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Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates Quarterfinal Match

Viktor Korchnoi7.5/13(+3 -1 =9)[games]
Henrique Mecking5.5/13(+1 -3 =9)[games] Chess Event Description
Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates Quarterfinal (1974)

Korchnoi and Mecking qualified for this match from the Leningrad Interzonal (1973) and Petropolis Interzonal (1973), respectively. The three other quarterfinals were: Spassky - Byrne Candidates Quarterfinal (1974), Petrosian - Portisch Candidates Quarterfinal (1974) and Karpov - Polugaevsky Candidates Quarterfinal (1974). Victory would go to the player who first won three games, or to the one in the lead after 16 games. If 8-8 the winner would be picked by lottery. (1) The four matches were held in order to select a challenger for Robert James Fischer, the World Champion.

The International Arbiter Bozidar Kazic noted that here was a battle between players of different styles, different careers in chess, and different generations, and whose only common point was the ardent desire to win. (2) Korchnoi (42) had previously taken part in three Candidates' cycles, while Mecking (21) felt that youth was on his side. (2) The two had played each other four times since the Sousse Interzonal (1967). According to Ed Edmondson, the Executive Director of the USCF, the selection of Augusta, USA for the match was a compromise between the Russian winter and the heat of Brazil. (2) Augusta also had hospitable chess enthusiasts: Lee Hyder, William Henry Dodgen, Vera Hagler and others. (2) The venue was the Towers Quality Inn at 444 Broad Street (3) which also accommodated the players. (2) The arbiter was Kazic, with Martin Morrison as assistant. (2, 4) General playing time was set at 5-10 pm. (5)

Korchnoi, Isabella (his wife), Viacheslav Osnos (his second) and Mikhail Soloviev (head of delegation) arrived in Augusta on 10 January. (2, 6) Mecking and Herbert Abreu Carvalho (second) arrived two days later; they were met by Ulf Andersson (principal second), who was already in town. (6) On Monday 14 January they were welcomed by Mayor Lewis Newman, who held a Key to the City ceremony in his office. (7) On 15 January there was an opening ceremony and a banquet. (8) Invited guests included the governors of Georgia and South Carolina. (9) Attending guests included Edmondson, FIDE comptroller Gian Carlo Dal Verme, (10) and Kamalakar Raut, the president of the Georgia Chess Association. (8) Kazic asked pro-tem Mayor K. Johnson to choose between two envelopes which contained a black and a white pawn and the name of the contenders. Johnson picked the one with Mecking's name on it. Mecking was thereby given the opportunity to choose from either hand of Korchnoi, who held a pawn in each palm. He chose Korchnoi's right hand and the pawn was black, thereby giving Korchnoi white in the opening game. (8)

The players:

In Game 1, Mecking proved worthy of the occasion. (2) The game was adjourned with Mecking a pawn up. Osnos said he spent two days with Korchnoi seeking a way to save the position, which Korchnoi regarded as lost. But Mecking played imprecisely in the end, and the game was drawn. (2) Game 2 was quiet. Korchnoi was forced to sacrifice a pawn in Game 3, but in the end, the point was divided. Game 4 was also drawn, once again with an extra pawn for Mecking. (2) Mecking said he had studied Korchnoi's style and that he liked it. (5) The players could now rest for two days. Korchnoi was in the USA for the first time, and went to North Augusta Plaza Shopping Center, two hospitals, and Augusta College, "to tour and talk with people". (11) Mecking spent the days in the hotel, studying for the next game. (11) On 22 January, Korchnoi went shopping to select a suit and accessories at no charge. (4) He was no expert on clothing, to judge from the repeated calls to his wife, "Bella, Bella, come here". (4) He picked a smart-looking brown plaid suit. Osnos and Soloviev bought shirts, sweaters, beach robes, and an umbrella. Mecking again spent most of the day in the hotel. (4)

