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Korchnoi in Amsterdam, 1972; photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  
Viktor Korchnoi
Number of games in database: 4,419
Years covered: 1945 to 2015
Last FIDE rating: 2499
Highest rating achieved in database: 2695
Overall record: +1693 -677 =1732 (62.4%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      317 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 King's Indian (266) 
    E99 E81 E60 E94 E80
 English (228) 
    A15 A13 A17 A14 A16
 Nimzo Indian (190) 
    E32 E21 E42 E46 E41
 English, 1 c4 c5 (144) 
    A30 A33 A34 A31 A35
 English, 1 c4 e5 (132) 
    A28 A29 A22 A25 A20
 Orthodox Defense (110) 
    D55 D50 D58 D51 D54
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (391) 
    C11 C07 C02 C19 C09
 Sicilian (279) 
    B44 B83 B32 B89 B45
 Queen's Indian (170) 
    E12 E16 E15 E17 E19
 Ruy Lopez (160) 
    C80 C83 C77 C82 C81
 Nimzo Indian (158) 
    E32 E46 E34 E21 E44
 Grunfeld (142) 
    D85 D94 D91 D97 D87
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Korchnoi vs Tal, 1962 1-0
   Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1994 0-1
   Korchnoi vs Udovcic, 1967 1-0
   Korchnoi vs Spassky, 1948 1-0
   Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1978 1-0
   Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1974 1-0
   Fischer vs Korchnoi, 1962 0-1
   Korchnoi vs Spassky, 1977 1-0
   Averbakh vs Korchnoi, 1965 0-1
   Spassky vs Korchnoi, 1977 0-1

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1978)
   Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Rematch (1981)
   FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2001)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Bucharest (1954)
   Buenos Aires (1960)
   USSR Championship (1960)
   USSR Championship (1962)
   Palma de Mallorca (1968)
   USSR Championship (1970)
   USSR Championship 1964/65 (1964)
   Hastings 1971/72 (1971)
   Leningrad Interzonal (1973)
   USSR Championship 1961a (1961)
   Sousse Interzonal (1967)
   Buenos Aires (Konex) (1979)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1962)
   Curacao Candidates (1962)
   USSR Championship (1952)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Korchnoi! (i) The Early Years (1956-1984) by amadeus
   Victor Korchnoi in Olympiads by capybara
   Korchnoi's 400 best games by Wade & Blackstock by Gottschalk
   Challenger Korchnoy by Gottschalk
   French Korchnoi II by AuDo
   Run for the Championship - Viktor Korchnoi by Fischer of Men
   French Korchnoi III by AuDo
   OMGP V by keypusher
   On My Great Predecessors 5 (Kasparov) by Qindarka
   Move by Move - Korchnoi (Lakdawala) by Qindarka
   Exchange sacs - 3 by obrit
   OMGP 5 - Korchnoi - Karpov by grellas
   K Players by fredthebear
   Match Petrosian! by amadeus

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Viktor Korchnoi
Search Google for Viktor Korchnoi

(born Mar-23-1931, died Jun-06-2016, 85 years old) Russia (federation/nationality Switzerland)
[what is this?]

Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi was born in Leningrad, USSR. His father taught him chess when he was seven years old. He won the Soviet Championship four times: USSR Championship (1960), USSR Championship (1962), USSR Championship (1964/65) and USSR Championship (1970). He made eight appearances in the world championship candidates cycle. He reached the Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1968), but failed to beat Spassky. In the next cycle he won his quarterfinal Korchnoi - Geller Candidates Quarterfinal (1971), but lost his semifinal match to Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian. He made it to the Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1974), but lost.

Korchnoi defected from the USSR in 1976, and two years later he finally managed to win the Candidates and qualify for the Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1978). Trailing late with just two victories to Karpov's five, Korchnoi staged a comeback, winning three games to level the score at 5-5. However, Karpov then won the final game, thereby taking the match and retaining the crown. Korchnoi qualified again for the Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Rematch (1981), but was beaten 6-2. In the next Candidates cycle he was beaten by the rising young Soviet star Garry Kasparov. He continued to play at a very high level throughout the 1980s and 1990s, though he never contended for the world title again. He did, however, capture the 2006 World Seniors' Championship, scoring nine points out of eleven games. Though never World Champion himself, Korchnoi defeated nine players who at some time held the title: Petrosian, Spassky, Karpov, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Robert James Fischer, Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen.

After defecting, Korchnoi settled in Switzerland, which he represented at Olympiads and other international events. He was ranked in the top 100 on the FIDE world rating list as late as January 2007 (aged 75), the oldest player ever so ranked.

