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Viktor Korchnoi vs Anatoly Karpov
"Pop the Korch" (game of the day May-12-2018)
Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Rematch (1981), Merano ITA, rd 9, Oct-24
Queen's Gambit Declined: Uhlmann Variation (D30)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: One of my favourites as well.

Here is a really enlightening passage of play.

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Karpov has just played 29...Qd7 and is threatening to play 30...e5, which would win that dastardly white d-pawn. There aren't many ways to prevent that so Korchnoi played a move that at least might lead to some future counterplay: 30.f4.

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Karpov sees that in some variations black can win the d-pawn only for white to capture the pawn on b7 at the end, reestablishing material equality. So he plays 30...b6

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Korchnoi plays a move that protects the d-pawn from the side, 31.Rb4:

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And now Karpov plays a move that shattered Korchnoi to the roots of his boots and spread alarm and despondency throughout the chess world, causing screams of indignation from every right-thinking chessplayer on the globe: 31...b5!

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Yes - a rare two-consecutive-single-step of a pawn.

The threat is 32...a5. The only move for white is then 33.Rb3, but then 33...b4 causes a Tunguska-like catastrophe on white's d4 square.

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Just one of the seven million stories from the Karpov-Korchnoi games.

Feb-21-13  Howard: Not mentioned in the myriad of comments (so far) is that Karpov's 7...dxc4 was actually tied for first place in Informant 32 as the most significant opening novelty for the second half of 1981. According to Kasparov (MGP V), the real point of that move becomes apparent with 11...Nh5 ! Any comments on this ?
Oct-14-14  Zhbugnoimt: 19.Rxc6 seems to draw easily for white. Why didn't Korch play it?
Premium Chessgames Member
  sbevan: <Zhbugnoimt: 19.Rxc6 seems to draw easily for white. Why didn't Korch play it?>

John Watson in Vol 1 of "Mastering the Chess Openings" analyzes this. You're correct according to Watson iff 19.... Nxd6
20. d5 exd5
21. Bxd5

However if 19...bxc6! Watson gives a paragraph of written analysis to show that W is worse. Amongst other reasons Watson gives this (as an example) the c6 P prevents the isolani from advancing.

So I guess that's why VK didn't play it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sbevan: Another comment from IM Watson on this game.

He writes after 21...Rb6!

"From this point on Karpov plays one the best technical games in world championship history."

Aug-06-15  Howard: Why was Karpov's 7...dxc4 such a strong novelty ?! The Informant actually designated it as one of the 3-4 strongest novelties of Volume 32 !

But what was so great or profound about that move ?!

Aug-06-15  Olavi: <Howard> I'm afraid your question is impossible to answer here. It requires a good number of pages, one needs to know the history of the variation. Just a glance at the relevant games in Kasparov's OMGP series indicates so, and I know many important games are missing there. So it's a question of how it compares with other moves, with their long variations.

But there's a simpler way of looking at it. It wasn't played previously because it seems to lose a clear tempo compared to the lines with Bf1-d3xc4. Rc1 is obviously good to have. But the tactical justification 8.e4 Nc6! 9.Bxc4 (9.e5 is better) Nxe4! had not been noticed. And when white plays 8.e3, then black doesn't need to put his knight on d7, it goes to c6, and that has been seen to compensate for the tempo.

Aug-06-15  Howard: Granted, Kasparov's MGP does analyze that move, but not in too great detail.

The novelty was repeated in Game 17, by the way, but that ended in a draw.

After Game 17 came...Game 18. And most of us know what happened in that one !

Thanks for your comments, by the way.

Aug-06-15  Olavi: The older move 7... b6 is analyzed in connection with other games - Petrosian - Portisch, I think. It's also fully playable; 7...dxc4 gives no winning chances if white isn't overambitious, so also Karpov used 7...b6 later.

It's the staggering simplicity of 7...dxc4 that is so much appreciated, I think, in a position where it was considered bad.

Oct-09-17  Howard: Just looked at the CL issue from early 1982 which analyzed this particular game.

It stated that according to Najdorf, 7...dxc4 had probably never been tried before up until then.

Just a bit hard to believe. It looks like a fairly obvious move, and it's surprising that no one had previously given it a go.

But, hey, Karpov won a very good game here!

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Howard> I undertook the radical expedient of checking Opening Explorer. Forintos played 7....dxc4 back in 1962, but missed the key ...Nc6 followup.

Portisch vs G Forintos, 1962

There are fewer examples of the position after 7.Rc1 than you might expect; usually White plays e2-e3 earlier.

There are more comprehensive databases out that there I haven't checked.

Oct-10-17  Howard: And, according to Kasparov's MGP, 7...dxc4 was tried in at least a few subsequent games post-1981. Don't know though if that move has, perhaps, been superseded by a different one.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: I do believe this GOTD is for <thegoodanarchist>.
May-12-18  Saniyat24: Check it out, <thegoodanarchist> no junk today...!
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: This game's a beaut!

<offramp> Nice post from 6 years ago!

