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Boris Spassky vs Viktor Korchnoi
"Viktor Viktorious" (game of the day May-11-2017)
Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final (1977), Belgrade YUG, rd 2, Nov-23
French Defense: Winawer. Poisoned Pawn Variation Main Line (C18)  ·  0-1


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Given 34 times; par: 58 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-11-17  dhotts: Raymond Keene gave 13...d4 an exclamation mark, however, there are no other games in the database when a player makes this brilliant move....Or is 13...d4 not such a good move?
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: White is much better at the 13th move. He just misplayed his 14th. 14. Nxd4 is far better than what was played here. I'd guess after 13...d4 that 14. Nxd4 Nxd4 15. Bxd4 Nd5 is best for both, but I'll let an engine decide that. Keene whiffed on this one, which is no big deal. 13..d4 strikes me as a bit Tal-esque, and left White with a lot of options to consider, so practically, it might have been a good move, although it's not sound. Which all adds up to a lot of fun in a French, no less. FWIW, I think 13...Nf5 is best.
May-11-17  Strelets: <paavoh> Explaining its appeal to chess iconoclasts like Alekhine, Botvinnik, Uhlmann, and Korchnoi. The common thread is that they all deliberately sought tense, double-edged positions.
May-11-17  cunctatorg: I wasn't even aware of this Korchnoi's masterpiece ... 'cause I had chosen to bypass this 1977 match (where Victor Korchnoi had crushed Boris Spassky, the third crushing defeat upon -or over or whatever- Spassky after Fischer's campaign back at 1972 and Karpov's crushing defeat two years later...) in favor of the K-K match at Baguio the next year; I really (and officially...) learned the very game of chess with all of its rules back at the summer of 1978 and during the last decades I had chosen to consider Korchnoi's crushing defeats of the previous year over Polugaevsky and Spassky of just ... historical interest, the main dish being the thrilling and heart-breaking Baguio match! Of course the main dish really had been the 1978 Baguio duel but ...

It is also true that the late Victor Korchnoi produced A LOT of masterpieces during that era, he had produced a lot of masterpieces from ... 1950-1960 until 1971 (1981 and 1972; these are the key years, Gentlemen!...) and he had continued to deliver masterpieces until ... 2011; my chess capacity, my energy and my time are limited after all... Anyways!!

May-11-17  cunctatorg: Correction: 1971 and 1972; these are the key years, Gentlemen!...

I just paraphrased George Seferis' line from a great poem of his: "This is the place, Gentlemen!..."

May-11-17  DPLeo: <dhotts>, 13... d4 is not a bad move but probably is not an exclamation move either.

After 13.Be3 here is how Stockfish evaluates the position.

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1) d=33  0.00 13. ... 0-0-0 14.Bf2 d4 15.Rb1 Kb8

2) d=33 +0.26 13. ... d4 14.Nxd4 Nxd4 15.Bxd4 Nf5

3) d=33 +0.45 13. ... Nf5 14.Bf2 d4 15.Rg1 Qa5


Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <DPLeo: <dhotts>, 13... d4 is not a bad move but probably is not an exclamation move either.>

Thanks for the analysis, that was my question, too. Keene gives (14.Nxd4 Nxd4 15.Qxd4 Nf5) allowing the fork of the Q and B with Nf5, but white can retake with 15. Bxd4 instead with no problem, as in the second Stockfish line. What does Stockfish say about the continuation of 14. Bxd4 Nd5 15. Qe4?

May-11-17  DPLeo: <ChessHigherCat>, after 14.Bxd4 Nd5, Stockfish has 15.g3 as the best reply for white.

click for larger view


  1) d=36   +1.13   15.g3 Nxd4 16.Qxd4 a6 17.Rb1 0-0-0

  2) d=36   +1.07   15.Bf2 0-0-0 16.g3 Na5 17.Nd4 f6

  3) d=36   +0.37   15.h4 0-0-0 16.Bxc3 Nce7 17.Bd2 Bc6

If I force 15.Qe4, it's not bad but it's not the best option for white.

click for larger view


  1) d=32     0.00   15. ... Nxd4 16.Qxd4 Bc6 17.h4 Qa5

  2) d=32   +0.02   15. ... 0-0-0 16.Bf2 f6 17.exf6 Nxf6

  3) d=32   +0.53   15. ... Nce7 16.Bf2 0-0-0 17.Nd4 f6


May-11-17  Howard: Talk about a coincidence !

Just yesterday, I received all 12 issues of CL&R from 1978---I'd ordered them through Amazon. One of the first issues I looked at from that year, had this game--it was Game 2 from the match. It was from the February, 1978 issue.

According to the issue, this was the first time in 15 years that Victor had beaten Spassky with Black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Willber G: I'm probably missing something but what is wrong with 13.Qxc3
May-11-17  Howard: In response to your question, White apparently prefers quick development over snatching pawns. Note, for example, that he hasn't castled yet, while his queenside isn't fully developed.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Willber G: Fair enough, but he never did castle. ;-)
May-11-17  protonchess: @ Strelets: did Alekhine play the French as Black?? I don't think so. But go ahead and show me.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <protonchess: @ Strelets: did Alekhine play the French as Black?? I don't think so. But go ahead and show me.>

Read 'em and weep:

May-11-17  Retireborn: <perfidious> LOL. Alekhine actually scored his very first win ever over Capa with the French! Most GMs have played it at least occasionally. The list of those who have never touched it must be quite short, the real Sicilian addicts Fischer, Polu, Browne, Nunn of course. Even Kasparov played it once or twice!
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: A real Alekhine never would play the French (as Black).
May-12-17  protonchess: Ok Ok, you're right
Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: The French is a good defense because you usually get an unbalanced pawn structure. That gives both sides chances.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: The comment that an "unbalanced pawn structure" gives "both sides chances" is a generalized inaccurate utterance, probably stated by the author to give the illusion of one's own chess proficiency

Its all based on the position, or positional play, and has nothing to do with giving "both sides chances"



May-13-17  paavoh: Doesn't a balanced pawn structure give "chances to both sides" too? :-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <paavoh> Yes sir, you are correct, and I thank you very much for your pointed and accurate response


May-13-17  Howard: This game is analyzed in Kasparov's MGP series, which I didn't have available when I made that comment the other day..

...but having looked it shortly later, it turns out that Kasparov states that..

...13.Qxc3! is apparently now White's preferred choice! So, Wilbur G was NOT "missing" anything, after all.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Retireborn:...Most GMs have played it at least occasionally. The list of those who have never touched it must be quite short, the real Sicilian addicts Fischer, Polu, Browne, Nunn of course. Even Kasparov played it once or twice!>

I used to think that Karpov had only played one game as Black in the French, Geller vs Karpov, 1976, which he lost. In fact he has played 19 throughout his career - although most of them seem to be rapid/blitz/blindfold.

I think the French needs a lot of experience to play well. That is something both Korchnoi and Short have.

May-13-17  Retireborn: <offramp> Having been a practitioner of the French myself for many years, I can testify to that....I can't remember now which old timey Master called it the King's Pawn One Sneak :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Rétireborn: <offramp> Having been a practitioner of the French myself for many years, I can testify to that....I can't remember now which old timey Master called it the King's Pawn One Sneak :)>

...Very unfair to the player of 1...e6, because it is <White> who dictates whether the future course of the game will be quiet or wild. He has the choice of the Qg4xg7xh7 lines or the d4-e5-f4-Nf3 lines.

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