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Efim Geller vs Anatoly Karpov
"Efimeral Advantage" (game of the day May-29-2005)
USSR Championship (1976), Moscow URS, rd 3, Nov-29
French Defense: Winawer. Petrosian Variation (C16)  ·  1-0



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Given 39 times; par: 74 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Of course many worthies just had bad luck, were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But, only korchnoi played 2 WC matches, of the group mentioned; most of the sub group played zero WC matches.

By the same reasoning laskers 27 year reign is inflated, as he never had to face a steady grind of qualifying challangers.

A more interesting discussion might be which person of Laskers era would have beaten him, had EL been forced to play a 24 game WC match every three years. Im pretty sure someone would have beaten him before capablanca. Defending every three years would have been an exhausting, physical and mental strain. Spassky lasted only three years. Fischer lasted only five minutes.

Sep-22-20  optimal play: So if we count 1974 (which for all intents and purposes ended up being the WC match since the winner became WC by default), then Korchnoi had three attempts at becoming WC and failed at all three.

Other contenders never got even one opportunity due to circumstances beyond their control.

I think if bad luck precluded you from even having a chance at becoming WC then perhaps you have a greater claim to the title "Greatest Chess Player Never To Become World Champion" than those who had a chance but failed.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: You have to be world no. 2 just to GET a chance at the title. That's what makes Korchnoi special. the other pretenders were not nearly so far advanced, and not for as long a time as viktor korchnoi was, 1974-81, proven by surviving grueling candidates matches every three years.
Sep-22-20  optimal play: But how does three failed attempts qualify one to be the "Greatest chess player never to be world champion"?

Doesn't that title better reflect on someone who would have been world champion if only they had been allowed the opportunity?

Sep-22-20  Olavi: <Petrosianic: After his low showing at Saint Petersburg, it's unlikely that Rubinstein would have gotten a match even if World War I hadn't happened. 1910-11 seems to have been his real window.>

The match had been set for autumn 1914 and the contract had been published in many places like Wiener Schachzeitung, Deutsche Schachzeitung.

Sep-23-20  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Optimal Play,

<Doesn't that title better reflect on someone who would have been world champion if only they had been allowed the opportunity?>

After 1948 To get the opportunity to play in a W.C. final you had to earn it. Korchnoi earned that right twice.

Also reflecting on who would have been World Champion I'm thinking when Smyslov, Tal and Petrosian earned the right to play for and take the title from Botvinnik. They were the best players at that time to do so. Geller, Keres and Stein were great players but they failed to seize their opportunity. The three players I mentioned earlier played the better chess at that time.

Yes there was a rule restricting the number of Soviet players being allowed to advance. Take for instance Stein in Stockholm 1962. He should have been allowed in the candidates but was the 4th in placings of the other Soviet players.

But he knew the rule before the start of play, only the top three Soviet were allowed through, In this case Petrosian, Geller and that man Korchnoi. Stein had an opportunity but sadly failed.


Sep-23-20  m.okun: Do not forget D. Bronstein. The match with Botvinnik in 1951, the score was 12:12 and Bronstein's tragic loss in the 23rd game.
Sep-24-20  optimal play: Hi Sally Simpson,

<After 1948 To get the opportunity to play in a W.C. final you had to earn it. Korchnoi earned that right twice.>

Yes, that's a valid point. But it seems Korchnoi was the perennial runner-up.

Although Rubinstein didn't go through any formal candidates tournament, he earned the right to challenge Lasker by his performances in 1912.


<m.okun> Agree Bronstein is also amongst that group.

Sep-24-20  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Optimal Play,

Yes, that is problem with Korchnoi, he had more chances than anyone else (Bogoljubov accepted.) and failed, for that we can blame that man Karpov.

One could say the main reason why <'fill in any name here'> did not win the world title was because the current holder was better than them, they were in the wrong era, or they peaked at the wrong time, others played better than them when it really mattered in qualifying for the final. It was simply not to be.

Bronstein appears on a lot of lists. quite rightly so. In later years he (and others) hinted a lot about the political pressure he was under in 1951 and 1953.

In 50 years time we will have new names, perhaps if Caruana gets and fails in a few more finals he will be top choice.

Which brings us nicely back to Korchnoi. If Caruana does succeed in becoming world champion then Korchnoi, who has beaten him, will lead the list of players of who have defeated the most past, present and future World Champions. (though do not quote me, been a while since I checked on that one....I think I'm correct.)


Sep-25-20  optimal play: ***

Hi Sally Simpson,

Yes, Bogoljubov is another who came close, and would have been WC except for Alekhine, yet you never hear anyone refer to Bogoljubov as "Greatest chess player never to be world champion".

So many great players didn't become WC for one reason or another.

Which of them has the ill-fated claim to that title "Greatest chess player never to be world champion"?

You make an interesting point regarding the list of players who have defeated the most past, present and future World Champions.

That might be an accurate criteria in judging the quality of the candidates.


Sep-25-20  fabelhaft: I wouldn’t say Bogo would have been WC if not for Alekhine, if not for Alekhine he would never have played a title match. He had a +0-5=2 career score against Capa.

As for Korchnoi, he won 13 Candidates matches and scored 15.5-16.5 and 11.5-12.5 in matches against the 20 years younger Karpov, who has a claim as the greatest ever before Kasparov and Carlsen turned up.

Rubinstein didn’t once finish ahead of Lasker or Capa in any of the events they played, and in 1914 he was far behind them in S:t Petersburg. To me his claim as greatest ever not to win the title is not as strong as that of Korchnoi.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: A thread I started elsewhere, many moons ago, devoted to this irresoluble question:

Sep-25-20  Jambow: <HeMateMe: Korchnoi played 3 WC matches. That means he won the candidates 2x and also played the 1974 candidates final against karpov, a de facto world championship match. How many WC matches did the others play? Do the math.>

Yes the math is 0 for 3 I think we might have to take Korchnoi off the list after all.

