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Viktor Korchnoi vs Yuri Balashov
Moscow (1971), Moscow URS, rd 10, Dec-07
King's Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation (E80)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <emiriro1> Your solution works well. Fritz 8 gives 23. Bxd6! Nc2 24. Nc1 Qe3 25. Qxc2 grabbing the extra piece. However, taking the second central pawn after 23. Bxd6! Nc2 24. Bxe5 in your line is also clearly decisive.

Of course much weaker is 23. Qxa1?! Nxf8 24. Qa3 Nd7 25. Qxd6 , when White's win is neither certain or easy.

Jan-09-06  marcwordsmith: I feel a little slow, but I'll ask anyway. WHY is 18. Rfb1 (after having moved 17. a5) such a terrible threat? Why can't Black simply plan to block with Nb3? Someone suggested above that after Qc2 Black would lose the pinned knight but clearly that's not the end of the story, since after Qc2, Black goes Nxa1, and Black would be attacking the White queen on c2, and then if White were to take the black queen, Black would take the White queen and be up an exhange. So . . . help, someone? What's the big threat that White is threatening after his 17th move?
Jan-09-06  RolandTesh: <marcwordsmith>

....Qb2 should be, instead of Qc2

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Ale/Alekhine-sounds like two synonyms to me-lol. White takes this one as the adverse queen is chased from pillar to post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  peckinpah: In his book, "My best games, vol. 1, Games with white", Korchnoi comments this game criticizing very strongly the play of Balashov. Was there anything personal between them? Anybody knows? Thanks.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <peckingpah> Perhaps Korchnoi was smarting from this beating that he suffered at the hands of same opponent:

Korchnoi vs Balashov, 1972

Jun-11-16  MorphinTime: It is time
Jun-11-16  Razgriz: What. I was looking for a mate and what happened was a win in material (knight at the corner is mated so even if the black king recaptures the bishop, black still loses material.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: The material is identical.

Black threatens 16... Nb3.

White can trap the black queen with 16.b4 Qxb4 (16... Nb3 17.bxa5 Nxd2 18.Bxd2 wins a knight) 17.a5:

A) 17... Nb3 18.Qb2 Bd7 (due to 19.Ra4) 19.Ra3 wins.

B) 17... b6 18.Rfb1 Nb3 19.Qb2 bxa5 20.Qxb3 Qxb3 21.Rxb3 wins a knight and the a-pawns later.

C) 17... Nxd3 18.Qxd3 b5 19.axb6 (19.Rfb1 Qc4) 19... Bh6 20.Bxh6 Qxb6 21.Bxf8 + - [R].

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: I actually found the first two moves because I knew there had to be something, but I would never have seen them in a game, and even if I had I wouldn't have played them because I wouldn't have seen my way to the end of the combination.

I still can't. What is the point of 21...h4 ? Why doesn't black just capture the ♗ on f8, since the ♘ on a1 is lost?

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: Ah. I guess I do see it. Black gave up a ♗ to save the ♕, and after 21...Nxf8 22. Qxa1 remains down a piece for a ♙.
Jun-11-16  devere: After 16.b4! Qxb4 17.a5! Bh6! 18.Bxh6 Qd4+ 4.Rf2 Qxd3 5.Qxd3 Nxd3 6.Bxf8 Kxf8! White has won the exchange for a pawn, but the win, if any, will require a long hard struggle.

click for larger view

White to play and win?

Jun-11-16  diagonalley: <diagonalley>: nul points :-(
Jun-11-16  The Kings Domain: Nice puzzle, deceptively simple.
Premium Chessgames Member
  piltdown man: Korchnoi the magician. Ali wasn't the only hero to pass away this week.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Viktor Korchnoi was indeed a Chess magician and one of my heroes on and off the board. The fact that he was able to defect from the Soviet Union in 1976 and two years later in 1978, at the age of 47, win the candidates and come within a hair's breath of defeating the 27-year-old then world chamnpion Anatoly Karpov is astounding.

