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Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78 Match

Viktor Korchnoi10.5/18(+7 -4 =7)[games]
Boris Spassky7.5/18(+4 -7 =7)[games] Chess Event Description
Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78

Korchnoi qualified for this match from the Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal (1977) in Évian-les-Bains, France. Spassky qualified from the Spassky - Portisch Candidates Semifinal (1977) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Belgrade, Yugoslavia (Serbia), 21 November 1977 - 11 January 1978

Elo* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Korchnoi 2665 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 1 1 10½ Spassky 2630 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ 0 0 7½

Korchnoi advanced to the Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship (1978) in Baguio, Philippines.

Korchnoi and Spassky's other encounters were: Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1968) (Spassky 6½-3½ Korchnoi), Spassky - Korchnoi Match (2009) (tied 4-4), and a match in 1999 using an active-rate-of-play (Korchnoi 5-4 Spassky).

*FIDE Rating List January 1978:

 page 1 of 1; 18 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Korchnoi vs Spassky ½-½531977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78A33 English, Symmetrical
2. Spassky vs Korchnoi 0-1401977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78C18 French, Winawer
3. Korchnoi vs Spassky 1-0351977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78A33 English, Symmetrical
4. Spassky vs Korchnoi ½-½341977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78C19 French, Winawer, Advance
5. Korchnoi vs Spassky ½-½441977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78A33 English, Symmetrical
6. Spassky vs Korchnoi ½-½441977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78C19 French, Winawer, Advance
7. Korchnoi vs Spassky 1-0481977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78D58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
8. Spassky vs Korchnoi 0-1661977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78C19 French, Winawer, Advance
9. Korchnoi vs Spassky ½-½701977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78A13 English
10. Spassky vs Korchnoi 0-1651977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78C19 French, Winawer, Advance
11. Korchnoi vs Spassky 0-1361977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78D58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
12. Spassky vs Korchnoi 1-0381977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78C18 French, Winawer
13. Korchnoi vs Spassky 0-1331977Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78A13 English
14. Spassky vs Korchnoi 1-0591978Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78C26 Vienna
15. Korchnoi vs Spassky ½-½341978Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78D34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
16. Spassky vs Korchnoi ½-½471978Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78A45 Queen's Pawn Game
17. Korchnoi vs Spassky 1-0571978Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78E15 Queen's Indian
18. Spassky vs Korchnoi 0-1411978Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final 1977/78C02 French, Advance
 page 1 of 1; 18 games  PGN Download 
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-15-14  Granny O Doul: The goggles bit sounds familiar. I remember the Keene/CL report saying that this was too much for the audience and they starting chanting "Korchnoi, Korchnoi", and some rhapsodic description of how Korchnoi appeared during this ("great thinker" and I forget what else).
Aug-15-14  Wyatt Gwyon: Hadn't read about the circumstances of this match before. Very strange and interesting.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Perhaps Spassky, a sensitive guy, didn't like being at the board with his old Leningrad chum, who now had defector status and hated anyone playing under the USSR flag. Being unnerved by the circumstances could have led to Spassky's disastrous start.

Neither player is 4 points better than the other.

Aug-16-14  RookFile: I don't think Korchnoi won any awards for Miss Congeniality.
Nov-11-14  DirkMcCallahan: Sounds like Spassky picked up a few pointers from Fischer. Too bad it didn't work out for him...
Nov-11-14  Petrosianic: <Petrosianic>: <The only example I can think of offhand of Korchnoi's sense of humor is that he laughed when the orchestra in Baguio accidentally played the Internationale instead of the then-current Soviet National Anthem.>

Wait no, there was another one. Some Q&A session, where some lady asked him after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5, what was wrong with 4. b3? Korchnoi's response was just to break out laughing. She tried to push the question. "No, no, I'm serious. What's wrong with it?", but he couldn't stop laughing.

(It's funny, but it's not THAT funny.)

Nov-12-14  Granny O Doul: <Some Q&A session, where some lady asked him after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5, what was wrong with 4. b3? Korchnoi's response was just to break out laughing>

Well, take THAT, Christopher Hitchens
( ).

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Remember this?

<perfidious: <Petrosianic> Wasn't that Korchnoi story a post from a woman in Chicago (Colleen, do not recall the exact surname) in one of Larry Evans' columns in a 1974 CL&R?>

Robert James Fischer

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The November 1977 <Chess> reported:

<The start of the Spassky v Korchnoy match in Belgrade has had to be postponed from the original date, November 15. Korchnoy was injured in a road accident on November 8th when a taxi in which he was travelling collided with a Swiss army vehicle. He suffered a broken hand and other minor injuries.

