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Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Final Match

Anatoly Karpov12.5/24(+3 -2 =19)[games]
Viktor Korchnoi11.5/24(+2 -3 =19)[games] Chess Event Description
Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1974)

Karpov qualified from the Karpov - Spassky Candidates Semifinal (1974), and Korchnoi qualified from the Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Semifinal (1974). This match between them in effect became a World Championship when Robert James Fischer did not defend his World Champion title the next year (see Karpov - Fischer World Championship Match (1975)). The first of three matches between the players, it followed what would be a familiar pattern: Karpov racing to a seemingly insurmountable three-point lead after 17 games, then fading late and winning by a minimal margin.

Moscow, Soviet Union (Russia), 16 September - 22 November 1974

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Karpov = 1 = = = 1 = = = = = = = = = = 1 = 0 = 0 = = = 12.5 Korchnoi = 0 = = = 0 = = = = = = = = = = 0 = 1 = 1 = = = 11.5

After Korchnoi won the following Candidates cycle in 1977-78, the Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship (1978) became these adversaries' next encounter in serious play.

Original collection: Game Collection: WCC Index (Korchnoi-Karpov 1974), by User: Suenteus Po. Pictures: and

 page 1 of 1; 24 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½371974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA17 English
2. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-0271974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalB77 Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack
3. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½571974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA17 English
4. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½451974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
5. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½671974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalE17 Queen's Indian
6. Karpov vs Korchnoi 1-0311974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC42 Petrov Defense
7. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½481974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA17 English
8. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½511974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
9. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½411974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
10. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½581974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
11. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½811974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalE17 Queen's Indian
12. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½231974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
13. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½961974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalE17 Queen's Indian
14. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½301974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
15. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½471974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA04 Reti Opening
16. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½671974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
17. Korchnoi vs Karpov 0-1421974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalE04 Catalan, Open, 5.Nf3
18. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½421974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
19. Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-0791974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA45 Queen's Pawn Game
20. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½511974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC70 Ruy Lopez
21. Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-0191974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalE17 Queen's Indian
22. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½301974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA13 English
23. Korchnoi vs Karpov ½-½291974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalE17 Queen's Indian
24. Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½311974Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates FinalD25 Queen's Gambit Accepted
 page 1 of 1; 24 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-08-16  Petrosianic: Well, you've got to remember that in Fischer's time, people thought that the Pure Wins system would force more aggressive play. Charles Kalme even mis-managed and threw out data shamefully to try to argue that a 10 Wins match wouldn't last longer than 23 games because that's how long they lasted in the 19th century. The idea was actually to produce shorter matches, not longer ones. As it turned out, the sponsor with the very big pockets was the Soviet government. I heard they had to cancel three new missile systems as a result of KK-I.
Dec-08-16  Lambda: I don't see any real reason to think either would have played significantly differently in such a match, bar game 12. I think you'd see the same sort of stuff, just more of it, with Carlsen to win 3-2 after, let's say, slightly more than 20 games.
Dec-08-16  Petrosianic: Kalme fooled himself into thinking that Karpov and Korchnoi played differently because the match conditions (Best of 24 or 5 wins) forced them to.

The jury came in 3 years later. In this match, the score was +3-2=19 after 24 games. In their next match, played under a Pure Wins format; the format that guaranteed fighting play, the result after 24 games was +4-2=18. Almost identical. Kalme was nowhere to be found to admit the error, because he was more than just wrong, he juggled his data to reach the wrong conclusion, and simply threw out no less than three entire World Championship matches entirely because they didn't yield the kind of data he wanted from them. A good mathematician doesn't throw away data simply because he doesn't like it.

Dec-08-16  Petrosianic: It wasn't just World Championship matches, either. This Candidates Final is maybe his worst offender. Kalme used it to "prove" that the Wins or Points system guaranteed the least aggressive play of all, and forced the K's to play more cautiously.

But there were 6 other Candidates Matches played in 1974, under the exact same system, and all 6 yielded the exact opposite result. Kalme simply threw out all six matches and drew conclusions from this one that he liked. I'd love to have met Kalme to try to figure out if he was flat out lying, or if he was so partisan that he simply didn't realize that he was doing everything that he as a mathematician had been trained not to do.

Dec-08-16  Howard: Regarding Petrosian's remark from March, 2014, I believe that there WAS a Part 2 to Kalme's article, but it was run in October, 1975---one month before this mammonth article in November.
Dec-08-16  Petrosianic: There was supposed to be a Part 2, but it was cancelled without explanation. It may have been written, but it was never published.
Dec-08-16  Howard: I'm not so sure, by the way, that it's fair to try to draw conclusions from just the first 24 games of the 1978 match, i.e, omitting the remaining eight games. Perhaps Karpov and Korchnoi may have taken into account energy and stamina when agreeing to draw some of those first 24 games.

In other words, God knows how many games the 1978 contest could have ended up taking....especially when you consider the 1984 Moscow Marathon. Both Karpov and Korchnoi may have been thinking in 1978 that trying to squeeze water from stones (i.e, playing on and on in drawn positions) might not have been advisable.

Dec-08-16  Petrosianic: It WOULD be fair if Kalme's premise was correct: That there was a fixed and unalterable "Draw Expectation" percentage that is completely determined by match conditions.

