Korchnoi qualified for this match from the Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal (1977) in Il Ciocco (Italy) in early April. Polugaevsky qualified from the Polugaevsky - Mecking Candidates Quarterfinal (1977) in Lucerne (Switzerland), which also ended in April. The other semifinal match was the Spassky - Portisch Candidates Semifinal (1977) in Geneva (Switzerland). Each match was 16 games, the first to 8,5 would be the winner. If after 16 games there was no winner, then two more games would be played. If still there was no winner, then two more games, and this process would then be repeated until there was a winner. (1, 2) The matches were held in order to select a challenger for Anatoly Karpov, the World Champion.
The playing venue was Hôtel Royal (3) in Évian-les-Bains (4) (France), a spa hotel at Lake Geneva about two hours by car from the other semifinal in Geneva. The players lived in the hotel, Korchnoi with his three seconds Raymond Keene, Michael Francis Stean and Yacov Murey, and Polugaevsky with his seconds Igor Arkadievich Zaitsev and Vladimir Bagirov, and delegation leader Victor Davidovich Baturinsky. After the quarterfinals, Korchnoi had played in Montreux (1977) (2-11 April) and in the Dutch Championship in Leeuwarden (18 April - 4 May), winning both. Polugaevsky had played four games (+3 =1) in the European Team Championship (Moscow 13-24 April). Drawing of colors took place on June 30. Play was scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at 3 pm. (5, 6) Arbiter: GM Lothar Schmid, assisted by Raymond Lhoste. (7)
There had been no toilets in the playing room, and these were built in two days. (5) An organizer had put up a tent for the players to rest in, but this was never used. (8) There was a discussion if the first rows in the audience should be left empty, and there was a disagreement about entry fees, which weighed heavily on Korchnoi, who had to pay his seconds. (5) Korchnoi and Polugaevsky were not on speaking terms after the former had "defected" to the West in 1976, and there was therefore a dual press conference (on 1 July). The first 25 minutes was given over to the Soviets (with Keene as fortunate observer), then Korchnoi had his opportunity to face the press. Two unresolved issues were discussed: whether or not the players should shake hands, and which flag (if any) Korchnoi could play under. Korchnoi asked to play under the Dutch flag, but Baturinsky objected on the grounds that he had been living in the Netherlands for only 11 months and not a full year. (9) Keene and Stean suggested that he play instead under the pirate flag the "Jolly Roger", (10) but this was also vetoed by the Soviets. (11) In the end it was agreed: hands would be shaken and Korchnoi could play under the hotel's own pennant. (9) Polugaevsky's flag disappeared just before Game 1 and the frantic organizers had to have a replacement sent by speedboat from Lausanne. (12)
The players (video Game 12): http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/c...
As it turned out, Korchnoi played without any flag. (12) In Game 1, the chess fans were surprised that Polugaevsky refused to shake hands with him. Apparently this was done on Baturinsky's request. (13) Game 2 was watched by Boris Spassky, who had a day off from his match against Lajos Portisch in Geneva. His sudden arrival in Evian was considered provocative because here was the half-dissident face to face with the Russian leaders. Baturinsky ignored him completely. (14) Polugaevsky did shake hands in Game 3, but this proved to be of no help. The English seconds had prepared a toxic 15th move (Bh7+), increasing Korchnoi's lead to 3-0. (15) After Game 3, it was feared that on the insistence of Baturinsky, Polugaevsky would retire from the onslaught. (16) But he fell "sick" and postponed Game 4 (scheduled 9 July) till 11 July. (16, 17) Meanwhile, Korchnoi discovered the joys of golf (16) and did physical exercises with his seconds (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-q7YU0ttZb...).
After two draws, Korchnoi won again (Game 6). Polugaevsky postponed Game 7 (scheduled 18 July) till 20 July, (18) but Korchnoi won that too: 5-0. Game 8 was won by Polugaevsky: 5-1, and now Korchnoi was "too tired" from his trip to Lucerne where he had attended a FIDE meeting during the weekend. (19) He had Game 9 postponed till 27 July. (19) After the usual formal handshake, the game was drawn in 19 moves. (20) Spassky was again among the spectators. (21) Now there followed three draws (games 10-12). In Game 13 (the last), Korchnoi offered draw at move 8. Polugaevsky declined, and Korchnoi offered draw again at move 21. This was accepted by a handshake. (22)
Évian-les-Bains, France, 2 July - 6 August 1977
Korchnoi advanced to the Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final (1977).
Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3
Korchnoi 2645 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 8½
Polugaevsky 2620 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4½
Both players attended a short closing ceremony. (22) Korchnoi's sponsor Wilfried Wilhelm Hilgert (23) proffered some bottles of champagne, but this was not appreciated by the Soviet team. (24) Two days later Korchnoi gave an interview for De Telegraaf. (25) He stated that Hilgert was ready to put up $3m to finance a match against Robert James Fischer. He was in contact with Fischer, and would go to USA in the next month to have negotiations for the match, which might be taking place in February. He would also be leaving Holland for West Germany, to work for Hilgert in the Cologne suburb of Porz. Hilgert wanted to build a games centre there, with a hotel, for tennis, billiards, table tennis, chess and so on. I shall be a chess trainer there. (26)
1) Harry Golombek in The Times, 18 June 1977, p. 12.
2) Leeuwarder Courant, 4 June 1977, p. 19.
3) http://www.architecte-chatillon.com.... For a glimpse of the hotel in 1977 see http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/F....
4) Wikipedia article: %C3%89vian-les-Bains.
5) Het Vrije Volk, 1 July 1977, p. 21.
6) Journal de Genève, 1 July 1977, p. 11.
7) Associated Press video: http://www.aparchive.com/metadata/F....
8) Le Nouvel Observateur, 8 August 1977, p. 39: http://referentiel.nouvelobs.com/ar....
9) De Telegraaf, 2 July 1977, p. 35.
10) Mark Weeks at http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/78k....
11) San Antonio Express, 4 July 1977, p. 2.
12) The Des Moines Register, 4 July 1977, p. 9.
13) Alexander Jongsma in De Telegraaf, 4 July 1977, p. 10.
14) De Telegraaf, 5 July 1977, p. 13.
15) Leeuwarder Courant, 7 July 1977, p. 11.
16) Journal de Genève, 12 July 1977, p. 13.
17) De Waarheid, 11 July 1977, p. 4.
18) Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, 19 July 1977, p. 12.
19) De Telegraaf, 26 July 1977, p. 13.
20) Amigoe, 28 July 1977, p. 7.
21) The Times, 28 July 1977 p. 5.
22) Morning Star (Rockford Il), 7 August 1977, p. 2.
23) Wikipedia article: Wilfried Hilgert.
24) De Telegraaf, 8 August 1977, p. 15.
25) De Telegraaf, 9 August 1977, p. 17.
26) Reuter report in The Times, 10 August 1977, p. 1.
Original collections: Game Collection: Korchnoi vs Polugaevsky Candidates Semi Final by User: Open Defence, Game Collection: WCC Index (Korchnoi-Polugaevsky 1977) by User: Hesam7, and Game Collection: Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal 1977 by User: Tabanus. Thanks to User: Chessical and User: Paint My Dragon for help with the English.