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Viktor Korchnoi vs Boris Spassky
"Chess Crisis" (game of the day Aug-22-2008)
Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final (1977), Belgrade YUG, rd 7, Dec-09
Queen's Gambit Declined: Tartakower Defense. General (D58)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-16-04  Deck: I am surprised this fascinating struggle hasn't been commented on earlier. I always loved to see Korchnoi and Spassky battle it out against eachother (Kiev '68, Belgrade '77), even if their play was not without obvious imperfections. Chess, at least in my mind, is more of an art than a science, and moves like Korchnoi's 30. h3!! (avoiding a particularly nasty combination on the back rank) brilliantly illustate that there is more to the 64 squares than what can be digested in theory books. (By the way Keene's Korchnoi-Spassky "Chess Crisis" is an informative and thoroughly entertaining account of the '77 match - highly recommended as it is one of my favorites)
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Yes - that is a really superb book.
Weird that it is descriptive as Ray was a major proponent of standard notation. There were some great games in that match, and very few draws. Spassky said he has been massively misrepresented about what went on. He says he has written his own account of the match but no one is interested in it. I would like to hear it; it is possible that Keene was slightly partisan. But the arbiters report does lay the blame on Spassky. Many players have had problems with Korchnoi in the past; he has had bad relations with Petrosian, Karpov, Spassky and I am sure there are others. Of course he is very intense.
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: Agreed: "Chess Crisis" is a very good read! I think Korchnoi had accused Spassky of 'psych' tactics so Boris wanted to demonstrate real psych tactics for contrast. Four stars! Boris's zenny sense of humour was heroic if surreal and Ray K. captures the essence with aplomb.
Aug-16-04  WMD: Well, it's a read.
Mar-16-05  islero: According to this page,

<29 ... Qd3 30 Qa6!>

Is this correct? I mean, you have to ask what happens after 30 ...Qxa6 31 Rxa6 Rcxc7

Mar-16-05  WMD: 29...Qd3? 30.Qb7 wins.
Mar-16-05  islero: <WMD> The point is 29...Qd3 30 Qb7 Qe2
Mar-16-05  WMD: 31.Qxc8+ Kh7 then 32.h3 or 32.Qh8+ wins.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Position after 29...Qxa2:

click for larger view

30.h3!! is a tremendous move by Korchnoi, which lays - so to speak - the nature of the position bare, after several moves during which the tension has been gradually increasing. The basic idea, of course, is to prevent back-rank mate threats by Black. Thus, after the "obvious" 30.Qb7 Black would draw by 30...Qa4! 31.Qxc8+ Kh7 32.h3 Qxc6 33.Rxd2 Qc1+ (33...Rxd2? 34. Qf5+) 34.Kh2 Qxd2 35.Qb8 Rxc7 36.Qxc7. There's also a vicious trap in this line, in case White tries to re-establish communications on the c-file by 32.Qg8+ Kxg8 33.c8=Q+ Kh7 34.Rc2:

click for larger view

where after 34...Qa1!! White is lost.

Aug-16-08  mcgee: Korchnoi thought that Black should have played 21..Qxc6 and after 22 Ne4 Qb7 23 Nxf6 gxf6 24 Qg4+ Kf7 25 Qh5+ White has no more than a draw, but I had a good deal of fun looking at 25 e4 the other night (reminded of the beauteous e3-e4 killer in Fischer v Spassky game 6 WC 1972 I think!!) - or maybe there is something in 25 Qf4 e5 26 Qf5 (not 26 Qxh6 Rh8) It seems to me White should actually make Black work for the draw, not least because I think Black's rooks don't seem to work as well in tandem in that kind of position. Anybody?

BTW great game. I think I prefer it to the lauded Korchnoi wins over Geller (USSR ch 1960) and Tal (USSR ch 1962. It's a very nice mix of elements including not a few trademark Korchnoi components - good opening preparation, unbalancing the position at the right time, tactical and strategic nous, very deep calculation..

Aug-22-08  AnalyzeThis: A good fight. Spassky went down swinging.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Aside from the brilliant and quiet little move 30.h3!!, I also liked how Korchnoi combined threats against g7 with threats against a5, eventually forcing Spassky to abandon the a-pawn.
Aug-22-08  arsen387: Look how Korchnoi keeps Black's b7 B locked starting from 11.b4! (in order to answer the freeing 11..Ba6 with b5!) till the move 20.Nc6. I think Spassky followed theory for first 10-15 moves, but wasn't 10..Bxd5 better. it gives away the B pair, but that b7 B never comes alive anyway.