Korchnoi suffered a stroke in December 2012, but returned to competitive chess beginning in 2014. He died in Wohlen, Switzerland on June 6, 2016, aged 85.

Wikipedia article: Viktor Korchnoi

 page 1 of 177; games 1-25 of 4,419  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. D Rovner vs Korchnoi 1-020 1945 LeningradC47 Four Knights
2. Korchnoi vs Razov 1-027 1946 LeningradC50 Giuoco Piano
3. Zikov vs Korchnoi 0-120 1946 LeningradB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
4. Petrosian vs Korchnoi 1-023 1946 LeningradA90 Dutch
5. Y Vasilchuk vs Korchnoi 0-160 1947 LeningradB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
6. V Shiyanovsky vs Korchnoi 0-135 1947 LeningradD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
7. L Aronson vs Korchnoi 0-143 1947 LeningradD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
8. Korchnoi vs S Giterman 1-036 1948 TallinnC07 French, Tarrasch
9. Korchnoi vs Spassky 1-012 1948 LeningradB71 Sicilian, Dragon, Levenfish Variation
10. Korchnoi vs N Levin 1-031 1949 LvovE03 Catalan, Open
11. L Omelchenko vs Korchnoi 0-132 1949 LeningradC77 Ruy Lopez
12. Korchnoi vs Shapkin 1-018 1949 MoscowD08 Queen's Gambit Declined, Albin Counter Gambit
13. Korchnoi vs Spassky 0-151 1949 LeningradB71 Sicilian, Dragon, Levenfish Variation
14. V Golenishchev vs Korchnoi 0-142 1949 MoscowA90 Dutch
15. Korchnoi vs Y Sakharov  1-030 1949 Lvov Ch URSD11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
16. Taimanov vs Korchnoi 0-135 1950 LeningradA97 Dutch, Ilyin-Genevsky
17. I Vistaneckis vs Korchnoi  0-148 1950 TulaA80 Dutch
18. M Aizenshtadt vs Korchnoi 0-134 1950 LeningradD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
19. Korchnoi vs E Polyak 1-033 1950 TulaC73 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense
20. Sikov vs Korchnoi 0-144 1950 LeningradA85 Dutch, with c4 & Nc3
21. Korchnoi vs Suetin  ½-½60 1950 TulaB62 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
22. Korchnoi vs Kasparian 0-138 1950 TulaB10 Caro-Kann
23. Korchnoi vs S Zhukhovitsky 1-055 1950 LeningradB62 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
24. Korchnoi vs I Pogrebissky  ½-½43 1950 TulaB55 Sicilian, Prins Variation, Venice Attack
25. Averbakh vs Korchnoi 1-043 1950 TulaB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
 page 1 of 177; games 1-25 of 4,419  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Korchnoi wins | Korchnoi loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Korchnoi - my earliest inspiration in chess, especially his 1974 wins vs Karpov - also had a remarkably expressive face. I remember running some photos of him in a magazine in the 1970s, with a caption saying "You can't be up to these chess people".

Whatever that might have meant.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingfu: Hey Dom,

That's our Viktor!

We MUST honor him by always playing the French. We have been getting over enthusiastic about the French lately because of some impressive victories by black.

That was way last month!

Not one French defense in Paris or Spain or Cuba or Moscow , so far.

Keep the Faith!

Long Live Viktor Korchnoi.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <kingfu> Yep, I totally agree. Vik's treatment of the 3.Nd2 c5 Tarrasch in his 1974 match with Karpov inspired me to play the French in the first place -- if only Korchnoi had avoided the Sicilian and Petrov, and played the French in every game. Who can doubt that he'd have been world champion?

Next high point: Viktor's amazing match with Spassky, three years later. An object lesson in the Winawer.

And Korchnoi played *many* other French lines. This is the great thing about the French - a great variety of lines, many of them with distinct and original strategies.

I recently worked my way through several recent books on the French, looking for new ideas, especially in lines like the Classical which I've rarely played. I was quite impressed by the sheer number of French lines of which I knew little.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Korchnoi gone, I knew he had had a stroke. I read his book of his life / chess life. I followed those matches against Karpov which I thought were some of the most fascinating. I play that the Tarrasch again, from time to time when people criticise the French I mention Korchnoi. But also I recall he played the open variation of the Ruy Lopez.