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <CIO> Yes, and I appreciate it too! This is a fantastic positional struggle between two of the greatest masters of heavy-piece endings the world has ever known
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <Saniyat > yes, we got a great one today !
Premium Chessgames Member

click for larger view

Analysis by Houdini 4: d 23 dpa

1. -+ (-1.69): 37.Rf2 Rf5 38.Rxf5 Qxf5 39.Qa1 Rc8 40.Qe1 Rc2 41.d5 Qxd5 42.Qe8+ Kh7 43.Qe4+ Qxe4 44.Rxe4 Rxb2 45.Ra4 Rb5 46.Kf2 g5 47.Ke2 Kg6 48.Kd3 Rb2 49.Rxa5 Rxh2 50.Ke3 h5 51.Rd5 Rb2 52.Rd3 Kf5 53.Kf3 Rb5 54.Ra3 h4 55.gxh4 gxh4

2. -+ (-5.90): 37.Rd1 Re2 38.Qf3 Rde8 39.Raa1 R8e3 40.Qg4 a4 41.Qc8+ Re8 42.Qh3 Qxb2 43.Rab1 Qc2 44.Qf1 a3 45.Qf3 a2 46.Rbc1 Qb2 47.Qc6 Rd8 48.Qf3 Rd2 49.Rf1 Qxd4+ 50.Kh1 f6 51.Ra1 Qb2 52.Kg1 Rxh2 53.Rfe1 Rc2 54.Qe4 Qb6+ 55.Qe3 Qxe3+ 56.Rxe3 Rdd2

Premium Chessgames Member

click for larger view

Analysis by Houdini 4
<33.Qc2> a5 34.Rxa4 Rc8 35.Rc4 Rxc4 36.Qxc4 Rb5 37.Rd2 Qb7 38.Qe2 Qb6 39.Qg2 Rb4 40.Qf2 Qc6 41.Qe2 g6 42.h4 Qb6 43.Qf2 Kg7 44.Kh2 a4 45.Qe2 Kg8 46.Qf2 Rb3 47.Rc2 Kg7 48.Kh3 Qd8 49.Rc4 a3 50.bxa3 Rxa3 51.Qg2 = / + (-0.67) Depth: 24

Premium Chessgames Member

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Analysis by Houdini 4: d 24 dpa

1. = (-0.14): 23.Rc4 Rd6 24.Qc3 Nc6 25.Ba4 Rc8 26.Bc2 f5 27.Ba4 a6 28.Rc5 b6 29.Bxc6 Rdxc6 30.Rxc6 Rxc6 31.Qd3 b5 32.b3 Qd5 33.Re1 Kf7 34.Rd1 Qe4 35.Qxe4 fxe4 36.Re1 Rc2 37.a3 Rb2 38.Rxe4 Rb1+ 39.Kg2 Rxb3

2. = (-0.16): 23.Rc5 Rd6 24.Qc3 Nd5 25.Bxd5 Rxd5 26.Rc7 Qa4 27.Rd2 Qxa2 28.Rxb7 Qa6 29.Rc7 Qb6 30.Rc5 a5 31.b3 Qa6 32.f3 Qb6 33.Rxd5 Rxd5 34.Kg2 Qb7 35.Rc2 Rb5 36.Qc8+ Qxc8 37.Rxc8+ Kh7 38.Rc3 Rb4 39.Rc7

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: I would have played 44.Kg1 just to see if my 1750 rated opponent played 44...Qxa8 instead of 44...Rd1.

But I'm not Korchnoi, obviously.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Karpov could have ended this game more quickly and prettily.

click for larger view

After the self-pinning 41...Rc2! White could resign on the spot, since after the forced 42.Qf1 Black nets queen for rook with 42...Rc1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Troller: Well, White resigned after two forced moves anyway, so maybe not a big deal. When one sees a clear win, no need to look for anything else. A very fine effort by Black in this game.
May-14-18  Howard: Seems pretty surprising that no one has pointed out 41...Rc2! before, but it indeed seems to force the win...even though Black's position is already completely won anyway.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Howard,

"Seems pretty surprising that no one has pointed out 41...Rc2! before."

Eggman had actually mentioned before in 2005.

Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1981 (kibitz #20)

If 41...Rc2 was the only way to win then Karpov, then at his ultimate peak would have played it.

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Here he slipped in 41...g6 knowing the only defence was 42.Qf1 and he must not take the a8 Rook (42...Qxa8) because then 43.Qxf7+ is a perpetual. If Black tries to avoid it 43...Kh8 44. Qf6+ Kg8?? 45.Qxg6+ and White wins.

Korchnoi could have sealed on move 41, but rather than seal and resign he went for this trap (41.QB1+ what else?) . Karpov coldly decided to play on to do the 42...Qc5+ 43...Qd4+ manoeuvre.

41...Rc2 would have been a neat wrap up but Karpov rarely played to the gallery if he saw a clear and simple way before hand. He would not have lost any sleep about not playing or missing 41...Rc2. The text is what he saw coming and played it.

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