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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
Karpov½½½½½½½1½½0½11½½1½½½
Korchnoi½½½½½½½0½½1½00½½0½½½

click on a game number to replay game 212223242526272829303132
Karpov0½½½½½100½01
Korchnoi1½½½½½011½10

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

FOOTNOTES

  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 YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½181978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
2. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½291978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
3. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½301978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipE42 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 c5, 5.Ne2 (Rubinstein)
4. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½191978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
5. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½1241978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipE42 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 c5, 5.Ne2 (Rubinstein)
6. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½231978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
7. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½421978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipE47 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3
8. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-0281978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
9. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½411978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½441978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
11. Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-0501978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipA07 King's Indian Attack
12. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½441978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipC81 Ruy Lopez, Open, Howell Attack
13. Korchnoi vs Karpov 0-1611978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-0501978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
15. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½251978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
16. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½511978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipC07 French, Tarrasch
17. Korchnoi vs Karpov 0-1391978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipE47 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3
18. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½641978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipB08 Pirc, Classical
19. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½391978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipE06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3
20. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½631978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipB15 Caro-Kann
21. Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-0601978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½641978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipC07 French, Tarrasch
23. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½421978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
24. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½451978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
25. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½801978Karpov - Korchnoi World ChampionshipA22 English
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 32  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 7 OF 7 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-23-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <keypusher: I wish Trump would do something about the picture at the top of this page.>

He's promised to "Make Baguio City Great Again."

<It's not as if there were no cameras at Baguio>

Unfortunately, "hands around throats" tended to block the players faces in most pictures.

Jun-22-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  diagonal: 10 reasons why the 1978 Karpov – Korchnoi World Chess Championship match was the weirdest ever, according to Rappler, a social network / news website based in the Philippines:

http://www.rappler.com/sports/by-sp...

Jun-22-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <diagonal: 10 reasons why the 1978 Karpov – Korchnoi World Chess Championship match was the weirdest ever>

Wow, sounds like Korchnoi never
"received" payment for the match.

Jun-22-16  Olavi: Without otherwise commenting on the 'slightly' inaccurate paper, the FIDE congress decided that Korchnoi would receive full payment even though he never, as far as I know, acknowledged his defeat.
Jun-22-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: I'd heard he acknowledged it to Petra and his entourage right after the game.

But that was Korchnoi for you. Whereas it was hard to drag Fischer to the board, it was hard to keep Korchnoi away from it. He would always play now and complain later. If a game was played under illegal conditions, you refuse to play. You don't play anyway, take the result if you like it, and complain if you don't. That trick never works.

He never seemed to realized the power he had. The world simply wouldn't have accepted Karpov by default a second time. Korchnoi could have gotten his family out or gotten any halfway reasonable conditions he wanted if he'd been less willing to sit down at the board.

Jun-22-16  Absentee: <Olavi: Without otherwise commenting on the 'slightly' inaccurate paper, the FIDE congress decided that Korchnoi would receive full payment even though he never, as far as I know, acknowledged his defeat.>

Half of the stuff in there smells of fiction. It doesn't help that it's completely unsourced.

Jun-22-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: "Slightly" inaccurate?!

Yes, I wondered too... Consider this statement:

<3. ... Mikhael Tal, one of Karpov’s seconds later told Korchnoi, “There, in Baguio, we were all afraid of you – if you had won the match, you could have been physically eliminated. Everything had been prepared for this.”>

Is this believable?

I tried searching for the source, and found this:

<Two years later, at the Novi Sad Olympiad, Tal had a conversation with Korchnois ... >

https://books.google.com/books?id=R...

So, it's a bit unclear who is the source. It must either be Tal or Korchnoi, but how did Johnson come by it?

Jun-22-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: It looks like it was written by the Baguio Chamber of Commerce rather than by someone really familiar with chess. Many of the points are simply oddities, which in no way add to the "Weirdest Match Ever" claim, and little or no comparison is made with other matches.
Jun-22-16  Sally Simpson: I've read the '10 Reasons Article'

Ray Keene's 'Chess in a Ghost Town' article appeared in The Spectator during the match.

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/arti...

I know Keene wrote in his book on the match that Korchnoi thought his life may be danger if he beat Karpov. Keene and others did not take this seriously but were glad not to be asked to act as food tasters.

The venues who bid for the match were Germany, Austria, Holland and The Philippines. The various camps were asked to submit their choice in an order of 1-4.

The flags issue is true. But left out Korchnoi offering to play under a Soviet flag with 'I've escaped' written on it.

The sunglasses, chair and yoghurt incidents happened. And the Korchnoi camp did employ for a while a couple that were wanted for murder to counteract the 'rays' from DR. Zoukhar.

The writer missed out Korchnoi's intended opening ceremony protest to sit down at the playing of the Russian anthem.

Much to Korchnoi's amusement the band played the wrong tune!

Jun-22-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Not entirely wrong. It WAS the Soviet National Anthem. Sort of.
Jun-22-16  Olavi: Until 1944.
Jun-22-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Sally Simpson:
The sunglasses, chair and yoghurt incidents happened.>

Chair x-rays were all the rage after Fischer/Spassky 1972.

