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Viktor Korchnoi vs Mijo Udovcic
"A Wrench in the French" (game of the day Jun-07-2016)
Leningrad (1967)
French Defense: Tarrasch. Closed Variation (C05)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-10-09  SPINK: combo after combo after combo
Jan-08-10  Bolgoljubov: Notes from Victor Korchnoi:

This tournament was one of two held in the honor of the 50th Anniversary of the USSR. The strongest took place in Moscow and was won by Leonid Stein. The second took place in Leningrad and was won by Victor Korchnoi with Ratmir Kholmov in second.

Korchnoi said there was some talk of Bobby Fischer being invited to play, but that it would have been ideologically disastrous if Fischer or another westerner had won a tournament to commemorate the founding of the Soviet Union. So he/they were not invited.


Korchnoi said he wanted to avoid playing the main lines of the French, so as to avoid playing against himself. (Botvinnik's coaching advice)

8. 0-0 cxd4 Korchnoi said sacrificing the pawn here was Efim Geller's idea and that Geller had played it previously against him in blitz games.

A similar game played that year was:

Furman vs Uhlmann, 1967

13… h6 More accurate was g6.

20. Ba5 Paul Keres suggested 20. h4 followed by h5 so as to prevent black from freely playing g6 and Kg7. Korchnoi’s idea was to play Nd4 followed Nb5 blockading the black queenside then slowly preparing the attack on the kingside.

22. Bb4 if 22… Bxb4 23.Qxb4 Qe7 24. Qxb6 axb6 25. Rxc8+ Bxc8 26. Rxc8+ Qe8 27. Rxe8+ and white has a won position.

24. Qh4 "and black is bound arm and foot", according to Korchnoi. With the threat of Bxg6 and Qf6+.

If 26… Bxb5 27.Ng7+ Kf8 28. Nf5 and the bishop can’t be defended. 28… Nc8 29. Rxc8 Qxc8 30. Bxe7+ Kg8 (30… Ke8 Nd6+) 31. Qg4+

31. Rg3! And the rook can’t be defended. If 31…Qe7 32 Qh8+

Source: "My Life for Chess" by Victor Korchnoi - Chessbase DVD Lecture Series, 2005

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Game Collection: Moscow 1967
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Somehow, the American pop song "Needles and Pins" comes to mind.
Jan-08-10  Bolgoljubov: More notes from Victor Korchnoi

In a subsequent lecture Korchnoi says that fans of the French Defense should not be discouraged playing against Gellar's pawn sacrifice idea. "When I play the French Defence I don't try and grab the pawn d4", says Korchnoi.

He gives the following example:

Navara vs Korchnoi, 2004

In it he recommends declining the sacrifice and building up pressure on the white queen side. He notes that the configuration of the white knights, on f3 and d2, are reinforcing each other and are therefore the "least active". The black position is quite active.

Source: "My Life for Chess" by Victor Korchnoi - Chessbase DVD Lecture Series, 2005

Apr-13-12  Tigranny: Whenever my opponent plays this opening as Black against me in a quick game, I use Korchnoi's gambit.
Apr-13-12  King Death: There's also the idea 13...Nc5 that was played in these games.

Chiburdanidze vs P Vezzosi, 1990
D Sgnaolin vs C Vernay, 2010

Jun-09-12  notyetagm: Game Collection: PINS! PINS! PINS! PINS! PINS! PINS! PINS! PINS!
Jun-09-12  notyetagm: Game Collection: PIN CUSHIONS: A WHOLE BUNCH OF PINS
Sep-03-13  abstract: upto my humble experience in blitz games.. all french defense players are ready to spoil their whole game but to win a pawn.. and once winning apawn they try to exchange pieces and pawns until they get defeated so badly.. anyone has the same experience of such a thing?
Dec-22-13  chesssalamander: Incredible game by Korchnoi! 23. Qh4! of course stands out, putting his Q in line with that bishop, but the bishop is pinned to the king. So, why not take the bishop? Because QxQ ch! Awesome! So, 23. ... g5 seems logical, threatening the Q, breaking at least one pin. He has to move the Q, right? No! 24. Nxg5! A violent sac? Well, not really, g5 appears triple defended, by pawn, bishop, and queen, but it is an illusion. The bishop is still pinned to the king, and if hxg, QxR mate! Ok, ok, so 24. ... Ke8, breaking the other pin. Surely White is going to lose that knight now. 25. Bb5+, ok, maybe that delays losing that knight a bit, but surely black can counter. 25. ... Bd7 finally develops that problem bishop, gets the bishop out of line with the rook, and is now attacking an undefended piece. White is toast now, right? No! 26. Nxe6!! Unreal! Black's king bishop is no longer pinned against the king, but if BxQ, Ng7#. Ouch! So, it still kinda is pinned to the king! Well, we have to do something about the knight, it is threatening the queen after all. Can't take it with the queen bishop, so 26. ... fxe6. So, Korchnoi has sac'ed the knight after all. 27. Qh5+ saves the queen, gets another move, but surely Black can consolidate his pieces and win, right? After 27. ... Kf8, both of Korchnoi's bishops are hanging, completely unprotected. What is he going to do to save the bishops? Surely exchange something or defend something.... No! 28. Rc3! He defends the bishops with the rook! Not by guarding the squares they sit on, but by creating a bigger threat! Just amazing!!!
May-03-14  SpiritedReposte: 22. ...Bxb4 looks better.

