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Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian vs Viktor Korchnoi
Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Semifinal (1974), Odessa URS, rd 4, Apr-22
Neo-Grünfeld Defense: Ultra-delayed Exchange Variation (D79)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-22-03  Resignation Trap: Korchnoi lost this game on time.
Dec-22-03  tud: It's not much to be done after Rb6
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Petrosian's only win in this very short candidates' match, which Kortschnoi won +3 -1 =1, winning all the games he had with the white pieces. Petrosian was clearly in bad form - Kortschnoi thinks he was tired.
Jun-18-05  Hesam7: <offramp> it was a 10 game match but after game 5 Petrosian refused to play.
Mar-04-07  talisman: <Hesam7> what was the reason given? petrosian tried to get the match overturned...what could have been his reason for this i wonder?
Jun-25-07  Petrosianic: <offramp> it was a 10 game match but after game 5 Petrosian refused to play.

Actually, it was Best of 16 or first to win 4 games, whichever came first.

<Hesam7> what was the reason given? petrosian tried to get the match overturned...what could have been his reason for this i wonder?

Here's the way Jude Acers tells the story at

Korchnoi played beautifully to achieve three wins, one loss, and one draw in the first five games against Tigran Petrosian in Odessa, April 12-24, 1974. Just after the fourth game Tigran Petrosian went to the match committee and requested in writing that Victor Korchnoi be asked not to move his leg up and down beneath the table so much! It was just a Korchnoi nervous habit and did not seem to disturb anything really. No noise or offence intended probably. But Petrosian mentioned that Korchnoi had actually kicked him beneath the table while reaching out to make a move. Surely it was an accident....

Korchnoi knew absolutely nothing of Petrosian's complaint throughout the night, and it was only upon arriving for the fifth game that he was shocked by the formal request to quit moving his leg in a kicking motion beneath the table! Korchnoi was furious but did not say anything to his opponent, beginning to make moves against Petrosian in the fifth game.

You're not going to believe what happened next and at the worst possible moment. Petrosian, while shifting in the chair to adjust his hearing aid, kicked Victor Korchnoi accidentally! As match officials looked on with complete horror and silence. Everybody knew the match could explode any second.

Korchnoi, now thoroughly in flames, sat there for a second and found what has to be one of the truly great one-liner punch outs of all times... "Mister Petrosian, please look for your match chances above the chess table rather than below it." That's the real story, how a great match really ended -- never reported by the wire services.

Petrosian exploded, refused to continue the fifth game, and resigned the match forthwith.


Jun-25-07  Aspirador: <Petrosianic>I don't believe that this story is completely correct. I went through all Korchnoi wins from Odessa 1974 ( doesn't say which one is the 5th game but it must be one of them). All of them are clearly played out to the end, with Korchnoi clearly winning. Therefore, it cannot be true that Petrosian refused to continue the fifth game because of Korchnoi's "one-liner".
Jun-25-07  Petrosianic: This one is Game 5:

Korchnoi vs Petrosian, 1974

The game was definitely resignable when it ended. It may have been adjourned. The one-liner and the kicking may have caused the blowup, but it probably didn't happen immediately. Petrosian probably blamed the loss of the game on the soap opera going on off the board. I remember reading somewhere that they'd promised to prevent future incidents, and he said something like "But what about my missing point?" Obviously they couldn't restore that, so I guess he resigned the match then.

Oct-05-14  Howard: This was one of only three Candidates matches to end prematurely due to one of the players throwing in the towel, prematurely, and thus announcing he wanted to resign the match rather than go on any further.

As for the other two instances, I'll pose that as a quiz question to our readers....

....HINT: the same player (!) resigned both of the other two matches ! Care to guess who ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: More than once across the years, I have opined that the shortcoming of certain putative challengers for the title appears psychological in nature, but any frailties demonstrated by top GMs such as Geller or Portisch pale before the giant shadow cast by Robert Huebner.
Oct-05-14  WDenayer: I read this 25 yrs ago or so in Chess is my life (first ed.): Korchnoi and Petrosian had been bitter enemies, not the least because Korchnoi could absolutely not stand Petrosian's wife. Korchnoi even accused her of communicating moves to a player (don't remember who, perhaps in a USSR championship).It's true (that I read it, that she did this, I do not know). Perhaps some of you know more about it. I would be interested to hear.
Aug-06-16  ewan14: An opponent of Fischer 1970 ?
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