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Vasily Smyslov vs Viktor Korchnoi
USSR Championship (1952), Moscow URS, rd 1, Nov-29
English Opening: Symmetrical. Anti-Benoni Variation (A31)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Given 7 times; par: 94 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
May-28-05  Tabula Rasa: 48...Ke7!!

Black's rook cannot help it's pawns advance and also stop White's a-pawn (e.g. 48...e2 49.Re8 f3 50. a6 Rf1 51. a7 Ra1 52. Kxf3 and White draws.) Black needs to keep his rook there and use his King to stop the a-pawn. But the King to too far away for this. However there is a tempo gaining King route with 48...Ke7!!

By taking the e8 square away from White's rook, Black now threatens to win at once with 49...e2. To reestablish access to e8, White is forced to send Black's King exactly where it wants to go!

49.Rh7+ Kd6! 50.Rh8 e2! 51.Re8 Kc6! White resigns.
Black's King stops the a-pawn while his rook ensures the promotion of his passed pawns (52.Re6+ Kh7 53.a6+ Ka7 54.h4 f3 55.Kg3 Rf1, etc)

May-28-05  Ghengis Pawn III: Blacks moves from 11...Qa5 until 14...Be6 are so good it makes me laugh...White must be thinking "Why yes, I did have my peices in the wrong places, thanks for correcting me"
Apr-23-09  Ulhumbrus: It is not obvious that 12...Nb6 threatens to control the c file. If a White Rook has to defend the a4 pawn, it cannot contest possession of the c file as well.
Jan-03-10  Bolgoljubov: Korchnoi was 21 years old here. He says that this was his first win against a Grandmaster.

-----
Korchnoi points that out that 10 Qb3 allowed him to complete his development at Smyslov's expense. Smyslov said that 10 Qe2 was the correct move, followed by e4 and e5.

Vladimir Simagin played 10 Qe2 against Korchnoi in 1956 and won easily.

See:

Simagin vs Korchnoi, 1956

According to Korchnoi, this was the first game of the tournament (USSR Championship) and Smyslov says he was not playing at normal strength.

------
Korchnoi initially feared 15 Qxe6 f7xe6 16 b4 trapping the Queen. But after 16... Nd5 17 bxa5 Nxc3 black has a decent game.

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At 16... Rac8 Korchnoi offered a draw to Smyslov and was declined. Korchnoi said this altered the dynamic of the game and that Smyslov felt psychologically compelled to play for a win at this point.

Korchnoi felt that 17 Bf3 Rc4 18 Bxf6 Bxf6 19 Nbd6 Nxd5 20 Nxd5 was drawing but Smyslov wanted more.

------
Both players had time trouble, but Smyslov suffered the most and even went down a second pawn. Korchnoi never felt sure of the win due to Smyslov's excellent endgame reputation.

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Korchnoi said this game was played under classic time control (2.5 hours for 40 moves). The game was adjourned at move 40 and finished a few days later.

Source: "My Life for Chess" - by Victor Korchnoi - Chessbase DVD Lecture Series

Jan-03-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Bogoljubov> <Vladimir Simagin played 10 Qe2 against Korchnoi in 1956 and won easily.> Actually, Korchnoi won. Did you mean that Korchnoi was the one that won easily?

Thanks for the comments from "Viktor the Terrible"'s book!

Jan-04-10  Bolgoljubov: <Fusilli>

<Actually, Korchnoi won. Did you mean that Korchnoi was the one that won easily?>

Yeah, you are right about the result.

However, Korchnoi says about Qe2 and Simagin verbatim: "Simagin played Qe2 against me and got quickly an absolutely won game by playing e4 and e5 quickly."

Despite the result, it seems Korchnoi counts the game as a loss. I'll have to see where Simagin went wrong. Thanks!!!

Jan-04-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Bogoljubov> You (i.e. Korchnoi) are right! I looked at Simagin vs Korchnoi, 1956.

This is the position after 14.Ne6!


click for larger view

White did indeed get a really good game.

Jan-04-10  Bolgoljubov: Hey Fusilli,

Thanks, that makes sense!

-----

The other interesting thing Korchnoi says about this game is that he had prepared at home to play the Grunfeld Defense and had his mind set on it.

He considered Smyslov's first move 1 Nf3 a novelty and was literally dumbstruck about how to respond. He says he never thought you could open a chess game with 1 Nf3 !!! :) It was the first time he faced it.

Since Korchnoi prepared the Grunfeld he tried to steer the game back in that configuration after playing c5, etc.

If you get a chance to see it, I really recommend Korchnoi's Chessbase DVD - "My Life for Chess". It has a lot of great chess history in it. He is a really witty guy and a great chess champion. People sometimes forget he was the one who bravely took Fischer's place and faced Anatoly Karpov in match after match.

Jan-05-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Bogoljubov> <He considered Smyslov's first move 1 Nf3 a novelty and was literally dumbstruck about how to respond. He says he never thought you could open a chess game with 1 Nf3 !!! :) It was the first time he faced it.>

Hmmm... really? OK, I can believe this was Korchnoi's first win over a GM because the GM title was first awarded to about 20 people in 1950 and Smyslov was one of them. But that he had never considered that a game could start with 1.Nf3? Korchnoi was already 21. It sounds like he is embellishing things here.

In fact, he is. I looked up Korchnoi's games with the Black pieces before 1952 and found the following examples of Korchnoi facing 1.Nf3 before the game with Smyslov:

Kan vs Korchnoi, 1951

Chistiakov vs Korchnoi, 1951

Aronson vs Korchnoi, 1947

I am sure the book is fascinating, though, Viktor's tendency to embellish things aside. He is one of the greatest chess warriors of all time.

Jan-05-10  chillowack: <Bolgoljubov:However, Korchnoi says about Qe2 and Simagin verbatim: "Simagin played Qe2 against me and got quickly an absolutely won game by playing e4 and e5 quickly."

Despite the result, it seems Korchnoi counts the game as a loss.>

Korchoi meant that Simagin got a winning advantage, which can be easily seen from the game.

However, Simagin later lost this advantage (perhaps in time-trouble), and Korchnoi "snatched victory from the jaws of defeat."

It just goes to show that no matter how strong your opponent's position is (even if it's totally winning), you should keep fighting and not give up!

Jan-05-10  laskereshevsky: Actualy, in one of his own books, Korchnoi wrote something like this:

(About1.♘f3)

"Excelent! Usualy, a young doesnt even dream to think a game could start in this way!"

Dec-28-11  mcgee: 'An excellent move! As a rule, a young player has no idea that one can begin a game in this way!' (My Best Games, Vol 2: Games With Black, Viktor Korchnoi, 2003)
Apr-07-12  Hesam7: Korchnoi talking about the opening phase of this game (11 minutes): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgGu...
Jun-07-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: RIP Korchnoi
Jun-27-16  Ulhumbrus: If White is going to get into trouble after 11 a4 Qa5 one alternative to 11 a4 is 11 Qa3 keeping Black's queen out of a5
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