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Viktor Korchnoi vs Boris Spassky
Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1968), Kiev URS, rd 4, Sep-12
English Opening: King's English Variation. Three Knights System General (A27)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-11-03  drukenknight: Korchnoi again with the English opening. 55 Rg3 turns out to be bad I guess he should just keep blockading the pawns w/ 55 Rd2?
Jul-03-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  jaime gallegos: this game deserves to be debated for all ... 20... Rb4 !? according to chessgames.com Korchnoi beat Spassky 24 to 13, before 1968 his record was positive too ... but on this match he losted and Spassky one year after beated Petrossian to become the World Chess Champion
Apr-30-06
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: At the end, after Rd2 black plays ...g3.
May-26-09  lzromeu: After rd2 white has material advantage plus 1 pawn-passed against 4 pawns-passed. I can see a very bad position for white but not a definitive win for black.
May-27-09  Boomie: A very complex game with many fine nuances.

The Opening

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3

English Three Knights System
Opening Explorer

3...f5

3...Nf6 is over 10 times more popular. The OE stats indicate that f5 is less drawish than Nf6. In the RybkaII book, black has done well with f5 in 12 games.

4. d4 e4 5. Nd2

This is a critical point in this opening. Quite a few other moves have been tried here. Notice in the OE, Opening Explorer, Nd2, Ng5 and Ne5 have almost the same results. In the Fritz11 book, these three moves have had better results than Bg5.

5. Ne5 Nf6 has not been solved by white yet but only a few games have been played. Rybka 3 gives a slight edge to white here with 6. g3 or Bf4.

5. Ng5 Be7 6. Nh3 Nf6 7. e3 0-0 8. Be2 Kh8 has also proved difficult for white. Notice 8...Kh8 prepares d5 by eliminating the possibility of a pin with Bc4.

5...Nf6 6. e3 g6

Another important branch point. Is the bishop better on g7 or b4? Both systems seem playable. In either case, the advantage white had with the first move is almost gone.

The Middle Game

Using Rybka 3 evals.

9. g3 swings the eval in black's favor. Rybka prefers h4 which is a move I really like. g3 feels wrong to me. Be2 looks fine as it prepares to undermine the black pawn phalanx with h4-h5.

9...d6 certainly fared better than d5 in Korchnoi vs Aronin, 1959.

10. Nb3 created another bump in black's favor on Rybka. However now the position is so complicated it outstrips my meager ability to analyze.

12. a4 increased black's eval slightly. Rybka prefers Bb2.

13...Bd7 cut black's eval in half. Rybka prefers Be6 or Re8 here.

14. 0-0-0 almost triples black's advantage. Most of us probably said "Huh?" when we saw this. Rybka now favors a black reaction on the queenside with either a6 or a5. The move played, c6 rates well also.

18. Kb1. Astonishingly Rybka recommends a leisurely stroll to the kingside here with Kd2-e1-f1. Heh.

20...Rb4. Flashy but one wonders if it's best. Rybka prefers Be6.

22...h5. I have no clue what this move is about. Rybka doesn't care for it either giving the immediate Nf7 as better.

27. g4? A blunder. Why attack black's strongest point on the board?

27...hxg4? Counter blunder. Better is 27...fxg4 28. hxg4 Nfxg4 29. Rg2

28...fxg4. Why not Nfxg4? Not aesthetically pleasing. Rybka rates both moves about the same but favors Nfxg4. Perhaps Spassky wanted to clear f5 for the bishop. The Bf5 certainly played a big part.

29...Bf5. Perhaps this was a good spot for 29...Nd3 30. Bxd3 exd3 31. Qxd3 Rxa4

31. Kb3? Qb3 is better but in either case white is in some serious trouble here.

31...Qd8? Nd3 obtains a winning edge here according to Rybka. Funny how one blunder can provoke another.

40...Bb1?? A losing move if only Korchnoi had found 41. Nxe4 Bxe4 42. Bxe4 . Perhaps Spassky missed this in time pressure. Notice the nasty fork on d6.

51. Bxd3? The final mistake but white's position may be hopeless anyway. 51. f3 appears to be white's only hope. Spassky pounces on this gaffe with his usual tactical brilliance.

May-27-09  AnalyzeThis: You just had to laugh, in the opening, when Korchnoi moved all his queenside pawns, then castled queenside. He's one of the few guys daring enough to do this at the world class level.
May-27-09  Boomie: A very complex game with many fine nuances.

The Opening

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3

English Three Knights System
Opening Explorer

3...f5

3...Nf6 is over 10 times more popular. The OE stats indicate that f5 is less drawish than Nf6. In the RybkaII book, black has done well with f5 in 12 games.

4. d4 e4 5. Nd2

This is a critical point in this opening. Quite a few other moves have been tried here. Notice in the OE, Opening Explorer, Nd2, Ng5 and Ne5 have almost the same results. In the Fritz11 book, these three moves have had better results than Bg5.

5. Ne5 Nf6 has not been solved by white yet but only a few games have been played. Rybka 3 gives a slight edge to white here with 6. g3 or Bf4.

5. Ng5 Be7 6. Nh3 Nf6 7. e3 0-0 8. Be2 Kh8 has also proved difficult for white. Notice 8...Kh8 prepares d5 by eliminating the possibility of a pin with Bc4.

5...Nf6 6. e3 g6

Another important branch point. Is the bishop better on g7 or b4? Both systems seem playable. In either case, the advantage white had with the first move is almost gone.

The Middle Game

Using Rybka 3 evals.

9. g3 swings the eval in black's favor. Rybka prefers h4 which is a move I really like. g3 feels wrong to me. Be2 looks fine as it prepares to undermine the black pawn phalanx with h4-h5.

