On the broader issue, he was part of the Soviet delegation and they were simply standing on their rights in backing him.

(3) Korchnoi's team brought in a "parapsychologist" of their own during the match (an often forgotten fact). This was, of course, the era when people actually took all that nonsense seriously.

(4) Zukhar was far from the only controversial spectator at the event, and the vast majority of them were affiliated with Korchnoi, most particularly the Ananda Margas (then awaiting trial for murder, if memory serves).

(5) It is not a matter of "siding with the Soviets" (I have as much contempt for the Soviet regime as anyone), but the point at issue (raised initially on the K-K 1987 page) was Korchnoi's own behaviour.

Secondly, on the boycott. It can hardly be expected of FIDE to insist that players from a certain country be entered in certain events beyond their jurisdiction. In FIDE events such as the interzonals it would have been a different matter, but because Korchnoi qualified automatically for the candidates in each of the three cycles he competed in post-defection and pre-lifting of the boycott (78, 81, 84), this simply wasn't an issue.

Mar-06-13  extremeintellect: <ozmikey> it is very difficult to pinpoint the punch and counter punch in the actions from both sides. Clearly Karpov was the blue eyed boy of the Soviet Regime whereas Korchnoi was a defector. The mean soviet machine would have left no stones unturned to trouble Korchnoi and promote their protege.

On Youtube there are a number of videos that touch upon that match. In one such video (The Great Chess Movie by Gilles Carle), when Karpov gets a query on soviets jailing Korchnoi family among others, Karpov got riled of by the use of the term Master Karpov (why was he being terms as master Karpov and WC Karpor of GM Karpov) and suggested that the reporter meets the Soviet authorities outside the hotel where they have some answers ready for him.

As regards Byrne - all his statements seem completely one sided as a rule - on the soviet side. If I did not see a GM against his name I would make the mistake of being biased myself thinking him to be a barnacle on the backside of the Soviet Chess Machine from those days.

Mar-06-13  Lambda: I think it's only 'bad behaviour' when it's unilateral. If both sides are doing it, it's just a fight.
Mar-06-13  ozmikey: <extremeintellect> I remember watching that "Great Chess Movie" and that scene in particular, and frankly I think anyone would have been annoyed by those particular questions (they were from that nutty Spanish playwright Arrabal, for the record). They were strangulated, almost incomprehensible and had nothing to do with chess. And Karpov's responses contained no veiled threats or anything of the kind, he simply asked him to direct non-chess questions to those who the Soviets had obviously detailed to answer them.

Whether Karpov could have had any influence at all in the matter of Korchnoi's wife and son is questionable to say the least. Certainly it was not sufficient for Korchnoi to refer to Karpov routinely as the "jailer" of his family. Again, I make these statements not to defend the appalling Soviet regime, merely to clarify my opinion on Korchnoi's behaviour.

On the matter of Robert Byrne, I've read a great deal of what he's written over the years and found him perhaps the most shrewd and even-handed chess journalist of them all. I think that compared to his contemporaries he certainly may have appeared more sympathetic towards the Soviets, but to my mind this says more about those contemporaries (Larry Evans, for instance) than it does about Byrne.

Mar-06-13  tzar: <ozmikey> You are absolutely right, Fernando Arrabal was trying to make a political press conference, blaming Karpov of everything that happened in the USSR (Arrabal is well known in Spain for his constant scandals). Fortunately, Karpov did not take him very seriously. People tend to forget that the Russian population was the first victim of the Soviet is true that chess players accepted privileges, after all what they were supposed to do? be all heroes and finish in a gulag??...Kasparov also was representing the regime that held Korchnoi's son in prison and he did not ask for his liberation as a condition to play under Soviet flag.
Mar-06-13  extremeintellect: <ozmikey: frankly I think anyone would have been annoyed by those particular questions> Please see that there are different reactions to the same questions even within audience - I found them quite ok even for Cold War era days whereas someone like you (who clearly seems to know far more) has a different opinion. Korchnoi was no role model for good behavior but Karpov was a himself a master of all shenanigans - pls recall his comment about being deprived of a chance to play with a toy that has been promised to him (when the match with Fischer did not take place). How polite was that indication as if his victory over Bobby was a given. It was Karpov that refused to even acknowledge Korchnoi & shake hands and that started many things.