21.Qxc6 will be answered with Ne4?! I guess.

And I can't see any forced win by whites if black plays 41..Rxf4?, e.g. 42.Ra1+ Kh7 43.Qe8 Rf6 and whites have no win unless I miss something.

Aug-22-08  Andrew Chapman: <And I can't see any forced win by whites if black plays 41..Rxf4?, e.g. 42.Ra1+ Kh7 43.Qe8 Rf6 and whites have no win unless I miss something.> 42.e5 wins I think
Aug-22-08  arsen387: <Andrew Chapman: <And I can't see any forced win by whites if black plays 41..Rxf4?, e.g. 42.Ra1+ Kh7 43.Qe8 Rf6 and whites have no win unless I miss something.> 42.e5 wins I think> yeah right, thanks. The key was not to allow black R back to 6th rank. missed that.
Aug-22-08  zanza: Great game! By the way, how can you insert a diagram in your comments?! Thank you!
Aug-22-08  dTal: I tried hard to see a straightforward refutation for not playing 21... ♕xc6 and couldnt find anything, and was feeling very silly, since it seems the obvious choice. Then I saw <mcgee>'s comments above and felt better!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Zanza> Inserting diagrams into comments:

1. The hard way: go the home page and scroll down to the last line. You will find a help page on FEN diagrams. If you really want to, you can enter the diagrams by hand. Good luck ...

2. An easier way (but only for positions that actually occurred in the game): step through the game until you find the position that you want to make into a diagram. Press Ctrl and P together. Click in the comment box to put the cursor where you want the diagram to go. Press Ctrl and V. The apparently meaningless series of numbers and letters will appear in the kibitzing diagram and on the site as the position.

3. Another easy way (but only if your chess playing software allows): copying a game position into the clipboard using Ctrl P as above. Paste that position into your chess software. (In Fritz 11, the crumb trail is file-new-position setup - paste FEN). Play some moves to get to an analysis position that you want to turn into a diagram. Then copy to the clipboard using file-new-position- setup - copy FEN. Then go to the website, click on the comment box and Ctrl V as before.

Other software may have different ways of copying and pasting fen diagrams. I can only speak for Fritz.

Sounds long-winded, I know, but is really quick once you get the hang of it. If you're still struggling, get in touch at my forum and I'll try to help.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sularus: spassky once said that korchnoi had everything in chess EXCEPT for one: viktor had no chess talent. lol!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Fascinating position after 34. Rc7.

click for larger view

Korchnoi has exchanged off his passed c pawn, but in return has shattered black's pawn structure and doubled his own heavy pieces on the seventh rank. The attack on the backwards g7 pawn forces spassky to jettison his e5 pawn.

34. ... Qa1+ 35. Kh2 e4 36. Qxe4. Black has managed to defend g7 by opening up the long a1-h8 diagonal, but he had to sacrifice the e pawn to do so. And the a pawn's days are numbered too. Black will be too busy dealing with white's threats on the kingside to be able to defend it.

I really enjoyed this game - especially the way that the action shifted from the queenside to the kingside. Makes a refreshing change from some of the more barbaric hacks that we sometimes get (although they have their charm too).

As Obi-Wan might have said "a civilised game for a more civilized age"

Premium Chessgames Member
  DarthStapler: Spassky just wasn't the player he used to be after he lost to Fischer in '72
Aug-22-08  ravel5184: I have that book!
Aug-22-08  PinnedPiece: For those (like me) for whom the bleeding obvious is hidden in the mists:

49 Qb8+ Kh7
50 g8=Q++

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Another finish would be 48. ... Qc7 (pins the white queen) 49. Qxc7 Rxc7 50. Rg4 followed by Rxh4. Not as flashy as <pinned piece's> mate, but white wins slowly by throwing his pawns forwards.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Korchnoi always seemed to have a paranoid crisis throughout his career-Fischer had one also. Too bad these two titans couldn't have played for the title at some time. seems to have a large Korchnoi tint-with 4217 of his games on the base. He does play an entertaining style of chess.

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