Of course we know that there are lots of other factors that determine the likelihood of a draw. Parity, era, playing styles and so forth. But Kalme denied them all as factors.

Dec-08-16  Howard: No time to reply right now. In the meantime, please check the October, 1975 issue of CL&R. I'll do so myself when I get home.
Dec-08-16  Petrosianic: I think the full article is in the November 1975 issue, but I could be mis-remembering. There might have been a column or two in October as a buildup to the article.
Feb-26-18  Allanur: Many things can be added to the description of this event. Why is it so short? For ex: Korchoi has an entire chapter (18th chapter) dedicated to this match in his book "Chess is my life." Of course it can be rejected as "possibly biased" but at least we could add it as "according to Korhcnoi..."

Korchnoi, in his book says that he did not agree to play in Moscow, Baturinsky who was head of sports committee of the soviet union just added an additional article stating his consent to play in Mosvoc to the paper Korchnoi signed previously

Again, according to Korchnoi, the usual time for the games was 4.30 p.m but Karpov insisted on games be played at 5 o'clock for this match. Reporters opposed the idea, chess players opposed the idea, organizing committee opposed the idea, only president of the USSR chess federation supported Karpov and so was his demand accepted.

Korchnoi says all conditions of this match was made in favour of Karpov and as a reason he says "because Karpov was pure Russian, representative of a working class, was born in the centre of Russia,he was younger, he recently became a member of the communist party and the president of youth department of the party was his countrymen and friend."

According to Korchnoi's book, on the eve of the match, one of the leading soviet magazines featured Karpov's photo with a caption "I fear no one and against everyone I play for win."

There is also their interviews prior to the match in the book of Korchnoi.

Korchnoi says the federation did everything they could to put psychological pressure on Korchnoi that they managed to make Korchnoi suspect his second which was not a strong player either.

Korchnoi says All-Union Chess federation gathered a team of powerful chess players to help Karpov. Petrosian, Averbakh, Tal and Botwinnik were the ones to advise Karpov.

Korchnoi says he recieved threatining letters as well. He feared something might happpen to him in the streets.

After the match was over says Korchnoi, he shook hands with Karpov and then left the stage but the news report did not broadcast the part they shook hands, news just reported Korchnoi leaving the stage. Korchnoi comments it was done specifically to create an image of Korchnoi behaving badly.

There are many points written by Korchnoi. In short Korchnoi says organizing committee favoured Karpov and did so many injustice in favour of Karpov.

Jul-05-18  ewan14: Karpov was the Party man

Was Geller not supposed to have helped Karpov against Spassky in the semi ?

Jul-05-18  Howard: Geller, I recall, defected from Spassky just prior to the '74 Candidates. Robert Byrne mentioned it in his book on the '74 Candidates.
Jul-06-18  Howard: It was argued that back then that politics was not the only reason that most Soviets wanted Karpov to win this match.

Another reason was that should the winner go on to play Fischer and lose, at least the player who lost (Karpov or Korchnoi) would undoubtedly learn a lot about Fischer's play and thus be better prepared in the event of another match against him come, say, 1978...

...however, given Korchnoi's rather advanced age in 1974, 43, many strongly suspected that if he played Fischer in '75 this would probably be his only chance to become WC---if he lost the match, he would miss the boat completely as far as becoming WC.

But, Karpov was only 23 at the time--if HE lost to Fisher, he would have been in a much more favorable position to use any garnered knowledge for another match, come '78.

At any rate, we all know what happened. Karpov won the match and thus the right to play Bobby--he would either become WC in '75 by beating Fischer, or the '75 match would turn out to a "training" match for another assault come '78.

Seem to recall that neither of those scenarios played out though.

Jul-06-18  Joshka: <Allanur> Are you doubting the version laid out by Korchnoi?? I find it totally plausible. Thus cementing his eventual defection. Why would the Soviets side with HIM, when they have a young man 20 years his junior primed to get the title back, where it belongs!!;-)
Jul-07-18  RookFile: I don't think you get smashed by Fischer and say gee whiz, I'm more prepared for next time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Spassky would have lost even worse had he played Fischer in1975.
Apr-09-19  Everett: <HeMateMe: Spassky would have lost even worse had he played Fischer in1975>.

Fischer barely made it through game 2 in 1972. More likely that Fischer completely quits chess right after the 1972 match.

Oh, right, he did just that.

Premium Chessgames Member
  dkappe1: Another Leela annotation of a great match.
May-11-19  domradave: Would have loved to have seen a Korchnoi-Fischer World Championship match!
May-11-19  Joshka: <domradave> Yes, of course, imagine had Korchnoi prevailed in this match against Karpov. The outcome of professional chess might have been totally different.
Dec-27-20  Caissanist: Interesting excerpt from (I think) a translation of a Russian interview with Yuri Averbakh, covering the Karpov - Korchnoi match and Korchnoi's defection: .
Mar-27-22  Polonia: YO, since fischer resigned, this (was wcc: Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1974)), so karpov is world champion 1974-1985!
Mar-27-22  Polonia: YO, since fischer resigned, this was wcc: (Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1974)), so karpov is world champion 1974-1985!
Mar-27-22  Polonia: <joshka> whats up with batgirl sarah cohen? email?
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