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Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1981
The Massacre in Merano

Having beat Petrosian, Polugaevsky, and Huebner in the candidates matches, Viktor Korchnoi once again earned the right to play Anatoly Karpov for the title. The match was held in Merano, Italy. The format was identical to the 1978 match: the first player to achieve 6 wins (draws not counting) is crowned world champion.

Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1981 The headline of the tournament again largely centered on the political issues. Korchnoi's wife and son were still in the Soviet Union. His son was promised to be released to join his father in exile if he gave up his passport. When he did so he was promptly drafted into the Russian army. Korchnoi took the opportunity of the match to publicize the situation of his wife and son, drafting an open letter to the Soviet government to release them both. This continuing effort likely led to his dismal performance as Karpov swept to victory in what was dubbed the "Massacre in Merano".[1]

The match was supposed to start on September 19th, but because of Korchnoi's insistence that he would not play unless his family was released, Fridrik Olafsson, president of the International Chess Federation, made a unilateral decision to delay the match for a month. Perhaps in the name of human rights the Soviet Government would release the family. The Russians were outraged. Early in August, at a meeting of the International Chess Federation in Atlanta, they made a great protest, after which it was decided that the "official" date would return to September 19th. But since Merano was not yet ready, actual play would start October 1st.[2]

In spite of the protests, Korchnoi's son was arrested for evading army service, sentenced to two and half years in labor camp, and served the full sentence.

The match took place between October 1st and November 19th, 1981. The purse was 800,000 Swiss Francs. After 18 games, with a score of 6 to 2, Anatoly Karpov successfully defended his title.

click on a game number to replay game 123456789101112131415161718
Karpov11½1½0½½1½½½01½½½1
Korchnoi00½0½1½½0½½½10½½½0

FINAL SCORE:  Karpov 6;  Korchnoi 2 (10 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Karpov-Korchnoi 1981]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #9     Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1981     0-1
    · Game #1     Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1981     0-1
    · Game #18     Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1981     1-0

FOOTNOTES

  1. Victor Korchnoi article at Wikipedia.com
    2 Cold War in the World of Chess, Harold Schonberg, New York Times Sept. 27, 1981.

 page 1 of 1; 18 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Korchnoi vs Karpov 0-1431981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
2. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-0571981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
3. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½411981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
4. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-0531981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC42 Petrov Defense
5. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½681981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD31 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Karpov vs Korchnoi 0-1411981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
7. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½311981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD31 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½841981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC53 Giuoco Piano
9. Korchnoi vs Karpov 0-1431981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½321981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC53 Giuoco Piano
11. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½351981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½471981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchA16 English
13. Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-0411981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD31 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-0461981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
15. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½411981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
16. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½421981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
17. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½231981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
18. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-0411981Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
 page 1 of 1; 18 games  PGN Download 
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-12-07  square dance: <margin of victory +4. fischer-spassky +4...tal-botvinnik +5(61) even botvinnik smyslov #2...+3. why was this a massacre?> because alliteration is awesome.
Apr-13-07  talisman: <square dance> right.i thought some of it might be Keene(coined it) not being the second this time around.
Apr-13-07  Brown: <slomarko>

http://dictionary.reference.com/bro...

Nothing incorrect with calling this a rematch. There seems to be a few kinds of rematches, and the strict definition you are stating is merely one of them.

Apr-11-08  Knight13: Korchnoi's son is a freakin' idiot.
Apr-11-08  Petrosianic: <Knight13> <Korchnoi's son is a freakin' idiot.>

A generic idiot, or did you have something in mind?

Apr-11-08  Petrosianic: <plang> <Because they had played 2 previous matches; the candidates final in 74 and a wc match in 78.>

Actually three previous matches, if you count their 6 game training match in 1971.

Apr-11-08  Petrosianic: <Operation Mindcrime> <Whether Korchnoi's defecting, or his son's dodging the draft, constitutes "disrespect for Soviet law" is a debatable point.>

My understanding is that he didn't. Dodge the draft, that is. He was promised that he'd be allowed to emigrate if he surrendered his passport. Once he'd handed it over, they drafted him as a way of reneging on the deal.

<acirce> <Finally, I wonder how Ingolf figures that insulting Karpov and the Soviets left and right helped Korchnoi to get his family out.>

Not sure, but if Korchnoi had really wanted his family out, he could have had them at will, simply by refusing to play the match if they weren't released.

Karpov's title was still extremely shaky after winning it without play. The world would not have accepted him as world champion by default twice. The Soviets desperately needed an over-the-board victory for Karpov in a championship match, and Korchnoi had something the Soviets needed. He sold it to them awfully cheap.

