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Lev Polugaevsky vs Viktor Korchnoi
Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal (1980), Buenos Aires ARG, rd 14, Aug-20
English Opening: Symmetrical. Three Knights Variation (A34)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: When there is no queen around pieces can roam around at will as there is less chance of a fork picking up an unprotected piece. There are some great games without queens that have roaring attacks and this is one of them. Two other favourites of mine are Réti-Alekhine and Huebner-Kasparov.
Apr-17-05  Autoreparaturwerkbau: I agree ... no wonder Korchnoi was always so confident over Polugaevsky!
Apr-17-05  fred lennox: When the cat's away the mice can play.
May-25-05  who: You know white's in trouble if by move 8 black can go in for a repetition 8...Nd3+. Polu looks like a patzer in this game.
May-25-05  Shams: looks to me like if white wants to play 5.e4 he needs to follow up with ...Nb4 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nb5. (Obviously not Nxd4?? Qxd4.) The text is just lousy for white, as others are pointing out.
May-25-05  Kangaroo: Several other examples are:

Polugaevsky vs Korchnoi, 1972

Polugaevsky vs Korchnoi, 1977

In both of them one can see the same scenario: Korchnoi counter-attacks and Polugaevsky gets lost / confused. In general, Lev Abramovich Polugaevsky was a very brave opponent, but his records against Korchnoi were not as good as they should have been!

May-25-05  refutor: Kasparov vs Shirov, 1986 kasparov disagrees with you
May-25-05  refutor: do does vallejo pons Vallejo-Pons vs Leko, 2003 kasparov again Kasparov vs R Grunberg, 1985 seirawan Seirawan vs Miles, 1982 hubner Huebner vs Portisch, 1980 et al
Premium Chessgames Member
  acirce: <You know white's in trouble if by move 8 black can go in for a repetition 8...Nd3+. Polu looks like a patzer in this game.> <looks to me like if white wants to play 5.e4 he needs to follow up with ...Nb4 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nb5. (Obviously not Nxd4?? Qxd4.) The text is just lousy for white, as others are pointing out.>

That line is very lousy for White because of 7..d3. 6.Bc4 is fine and the usual move. Yes, Black can "go for repetition" if White plays 8.Ke1? but of course he plays 8.Kf1, like he did in this game. I'll submit a correction.

Vallejo Pons, Kasparov, Piket, Hort, Larsen, Timman, Seirawan, Bronstein, Benko, Portisch, Adorjan and Botvinnik count among those who have played this as White.

May-25-05  Shams: <acirce, others> I stand corrected. thanks.
May-27-05  who: <acirce> I was wondering about 8...Nxg2+. Thanks.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheAlchemist: This game deserves to be better known, for the following...

The game Huebner vs Portisch, 1980 was played only a few days earlier in the candidates. Korchnoi's analysts (Seirawan and Stean) saw it annotated in an Argentine newspaper "Clarin" and since Polugaevsky didn't speak Spanish, Korchnoi assumed he wouldn't read it and thus not know of that game. Black did very well in that game, Korchnoi took a very big risk and repeated the variation (this was the decisive game), although he knew White has a superior position after 14.h3 (an improvement suggested by Larsen to Najdorf's column). But after 14.d4? Bg4!, Korchnoi got a good position and won in style.

Here's an article in Spanish:

Apr-29-07  Ulhumbrus: According to Baruch H Wood, after 21 Ke4 there are enough Black pieces remaining on the board to harass White's King to death.
Nov-14-07  talisman: <TheAlchemist> larsen said the next day in the paper "those who don't read larsen land in trouble.".
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <<TheAlchemist> Here's an article in Spanish:;

Thanks for the link. Check it out even if you don't read Spanish, just to see the pictures. Argentines are quite enthusiastic about chess, as the photographs show.

Mar-22-09  Ulhumbrus: Baruch H Wood said in his report on the game in the Daily Telegraph, that after 21 Ke4 there were enough Black pieces remaining on the board to harass White's King to death.
Jul-07-14  Howard: As far as the Korchnoi team's gamble that Polugaevsky's squad had not seen the aforementioned Clarin article by Larsen, there were a couple other reasons why they decided to take the chance, as explained in Soviet Chess (Andy Soltis).

One was that the Soviet delegation was not likely to use valuable hard currency just to buy a mere newspaper while in Buenos Aires.

Another was that the crucial 14th game took place on.......a Sunday. The local Soviet embassy might have had a copy of that Clarin for that day, but it would be closed that day given that it was Sunday.

And the history !

Jul-02-15  Howard: Portisch, by the way, should have won that particular game against Huebner, according to the Informant.
Jan-22-16  Howard: A year later in the 1981 U.S. championship, Peters and Seirawan drew a game using this variation.
May-17-17  Petrosianic: This is also the variation that Tal beat Polugaevsky with in the 1979 Interzonal. I'm not sure why White would want to play it. What does he get in exchange for having his King buffetted about and stuck in the center? Very Steinitzian, I'm sure, which is a synonym for "For Masochists Only".
May-20-17  Howard: As I see it, there was quite a bit of difference between the 1979 game and this one. In the former game, Tal's knight remained entrenched on d3 for quite some time. That didn't happen at all in this game.
Jun-06-17  N0B0DY: <N0B0DY> understands the intention of the self-pinning move <15.Ke2>.
Aug-10-17  Saniyat24: <NOBODY> except Polugaevsky...bravo for fighting in a very difficult situation against an upbeat Korchnoi...!
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