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Viktor Korchnoi vs Anatoly Karpov
Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1978), City of Baguio PHI, rd 5, Jul-27
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Huebner. Rubinstein Variation (E42)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-05-06  who: 2 points.

The drawing possibility of moving the king away fromt the pawn wasn't Karpov's. Averbakh describes it and I assume Karpov looked it up at one of the many adjournments.

Larsen writes about this game:

"When he (Korchnoi) was young, he was very interested in theater. But a slight speech difficulty kept him away from acting (though he did perform, and not without success, in a Russian movie about a chess grandmaster).

Which speech difficulty? Now we know. He finds it difficult to pronounce "Nitchya"!"

Feb-05-07  tz061: korchnoi missed mate in 7 on move 55.
Jun-18-07  Cactus: What's wrong with 52.Bxf6?
Jun-18-07  russep: 52...Qf4+ then Qxf6
Feb-23-08  chicagotim: at 123. why didnt white just race to the black pawn and take it?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jim Bartle: I'm not an endgame expert, but I play one at

I think that even after he took the black pawn, black could get his king to a8, and since the white bishop can't control a8, it's a draw.

Any actual experts agree?

Feb-23-08  TheaN: You're correct. It doesn't matter that the Black King is away from his pawn, as long as the space between the White King is as few as possible. After:

124.Ke6 Kg8 125.Kd5 Kf7 126.Kc4 Ke8 127.Kb4 Kd7 128.Kxa4 Kc8 129.Kb5 Kb7 130.a4 Ka8= as Kb7 Ka8 Kb7 stronghold or stalemate.

Any moves to hold the King out of the a8 corner wouldn't allow White to take the a4 pawn (as the final ~60! moves took to realize). Why Karpov didn't go to a8 instinctively I don't know. He had the chance.

Apr-09-08  Knight13: 69. b5 is the most uncomfortable type of move ever. 64. a4 does not work due to ...a5. This B vs N endgame is impossible.
Feb-16-09  WhiteRook48: what do you mean, it's impossible? The players played through it (obviously!) Why did Korchnoi have to stalemate Karpov? He could have antagonized Karpov by playing until move 157.
Feb-16-09  swarmoflocusts: Karpov could get to a8 long before Korchnoi could queen.
Feb-17-09  swarmoflocusts: Now that I have time to write my calculations (checked for accuracy by Fritz)

E.g.: (From the position after 122...Kh8)

123.Ke6 Kh7 124.Kd5 Kg8 125.Kc4 Kf8 126.Kb4 Ke8 127.Kxa4 Kd7 128.Ka5 Kc7 129.Ka6 Kb8 and the king can never be forced out of the queening square.

(N.B.: If the bishop in the position after 122...Kh8 was on d3 rather than d2, the game would be won for white, as he could attack black's pawn with his bishop while keeping black's king out of the queening square. However, even if he could not attack the pawn, e.g. if the pawns were on a2 and a3 (with the bishop on d3), white would STILL be won, as he could attack the queening square even if black got there:

e.g. 123.Ke7 Kg8 124.Kd6 Kf7 125.Kc5 Ke7 126.Kb4 Kd7 127.Kxa3 Kd6 (wow... Fritz just calculated a mate in 47 moves from this position, but I think it's joking) 128.Kb4 Kc7 129.a4 Kb8 130.a5 Ka7 131.a6 Kb8 132.Bc4 Ka8 133.Be6 Kb8 134.Bf5 Ka8 135.Kb5 Ka7 136.Ka5 Kb8 137.Kb6 Ka8 and now the difference 138.Be6 Kb8 139.a7+ Ka8 and Bd5 is now checkmate.

Perhaps that variation is too tedious. (I tried to trim it down as much as possible.) Suffice it to say that if the black king remains in the corner it will be mated (white has infinite tempo moves with his bishop), and if it comes out the pawn will queen.)