Yes, a great loss, one of the best to not win the WCs like Keres etc

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: I love Karpov and his play. I like the way Karpov talks about his games. At the time of the 1978 matches I was absorbed in the match and the games. I wasn't "rooting" for anyone, but I admired Korchnoi's struggle. He overreacted to Karpov and tried to make a drama of it all: but I read the book of his life. I was somehow a little more influenced by Karpov's games as I loved complications, attacks, tactics and looking at Karpov's games then and since has kind of helped me to be more careful or more flexible. Korchnoi's style lead to another kind of complexity. He was also a great player, so it is my opinion that those matches with Karpov when they were both more or less at their peak, were some of the most dramatic in chess history especially as, here in NZ, it was suddenly on the TV!! Somehow, on a Sunday Chess was being relayed. So I saw each game annotated by a British GM (forget who it was, possibly Keene) and that hasn't happened since, nothing like it. So I have the matches and want to study them.

I play the Ruy, it occurred to me I have a game coming up and I might try the Open as Black. I had the idea just today when my son told me Korchnoi had died.

He was a character, "ornery" as the Americans say, but certainly devoted to the game. I think he has more games on than any other GM.

A sad passing, regardless.

Jun-17-16  cunctatorg: To <Richard Taylor>: if there was live coverage of the 1978 match, presenting both players and their reactions, please consider a (partial?) download at the Internet!!...

I remember that back then, state TV (the only channel back then in Greece) suddenly had showed (during standard news) some moments of two games: an opening phase where I was deeply impressed by the speed of both Karpov and Korchnoi, the speed of their movements reminded me of some Kung-Fu movies but it was nevertheless deeply impressive! They played more than ten moves in, say, milliseconds, that was my impression!

The other moment isn't really a TV coverage; as I remember now, it's a photo from the most dramatic 13th game of their match and, specifically, after the adjournement, when Korchnoi had played the tactical error 56. Qh4? and after Karpov's reply 57... Re4 , the photo had showed Korchnoi "touching" his head with both hands... A greatest photo, to be honest, showing a man dedicated to his deeds with all his soul.

It is a pity that such live coverage and photos from such a match, aren't at the Internet.

Jun-17-16  cunctatorg: For both Korchnoi-lovers and Korchnoi-haters...

There is a video of Korchnoi at the Internet where we can see Korchnoi analyzing a just played game with his opponent and someone brings him a book to sign. Korchnoi watches the book and says something like: "A Karpov book?!" while some spectators are watching almost silent. Korchnoi did sign that book while many other Grandmasters wouldn't ... and rightly so!... After or during the signing, he just said something like: "I'm still trying to forget this match..." and that was all...

Korchnoi's aggressive treatment wasn't toward ... "common people" and common chess fans; it just was toward ambitious professional players and -imho- for various reasons: either to teach them or to show his discontent, in any case by a display of critique. E.g. in the 2004 edition of his "Chess is my life" he writes that Karpov had lost too much weight during their 1978 match due to anxiety and his critique is: "... the poor thing..." which just means that so much anxiety is a luxury for a person that really desires to become World Chess Champion... Of course anxiety is normal, even too much anxiety and its complications isn't a crime but Victor Korchnoi chooses a treatment, quite similar to the very treatment of the main US schools of psychoanalysis and psychiatry, the aggressive one, which accepts that the main responsibility is for the suffering patient or, respectively, for the struggling chess competitor!!

Korchnoi obviously wasn't familiar with the Topeka School of Psychoanalysis and vice-versa, however he was able to understand that such an intense competition and such a high ambition as chess competition isn't for everybody; therefore the ambitions player must ask himself: "Do you want or you don't want to do that, to play competitive chess with all its complications, its temptations and all?!?"

That's essentially one of the main points of the "aggressive" schools of psychoanalysis and the very question Niki Lauda himself put to himself after a panic crisis which followed his comeback in the race after his 1st August 1976, nearly fatal, accident. Lauda had to ask himself if he really wants to take part in the F1 car racing, knowing that he could have another such accident and that because you must decide if you really want to take part or to live normally and safely, the in-between position is extremely dangerous and, in fact, disastrous...

To some extent, the same holds for professional chess: either you want to take part, taking full responsibility for your choices and your actions or you will become mad, a joke or a human parasite...

Aggressive treatment isn't, here or there, irresponsible treatment, quite the opposite.

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <cunctatorg: To <Richard Taylor>: if there was live coverage of the 1978 match, presenting both players and their reactions, please consider a (partial?) download at the Internet!!...>

Here's some video:

Jun-17-16  HeMateMe: I don't understand this post. ^^

Does it have something to do with Freud and strange bowel movements?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: It wasn't a live coverage, just the moves showed with a British GM explaining what happened. Later I got books of the match.

But that video is interesting. I also saw a video of one of the Karpov-Kasparov matches.

