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MATCH STANDINGS
Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal Match

Viktor Korchnoi5.5/9(+2 -0 =7)[games]
Tigran V Petrosian3.5/9(+0 -2 =7)[games]

Chessgames.com Chess Event Description
Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal (1980)

For this match, Korchnoi qualified by reaching the Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final (1977). Petrosian qualified from the Rio de Janeiro Interzonal (1979). The three other quarterfinals were the Hübner - Adorjan Candidates Quarterfinal (1980), Portisch - Spassky Candidates Quarterfinal (1980) and Polugaevsky - Tal Candidates Quarterfinal (1980). In all four matches, the winner was first to get 5.5 points. The matches were held in order to select a challenger for Anatoly Karpov, the World Champion.

Photo: http://binaryapi.ap.org/bd4d065eccb...

Velden, Austria, 8-25 March 1980

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1 GM Korchnoi 2695 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 5½ 2 GM Petrosian 2615 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 3½

Chief arbiter: Harry Golombek.

Korchnoi advanced to the Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal (1980).

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-25-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  Zenchess: This match deserves to be better known. In spite of Korchnoi's margin, the reality is that Petrosian missed either outright wins (especially games 4 & 5) or chances to secure an advantage in every single game from 3 to 7. The one game where Korchnoi completely outplays Petrosian is game 9. I've never seen a match where one side had so many chances to put the other side away and couldn't do it.
Jan-25-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: Petrosian found it very hard to play Korchnoi in the last years. Not from the purely chess aspect,
But psychologically
Jan-25-17  Petrosianic: All the Soviets did. Losing to Korchnoi meant unpleasant repercussions at home. But another factor is that Petrosian was in his 50's when this match was played, while Korchnoi, though almost as old, was at his peak.
Jan-25-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: It was a far different kettle of fish for Petrosian, once he was sacked as editor of <64>, no longer the doyen of the Soviet chess press, and bottom rail was on top in his matches with Korchnoi, the more so after the latter defected.
Jan-25-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: It was indeed quite different with Petrosian.
They used to be friends in the past.
Ended up kicking each other's legs under the table while playing...
Jan-25-17  Howard: Wow! Five comments on this match in just one day! I, too, have felt this match deserves to be better remembered.

Petrosian, by the way, also missed a win in Game 7, according to the Informant.

Also, Korchnoi apparently missed an almost certain win in Game 1.

Jan-25-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: Чwhat a pity

The last chance Petrosian had to prove he was (always) a better player than Korchnoi

Jan-25-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It is very sad that Petrosian died so young, at 55. His knowledge of chess was so comprehensive that I can imagine him, like Smyslov, reaching a Candidate's Final in his 60s.
Jan-25-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: A genius!
Jan-13-21  Allanur: < But another factor is that Petrosian was in his 50's when this match was played, while Korchnoi, though almost as old, was at his peak >

Korchnoi peaking late is a myth created and believed by those who look at statistics only. In 1977 and 1980 encounters, Petrosian outplayed him but lost due to blunders or missed wins. Polugaevsky (1980) and Spassky (1977) was similarly head to head with him even though Spassky was playing far below his peak play, Korchnoi's luck was in a miraculous level (or to put it in skill measurement, we can say he was more concenteated, less deteriorated). Kirchnoi was not playing better chess than he used to play, his chess did not improve, he did not peak. Just his opponents deteriorated more than Korchnoi did. This "Korchnoi peaked at late 40s" myth should not even exist in a forum like this. Only those who look at scoresheets may believe such nonsense. Korchnoi of 60s was putting forth better resistance against players of higher caliber.

And that old Korchnoi was almost too hard for Karpov. Fischer, as Korchnoi told in 2015, was really in a class by himself, especially in 70s. Spassky and Karpov said Karpov would have dethroned Fischer in 1978, but I doubt it. Even 1981 version of Karpov was not in the level Fischer demonstrated to be. But hey, then Karpov would had been completely different that the one he has been

Jan-13-21  Petrosianic: <Kirchnoi was not playing better chess than he used to play, his chess did not improve, he did not peak. Just his opponents deteriorated more than Korchnoi did.>

<Spassky and Karpov said Karpov would have dethroned Fischer in 1978, but I doubt it. Even 1981 version of Karpov was not in the level Fischer demonstrated to be.>

You're taking everyone else's deterioration into account here, but not Fischer's. As early as 1973, Fischer's friends were noting that, unlike his previous layoffs, he was no longer familiar with the latest innovations, and fearing that he'd never play again.

Whether Karpov 1978 could beat Fischer 1972 is not the question (that matchup could never happen).

As for Korchnoi not peaking, he did quit drinking around that time, and resolved some annoying personal problems. It's quite possible his play did actually improve in the 70's.

