Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing

Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81 Match

Viktor Korchnoi4.5/8(+3 -2 =3)[games]
Robert Huebner3.5/8(+2 -3 =3)[games] Chess Event Description
Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81

The match would decide who would be the challenger for the World Champion Anatoly Karpov. Korchnoi had qualified from the Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final (1977), the Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal (1980), and the Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal (1980). Hübner qualified from Lucerne (1979), the Rio de Janeiro Interzonal (1979), the Hübner - Adorjan Candidates Quarterfinal (1980), and the Hübner - Portisch Candidates Semifinal (1980). The winner would be the best of 16 games (1) or the first to get 8,5 points. The 49-year-old Korchnoi had not played in any tournament since the semifinal in August, whereas the 32-year-old Hübner had played in Tilburg Interpolis (1980) in September.

"In fact Korchnoi is labouring under a novel handicap in this match. For the first time in this series he is playing against an opponent whom he does not hate - and I am quoting his own words", elaborated Harry Golombek in The Times. (2) The other handicaps were supposed to be his age, and a tendency to end up in Zeitnot (time trouble). (3) To help with preparations before and during the match, Korchnoi had hired Yasser Seirawan and Michael Francis Stean as his seconds. (4, 5) Hübner's seconds were Vlastimil Hort, William E Martz and Gudmundur Sigurjonsson, and the chess patron Wilfried Wilhelm Hilgert (6) was the team leader. (7, 8) The venue was the Palace Hotel (9) in Merano (Italy) which could take 600 spectators every day. (1) The players declared to be delighted with the organization (10) (on a press conference on the day of Game 10), and agreed that here they would like to meet Karpov. (1) The arbiter was Henk Folkers. (11) Prize money pot: 110,000 Swiss francs or about 64,000 dollars. (12)

After six games, Hübner was leading by a point. But in Game 7 he made a blunder, and he also lost Game 8. Now Korchnoi was leading by a point. Game 9 was scheduled for 4 January, but Hübner asked for a postponement. (13) The game started 6 January, and was adjourned. Game 10 started 7 January, and it was also adjourned. Now Hübner asked for postponement of the two adjourned games till 12 January. Meanwhile, games 11 and 12 were set for 10 and 11 January. (14) But on 8 January, something must have happened. Hübner left Merano on 9 January in the morning. Korchnoi was informed about this at breakfast, (7) whereas Folkers got a letter. (15) On a press conference at 6 pm, Hilgert informed that Hübner had abandoned the match. (1)

Observers in Merano suggested that a difference of opinion between Hübner and his seconds had been the cause of his resignment. (16) This was not the case. Rather, there was a dispute between team leaders, with pressure from the media. Korchnoi's manager Alban Brodbeck called Hilgert a liar and a 'highwayman' (Google translate!), and Hilgert said similar things about Brodbeck, that he could not believe this man wanted a fair fight. (17) Hilgert's wife would not greet Korchnoi's secretary. (18) And so on. Worse still, the magazine Der Spiegel had printed an awful article (in late December) which commented on how Korchnoi would "rot in poverty" and described how Hübner gently stroked his beard "with his girly hands". (19) Hübner was shocked, and not interested in any of this. Hilgert said to Spiegel-reporter Gisbert Jacoby (who did not write the article) that he now had Hübner on his conscience. (18) A reason perhaps why a fifth Spiegel-report appeared: an interview of Hübner by Werner Harenberg and Jacoby, with title: Not like a monkey in the zoo. (20)

Merano, Italy, 20 December 1980 - 7 January 1981

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 GM Korchnoi 2695 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 * * 4½ 2 GM Hübner 2600 1 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 0 * * 3½

Korchnoi advanced to the Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Rematch (1981).

Further reading: Hübner Kortschnoi Finale in Meran. Warum gab Hübner auf? by Ludek Pachman (Rau, Düsseldorf 1981. 125 p.). Hübner did not want to play during Christmas and had asked the FIDE president Fridrik Olafsson for postponement of the match till January. (17) When this was rejected, Hilgert requested play on holidays, so that Korchnoi could not rest in Switzerland while Hübner had to stay in the hotel. (17) See also Antonio Gude in El ajedrez 14 (February 1981), pp. 61-66 (http://www.historiadelajedrezespano...).


(1) Tidskrift för Schack, vol. 87 (1981), p. 2.
(2) The Times, 11 October 1980, p. 10.
(3) Tidskrift för Schack, vol. 86 (1980), p. 210.
(4) El País (Madrid), 26 December 1980 (
(5) Wolfram Runkel in Die Zeit, 16 January 1981 (
(6) Wikipedia article: Wilfried Hilgert.
(7) Der Spiegel, 3/1981, p. 88 (
(8) Het Vrije Volk, 10 January 1981, p. 12.
(10) Het Vrije Volk, 8 January 1981, p. 17.
(11) Het Vrije Volk, 9 January 1981, p. 9.
(12) Mobile Register, 7 December 1980, p. 113.
(13) Leeuwarder Courant, 5 January 1981, p. 22.
(14) Het Vrije Volk, 9 January 1981, p. 9.
(15) Alexander Jongsma in De Telegraaf, 10 January 1981, p. 37.
(16) Het Vrije Volk, 10 January 1981, p. 12.
(17) Der Spiegel, 52/1980, pp. 159-160, 164 (
(18) Der Spiegel, 4/1981 pp. 86-87 (
(19) Der Spiegel, 53/1980, pp. 75-76 (
(20) Der Spiegel, 5/1981, pp. 152-158 (