This introduces incalculable complications. The match may now extend past Christmas.>

The front cover carried a garish, tangerine-toned picture of the upturned vehicle.

<As reported page 42, Viktor Korchnoy's chauffeured car collided with a Swiss military vehicle on November 8. His car rolled over three times and ended up as pictured. The chauffeur was seriously injured. Korchnoy, miraculously, escaped with an injured hand. Ray Keene in the back was uninjured. Korchnoy went on to Belgrade, said he was willing to start against Boris Spassky on November 15 as scheduled, playing and scoring with his left hand, but was persuaded to ask for a week's postponement.>

Dec-28-14  RookFile: Can't think of another match where a guy won 4 games in a row let lost by 3.
Dec-28-14  ughaibu: RookFile: Happy christmas Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship Match (1886)
Dec-28-14  Howard: Good thinking, Ughaibu ! Zukertort did indeed win four straight games early in that match, but....he still lost the match anyway.
Dec-29-14  RookFile: Good work ughaibu.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Spassky might have been slightly relieved when he went 2 or 3 down at the start of this match. He had lost pretty decisively ( 1-4 ) to Karpov in the Karpov - Spassky Candidates Semifinal (1974), and he must have felt that his own powers had waned since that match, while Karpov had grown stronger and stronger.

But his <amour propre> may have been impugned when Korchnoi went a whopping 5-0 up at game 10.

So he might have been trying his tricks to make the score look better. But he may not have been trying too hard to win.

Jul-21-15  Petrosianic: He wasn't relieved, he became so unglued that he couldn't even bear to sit on the same stage with his opponent.

Then Korchnoi became even more unglued.

For both financial and sporting reasons, Spassky would have preferred losing a World Championship match to losing a Candidates Final.

Jan-12-16  thegoodanarchist: <offramp: It is worth mentioning a bit of the background to this match....

That 1978 match would be the first World Championship since 1972 - the first since the chess explosion which followed Fischer's Ascent of Rum Doodle>

I remember the assault on Rum Doodle, but was just a child at the time.

< Petrosianic: Let's see, I'm trying to remember how it went without having any magazines handy to look at.>

OMG the entire story is crazy! No wonder no one will publish Boris' book about the match - it is too improbable to believe!

Former WC faces old man in match for the right to play current WC. Former WC is getting annihilated (by old guy!), so he commits himself to an asylum - on stage, no less! Crazy man in box starts to destroy old man.

So what happens? Old man goes crazy and self-commits too! Two crazy guys hide in boxes to play for the right to challenge Karpov.

Old man loses 4 - FOUR!- straight games. How could it happen? Yet he wins the match.

And the crazy man boxes are on the wrong side. Crazy man in box is lurking behind his opponent. No one in Hollywood would buy this preposterous screen play. It CAN'T - CAN'T! - possible be true, can it???

Jan-12-16  thegoodanarchist: And I didn't even mention crazy ex-champ shows up for some games with swimming goggles or sun visor.
Jan-12-16  savagerules: What a bizarre match this was! Spassky at one point won 4 (yes, 4 games) in a row and still loses by 3 points. I remember that in some games the player not on move wouldn't sit at the board and would go look at the demonstration board, so there was usually only one person at the board for many games.
Jan-12-16  thegoodanarchist: I am tempted! Tempted, I tell you! I want to launch a screenwriting career. I will start with this match.

Oh, it will be so sweet! Crazy men in boxes playing chess! LOL I laugh so hard just thinking of it.

Oh man, I am crying tears of laughter at this moment!!!

It will launch my new career.

May-11-17  PeterPringle: Losing the match to defector Korchnoi?! I bet Spassky got an earful from the Kremlin for letting his opponent advance!
Aug-02-17  thegoodanarchist: < offramp: ...

Since then Korchnoi had defected; he had become a <persona non grata>, whatever that is.>

Well, OF COURSE <persona non grata> means you have been prohibited by the State from eating Au Gratin Potatoes!

You are smart. You're supposed to know this stuff

Jun-13-19  Grad: Spassky was in box on his moves and Korchnoi protested. Max Euve must to solved problem.
Nov-14-21  Helios727: PeterPringle, Spassky was already living in France in 1976, so he probably did not care what the wicked Kremlin people had to say.
Nov-14-21  Helios727: Spassky later claimed that his toughest match was with Karpov in 1974, where he lost 4-1 with 6 draws. However, one should take note that if the "4 wins" rule had been present here, Korchnoi would have won 4-0 with 4 draws, making this his toughest match.
Dec-19-21  Albertan: Boxing in White City:

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