Jul-05-16  siggemannen: Didn't Korchnoi offer to play under Jolly Rodgers flag? Or was it another WCH?
Jul-05-16  Absentee: <siggemannen: Didn't Korchnoi offer to play under Jolly Rodgers flag? Or was it another WCH?>

I think that was Spassky-Fischer '92.

Jul-05-16  beatgiant: The "Jolly Roger" incident is mentioned here: Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal (1977)
Jul-05-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < Sally Simpson: I've read the '10 Reasons Article'

Ray Keene's 'Chess in a Ghost Town' article appeared in The Spectator during the match.

http://archive.spectator.co.uk/arti...

>

I especially enjoyed the description of Baturinsky:

<The Soviets unleashed the first volley by the sheer size of their delegation: sixteen men, five of whom have consecutively numbered passports, and most of whom have functions clearly unconnected with chess. The leader of this delegation is V.D. Baturinsky, a character remarkably lacking in humour. <<<A squat toad-like creature who expresses himself in atrocious French>>>, he used to be a military prosecutor under Stalin, and has now turned his claw to chess.>

He must have been quite the lady's man...

Jul-05-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <thegoodanarchist: < Sally Simpson: I've read the '10 Reasons Article' Ray Keene's 'Chess in a Ghost Town'...

<...sixteen men, five of whom have consecutively numbered passports...>>

Brilliant! The idea is obvious; the passports are not 100% genuine. Printed for a single occasion.

Keene probably had not seen their passports, and was speaking metaphorically, or just as a joke.

Keene's journalistic writings from 1974 to 1984 were really good, despite being necessarily produced very quickly.

Later on the speed was still there but the books - er, had consecutively numbered passports.

Jul-05-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <offramp: ...

Brilliant! The idea is obvious; the passports are not 100% genuine. Printed for a single occasion.>

Yes yes, all well and good, but doesn't chess need more "squat toad-like creatures" speaking poor French?

Oct-19-17  Sally Simpson: Official Trailer for film 'Closing Gambit' about this match.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P63...

Closing Gambit - A Major new feature documentary premiering at Cannes in 2018.

"Anatoly Karpov - World Champion. A loyal member of the Communist Party and a personal friend of the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, is the epitome of the younger Soviet ‘New Man’.

Viktor Korchnoi - A survivor from the siege of Leningrad. Cantankerous, free-spirited, and a critic of the Soviet regime who sought political asylum whilst playing chess in Holland in 1976.

Korchnoi is the challenger for the crown in the 1978 World Championship in Baguio City, The Philippines.

What happened during that summer in 1978 is one of the most incredible sporting stories that has never been fully told until now.

Both men were bitter personal rivals: Karpov is a legendary sports personality of the Soviet Union with a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, Moscow apartment and country dacha; whereas Korchnoi is a traitor to Russia - airbrushed from Soviet history and known only as ‘The Contestant’.

As the players fought on the chess board, their teams fought a war of espionage even John Le Carre would struggle to invent. Parapsychologists, thought waves, flag wars, mirrored sunglasses, coded yoghurts, KGB agents, corruption, and a sect of Eastern mystics wanted for murder, were just some of the events that overtook chess in this epic world championship event.

Younger by over twenty years, Karpov led by 5 wins to 2 with the Champion being the first to win 6 games. But then the unthinkable happened - Korchnoi won three games in quick succession to level at 5 wins each. The Soviet Ice Man had begun to melt..."

Clip has snippets of interviews with Kasparov, Keene, Short, Stean, Hort, Karpov and Korchnoi.

Oct-19-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: that looks great, thanks for posting the film trailer. It really was intriguing, a defector coming back to the highest point of world chess to take on the Soviet world champion. All we chess players were religiously clipping the games out of the newspaper and playing through them, including...adjournments, an extinct animal!

Everyone I knew was rooting for Korchnoi, though we thought Karpov was a slightly better player.

Oct-19-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Film-makers should be herded into a big room and told three important things:

1. Nuns are not funny,
2. Cats are never scary and
3. No one can make money from a film about chess.

Oct-20-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < offramp: Film-makers should be herded into a big room and told three important things:

1. Nuns are not funny,
2. Cats are never scary and
3. No one can make money from a film about chess.>

And 4.: At the end of an action movie, something must be blown up, even if it makes no sense.

Oct-20-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: ok, chess players are boring and it's mathematically impossible for a chess movie to make money. Still, these pieces of history need to be documented. I applaud the filmmaker.

Will the infamous Dr. Zhukar be making an appearance, I wonder?

Oct-20-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <HeMateMe: ...Will the infamous Dr. Zhukar be making an appearance, I wonder?>

Yeah. He'll be in the audience.

Oct-20-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: <Sally Simpson> Thanks for posting. It was this match that rekindled the passion in me for this game it's participants, etc There was a chess bookstore in Back Bay Boston, Ma. on Newbury St. and they had press clippings hanging on the wall covering the full match.
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