Apr-11-08  Knight13: <Petrosianic: <Knight13> <Korchnoi's son is a freakin' idiot.> A generic idiot, or did you have something in mind?> His dad did all that stuff for/because of him and he just screw up and get arrested. Might've even cost his dad the match!
Apr-11-08  Knight13: "Cost his dad the match" I mean like he doesn't get to play Karpov and gets aborted.
May-07-08  chess61: <Slomarko> Your question is valid and very logical. This should not be called a "rematch". Korchnoi had to qualify. If we stick to World Chess Championship terminology, this is not a rematch.
May-07-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Muhammad Ali had to fight other fighters after losing to Joe Frazier in 1971 and their second fight in 1974 was called a rematch.
May-07-08  Petrosianic: Rematch just means, informally "a second contest between the same oopponents". Even in chess you can see it used that way, as you can see by going to any server and looking for the "Rematch" button after playing a game.

It's not, of course, a rematch in the narrower sense (i.e. an <automatic> title shot granted to a defeated champion), so there could be room for misinterpretation.

Sep-20-08  seeminor: There is a rather interesting piece of footage on youtube of Karpov meeting Breshnev in front of the politburo after he had beaten Korchnoi. Karpov looks like a small boy being congratulated by his drunk grandfather. Perhaps the most amusing part is the initial introduction, where Karpov briefly holds out his hand, and Breshnev ignores it. Karpov quickly pulls his hand away and smiles politely while Breshnev rattles on.
Oct-24-08  hedgeh0g: A completely unfair match, psychology-wise. Then again, given the Soviet Union's human rights record, something like this shouldn't come as a surprise. Anything to win, right?
Oct-24-08  Petrosianic: Korchnoi could have stopped it. He could have refused to play in 1978 unless his family were released. The world would not have accepted Karpov as world champion by default twice.

The fact that he later married the secretary he had while his wife was stuck in the USSR might have something to do with why he didn't.

Oct-24-08  Petrosianic: <Perhaps the most amusing part is the initial introduction, where Karpov briefly holds out his hand, and Breshnev ignores it.>

Remembering how Brezhnev was in 1978, he might not have even noticed it.

Jan-22-09  talisman: i like the new picture.
Mar-01-09  WhiteRook48: think this tore away their society
Sep-29-10  myschkin: . . .

"Das Brett ist der einzige Platz, an dem er sich erholen kann."

(by Mikhail Tal)

Hör auf, du kleiner Wurm!

"... Alle Aktivität im Gefolge Karpows war dieses Mal leise. Der geradezu feierlich übereinstimmenden Bemühung einer Truppe, die zusammenhielt wie ein Brückenkopf, stand Kortschnois Ensemble gegenüber als ein bunter Haufen von Exoten und Versprengten. Seine Sekundanten flirteten mit Mädchen, verschlangen Cartoons, indes Karpows Mannen Zug für Zug sofort analysierten. ..."

(by Peter Brügge, Der Spiegel 48/1981)

source: http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print...

Apr-22-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <chess61: <Slomarko> Your question is valid and very logical. This should not be called a "rematch". Korchnoi had to qualify. If we stick to World Chess Championship terminology, this is not a rematch.> I agree entirely. This match was NOT a rematch.
Apr-22-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <The fact that he later married the secretary he had while his wife was stuck in the USSR might have something to do with why he didn't.>

Did Korchnoi really remarry while his wife and son were held back in the USSR? Maybe he thought they would never be allowed to leave. Did he divorce his wife?

Apr-22-11  talisman: <HeMateMe> Ah Petra, Dr. Zoukhour, Korchnoi was always going for the Big W...the Win and Wuv.
Apr-22-11  talisman: Mmmmm...that was 1978 talisman...drink another cup of coffee and stop talking to yourself.
Dec-13-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Petrosianic: Korchnoi could have stopped it. He could have refused to play in 1978 unless his family were released. The world would not have accepted Karpov as world champion by default twice.>

I suspect you are overestimating how much the world would have cared, although we will never know.

On the other hand, I am pretty sure that if he had beaten Karpov and become the world chess champion, then his chances of being heard and supported by the international community would have been much stronger. In other words, the best possible scenario for him would have been to become world champion, and I am sure he had blind confidence that he would.

Jan-07-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The word <rematch> in the title really gets on my tits. It makes it look as if Karpov said, "That match in 1978 was so close I'm gonna let you have a rematch, free of charge!"

A rematch is what Botvinnik had 2 of!

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