Feb-17-09  WhiteRook48: or even to move 207.
Feb-21-09  WhiteRook48: maybe Karpov wanted to prove that he could sac a piece and still draw
Mar-27-09  WeakSquare: Here is one way for Karpov to lose:

if 99...Kf2?? then 100.Ke4 Ke2 101.Bb8 Kf2 102.Kd5 Kf3 103.Kc5 Ke4 104.Kxb5 Kd5 105.Bh2 Ke6 106.Kxa4 Kd7 107.Kb5 Kc8 108.Kc6 and Black King cannot reach a8.

This is all forced!!! Did Karpov have to calculate this or are there general principles??

Jul-21-10  LIFE Master AJ: "The bitter feud."

At the time, I think Korchnoi really hated Karpov ... these two fought on forever.

Personally, I LIKE games where one side continues on!!! And I have lost count of the number of times where I won a possibly drawn game, because my opponent was short of time or made an error.

Sometimes, holding these draws is NOT as easy as it looks! Students of the game should play this one out against the computer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: It seemed like black didn't mind having their pawns loss, has they can make a fortress in the corner, and no way for white to make progress, by force.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <WeakSquare: Here is one way for Karpov to lose:

if 99...Kf2?? then 100.Ke4 Ke2 101.Bb8 Kf2 102.Kd5 Kf3 103.Kc5 Ke4 104.Kxb5 Kd5 105.Bh2 Ke6 106.Kxa4 Kd7 107.Kb5 Kc8 108.Kc6 and Black King cannot reach a8.

This is all forced!!! Did Karpov have to calculate this or are there general principles??>

If Black's king can get to b7, he draws. If not, he loses. Look at the route the king took in your variation. Had it been able to reach b7 that way, it would have taken ten moves: Kf2-e2-f2-f3-e4-d5-e6-d7-c8-b7. OTOH, Kg2-h3-g4-f5-e6-d7-c8-b7 is only eight moves. If you think about it that way, it's a no-brainer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Jim Bartle: I'm not an endgame expert, but I play one at I think that even after he took the black pawn, black could get his king to a8, and since the white bishop can't control a8, it's a draw.

Any actual experts agree?>

Yes, that is correct. What Korchnoi wanted in this ending was either (a) a position where he was able to capture both black pawns while keeping Karpov's king away from b7/a8 (the line given by <WeakSquare> that I quoted is an example of that) or (b) keeping both of Black's pawns on the board and then stalemating Black except for the move ...b4. Then Black must play 1...b4 2.axb4 a3 and White wins. This would have been achieved if Black had not resigned in Euwe vs J Baay, 1921.

btw, in light of the above, my comment in response to <Weaksquare>, "If Black's king can get to b7, he draws." was an oversimplification. If both of Black's pawns are still on the board he must avoid letting White stalemate his king.

Aug-26-14  Zhbugnoimt: 49.Kh4 I like that. Doesn't everyone love middlegame king walks? I had a game this year at the World Open U1600 section, which i tied for first in, where I had a queen and knight for my opponent's two rooks and a knight. I think I had an extra pawn. Anyway, my opponent's pieces were dreadful, his king wide open on g3 and his rooks uncoordinated, with a knight on a5. For the finale, my mother was there, and her, not being too good at chess, (I can beat her with 2 rooks and Queen odds) got very worried when my opponents king went up to g3, because to her it seemed that he was advancing toward my position, attacking me. Then, when i saced my knight, her breath was taken away (she didn't spot the forced mate). Then, before the mate next move, my opponent and I shook hands, and she was very confused. My opponent just won my knight, so he must have won, but he was also looking a bit upset, as though he lost. Luckily there was a guy who explained to her what had happened.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Keene's Aug 4, 1978 Spectator article is a contemporaneous report:

Here is the OCR of the article that is available:

<TOiya totters FlaYmond Keene Baguio After a quiet draw in the fourth game of his title defence, an Open Ruy Lopez which followed the second game for fourteen Moves and lasted only another five, World ,iChampion Anatoly Karpov, Tolya to his friends, tottered in the fifth game. But he regained his balance when Korchnoi on move 56 played one of the most horrendous blunders ever seen in a world championship Match. 10 <.y move 70 it became clear that Korchnoi's chance of winning had gone for Lood but the game meandered on and ;.mkallY ended in stalemate on move 124. 4"e boredom of the final stages of the game ,Was alleviated by the fact that it eventually Championship two records. It was the longest World ‘-hampionship game (and indeed longer than

the other five games put together) and the first ever to end in stalemate.>

v. The opening of game 6 was a small moral ile,sr°rY for Korchnoi as Karpov abandoned -K4 with which he had obtained no advantage in games 2 and 4 in favour of the

