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Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal Match

Viktor Korchnoi6.5/12(+2 -1 =9)[games]
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian5.5/12(+1 -2 =9)[games] Chess Event Description
Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal (1977)

Korchnoi qualified for this match when he reached the Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1974). Petrosian qualified from the Varese Interzonal Playoff (1976), following the Biel Interzonal (1976). The three other quarterfinal matches were Polugaevsky - Mecking Candidates Quarterfinal (1977), Portisch - Larsen Candidates Quarterfinal (1977) and Spassky - Hort Candidates Quarterfinal (1977). Each match was of 12 games, and the first to get 6,5 points would be the winner. (1, 2) If after 12 games there was no winner, then two more games would be played. If again there was no winner, the procedure would be continued until there was one. No provision had been made if there never was a winner, but then presumably the matches would be decided by natural causes. (1)

The playing venue was the Il Ciocco Hotel (3) in Il Ciocco, a tourist center (4) at Barga, Lucca township, northern Tuscany, Italy. Here the Marcucci brothers, owners of the factories, hotels and mountains around, had given $20,000 to get publicity. (5) For Korchnoi it was the first time he met a Soviet player after he moved to the west in 1976. The match was particularly piquant bearing in mind that Petrosian was one of the signatories to a letter roundly condemning Korchnoi for his desertion of the motherland. (1) One could also read in the newspapers Korchnoi had said, Petrosian? I hate that man. (6) The match was several places dubbed as the match of hatred. When the two met in Game 1, they exchanged neither a handshake nor a word of greeting. (7) Later in the match, Korchnoi protested against the fact that Petrosian had a telex machine standing "in the room". He suspected that there was a direct connection with the USSR. (8)

Korchnoi's family was held back in Soviet Russia, and his chess books had been left in Leningrad. (9) His warm-up consisted of an 8-game match against Jan Timman in November (+4 -1 =3), and a 4-game match against Werner Hug in January (+2 =2). (10) His two seconds in Barga were Yacov Murey (during latter part of the match) and Hans Ree (both IM's). (11) Petrosian had played in the USSR Championship (1976) in December. He arrived (seemingly well prepared) with Efim Geller, Igor Arkadievich Zaitsev and Yuri Averbakh as his seconds. (12) The main arbiter was Bozidar Kazic. (13) Kazic also became an "errand boy" bringing messages between the two delegations in each corner of the dining room. (14)

The players:

The quality of the games was generally poor. (9) Because in between the genius chess came also blunders. After three draws, Korchnoi got sick before Game 4 (scheduled for 7 March) and requested postponement. (15) In Game 5, Petrosian moved the wrong knight (29...Ned5), lost the exchange, and the game. He struck back with great moves in Game 6 (15.d5 and 17.Ne5). Korchnoi got worse, and probably let himself be checkmated to shorten the suffering. After a draw in Game 7, Petrosian again blundered the exchange in Game 8 (33.e4). After two more draws, Petrosian asked for postponement of Game 11 (scheduled for 28 March) because he was sick. (16) When Korchnoi offered the draw in that game, Petrosian was not worse, but seemed to have no fight left.

Barga, Italy, 28 February - 2 April 1977

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Korchnoi 2645 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 0 ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 6˝ Petrosian 2645 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 1 ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 5˝

Korchnoi advanced to the Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal (1977). After the match was over, Korchnoi went straight to Switzerland to play in Montreux (1977).


1) Harry Golombek in The Times, 19 February 1977, p. 9.
2) Tidskrift för Schack, vol. 83/2, p. 46.
5) Dimitrije Bjelica in CHESS, March 1977, p. 161.
6) De Telegraaf, 24 December 1976, p. 37.
7) The Times, 1 March 1977, p. 6.
8) De Telegraaf, 21 March 1977, p. 18.
9) Second hand citation from Korchnoi's book Chess Is My Life.
10) Korchnoi's 400 Best Games (Batsford 1978), p. 245.
11) De Telegraaf, 2 March 1977, p. 17.
12) Tidskrift för Schack, 83/4, p. 106.
13) De Telegraaf, 1 March 1977, p. 15.
14) Eldis Cobo Arteaga in Noticias Ajedrez Tenerife, 10 June 2008 (
15) El Mundo Deportivo, 9 March 1977, p. 34.
16) Limburgsch Dagblad, 29 March 1977, p. 13.

Original collections: Game Collection: WCC Index (Korchnoi-Petrosian 1977) by User: Hesam7 and Game Collection: Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal '77 by User: Tabanus. Game dates are mainly from Dutch newspapers at Thanks to User: Chessdreamer, User: Paint My Dragon and User: Chessical for finding sources and improving the English.

 page 1 of 1; 12 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Korchnoi vs Petrosian ½-½221977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalA14 English
2. Petrosian vs Korchnoi  ½-½171977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
3. Korchnoi vs Petrosian ½-½391977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalE05 Catalan, Open, Classical line
4. Petrosian vs Korchnoi ½-½221977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
5. Korchnoi vs Petrosian 1-0711977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
6. Petrosian vs Korchnoi 1-0371977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
7. Korchnoi vs Petrosian  ½-½251977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalD61 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
8. Petrosian vs Korchnoi 0-1571977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalE15 Queen's Indian
9. Korchnoi vs Petrosian  ½-½431977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalE06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3
10. Petrosian vs Korchnoi ½-½151977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalE19 Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3
11. Korchnoi vs Petrosian ½-½271977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalE06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3
12. Petrosian vs Korchnoi ½-½401977Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates QuarterfinalE14 Queen's Indian
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-30-15  Kasparov Fan: "The result of the match was 2-1 in my favour with 9 draws.This shows just how agitated the opponents were.As I left II Ciocco, I gave Petrosian a last farewell look.He was a whole range of emotions: rage, hate and 'I didn't finish you off today, but we'll settle things next time'.In fact just after he arrived in the USSR, Petrosian was removed from his post as chief editor of 64". Victor Korchnoi from his autobiography 'Chess is my life'
Jun-30-15  Howard: His removal as chief editor was noted in Chess Life and Review, as I recall.
Jun-30-15  Petrosianic: Yeah, and then it turned out he did much better against Korchnoi than fellow Soviets Polugaevsky and Spassky did.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Petrosianic: Yeah, and then it turned out he did much better against Korchnoi than fellow Soviets Polugaevsky and Spassky did.>

That is very true. Kortschnoi was in rampaging good form at the time.

In his next match, Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal (1977), VK jobbernowled Polugaevsky 5-1 with 7 draws, having been 5-0 up after only 7 games!

In the following Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final (1977) VK went chessically postal: he was 5-0 up by game 10, although he then suffered something of an éboulement, lost 4-in-a-row and only won 7-4 with 7 draws.

So Petrosian did extremely well to keep his in-form rival at arm's length, especially as TVP seems to have been out-of-form, and frequently making the kind of errors he normally only occasionally made.

Kortschnoi had a very good English/Israel team (Keene, Stean, Murey and others) which was the equal of any Soviet team. Both Karpov & Petrosian did well to stand up to the juggernaut.

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