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Boris Spassky vs Viktor Korchnoi
Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final (1977)  ·  French Defense: Winawer. Poisoned Pawn Variation Main Line (C18)  ·  0-1
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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-01-06  MadBishop: The French as it should be played! This variation was repeatedly used in the course of this match! Here's some annnotation from Raymond Keene:

3.Nc3 (3.Nd2)

7. ...cxd4 (7. ...Qc7; 7. ...Nf5 8.Bd3)

10.Ne2 (10.Kd1)

13.Be3 (13.Rb1; 13.h4; 13.Nxc3; 13.Qxc3; 13.Ng3; 13.Ra2)

13. ...d4! 14.Bf2 (14.Nxd4 Nxd4 15.Qxd4 Nf5; 15.Bxd4 Nd5)

14.0-0-0 (14. ...Nf5 15.Nxd4 Ncxd4 16.Bxd4 Nxd4 17.Qxd4 0-0-0)

Nov-01-06  Runemaster: Great major piece manouvres by Korchnoi. For the last twenty moves he was hunting down the White king with queen and rooks and eventually succeeded.
Aug-17-09  Ulhumbrus: 15 Nxd4 will expose White's Q to attack on the d file, after 15...Nxd4 16 Qxd4. An alternative is to leave Black's d4 pawn alone and to play 15 Bh4 at once, aiming to get rid of the bad White QB for one of the Black Knights, the Black Knight on e7.
Aug-10-10  Jitanjafora: Interesting: 22.Rxc3? Qh4+ and black wins. But Kasparov suggests 22.g3 instead of the actual 22.Kf1.
May-29-11  Ulhumbrus: Throughout the game White's h pawn does not become a weapon but remains a target.
Sep-11-12  iamdeafzed: The threat in the end position is:

41.)Qxf4+, Kh5
42.)Rxh2+, Qh3

The f-pawn is indefensible: Qg3 loses to Rg2, Qb4 loses to Qf3+ and Rxh2#.

Jul-15-13  Tigranny: Korchnoi's opening in this game is the exact way I play the French - using the Winawer Poisoned Pawn. Great game by him, by why not 26.Kg1, where Kg3 seems to leave the White monarch a bit vulnerable?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <Ulhumbrus> - < Throughout the game White's h pawn does not become a weapon but remains a target.>

An excellent point. Nigel Short refined the use of h4 for White in the Winawer Qg4 lines ... the h-pawn's lust to expand is often the key to distracting Black from his initiative in the centre and queenside, and ultimately overwhelming him.

May-09-14  Petrosianic: As I recall, at the time, the key improvement for Black in this game was 13...d4, which Spassky really didn't handle well enough.
May-09-14  Howard: Spassky was in terrible time pressure during the last several moves. Up until the roughly around the 33rd move, he probably could have held the position.

This was the second game of the Candidates match, and Korchnoi's first win----though he should have won the first game, but that ended in a draw.

It was also the first time in over ten years that Korchnoi had beaten Spassky with Black.

Jun-10-14  DeathByPawns1: Could anyone explain to me 13...d4. ? Doesn't Black just end up giving away all of his pawns?
Jun-10-14  DeathByPawns1: Never mind. Got it! What a game!!
Aug-13-14  Conrad93: 13. Be3?! was apparently a novelty, just not a very good one.

It's usually a bad idea to invite a pawn thrust.

Mar-03-15  SpiritedReposte: Wild king hunt from the queen and rook.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: exciting work by Korchnoi. I still can't see how anyone can win with something as ugly and anti-positional as the French, but it does have it's fans.
Jan-12-16  Petrosianic: The French is anti-positial, or the Winawer is?

I can see the argument about the Winawer (developing Bishops before Knights, weakening the Kingside prematurely). Not sure that applies to all French lines, though.

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <I still can't see how anyone can win with something as ugly and anti-positional as the French>

These are the folks who get the biggest surprise at the board.

May-09-16  thegoodanarchist: Folks, just look over his body of work. Korchnoi was masterful when it came to heavy piece maneuvering.
Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: This game is a reminder that in queen and rook endings, king safety is a critical factor. The fact that white was up in material was only a minor factor.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Viktor Victorious.
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