9...d6 certainly fared better than d5 in Korchnoi vs Aronin, 1959.

10. Nb3 created another bump in black's favor on Rybka. However now the position is so complicated it outstrips my meager ability to analyze.

12. a4 increased black's eval slightly. Rybka prefers Bb2.

13...Bd7 cut black's eval in half. Rybka prefers Be6 or Re8 here.

14. 0-0-0 almost triples black's advantage. Most of us probably said "Huh?" when we saw this. Rybka now favors a black reaction on the queenside with either a6 or a5. The move played, c6 rates well also.

18. Kb1. Astonishingly Rybka recommends a leisurely stroll to the kingside here with Kd2-e1-f1. Heh.

20...Rb4. Flashy but one wonders if it's best. Rybka prefers Be6.

22...h5. I have no clue what this move is about. Rybka doesn't care for it either giving the immediate Nf7 as better.

27. g4? A blunder. Why attack black's strongest point on the board?

27...hxg4? Counter blunder. Better is 27...fxg4 28. hxg4 Nfxg4 29. Rg2

28...fxg4. Why not Nfxg4? Not aesthetically pleasing. Rybka rates both moves about the same but favors Nfxg4. Perhaps Spassky wanted to clear f5 for the bishop. The Bf5 certainly played a big part.

29...Bf5. Perhaps this was a good spot for 29...Nd3 30. Bxd3 exd3 31. Qxd3 Rxa4

31. Kb3? Qb3 is better but in either case white is in some serious trouble here.

31...Qd8? Nd3 obtains a winning edge here according to Rybka. Funny how one blunder can provoke another.

40...Bb1?? A losing move if only Korchnoi had found 41. Nxe4 Bxe4 42. Bxe4 . Perhaps Spassky missed this in time pressure. Notice the nasty fork on d6.

51. Bxd3? The final mistake but white's position may be hopeless anyway. 51. f3 appears to be white's only hope. Spassky pounces on this gaffe with his usual tactical brilliance.

May-27-09  Boomie: <Chessgames.com>

Please remove my first post. I messed up the links in that one. Thanks.

May-27-09  jussu: <lzromeu>,
The g-pawn just promotes and there is nothing white can do about it.
Jun-28-10  sicilianhugefun: This is a classic demonstration of how patient play in CHESS gets rewarded by CAISSA the chess goddes
Jun-28-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Very interesting. I've never seen this set up in today's game.
Feb-24-11  M.D. Wilson: Spassky, in my opinion, is the most talented of them all, although in these sorts of debates, it's each to his own.
May-01-11  veerar: This is also "closed reverse Sicilian".Spassky has scored emphatic victories over Geller,on the White side,of "normal closed Sicilian".Hence it seems he knew the system better than Korchnoi at that time.
Aug-08-11  Ulhumbrus: One reason to not play 9 g3 is that White may want to castle on the Queen side and play f4 followed by g4. With the g pawn on g3, if Black responds to f3 by ..exf3, White can't reply by gxf3.
Aug-08-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Superb game; a good example of 1.c4 "resigning the centre".

-Garech

Mar-16-15  disasterion: <Boonie: 40...Bb1?? A losing move if only Korchnoi had found 41. Nxe4 Bxe4 42. Bxe4 . Perhaps Spassky missed this in time pressure. Notice the nasty fork on d6.>

I take it you mean 39... Bg7? allowing 40. Nxe4 Bxe4 41. Bxe4 because of the knight fork on d6.

Presumably this was what Korchnoi was referring to here:

<in the fourth game, Spassky with Black quite outplayed me. On achieving a completely won position, he did not hasten to force matters, aiming instead to adjourn the game and find the most effective winning path. In doing this he relaxed his vigilance, and overlooked a strong counter-blow. Unfortunately, I did not notice it immediately, and only after making my move did I see it, when I almost cried.>

(From Korchnoi's <Chess is my life>, quoted by whiteshark Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1968) (kibitz #4))

Jul-29-16  edubueno: I believe that 39...Ag7 was not a mistake, it was a trap. After 40 Cxe4 there are some intermediate posibilities, like 40...Txb5 or 40...De5 intending to win material.
Aug-23-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <edubueno: I believe that 39...Ag7 was not a mistake, it was a trap. After 40 Cxe4 there are some intermediate posibilities, like 40...Txb5 or 40...De5 intending to win material.>

It doesn't work. 40.Nxe4 Rxb5 41.axb5 Bxe4 42.Bxe4 Qxe4 43.Ra7+ Kf6 44.b6 Ne5 45.b7 is hopeless. And 40.Nxe4 Qe5 41.Nexd6+ is even worse.

Sep-11-18  edubueno: Korchnoi vs Aronin 1959
1. c4 e5
2. Nc3 Nc6
3. Nf3 f5
4. d4 e4
5. Nd2 Nf6
6. e3 g6
7. a3 Bg7
8. b4 O-O
9. g3 d5
10. Nb3 Ne7
11. Bd2 b6
12. c5 g5
13. h4 h6
14. hxg5 hxg5
15. f4 exf3
16. Qxf3 Be6
17. Be2 a5
18. cxb6 cxb6
19. bxa5 bxa5
20. Nc5 Bf7
21. Qg2 Nc8
22. g4 fxg4
23. Bxg4 Nxg4
24. Qxg4 Re8
25. O-O-O Nb6
26. Rdg1 Kf8
27. Rf1 Qe7
28. Rf5 Ra7
29. Rff1 Qd8
30. Qh5 Qe7
31. Qg6 Rb8
32. Rxf7+
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