English Opening. Again Korchnoi equalised easily and, in fact, had some advantage when the game was agreed drawn on move 23. The game was played in the interval between the second and third sessions of the traumatic fifth game and the early draw may reflect the exhaustion of both players. It has been suggested that Karpov is deliberately soft-pedalling with White in order to discover Korchnoi's main line defences and thus prepare more deeply for them at a later stage. However, this exposes him to a rough tune with Black and at the end of the second session of the fifth game he looked haggard and shattered.>

So, it's even more interesting than I thought. Game 6 was played while game 5 was "meandering on".

Meandering on? Not my words...

<By move 70 it became clear that Korchnoi's chance of winning had gone for good but the game meandered on and it finally ended in stalemate on move 124. The boredom of the final stages of the game was alleviated by the fact that it eventually Championship two records. It was the longest World Championship game (and indeed longer than the other five games put together) and the first ever to end in stalemate. [ed- OCR translation!]>

So, I would say calling it out as Keene does is a bit of a stir.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Zhbugnoimt:

Congrats on tying first in your recent tournament.

Post the game here mate, sounds like a goodie. (you can leave out the names if you want and no notes, experience tells me when I try to lift a noted up game it won't load into my PGN thingy thing unless the notes are correctly inserted. Add some comments after the posting the game if you want.)

I enjoy playing through and very frequently use games played by under 2000 players. Someone will get an idea from it that will make them a better player. The fact it came from a player in their class makes it perfect.

The trick/trap/blunder is not tucked away unplayed in some GM note, this actually happened! I think this makes it sink in better.

And who knows, one of the better players on here - there are quite a few knocking about, might give you/us a few pointers. I'd rather be picking their brains than picking fights with them.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: THe longest WC game ever! if white tries to take the pawns with the king, black moves his monarch to a8 and draws because white has the wrong color bishop and cannot chase the king away.
Jun-03-16  Ulhumbrus: Assuming that with his bishop pair and greater space White can afford to play the move 23 g4 this suggests that one plan for White is to play to smash it up by f4 and g5.
Jul-04-16  cunctatorg: One of the most interesting from A to Z (and dramatic) games of chess literature!!

Korchnoi's resourcefulness and creativity here are so remarkable as his lack of vision (a certain lack of combination vision or loss of faith?) at move 55; a draw then...

Jul-05-16  cunctatorg: Correction: though every player committed at least one grave error, this game is one of the most interesting (from A to Z) and dramatic of the whole chess literature!! The fact that this game is the longer so far in a World Chess Championship is of secondary importance but people (who are impressed by numerical facts and the charm of maths) keep pointing the lack of "mathematical perfection" and the number 124 of its moves...

Korchnoi's resourcefulness, creativity (and determination of course) here (opening, particularly middle-game and end-game) are so profound and remarkable as his lack of vision (fatigue and lack of energy in time pressure, a certain disorientation or some loss of faith due to surprising Karpov's choice for a King's walk at the very center of the chessboard or what?!?) at move 55. Karpov's fighting spirit and defensive resourcefulness are so crushing as his nearly fatal mistake, when -after a prolonged and stubborn defense- he decided to take extreme measures and bring his King at the center of the board!!...

A draw then ... in the Battle of (Chess) demi-Gods!!... Candidate Pun: the Battle of demi-Gods.

I wonder about Garry Kasparov's assessment (in OMGP) about this game.

Also take into consideration that these two Chess Titans didn't lose nerves and spirit after such an intense fight but they continued the race and raised the level of competition...; therefore I ain't an idolizing member of a fan-base when I call them Titans, demi-gods and such!...

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