As regards Mr. Byrne you may have read and analyzed far more than what little I have seen or would read, but my perception right from my formative years was that he shrewdly chose his masters when all the money in chess was in the Eastern Block took the path of least resistance in writing. That takes nothing away from his journalistic and chess abilities though.

Mar-06-13  tzar: Not to shake hands was an order of Soviet authorities, not a Karpov's decision, on the contrary he has a reputation of being a quite correct sportsman.
Nov-22-13  Karpova: Behind the scenes of Korchnoi's team: <Backstabbing in Baguio>, Kingpin, Online February 25, 2010:

Michael Francis Stean: <The terrible thing was that Viktor had always been betrayed and let down. That was why he defected. He needed people around him he could trust.>

Nov-18-14  zanzibar: Sorry if this has been posted before, but here is a youtube clip with some old TV footage from the time of the match

At the end Karpov does well to share a laugh with Breschnev (does he have a choice?).

Nov-18-14  Petrosianic: Did Brezhnev know who Karpov was by that point in his life?
Nov-18-14  Petrosianic: <Karpova: Behind the scenes of Korchnoi's team: <Backstabbing in Baguio>, Kingpin, Online February 25, 2010:>

Looks like either a satirical piece, or a very badly written one.

Mar-14-15  Everett: <
member Karpova: Behind the scenes of Korchnoi's team: <Backstabbing in Baguio>, Kingpin, Online February 25, 2010: Michael Francis Stean: <The terrible thing was that Viktor had always been betrayed and let down. That was why he defected. He needed people around him he could trust.>>

To at least some degree, we each make our own beds. Karpov went with the flow of the Soviets, Korchnoi did not. The rest is simply evidence of those decisions.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Some match-footage:
Aug-01-15  thegoodanarchist: <whiteshark: Some match-footage:>

Outstanding historical documentary! I thank you kindly for the link to this.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <thegoodanarchist> You are welcome!
Aug-02-15  zanzibar: Indeed, all the AP reporting <whiteshark> found is great.

But this one in particular is fantastic.

Who was the women serving as a pseudo-second to Korchnoi in addition to Keene?

See is briefly mentioned by name, and is seen at the table (1:55) and dancing at 3:27.

Aug-02-15  Retireborn: <z> That looks like Petra Leeuwerik, who was Korchnoi's girlfriend at the time and still is, I believe. Her official title was head of Korchnoi's delegation.
Aug-02-15  zanzibar: Ah, thanks, <rb>...

I thought they were on rather, er.. "friendly", terms seeing them dancing together.

On the other hand, I know that Korchnoi was still married, and waiting for both his wife and son to emigrate from the USSR.

Here's more:

“The arrival of the family was in 1982 and the divorce proceedings started long after in 1988.”

Are you sure this is right? Here’s a notice in Time Magazine from August 8, 1983:

“SEEKING DIVORCE. Viktor Korchnoi, 52, tempestuous Soviet chess grand master who defected in 1976; and Beta Korchnoi, 50, who emigrated to Switzerland last year with their son Igor, 23, after the young man spent 30 months in a Siberian labor camp for refusing military service; after 25 years of marriage; in Wohlen, Switzerland. Korchnoi, who twice lost world championship matches to erstwhile Countryman Anatoly Karpov, pleaded with Leonid Brezhnev to allow his family to leave in 1978, though he was linked romantically with his Austrian-born manager, Petra Leeuwerik.”>

Aug-02-15  zanzibar: Korchnoi's wife's name is incorrect in the above... as noted later in the link given.

It's Bela (not Beta).

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