According to Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1978), Korchnoi made an amazing come back in this world championship match, winning three out of four games to tie the match at 5 to 5, before running out of luck and losing game 32 to lose the match by a slim 6 to 5 score (21 draws).

Some of Korchnoi's Chess magic is demonstrated here in our Saturday puzzle solution 16. b4!! where Viktor switches from strong positional play to tactics to exploit the weak position of Black's exposed Queen.

The pawn fork forces the reply 16...Qxb4, and now 17. a4! theatens to trap the Queen and win decisive material (e.g. 17...Nxd3? 18. Qxd3 f5 19. Rfb1 ).

Giving up a piece with 17...Bh6 was the best and only way for Black to secure practical drawing chances.

After 18...Bh6 18. Bxh6, Black, as <devere> observes, could have minimized the damage with 18... Qd4+ 19. Rf2 Qxd3 20. Qxd3 Nxd3 21. Bxf8 Kxf8 22. Rc2 (+1.25 @ 30 depth, Deep Fritz 15) when White is up the exchange for a pawn. However, I suspect the strong GM Balashov, who was a second to Spassky in his 1972 match with Fischer, saw this prospect and didn't think he had much chance of defending an unfavorable exchange down position against Korchnoi.

In the game continuation, after 18...Nb3 19. Qb2 (+3.01 @ 31 depth, Stockfish 5SSE) Korchnoi was clearly winning. However, the computers slightly prefer the alternative win 19. Rab1 h4 20. Nge2 (+4.78 @ 31 depth, Stockfish 5SSE).

Jun-11-16  scormus: Great vision and precision by Korchnoi. I endorse <patzer2> comments, he was a great player and battler. Fischer - Korchnoi was perhaps the World Championship match that should have been
Jun-11-16  kingfu: Korchnoi was +123! against the King's Indian.
Jun-11-16  YouRang: Yay! I found 16.b4 right away! :-)

Unfortunately, I didn't see the continuation after 16...Qxb4. :-(

So, I instead went with 16.Rab1 to support 17.b4 (and evade the ...Nb3 fork), but chances are good that black would see through this subtle trap and play some evasive move...

Jun-11-16  YouRang: In the game, it's worth noting that black didn't play the best defense:

<16.b4! Qxb4 17.a5! Bh6 18.Bxh6>

click for larger view

White threatens (1) Bxf8 and (2) Be3 & Rfb1 to trap the Q.

Here, black played 18...Nb3?, but this just walks into a pin (in fact 19.Rab1 was a better pin than Korchnoi's Qb2).

A better choice for black was <18...Qd4+>, extracting himself simply by putting his Q on d4 with check before white can play Be3. This most likely leads to the series of exchanges: <19.Kh1 Qxd3 20.Qxd3 Nxd3 21.Bxf8 Kxf8>

click for larger view

White is better -- he has a rook for a piece and a pawn, while black is somewhat under-developed and is saddled with a vulnerable backward pawn on b7. It looks like Nc3-a4-b6, would give white a strong Nb6.

However, this would have been a more defensible game than the one that ensued.

Premium Chessgames Member
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Jun-11-16  mel gibson: I didn't see it.
My computer agrees with the answer but
as has been said - black could have defended better.
Jun-11-16 I knew that the first move had to be on the queen side. Do I get any points?
Jun-11-16  drollere: 16. b4 was an obvious resource against the knight fork, but it needed 17. a5 to create problems. then 18. Bxh6 was forced and allowed the escape square at d4 with tempo. but i don't understand 21. ... h4 at all: after 21. Bxf8 why not take one of the bishops immediately?
Jun-11-16  stst: late to just write sth...
Game of day is Knight in Knight out.. and POD is Very Difficult-maybe more so than the Belmont Stakes, not to say the Triple Crown... And, there's the Knight N@c5, so the apparent move Bh6 trying for exchange will fail to the N-hook Nb3, then White's R or Q will be off. Also, Black may not respond to Bh6, hence the first move (i.e. move 16) got to either take the N out by BxN, or Bc4 guarding b3. BxN invites QxB+, not fun at all. So 16.Bc4.... then the difficulty lies in how Black responds...
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