Sep-25-20  Jambow: Morphy was the world champion before the title existed and unlike our list of players who might have been or were close to being the best Paul was unequivocally the best player of his era...

Personally I'm the champion of my own castle and should one of my brighter children eclipse me they will need a new place to stay ;0] just saying.

Sep-25-20  areknames: <perfidious> Korchnoi is also my favourite and always will be in this context. I remember being heartbroken as a kid when he lost in Merano, of course his great chance was in Baguio 3 years earlier where he played some magnificent chess.
Sep-25-20  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi perfidious,

You started that thread in 2009 and it went on for 6 pages, I read a lot of the comments, practically every great player in history has been mentioned including the 2010 Nakamura and Carlsen!

As usual the thread got side-tracked a bit. I like this anecdote about Spassky giving a simul.

<"Someone offered a draw after something like five moves, and Spassky accepted, to the astonishment of his opponent.

Spassky commented that this was his opponent's chance to play a game against the great Spassky (i.e., it's an experience of a lifetime for a chess player) but instead he was more concerned with not losing.

He didn't lose, but he sacrificed the experience for a very empty draw.">

Without taking an exact score Korchnoi seems ahead there, close between him and Keres.

I think one would have to choose a player after 1948, before then if you put up the money you could buy your way into a World Championship match and the champion could (as it appears with Alekhine and Capablanca) dodge you.


Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <fabelhaft: I wouldn’t say Bogo would have been WC if not for Alekhine, if not for Alekhine he would never have played a title match....>

For another view of Bogo's chances, expressed at the time, see below:

Carlsen - Karjakin World Championship Match (2016)

Sep-25-20  fabelhaft: <For another view of Bogo's chances...>

I would put it like this: with Korchnoi one can say that he would have been World Champion if not for Karpov. He was clear #2 for ten years and unfortunate to face a super strong #1 and still came very close to beating him twice.

I don’t think Bogo ever was a probable World Champion unless he had been unfortunate enough to have a contemporary like Alekhine. I’d say he never was close to Capa or Lasker and never would have qualified for a title match with a Candidates match system. In his ten games against Capa and Lasker in the 1920s he scored 2 draw and 8 losses and that was when Lasker was in his late 50s. Bogo had a couple of great tournament results though, and has been a bit underestimated.

Sep-25-20  Granny O Doul: <By far the best pun on the website...excellent.>

Sorry, I feel I have to rebut this comment from 2007. A first-rate pun, aside from a reasonable close aural similarity, ought to say something relevant. In the case of this game, White's advantage is far from ephemeral. In fact, it persists to this day.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Bogo had as much a chance of being world champion as did Walter Browne and <LifeMaster AJ>. That's why Alekhine chose Bogo as an opponent for a world championship 'match.'

Both Lasker and Alekhine would have lost their crowns sooner had they had to defend every three years against the most worthy challenger.

Good grief, this is some good that comes of World War II? Hard to even think such a thing.

Sep-25-20  aliejin: It is always easy to make assertions about what did not exist and and in front of interlocutors who cannot verify what is affirmed

It's true that champions did what they wanted
and they chose what was best for them
The worst of all was Capablanca who put a gigantic clause for the time, which made a match directly impossible

That Argentina put in the money was a miracle (later They repented ... and the match was almost suspended for half!) Venturing results in individual matches is harder than ever Nobody thought that Alekhine was going to beat Capablanca No one thought Alekhine would lose to Euwe
Nobody thought that Euwe would lose to alekhine ...

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <aliejin: It is always easy to make assertions about what did not exist and and in front of interlocutors who cannot verify what is affirmed >

Alekhine's drinking problem and overall unhealthy lifestyle would have been brutally exposed in a world where champions had to defend their titles every three year against the <proven> most qualified contender, in a <fair> match.

Lasker would also have been forced out much sooner than actually occurred. Would Lasker still have been a world top ten player for many years after? Sure, as were smyslov, Petrosian, Spassky, Karpov and Anand. Just not world champion.

Proper organization of the chess world 1880-1946 would have given us world champions of shorter reign and more world champions. Standards would have been raised, better match quality. And, no rematch clause for Botvinnik.

So there.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: While, of course, <aliejin> baldly, uncritically makes his own wild assertions and expects everyone to accept them.
Sep-26-20  aliejin: "Alekhine's drinking problem and overall unhealthy lifestyle"

I do not know what is
"unhealthy lifestyle."

Alekhine's drinking problems
they were strongly present in the 30s.
Before, if they existed, they did not prevent him from being world champion As stated by Kotov The fight to regain the title kept Alekhine away from his illness
Let us remember the extraordinary way in which it was presented Alekhine for the rematch match with Euwe.
Therefore if we are to suppose .. it would have been better a constant demand for him

There is a constant attack from the "dirty Jews" (as I affectionately call them)
towards Alekhine, trying to stigmatize him.
Alekhine was a person of a huge culture
and proper conduct of trained people
Let's remember the images of the celebration of
Euwe's triumph where alekhine appears very
sportingly. Let's compare with Capablanca
A bum who never studied or worked
(It was maintained by the Cuban government See Panov) that when he lost he didn't even show up
he sent a piece of paper and he fled

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <I do not know what is
"unhealthy lifestyle.">

heavy drinking, too much red meat, no exercise, being overweight, irregular sleeping schedule, abuse of prescription mediations.

welcome to grandmaster chess, 1900-1950.

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