I hadn't played chess for years and I had just started playing again. In fact one thing I did was to play through the Fischer-Spassky match.

I also studied tactics. I was 30 in 1978.

Thanks for the video, there is so much on YouTube it is helpful if people point to things. I think Korchnoi dramatized the whole event overmuch in a n effort to get some kind of effect like Fischer. But Fischer was a different kettle of fish, also eccentric but sui generis.

Jun-18-16  cunctatorg: Nothing so hard; "aggressive treatment" (and Victor Korchnoi did that a lot with many kinds of chess professionals for various reasons) here (in chess and other competitive etc. human activities) or there (with mental patients) isn't necessarily irresponsible treatment, on the contrary a certain treatment of this kind seems to be the only responsible treatment.

Something to do with Freud?!? Either nothing has to do with Freud or much has to do with him but I explained that apparently Korchnoi was completely unaware of the principles and the doctrines of the US schools of psychiatry and the US schools of psychoanalysis, with Ernest Jones (in GB and the psychoanalytic movement) or Otto Kernberg. Apparently he was interested in Sigmund Freud's teachings but I believe that his personal philosophy had been born out of chess and the strongest and most important of the political and historical experiences of himself and his own family, not primarily for any studies!! Later he obviously met e.g. Lasker in chess psychology, probably Freud in human psychology etc. but this is about further elaborations and researches, not the primary causes of his inclinations...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: The question of Karpov's size and weight interests me as I am about his size. When I was 20 I went flying and then gliding. To go in the glider they had to put a lead seat in as I only weighed 9 stone. Then we used stones: it had just changed in 1967. Now we use metric systems altho I was brought up knowing about 1bs, stones, ounces and Pounds shillings and pence....In any case that is about 9 x 6.35 = 57.15 kilograms (125 lbs, I know in the US they use lbs to describe weight). This would give me a BMI of 20 which is just at the lower end of the scale so my BMI was o.k. So Karpov was, considering his size, perfectly healthy, as I was. I think I didn't eat enough meat. I didn't drink in those days.

But Korchnoi rightly criticized one GM for going on a diet during a chess (tournament of match).

As it happens my daughter has a PhD in Health Science and Psychology and as well as curing my madness, she helped my son and I lose weight. As time wenton, like Karpov, I put on weight. I started to drink, not when I was a teenager as I didn't like alchohol, but in a middle period in the 90s.

My chess ratiing improved when I got my weight to 72 kgs from 91 kg. That year it went up 150 points so I was, local rating, 2070. Then I seemed to lose track of things and rating fell. I am slowly repairing it I hope.

But back to Karpov and Korchnoi. I liked both players. I haven't played many of Korchnoi's games as I don't think he plays the kinds of openings I am interested in. That might change.

He was addicted to time trouble but I tend to play fairly quickly. I will play a move rather than let myself get into any time trouble although I study the position at certain critical points.

But I want to play through those games again as on the board they were quite fascinating. All the other stuff was not interesting to me. It all seemed a bit contrived and almost childish by Korchnoi. Karpov seemed to have more dignity and was very and is very likeable.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <Richard T > Your daughter actually 'cured' your 'madness'?

Sounds like a great reason to have daughters.

Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <Domdaniel: <Richard T > Your daughter actually 'cured' your 'madness'?

Sounds like a great reason to have daughters.>

I recommend minimum of 3 daughters per CG premium member. It sure increases the quality of posts.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <Domdaniel><john barleycorn> well, she told me I was no longer quite insane, just rather strange...!

I have two both have children. One grandson looks like Carlsen when he was young! He isn't playing chess yet. He also hasn't been noticeably affected by having a slightly crazy grandfather, although the matter is being looked into by a committee of the Richard Taylors.

The other grandson's to my psychology daughter are not like Carlsen but are, well, they are like 2 and 3 year old young chaps are. My older grandson, who is 14 played some chess then stopped. His father is German. The German fellow is still a good friend...he is quite eccentric. To complicate matters further, he is married to a Russian woman who has a child by him, and he has a son to another woman...and to further complicate the father of the other two youngsters is of Irish descent and has a daughter from a previous marriage!

3 daughters. Well my daughter has three sons but she doesn't play chess.

Chess and life are complex...

It is significant that physical health when I was about 62 meant that my rating increased although that year I had some lucky games: but some good ones also.

