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Anatoly Karpov vs Viktor Korchnoi
Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1981), Merano ITA, rd 4, Oct-08
Russian Game: Classical Attack. Chigorin Variation (C42)  ·  1-0


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Given 14 times; par: 82 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-23-05  TheFrench: Nice game by Karpov. It just looks odd to me that he moved his Bishop 3 times in the first 13 moves.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: In Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1981 from the same event Karpov has problems with his Q♗. It never finds a stable home.
Aug-15-06  alaTurca: This game has an antecedent in the 1974 Karpov-Korchnoi Candidacy match. There Korchnoi played 8. ... Bg4 instead of Bf5 and then supported the knight with an f5. Karpov placed his queen on b3 and it seemed that Korchnoi had fair attacking chances on the White King but his attack failed and he lost on time.

I think Korchnoi was OK here in the opening. I do not see why in a drawish position he started moving his kingside pawns.

Aug-15-06  aw1988: Probably because Korchnoi is ambitious.
Nov-04-07  talisman: ambition yes but 31....g5 and 35....f5=Bad.
Apr-11-08  Knight13: In this game Korchnoi has problem with his KING. White has e-file and queen yet Black keeps pushing his kingside pawns LOL.
Mar-24-10  fab4: Korchnoi's 24...Kf7 and 25...h5, look to me too loosening .. even so, very impressive how Karpov exploited this.
Oct-16-10  prithviraj: karpov was playing marvelous
Jun-04-12  Anderssen99: The sally 25...,h5? seems silly as it weakens Black's K-Side irremediably, doesn,t it?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Karpov says that at about move 23 he considered the position a draw and that if any other player in the world had been opposite him he would have held out his hand and offered one.

click for larger view

But Korchnoi had inserted a condition in the match rules that all draw offers had to go through the arbiter. Karpov could not be bothered to do that and he had noticed that Korchnoi's play thus far in the match had been very uncertain. So he decided to play on...

Korchnoi then decided to play actively with the pawns in front of his king; not normally a good idea.

Korchnoi opened the h-file with his rook on it:

click for larger view

Later - in the same part of the city:

click for larger view

Around now, Korchnoi must have been looking everywhere for that arbiter.

Aug-15-12  marcusantoinerome: It's true that on move 22 Black has an equalizing plan: exchange both rooks.

But there's a move order question. In the Feb 1982 issue of Chess Life (page 23), Lev Alburt and Jonathan Tisdall analyze this game and give the following analysis:

"22. b3 f6

A dubious move, because 22...h6, followed by trading both pairs of Rooks along the open e-file, would produce equality. In fact, 22...h6 23. Nf3 Rxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Re8 25. Rxe8+ Qxe8 26. Qf5 Qe6 27. Qxe6?? fxe6 might even be slightly in Black's favor.

23. Nf3 Rad8 24. Nd2 Kf7"

They appear to have switched Black's 22nd and 23rd moves. In the move order above, it does seem strange that Black would play ...f6 AFTER White's knight had already retreated to f3.

In the May 1982 issue of Chess Life (page 31), Bernard Zuckerman analyzes the opening up until 22.b3. He implies that the next move was 22...Rad8, which agrees with the score above, but disagrees with Alburt and Tisdall.

My ChessBase Big Database 2004 has the 22...Rad8 23. Nf3 f6 move order.

Did Alburt and Tisdall have the wrong score, or make a mistake? Does anyone have any other sources for this game? Perhaps Karpov's games or (probably not) Korchnoi's games?

Aug-15-12  bobbylee: "The sally 25...,h5? seems silly as it weakens Black's K-Side irremediably, doesn,t it?"

In the annotations of Seirawan, one of Korchnoi's aides, with 25. ...h5, Korchnoi wanted to exchange off the g3 pawn so the f4 square would be open to his knight. Karpov could still have pushed his other g pawn to g3, though.

Dec-18-12  leka: I playe this as black in 1985 corr.chess game continue 9.c3!? a6!? todays theory says the best after 9.c3!? is o-o.Karpov 9.bishop b5!?? is not a good one.Korchnoi got a good game should have got a easy draw
Dec-08-13  Howard: In reference to the above confusion about the move order around the 22nd move, I just looked in the New York Times archives, and they have the moves as follows:

22. P-N3 QR-Q1
23. N-B3 P-KB3
24. N-Q2 K-B2

In other words, Zuckerman's version is correct it appears.

Good game, by the way ! The two players here followed the rather well-known Karpov-Larsen, 1980 in which Larsen beat Karpov---and for the second time in two years !

Karpov apparently believed he'd be better prepared in the Petroff this time except Korchnoi uncorked a prepared improvement and equalized. Not being satisfied with equality, however, Korchnoi started sharpening up the position and...............

Dec-10-13  Howard: To add something to that previous post, Chess Informant--which I just looked at last night--gives the same moves for 22-24 as the NYT did, in 1981.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: A horrible start for korchnoi, in the '81 rematch. He lost 3 of the first 4 games, this being game four of the Moreno match.
Oct-11-15  Howard: Yes, and he drew the remaining game (Game 3).

Give him credit for the remaining 14 games though---he scored three losses and two wins during that remaining stretch. If not for his horrible start, the match probably would have been closer.

Jul-27-18  Howard: By the way, the first 17-18 moves of this game were analyzed very extensively by Zuckerman in a mid-1982 issue of CL.

The opening, incidentally, followed Timman-Portisch 1981 for the first dozen moves. In that game, Portisch got slaughtered.

Jan-01-19  woldsmandriffield: Korchnoi’s king-side demonstration was foolhardy because Black lacked force concentration; hence, winning chances were created for Karpov. That said, 40..Qxe6 41 Rxe6 c4 should hold. The last move of the time-control 40..cxd4?? was the reason for the loss.
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