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Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates Final Match

Boris Spassky6.5/10(+4 -1 =5)[games]
Viktor Korchnoi3.5/10(+1 -4 =5)[games] Chess Event Description
Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1968)

Played in Kiev, Ukraine from September 6-26. The match took place in the "October Place of Culture". This was later renamed Kiev's "International Centre of Culture and Arts". Spassky qualified from the Spassky - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1968), and Korchnoi had beat Mikhail Tal 5½-4½ in the semifinals and Samuel Reshevsky before that in the Korchnoi - Reshevsky Candidates Quarterfinal (1968).

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Spassky ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 ½ ½ 6½ Korchnoi ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0 ½ ½ 3½

Spassky advanced to the Petrosian - Spassky World Championship Rematch (1969).

Their subsequent matches were: Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final (1977) (Korchnoi 10½-7½ Spassky), a match in 1999 using an active-rate-of-play (Korchnoi 5-4 Spassky), and Spassky - Korchnoi Match (2009) (tied 4-4).

Original collection: Game Collection: WCC Index (Spassky-Korchnoi 1968) by User: Hesam7. I would like to thank <Tabanus> for providing the dates for this collection. And thank you <Chessical> for providing the match venue name.

 page 1 of 1; 10 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Spassky vs Korchnoi ½-½241968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
2. Korchnoi vs Spassky 0-1411968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalD31 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Spassky vs Korchnoi ½-½371968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA07 King's Indian Attack
4. Korchnoi vs Spassky 0-1581968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA27 English, Three Knights System
5. Spassky vs Korchnoi ½-½511968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalB23 Sicilian, Closed
6. Korchnoi vs Spassky 1-0421968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalD31 Queen's Gambit Declined
7. Spassky vs Korchnoi 1-0351968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalE83 King's Indian, Samisch
8. Korchnoi vs Spassky 0-1421968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalA14 English
9. Spassky vs Korchnoi ½-½531968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalD42 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 7.Bd3
10. Korchnoi vs Spassky ½-½391968Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates FinalD31 Queen's Gambit Declined
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
May-01-14  GumboGambit: <Played in Kiev, Russia>

Kiev is/was not in Russia. Its in Ukraine, which was part of USSR at the time.

Dec-10-14  whiteshark: Here is Korchnoi's take of the event:

" I now had shortly to do battle with Spassky, who up to then had easily won his matches against Geller and Larsen. But the style of his victories in 1968 was different, less convincing than in 1965, when one after another he had crushed Keres, Geller and Tal. In 1968 he appeared intentionally to neglect modern opening theory, and, so it seemed, did not try to outplay his opponents, but rather waited for them to beat themselves. Of course, the middle game was Spassky's main strength, and here he was inimitable, but I considered that, with my understanding, knowledge and technique, I could compete with him on equal terms.

I prepared for the match with Furman, but it turned out that Furman couldn't go with me to Kiev, where the match was to be held. The authorities of the Central Army Sports Club would not release him. At that time I did not realize which way the wind was blowing; the absurdity of the situation was obvious, but there was nothing to be done. I was angry with Spassky, since I thought that it was one of the tricks of his trainer, Bondarevsky, but, as it turned out, neither Spassky nor Bondarevsky had anything to do with this incident. It was Petrosian's doing. The World Champion, having beaten Spassky in 1966, was not afraid of him, whereas the prospect of a match with me was unpleasant for him. In order to render me impotent, through his friends in the army - in particular the ageing Marshal Bagramian - he managed to put pressure on the Central Army Sports Club. First Furman was sent away during my match with Tal, and then he was forbidden to accompany me to the Final Match. It could be objected that there were other trainers apart from Furman, and indeed I soon began playing successfully without him, but at that moment it was highly unpleasant for me. "

