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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

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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
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Also, not that it hasn't been written on this site a million times or so, but FIDE adopted the first to six wins format in 1971, to be used for the 1975 world championship match. After he won the title, Fischer tried to change the format to first to ten wins, with the added requirement that his challenger beat him by two to take the title.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<keypusher> It was impossible for Karpov to win the match 10:9.>

That's also the way I remembered it, but, Karpov-Fischer World Championship Match (1975) says the following:

"In September, 1973, Fred Cramer, Vice President (Zone 5) of FIDE, proposed that the world championship match be decided on 10 wins, draws not counting. He also proposed that the champion retains his title if it were a 9-9 tie. This became known as the Cramer proposal. Fischer telegrammed FIDE informing them that they should adopt the Cramer proposal."

So that seems to me that <neither> player could <win> the match 10-9 since once the score reached 9-9 the match would be declared tied and Fischer would retain his title. But there would be no official match winner, and the prize money would have been split evenly. So the only advantage that Fischer really had was retaining his title in case of a 9-9 score but, as I said, there was plenty of precedent for that (Lasker-Schlechter World Championship Match (1910), Botvinnik-Bronstein World Championship Match (1951), Botvinnik-Smyslov World Championship Match (1954)). Maybe this is nitpicking since the perception would be that Fischer had "won" the match since he retained his title, but that would have been technically incorrect. So this condition doesn't seem that unreasonable to me.

I wasn't aware of FIDE adopting the first to six wins format in 1971. I guess must have missed the 6 million posts :-). I am surprised that FIDE would take the lead in changing the match format that had been in place since 1950. Of course, there was plenty of precedence for this (Steinitz-Zukertort World Championship Match (1886), Steinitz-Chigorin World Championship Match (1889), Steinitz-Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892), Lasker-Steinitz World Championship (1894), Lasker-Steinitz World Championship Rematch (1896), Lasker-Janowski World Championship Match (1910), and perhaps most notably, Capablanca-Alekhine World Championship Match (1927)).

I am not sure when Fischer first made his proposal for a match with draws not counting but since he did not become champion until 1972 there doesn't seem to be much incentive for FIDE to begin considering Fischer's "suggestions" until they could no longer ignore him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: <keypusher> It's amazing how you neglect the fact that Bobby himself needed to win 10:8 in order to win the match as well!! So Bobby gave very fair conditions for the challenger and himself, to fight, and not play for draws. Bobby himself knew that he could luck out with a one game advantage as well as the challenger, so he imposed the two win rule, so that the winner of the match really deserved the victory!!
Dec-06-12  Shams: <Joshka><<keypusher> It's amazing how you neglect the fact that Bobby himself needed to win 10:8 in order to win the match as well!!>

You say amazing, I say a footnote. Fischer would have kept his crown with a win or a draw, is the obvious point. I'm not aware that any challenger who has ever drawn a title match considers it much consolation that the champion didn't beat him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: It has been claimed that there was a win by two clause in Schlechter-Lasker (and Capablanca-Alekhine), but in fact no one knows.

Botvinnik didn't have a win by two clause in any of his matches.

Re the distinction between winning the match and keeping the title, Shams pretty much expressed my view. I think the win by two clause was unfair, and FIDE was right to reject it. I also don't think there was any way in hell Fischer would have played in 1975, so I don't think FIDE cost us anything by not yielding. But we've all expressed our opinion on that topic many times.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <keypusher> But Fischer also had to win by two. If the score were, say, 9-8 (or 6-5) then the match would have presumably continued, even though Fischer could not have lost his title. This was the case with Lasker-Steinitz World Championship (1894) and Botvinnik-Smyslov World Championship Rematch (1958), So, at least in the case of the 10-win (or 6-win), win by two condition this was equally fair to both sides in terms of determining the match winner..

There was still the little matter of prize money (I don’t know the amount but it was likely considerably more than the $ 250K for Spassky – Fischer 1972). The winner would have received the greater part instead of splitting it. This may not have been a consideration for Karpov (the Soviet Union would have kept his share, although I'm sure there would have been some sort of compensation) but I'm sure it was a consideration for the usually cash-strapped Fischer.

Botvinnik didn't have a win by two clause in any of his world championship matches because they were all of fixed duration, 24-games, first to achieve 12 ½ points with draws counting, so the win by two clause was presumably not as important. And the other defending world champions (Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky) also had similar conditions.

My totally unsubstantiated and completely personal opinion was that FIDE was probably fed up with Fischer's demands and expected him to compromise on the 10-win, win by 2 clause after agreeing to all his other demands and so, in a fit of pique, held their ground. Whether the match would have been held if FIDE had also agreed on what I think was a relatively minor point we'll never know, as Fischer may have insisted on additional conditions. But by FIDE not yielding it definitely resulted in an aborted match and possibly to Fischer's continued absence in top-level chess. So it did cost us all considerably.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <AylerKupp> Minor point: the best of 24 championship matches were not, strictly speaking, 'first to 12.5' for both-if the champion reached 12 (as in Petrosian-Spassky World Championship Match (1966)), the match ended in the champion's favour. The final two games in 1966 were played as a formality.
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.
Premium Chessgames 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.>

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.

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