Does it matter about the quality of posts? I just say anything...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: I remember that, when we got 'The Soviet School of Chess' that Korchnoi was in there. This somewhat influenced that I named my son Victor: although I wasn't interested in Chess at the time (I have bouts - or is it droughts? - of chesslessness) but THAT Korchnoi stayed in my mind. Also I had a friend called Victor. C'est la vie.
Jun-22-16  cunctatorg: I fully realized Anatoly Karpov's worthiness not during his matches vs. Korchnoi but during his matches versus Garry Kasparov and his general performance from 1984 until ..., say, 1996-98. During that process of my mind, I was also able to fully realize Korchnoi's worthiness and after that I started to speak for the F-K-K-K (a.k.a. FKKK) group/quartet that changed chess for ever!... My point about that FKKK term is that Bobby Fischer's almost unbelievable legacy survived and became the main paradigm and measure of chess "leadership" only because the three K were able to revive and (in some measure...) to repeat his chess achievements for three decades in a row! Without the three K, everybody would believe that Bobby Fischer had been just a paradox of the nature or, even, a figment of our imagination...

What about Victor Korchnoi? Back, at 1972, Bobby Fischer was 29 years old but Victor Korchnoi was already 41 years old... During the next eight years Korchnoi fully proved that he was able to take Fischer's challenge and also dominate the chess world, only in some measure of course!... Well, Korchnoi was the one and only member of the "old" Soviet School of chess who was able to achieve that, for example he crushed Boris Spassky at 1977 almost (almost, in SOME measure etc.) Bobby had done at 1972 and Anatoly Karpov had repeated two years later; the same year (1977) he had crushed in a similar manner Lev Polugaevsky, not with a 6-0 score of course but with a score ALMOST like that! Therefore he proved himself fully capable to take Fischer's challenge and continue his legacy though I must point out that the FKKK quartet had started by an F, not any K!...

Victor Korchnoi achieved more of course than being a member of the FKKK quartet; his longevity, his ambition to teach and, subsequently, to try to change the chess world, his responsibility and all. Anatoly Karpov was capable to carry positional chess to an unbelievable level of domination on (? - excuse my poor English please) chess and Garry Kasparov to prove that attacking chess was able for an even greater domination and that Alexander Alekhine wasn't just another chess paradox during a "special" era, namely just the third and fourth decade of the 20th century...

These men were also able to not repeat Alekhine's or Capablanca's fatal error and their ability to learn from history and withstand fear, hate and similar negative emotions is perhaps their greatest achievement!!

Which is that "fatal error"? Well, Alekhine should realize that the quality of his life and chess was fully dependent from his competition with Capablanca and the same hold for JRC also; they didn't and their life followed a bad turn... Korchnoi, Karpov and Kasparov were able to be into that dangerous competition and their life didn't follow any bad turn!! Imho, that is quite something!!

A last but not least proof: Garry Kasparov's "Modern Chess Theory" just analyses all his games with Anatoly Karpov!! Bingo!!

Jun-23-16  isemeria: I just realized that Korchnoi (b. 1931) was born was 5 years before Tal (b. 1936).
Jun-24-16  Granny O Doul: Do you suppose Korchnoi used to take Tal's milk money in the schoolyard?
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: It's only today I learned Victor Korchnoi had passed away. R.I.P.
Jun-27-16  Stalwart: Viktor Korchnoi has been captured by death. Now he waits with all others for resurrection to life and glory or shame and death again. Gotta update my book now not that I didn't have many reasons already.

Premium Chessgames Member
  diagonal: Yasser Seirawan's heartfelt tribute to Viktor Korchnoi: (video 5:15 minutes, starting with an intro of 15s by the Grand Chess Tour)

Premium Chessgames Member
  SetNoEscapeOn: <In the year 1967... the Soviet State celebrated, more or less, 50 years of its existence...

In order to commemorate this date, they organized two big international tournaments. Well, there were even rumors that Bobby Fischer was ready- was eager- to take part in these tournaments, even without any extra fee!

They thought it over, and decided not to invite him... What the hell would happen if an American won a tournament to commemorate 50 years of the Soviet State?>

Korchnoi, My Life For Chess

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: 1967 was 50 years of the Russian Revolution (and, thereby, the Soviet <power> in Russia - though one can debate how far that power went during the following Russian Civil War). The Soviet Union was founded five years after the revolution. In non-Russian parts of the future union it took much longer for the Soviets to get foot at (Ukraine f.x. was still not full under the Bolshevik control by the early 1921. That's why the first capital of the socialist Ukraine was not Kiev but Kharkov).
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingfu: That's our Viktor! How many Champions did the Soviet Union "borrow" from the Ukraine, Armenia and the Baltic States?

The Soviets even "borrowed" the part of Finland where Botvinnik was born!

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