Jan-14-21  RookFile: With Fischer you're talking about somebody who went from 1800 to US Champion in 1 year. Replaying some games that he may have missed would not have been Mount Everest for him.
Jan-14-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caparlsen: <As for Korchnoi not peaking, he did quit drinking around that time, and resolved some annoying personal problems. It's quite possible his play did actually improve in the 70's.> I'd say that Korchnoi reached his peak by 1978. In his title match against Karpov he missed some wins, and, in my opinion, his play in the series of games that led to his leveling the score (5-5) was way superior to Karpov's. Strange enough, after this feat, he was clearly outplayed in the 32th and last. He blamed the parapsychologist. We'll never know.
Jan-14-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caparlsen: For a numerical comparison between Korchnoi's and Petrosian's ELO evolution:

https://2700chess.com/players/korch...

https://2700chess.com/players/petro....

Jan-14-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: There is something that many commenters either seem to miss, or ignore, while making comparisons. Players help each other improve, especially at the top level. The greatest loss of the missing Fischer-Karpov match is that they would have improved each other (cue a few Fischer fanatics here, who will claim he's far beyond learning from contemporaries,) but this seems completely inarguable to me.

Sorry if that has been said before, and better.

Perhaps the best argument for identifying a stagnant period in the 70s was the fact that the top players kept playing each other - it takes new blood, along with robust WC-type match play, to advance the game and create challenges for the experienced. With all that in mind, Korchnoi really is amazing, always pushing himself to stay in front of theory.
Jan-14-21  W Westerlund: Caparlsen: Korchnoi did not blame Dr (?) Zukhar for the last game because Zukhar was not present. It was a matter of him not controlling his nerves nor his paranoia. In this 'it is now or never' moment Korchnoi was too paranoid to plan the 32th game with any of his secondants. So, he played the Pirc and it was terrible - I suppose that Karpov had a won position after 15 moves or so (and certainly after e5!).
Jan-14-21  Petrosianic: <He blamed the parapsychologist. We'll never know.>

There's a psychological moment in a match when someone levels the scores after chasing their opponent for a long time. The pursuer wants to catch his breath and regroup, and feels a little washed out and listless at that point.

That's why in 1966, when Spassky leveled the scores after 13 games of chasing, Petrosian came back hard in the next game, determined to play for a win, even if it meant some risk. Spassky played a well-analyzed line that led to a solid but passive position for Black, and the rest was history. Spassky said after the match that not taking a time out after Game 19 was his biggest mistake.

Korchnoi had been chasing Karpov for 22 games. Actually managing it is a huge turning point.

Jan-16-21  RookFile: I'm curious. What exactly would Fischer learn from Karpov?

On the other side of the coin, Gligoric noted that Fischer was the world's greatest expert on the Najdorf Sicilian since 1958, so there were one or two things Fischer could teach Karpov there.

Jan-16-21  Allanur: < You're taking everyone else's deterioration into account here, but not Fischer's. > Those whose deteriorations I talked of was already post-physical youth e.g. Petrosian, Spassky and Polugaevsky. Whereas Fischer would still had been in his youth years. Korchnoi was also as old as both Petrosian and Polugaevsky, but that was his difference: somehow he deterioated less than them.

I think neither you nor me disagrees that Petrosian outplayed Korchnoi both in 77 and 80, only to miss wins.

Spassky, who had been being repressed psychologically, as narrated by Tal in 1987, was also still head to head with him but lost mainly due to outright blunders. In a sense, we really can asserte Korchnoi did not peak. He just deteriorated less than the ones he used to lose to in his younger years.

<As early as 1973, Fischer's friends were noting that, unlike his previous layoffs, he was no longer familiar with the latest innovations, and fearing that he'd never play again> * In early 1977, Korchnoi said "Fischer is au courant with the latest chess theory" (not verbatim, but something with that meaning). It was said after he visited Fischer at his home. * In 1978, Fischer travelled to Yugoslavia, met Gligorich. The two were negotiating a million dollar match. Gligorich also said Fischer was familiar with the developments in chess. Also, there are some narrations of Fischer playing blitz with a GM in early 80s and defeating him easily. In all likelyhood, Fischer might been familiar.

Jan-16-21  Allanur: < I'm curious. What exactly would Fischer learn from Karpov? >

To begin with, Karpov would have been top of the iceberg. The entire Soviet chess system would have taught if someone taught. Then, in the 4th game of the 72 match, Fischer was taught something in his favourite line - Fischer-Sozin attack. So, no need to degrade anyone or exalt anyone.

Then, what is meant by "players help each other improve" is, each encounter brings new preperation, new ideas and new novelties. That is how they improve each other. That is how players who were very sharp in teen years transform to be somewhat balanced players in later years. Encounters give you a lesson, as Fischer himself said in 1992.

If Karpov and Fischer played in 75, Karpov would have been different.

Imagine how the 84 encounter affected Kasparov!

Jan-17-21  RookFile: Karpov said he really booked up on Alekhine's Defense for the match. Had Fischer played it, maybe Karpov wins the first game. The problem is, with Fischer, you don't get a second game. Fischer was well aware of the help Spassky got in 1972 and would treat Karpov the same way, avoiding the repetition of openings. Imagine how Karpov would have felt if he sits down at the board and Fischer opened with 1. f4 - after months of preparing for 1. c4, 1. e4, etc.

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