After 23. Qxb4+ Kg8 looks better than the pin cushion that follows 22. ...g6.

May-03-14  Eduardo Bermudez: The Immortal Pinning Game
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Yes this is indeed a wonderful game. A study in pins.

Speaking of pins, a game I played had the final position published in the 'Quotes and Queries' section of an 1981 BCM. I'm White and just played. 27.Nf6 checkmate.

click for larger view

Three pieces, A Rook, Knight and Bishop can all take the piece giving the checkmate but all three are pinned to the Black King!

'Quotes and Queries' were wondering if this was world record!

A wee bit ashamed to post it on the same page as this great game but the finish is unique.

Here is the full game.

[Event "1981"]
[Site "Edinburgh Chess Club Championship"]
[Date "1981"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Chandler, Geoff"]
[Black "Kynoch,Richard"]
[Result "*"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nc3 e6 5. g4 Bg6 6. Nge2 c5 7. Be3 Nc6 8. dxc5 Nxe5 9. Nd4 Rc8 10. Bb5+ Nc6 11. Qe2 Nf6 12. O-O-O Be7 13. h4 h5 14. f3 Nd7 15. gxh5 Rxh5 16. Rhg1 Nxd4 17. Bxd4 Qc7 18. Rxg6 fxg6 19. Qxe6 Rf5 20. Nxd5 Qd8 21. Qxg6+ Rf7 22. Re1 Kf8 23. Qh7 Ke8 24. Qg8+ Rf8 25. Qxg7 Rf7 26. Qg8+ Rf8 27. Nf6

I'll submit it to boost my wins total on here. :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <abstract> -- < all french defense players are ready to spoil their whole game but to win a pawn.. and once winning apawn they try to exchange pieces and pawns until they get defeated so badly.. > I have played the French as Black for many years, but I very rarely play in the way you describe. Of course it is sometimes possible to win by grabbing a pawn or two and heading for the endgame - but there are, as you imply, risks involved. Black can all too easily succumb to a kingside attack, where pawn count is irrelevant. But Black has other options. I've often sacrificed material - kingside pawns or the exchange - for initiative.

It sounds to me as if you've played one or two regular opponents who try to grab a pawn and ride out the storm. It's a strategy, but you should understand there is much more than this to the French.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: 16...Qd8 seems very passive. It was played to avoid losing two pieces for a Rook, but is better to let it happen with 16...0-0. Winning the two pieces is not good for White: 16...0-0 17.RxB RaxR 18.Qxd7 Bb4 with equality.
Jun-06-16  Eduardo Bermudez: The Korchnoi's Immortal !!
Jun-07-16  clement41: Wow, spectacular
Jun-07-16  Razgriz: What happens if 22. ... Bxb4
Premium Chessgames Member
  Castleinthesky: A great game from the greatest French player of all-time. Devastating logic.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: The rook is a goner!
Jun-07-16  Helios727: Barden refers to this version of the French as the Korchnoi gambit. Namely, where white leaves the d4 pawn slightly under-defended on move 8. Are there any other names for this gambit?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ajile: Well can't Black simply give back the pawn? For example why not just keep following the queen with 13..Qc5 etc.?

After for example 14.Bxh7 Qxc2 15.Bxc2 Black is equal or actually slightly better. And if the queen retreats 14.Qe2 then Black is also fine.

click for larger view

Analysis by Rybka 3 32-bit :

1. = (0.07): 14.Qe2 Qb6 15.Bf4 Bc5 16.Rac1 h6 17.Rc2 0-0 18.Rfc1 a5 19.Be3 Bxe3 20.fxe3 Qb4 21.a3

2. = (0.00): 14.Qa4 Qb4

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: In the 1985 Mass Open, I won a game on the Black side of this from Steven A Taylor after 13....Nc5 14.Bd2 Qa4 15.b3 Qd7.
Nov-30-17  schnarre: ...Nice handling of the French!
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