Original collections: Game Collection: WCC Index (Korchnoi-Huebner 1980) by User: nescio2 and Game Collection: Korchnoi - Hübner Candidates Final 1980/81 by User: Tabanus. Game dates are from the Dutch newspapers at Thanks to User: zanzibar for trying to improve the English.

 page 1 of 1; 10 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Huebner vs Korchnoi 1-0361980Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81B18 Caro-Kann, Classical
2. Korchnoi vs Huebner 1-0391980Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81A30 English, Symmetrical
3. Huebner vs Korchnoi  ½-½341980Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81C07 French, Tarrasch
4. Korchnoi vs Huebner 0-1511980Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81A37 English, Symmetrical
5. Huebner vs Korchnoi  ½-½351980Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81C07 French, Tarrasch
6. Korchnoi vs Huebner ½-½881980Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81D37 Queen's Gambit Declined
7. Huebner vs Korchnoi 0-1631980Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81C07 French, Tarrasch
8. Korchnoi vs Huebner 1-0431981Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81D22 Queen's Gambit Accepted
9. Huebner vs Korchnoi 461981Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81C07 French, Tarrasch
10. Korchnoi vs Huebner 441981Korchnoi - Huebner Candidates Final 1980/81E12 Queen's Indian
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-17-14  GumboGambit: <Worse still, the weekly magazine Der Spiegel had printed an awful article (in late December) which contained comments on how Korchnoi would "rot in poverty" and described how Hübner gently stroked his beard "with his girly hands>

I used to think current media was trending toward being more trashy and sensationalistic then that of generations past. . . . . . Now Im not so sure.

Jun-17-14  NeoIndian: Just did a quick search on the earliest known accounts of writing (that counts as media, doesn't it?). This is apparently from the Rosetta Stone decree:

"....Eirene, daughter of Ptolemy, priestess of Arsinoe, the lover of her father; day this Decree, being the directors (superintendents) of services (?)....",[196 BCE]

So, um, yeah. Looks like the media in the past wasn't doing all that badly in the sensationalistic department...:P

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Ray Keene writes:

<"I have heard the most scurrilous stories and rumours about the premature end of this match which frankly beggar belief. They centre on the relationship between Robert Huebner, a trainer, and Robert's backer, one Wilfred Hilgert (now deceased, I believe), having reached rock bottom at a critical stage of the contest. However, the allegations I have heard cannot possibly be repeated on a family website such as this. In my book I was diplomatic and must remain so here..." >

Apr-02-17  Howard: Which "book" is Keene referring to ?
Apr-03-17  Retireborn: Probably Massacre in Merano? I no longer own it, but ISTR it had a preliminary section about the candidate matches.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Keene, R. (1981), <Karpov-Korchnoi - Massacre in Merano>, Batsford, p.23:

<After a promising start the sensitive German Grandmaster and papyrologist (not to be confused with parapsychologist) blundered away a rook in a crucial game and soon after abandoned the match. There were rumours of internal squabbling in his camp but the whole affair remains highly obscure.>

Is <sensitive> meant as a euphemism?

Apr-03-17  Petrosianic: I haven't heard any rumors or gossip other than the obvious. That Huebner lost a critical game, and his nerve broke, just as it did against Petrosian in 1971.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ...and in 1983 Hübner was evicted from the World Championship cycle by a spin of the roulette wheel.

Smyslov - Hübner Candidates Quarterfinal (1983)

Red for Smyslov, Black for Hübner.

If you had written a fictional piece about this way to decide a World Championship Quarter Final and said on the first spin it came up green (0) It would have been binned for being to far fetched. But that is what happened!

A picture of the deciding who wins spin. Look how many people are attending (Hübner is missing, he had gone home in disgust.). The tension waiting for the ball to finally drop into a slot must have quite unbearable.

Apr-05-17  Granny O Doul: If he didn't care enough about the wheel spin to go watch, he deserved to lose it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: pure FIDE, using a roulette wheel to determine the winner of a Candidates match. They couldn't run a lemonade stand without screwing it up.
Apr-06-17  Howard: Well, the roulette wheel method might have been mutually agreed upon by the two players before the match, so let's not be so quick to "blame" FIDE for it.
Apr-06-17  Absentee: <Howard: Well, the roulette wheel method might have been mutually agreed upon by the two players before the match, so let's not be so quick to "blame" FIDE for it.>

FIDE had nothing to do with it, in this case. The casino was also the sponsor of the match and using the roulette to break the tie was the director's idea (which both players agreed to, anyway).

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: maybe something better should have been proposed by FIDE? Both guys were weak blitz players? I doubt that.

NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.
  8. Do not degrade Chessgames or any of it's staff/volunteers.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific tournament only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!

Copyright 2001-2023, Chessgames Services LLC