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Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal 1980
Compiled by Tabanus
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The aim was to have a challenger to the World Champion, Anatoly Karpov. For this match, Korchnoi had qualified from the Korchnoi - Spassky Candidates Final (1977/78) and the Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal (1980). Polugaevsky had qualified from the Riga Interzonal (1979) and the Polugaevsky - Tal Candidates Quarterfinal (1980). The other semifinal match was the Hübner - Portisch Candidates Semifinal (1980). In both matches, the winner was the first to get 6,5 points. If 6-6, then two more games, and if still equal then two more games. If equal after 16 games, the winner would be the one with most black wins.1

Both had agreed to play in Junta governed Argentina. The event was arranged and sponsored by the Argentine Chess Federation and the newspaper La Nación. Korchnoi arrived with his private secretary Petra Leeuwerik, the seconds Michael Francis Stean and Yasser Seirawan, and the Swiss team leader and lawyer Alban Brodbeck. Polugaevsky arrived with his wife Irina, the two seconds Evgeni Ellinovich Sveshnikov and Orest Averkin, and Alexei Serov of the Soviet Chess Federation.2, 3, 4 Both had played in a tournament after the quarterfinal matches: Korchnoi in Phillips & Drew Kings (1980), in April, and Polugaevsky in Bugojno (1980) in May.

The games were held in a sound-proof glass booth on a theater stage in downtown Buenos Aires. The players avoided eye contact and communicated with each other only through the arbiter.5, 6 The wife and son of Korchnoi were still held back in the USSR after he had moved to the west in 1976, and the lesson from the Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1978) had encouraged the creation of a glass partition or "cockpit" to avoid contact with the audience.7 This measured 5x3x3 meters and was equipped with lights and TV cameras.8 The players could choose between ten kinds of chairs, and the pieces used were made in three sets - one for each player as a gift, and one for the match.7 Boris De Greiff (an IA since 1978) and Miguel Najdorf were arbiters.7, 9 The latter was also "technical director"10 and wrote summaries in the newspaper Clarín (La Nación's main competitor) almost every day. Games and adjourned games started at 4 pm.11

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMl...

The match had some dramatic moments that will be skipped here. Before game 12, Polugaevsky asked for a postponement.12 This seemed to help, because he won that game (in 73 moves) and leveled the score. In game 14, Korchnoi dropped a bombshell 8...Ne6 on Polugaevsky. He floundered badly, spent too much time, and lost a piece on move 31 while in severe time trouble.13 The move 8...Ne6 was not exactly new, but had been played ten days before in Italy in the other semifinal (Huebner vs Portisch, 1980). The Dane Bent Larsen worked there as a commentator, and had sent an analysis to Clarín, but Polugaevsky's camp had failed to read it. "That's for not reading Clarín!", Larsen said.7 When Korchnoi had achieved a winning position, he took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves and stared aggressively at his opponent. The audience responded with a knowing laughter. It seemed he was mocking the similar action by Polugaevsky after he had gained the decisive edge in game 12.14

Teatro Premier (Buenos Aires) 21 July - 20 August 1980

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Pts 1 GM Korchnoi 2695 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 7½ 2 GM Polugaevsky 2635 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 6½

Korchnoi advanced to the Korchnoi - Hübner Candidates Final (1980), which he won, and the Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1981), which he lost. Despite the bitter defeat, Polugaevsky could not get over his astonishment to hear and see how the audience chanted his name and threw confetti in jubilation.7

Dates are from the newspapers El Mundo Deportivo (http://hemeroteca.mundodeportivo.co..., games 1-6) and Clarín (http://najdorf-miguel.blogspot.no/s..., games 7-14).

1) Harry Golombek in The Times 18 August 1980 p. 14. 2) El Mundo Deportivo 14 July 1980 p. 39. 3) The Times 9 August 1980 p. 14. 4) Tidskrift för Schack vol. 86 (1980) p. 214. 5) Wikipedia article: Teatro Premier. 6) Shelby Lyman in Springfield Union 24 August 1980 p. 99. 7) Carlos A. Ilardo in ChessBase Noticias de ajedrez 24/08/2005: http://es.chessbase.com/post/-esto-.... 8) El Mundo Deportivo 16 July 1980 p. 36. 9) Golombek in The Times 8 August 1980 p. 12. 10) Clarin 12 August 1980 p. 49. 11) As seen from several issues of Clarín, incl. 5 August 1980 p. 49. 12) Richmond Times Dispatch 14 August 1980 p. 70. 13) Lyman in Springfield Union 14 September 1980 p. 110. 14) Lyman in Springfield Union 7 September 1980 p. 94.

Original game collections: Game Collection: 0 by User: TheFocus, Game Collection: WCC Index (Korchnoi-Polugaevsky 1980) by User: nescio2, and Game Collection: Korchnoi - Polugaevsky Candidates Semifinal 1980 by User: Tabanus

Game 1 July 21
Korchnoi vs Polugaevsky, 1980
(A33) English, Symmetrical, 41 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 2 July 22
Polugaevsky vs Korchnoi, 1980
(E19) Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3, 24 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 3 July 24
Korchnoi vs Polugaevsky, 1980
(A17) English, 30 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 4 July 25
Polugaevsky vs Korchnoi, 1980 
(E19) Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3, 64 moves, 0-1

Game 5 July 28
Korchnoi vs Polugaevsky, 1980
(A33) English, Symmetrical, 31 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 6 July 31
Polugaevsky vs Korchnoi, 1980 
(E17) Queen's Indian, 50 moves, 1-0

Game 7 Aug 1
Korchnoi vs Polugaevsky, 1980 
(A33) English, Symmetrical, 59 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 8 Aug 4
Polugaevsky vs Korchnoi, 1980 
(E17) Queen's Indian, 95 moves, 0-1

Game 9 Aug 5
Korchnoi vs Polugaevsky, 1980
(A33) English, Symmetrical, 25 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 10 Aug 8
Polugaevsky vs Korchnoi, 1980
(A29) English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto, 32 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 11 Aug 11
Korchnoi vs Polugaevsky, 1980
(A30) English, Symmetrical, 41 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 12 Aug 14
Polugaevsky vs Korchnoi, 1980 
(E17) Queen's Indian, 73 moves, 1-0

Game 13 Aug 18
Korchnoi vs Polugaevsky, 1980 
(A33) English, Symmetrical, 63 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 14 Aug 20
Polugaevsky vs Korchnoi, 1980 
(A34) English, Symmetrical, 41 moves, 0-1

14 games

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