Dec-10-14  whiteshark: " I began the match against Spassky in a psychologically depressed state, and even my superior theoretical preparation could not compensate for this. In addition, I played badly in the second game on account of an unfortunate incident (the first game ended in a draw) . On the whole, I am not inclined to blame my chess failures on external factors, but this was highly exceptional. Normally, I am not distracted while playing, especially since my hearing is impaired. But here I suddenly felt the building shaking. In 1967 there had been a landslip in Kiev, when a whole block on the banks of the Dnieper had been destroyed, and I thought that this must be the start of an earthquake. I became very agitated, and made several blunders to lose from a level position literally within a few moves. It was only after this that I stood up and asked what was happening. 'It's a salute', I was told, 'for tank crew members' day.' It turned out that for forty minutes there had been firing by several hundred guns! "
Dec-10-14  whiteshark: " The third game, in which I had Black, ended in a draw, although Spassky was pushed to neutralize my spatial advantage. But in the fourth game, Spassky with Black quite outplayed me. On achieving a completely won position, he did not hasten to force matters, aiming instead to adjourn the game and find the most effective winning path. In doing this he relaxed his vigilance, and overlooked a strong counter-blow. Unfortunately, I did not notice it immediately, and only after making my move did I see it, when I almost cried. The game was adjourned, and Spassky showed good technique in converting his advantage into a win. The fifth game ended in a draw. The following day I decided to attempt to change the course of the match. I had prepared an interesting continuation in the Queen's Gambit involving queen-side castling . In general, Spassky senses fairly keenly the turning points during a game. After thinking for more than forty minutes over his move, he found a very fine continuation. He sacrificed a piece, which I could not avoid taking, but as a result I came under a formidable attack. Subtly and unhurriedly, Spassky developed his offensive. Hard as I tried, I was unable to obtain any serious counter-play. I had to return the piece, but this did not halt the attack. However, we both ran desperately short of time, and here, as last, Spassky overlooked a powerful tactical stroke. When the smoke had cleared following the time scramble, White had a considerable material advantage, sufficient to win. "
Dec-10-14  whiteshark: " I felt that this was a decisive psychological turning point. In the past Spassky had reacted badly to a defeat, and when the next game began, and Spassky changed his favourite e4 for the more rarely adopted d4, I decided that I must at all costs involve him in a tactical battle. But in fact I was seeing the situation as if in a distorting mirror. At that time Spassky was already a more hardened fighter than ten years before, and it was I who was nervous, being anxious to eliminate Spassky's lead. To the astonishment of my seconds, I chose the King's Indian defence, an opening which I play extremely rarely, and then only against weak opponents. Spassky played splendidly in that game. In the Samisch Variation he introduced an interesting innovation, and, being inexperienced in the King's Indian, which I prefer to play against White, I failed to resolve the position. Spassky obtained an attack in the centre and on the king-side, and ended the game with a mate. "
Dec-10-14  whiteshark: " The match was already Spassky's, this was clear. I played the following games indifferently, failed to perceive the moment when Spassky seized the initiative, and lost it too. In the ninth game I succeeded in worrying my opponent and his second, who had already bought his ticket home. To escape from my positional pressure, Spassky was forced to sacrifice the exchange, and his second had to return his ticket to the booking office. But everything turned out all right: there was sufficient compensation for the sacrificed material, and on resumption Spassky was able to draw. The tenth and last game also ended in a draw with the advantage on Spassky's side, and thus the overall score in the match was 6.5-3.5 in my opponent's favour. This was a crushing win, and in an interview given by Spassky, one sensed that he too was surprised at the ease with which he had won the Final Candidates' Match. "

All has been taken from Korchnoi's book <Chess is my life>, Arco Publishing Company, 1978, p 64-66

Jul-17-17  Saniyat24: very interesting reading Korchnoi's thoughts about the matches...thanks for sharing <whiteshark>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Interesting reading, thanks <whiteshark>. In the end, it just makes me fed up with chess though. If Korchnoi let himself get so obsessed by a game that he could write like this, then chess is itself a trap. He fell into the trap and his life was the worse for it. Thank goodness I'm never going to be so good at chess that it could make me feel like that. It's a game, Korchnoi - get over yourself!
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Korchnoi found it hard to play against Spassky in 1968 because he genuinely admired how Spassky had changed his game and improved. Like Geller, he found himself playing someone he could not predict.

You can sense in the notes how he alternately blames himself, but notes Spassky was better. <At that time Spassky was already a more hardened fighter than ten years before, and it was I who was nervous, being anxious to eliminate Spassky's lead.>

Feb-26-18  Allanur: Boris Spassky, Boris Spassky. He really left us early like Bobby Fischer, too. Really, he left us too early. He did not quit chess but he quitted playing with his best. How I wish he was as hardworking and ambitious as Fischer or Kasparov.

How I wish he played in more tournaments between 1964 and 70, how I wish he and Bobby regularly played in that time period.

Feb-26-18  john barleycorn: Spassky is really so underrated. He was the yardstick for Fischer and Karpov. Withot Spassky modern chess would look different.
Feb-26-18  offramp: <Allanur: He really left us early like Bobby Fischer, too. Really, he left us too early. He did not quit chess but he quitted playing with his best. How I wish he was as hardworking and ambitious as Fischer ...>

I believe I have spotted a contradiction in that post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: fischer quit at age 29.
Dec-14-19  ewan14: Did Korchnoi join Geller and Larsen in beating himself rather than Spassky beating him ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Fischer never faced a healthy opponent.
Dec-15-19  ewan14: that is how he became world champion
Nov-06-20  King.Arthur.Brazil: I didn't find the Tal 4,5 x 5,5 Korchnoi semi final match, in the Chessgames tournament Index. However, you can find it by the following link: (hope to help some who also missed this information). Game Collection: Korchnoi - Tal Candidates Semifinal 1968

1.Tal vs Korchnoi, 1968 ½-½ 40 E19 Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3

2. Korchnoi vs Tal, 1968 ½-½ 28 E06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3

3.Tal vs Korchnoi, 1968 ½-½ 41 E19 Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3

4. Korchnoi vs Tal, 1968 1-0 38 E53 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3

5. Tal vs Korchnoi, 1968 36 C98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin

6. Korchnoi vs Tal, 1968 0-1 42 A14 English

7. Tal vs Korchnoi, 1968 ½-½ 41 B32 Sicilian

8. Korchnoi vs Tal, 1968 ½-½ 41 D42 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi- Tarrasch, 7.Bd3

9. Tal vs Korchnoi, 1968 ½-½ 46 C86 Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack

10. Korchnoi vs Tal, 1968 ½-½ 61 A40 Queen's Pawn Game

Nov-06-20  King.Arthur.Brazil: Also see the comments on page:
Game Collection: Korchnoi - Tal Candidates Semifinal 1968

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