Game 5 was played on Mecking's birthday. Before the game, Korchnoi, Bella, Soloviev, Kazic and his wife Olga, and a Soviet radio journalist toured the Merry and Terrace Manor elementary schools, Glenn Hills High School, and the Sego Junior High School, where they had lunch with the students. (12) To avoid too much excitement, Mecking did not want flowers or other reminders of his birthday. In the game, Korchnoi was about to gift a point, but Mecking made a mistake before the time control and later lost. (2) Now Mecking complained of insomnia and Game 6 (which was scheduled for 24 January) was postponed for two days. (13) The game was a quiet draw. (2) In Game 7, Mecking was a pawn up at the adjournment. Korchnoi got compensation and offered a draw, but Mecking refused. Five moves later Korchnoi had the better position and Mecking offered a draw. But now Korchnoi refused, and won the endgame. (2, 14) On the next day (29 January), Korchnoi, Osnos and Kazic visited the Capitol and met with Governor Jimmy Carter and Lt. Governor Lester Maddox. (15)

With a 2-0 lead, Korchnoi now played cautiously. (2) Four draws followed. The excitement at the chess table gave way to provocative statements by the players to journalists, which made the situation more tense. (2) Game 12 was won by Mecking, in lovely style, and after the match, Korchnoi said that this was the most complete and best game. (2) Korchnoi adjourned it in a lost position and waited with the resignment, in order to have four rest days instead of two before the next game. (2) He and Isabella left for the Clark Hill Reservoir to go boating and fishing. Mecking stayed close to the hotel, and Andersson made a trip to Atlanta to see the attractions there. (16) Game 13 became the last of the match. Mecking surprised Korchnoi with a Benoni and had opportunities to tie the score. But short of time, he ruined the prospective position he had been building for hours. (2)

Augusta, USA (Georgia), 16 January - 13 February 1974 (17)

Elo* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 USD# 1 GM Korchnoi 2650 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 7½ 3500 2 GM Mecking 2575 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 5½ 2100

Korchnoi advanced to the Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Semifinal (1974).

At the closing ceremony, Morrison presented Korchnoi with his first prize money. Carvalho accepted the second prize on behalf of Mecking, who was not there. Hyder and Dodgen were presented chess boards from the USCF, for their work prior to and during the match. Dan and Vera Hagler of Augusta were presented the clock that was used in the match. When Korchnoi was asked how he would do in a match with Fischer, he replied, "I think I would lose 6½ to 4½. Fischer is unbeatable." (18)

The 3rd North Augusta Winter Chess Festival was held 22-24 February at the Augusta Recreation Center, with Francis Fielder Simpson winning in the highest rated section. Mecking was still in town, and made a brief appearance during which he signed autographs and talked with the participants. (19)


1) Harry Golombek in The Times, 15 January 1974, p. 5; Tidskrift för Schack, February 1974, p. 33.
2) Candidates' Matches 1974, by Mikhail Botvinnik, Aleksandar Matanovic, Bozidar Kazic and Mikhail M Yudovich Sr. (Belgrade 1974).
3) At which address Regency Inn had a major overhaul in 2013 and changed name to Holiday Inn Express (Augusta Chronicle, 30 July 2013).
4) Augusta Chronicle, 23 January 1977, p. 13.
5) Augusta Chronicle, 13 January 1974, p. 14.
6) Augusta Chronicle, 12 January 1974, p. 11. Botvinnik's book says 11 January.
7) Augusta Chronicle, 15 January 1974, p. 10.
8) Augusta Chronicle, 16 January 1974, p. 15.
9) Aiken Standard, 15 January 1974, p. 7.
10) The composer of the FIDE anthem, Wikipedia article: Gian Carlo Dal Verme.
11) Augusta Chronicle, 22 January 1974, p. 11.
12) Augusta Chronicle, 24 January 1974, p. 8.
13) Augusta Chronicle, 26 January 1974, p. 12.
14) Augusta Chronicle, 29 January 1974, p. 14.
15) Augusta Chronicle, 30 January 1974, p. 13.
16) Augusta Chronicle, 13 February 1974, p. 42.
17) Game 9 was played in the civic room of the Georgia Railroad Bank Building because of a scheduling conflict (Augusta Chronicle, 5 February 1974, p. 11).
18) Augusta Chronicle, 15 February 1974, p. 1.
19) Augusta Chronicle, 25 February 1974, p. 13.

*FIDE Rating List July 1973. #Prizes in US dollars according to Botvinnik's book (note 2).

Original collections: Game Collection: WCC Index (Korchnoi-Mecking 1974) by User: Hesam7 and Game Collection: Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates Quarterfinal 1974 by User: Tabanus. Game dates (Jan 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27, 30, Feb 2, 6, 7, 9, 13) are from Augusta Chronicle. Thanks to User: OhioChessFan, User: Chessical and User: zanzibar for improving the English.

 page 1 of 1; 13 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Korchnoi vs Mecking ½-½801974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalA22 English
2. Mecking vs Korchnoi ½-½351974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
3. Korchnoi vs Mecking ½-½541974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalA09 Reti Opening
4. Mecking vs Korchnoi ½-½401974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalC81 Ruy Lopez, Open, Howell Attack
5. Korchnoi vs Mecking 1-0431974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalA06 Reti Opening
6. Mecking vs Korchnoi ½-½171974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalE15 Queen's Indian
7. Korchnoi vs Mecking 1-0631974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalA49 King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4
8. Mecking vs Korchnoi ½-½551974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
9. Korchnoi vs Mecking ½-½951974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
10. Mecking vs Korchnoi ½-½271974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalA15 English
11. Korchnoi vs Mecking ½-½411974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalE14 Queen's Indian
12. Mecking vs Korchnoi 1-0411974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalC69 Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation
13. Korchnoi vs Mecking 1-0421974Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates QuarterfinalA77 Benoni, Classical, 9...Re8, 10.Nd2
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Mecking turned up for game one wearing a t-shirt on which was written <Cafė do Brasil>.

Kortschnoi said, "Perhaps I should wear a t-shirt saying <DRINK VODKA MOCBA>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I should have mentioned, this is another superb introduction. Thanks to the author! Very well done!
Aug-20-16  siggemannen: There was a similar incident in Petropolis, where Mecking was wearing a shirt of a local soccer club or such. Bronstein therefor took his "Dinamo" shirt to the game, which ended in a draw between the "clubs"
Premium Chessgames Member
  Keyser Soze: I know he is a Flamengo supporter. Tried to find some pic but couldn't find anything in that period.
Dec-19-17  Fanques Fair: This match is curious. Mecking had every chance of beating the great Victor Korchnoi. In fact, in at least 2 of his 3 losses, Mecking had a superior position during most of the games. It can be said that he lost to himself .
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I like this episode in the intro:

"Kazic asked pro-tem Mayor K. Johnson to choose between two envelopes which contained a black and a white pawn and the name of the contenders. Johnson picked the one with Mecking's name on it. Mecking was thereby given the opportunity to choose from either hand of Korchnoi who held a pawn in each palm. He chose Korchnoi's right hand and the pawn was black, thereby giving Korchnoi white in the opening game."

Nov-14-21  Rafaelvleite: @Franques Fair, I have put all the games that Mecking lost in the analysis and in no single game Mecking was winning. So there is no fact to support your idea that Mecking lost to himself. He lost to Korchnoi, who played better.
Nov-14-21  SChesshevsky: Remember reading Korchnoi's analysis of some of these games way back. What I remember was that Korchnoi was impressed with Mecking's opening play and felt he never really got much out of the opening and was often worse then and even going into adjournment.

But Korchnoi also felt that Mecking's adjournment analysis was weak. Don't think Korchnoi mentioned it specifically but maybe more hinted that Mecking might've also got lost a bit in the complications presented.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: How could Korchnoi predict that he would lose a match with Fischer by the score of 6.5 to 4.5? In what scenario would a world championship match be best of 12, especially back in those days?

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