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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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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-18-19  Caissas Clown: <schnarre>: I'm embarrassed to admit that until today , I did not know he'd ever played it. But there it is in the database : 5 wins,12 draws, 2 losses. Two of the wins,he was 10/11 years old,two were in the Melody Amber Rapid,one in a simul.
Nov-18-19  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi AylerKupp,

No problem with 2nd books, I can get as many as I want per year just as long I pick up any back issues of 'Guns and Ammo' for her.

Think I'll ask Santa to bring me the Levenfish book;


Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: After this game, Karpov was scoring +0 =2 -1 in the 1976 USSR championship. But he proceeded to rebound and win it, as if telling the world "see why I am the world champion"?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: What devil has advised Karpov to apply the French defense against Geller? Apparently 8...Nb8?! and 9...Be7?! were the cause of black's troubles. Of course, Geller's play was superb.

An interesting possibility was also 24.Nxe6+ fxe6 25.Qxe6 Qe8 26.Qxd5 with five Pawns for Rook and huge advantage of white.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: So, after reading <Honza>'s comment, I had to look it up

Using the French Defence, Karpov won 5 lost 1 (this game) and drew the rest. But notice, in the database, the gaps of years that he did not use the French. (Or the games are not in database)

'62-'73 and then '80-'92. In'r'esting

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <WannaBe> Karpov did not use the French Defense in a serious game since he was an 11 years old kid before this game. The game with Hecht from 1973 was not the French Defense but Sicilian Alapin, which transposed into a line of French Advanced. Well, as a player who was then using 1.e4 as white, he was familiar with French, and maybe he could use something from his home preparation for the match with Korchnoi, who was regular user of French with black pieces but the game shows quite clearly that he was not at home on the black side of the French Defense. And after this one occasion it took many years before Karpov has repeated this opening experiment.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: <Honza> I definitely would <NOT> play the French if Korchnoi opens 1. e4 =))

Now I wonder, what is Fischer's record as white against Sicilian... Another research project.

I know a long time ago, I looked up Najorf's record as white facing his own opening. Now if I can remember what the results are.

Premium Chessgames Member
  carpovius: <Honza Cervenka: What devil has advised Karpov to apply the French defense against Geller?> Korchnoi I believe)
Premium Chessgames Member
  carpovius: Great pun btw
Jun-21-20  Saul Goodman: Geller was a great player, no doubt, but he was 50 years old when he played this game and had peaked as a player at least ten years earlier. The idea that he should have been champion in 1972 rather than Fischer is ridiculous. According to Chessmetrics, Fischer was 180 elo points stronger than Geller after defeating Larsen 6-0 in 1971.

Geller, like Keres and later Stein, got caught up in the numbers game of coming along in the same era that produced Botvinnik, Smyslov, Bronstein, Tal, Petrosian and Spassky. He wasn’t able to break through against that cohort, and there is no shame in that.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Saul Goodman....The idea that (Geller) should have been champion in 1972 rather than Fischer is ridiculous....>

Of course that is risible, but we have seen all sorts of arguments mooted in Geller's favour across the years.

<.....Geller, like Keres and later Stein, got caught up in the numbers game of coming along in the same era that produced Botvinnik, Smyslov, Bronstein, Tal, Petrosian and Spassky. He wasn’t able to break through against that cohort, and there is no shame in that.>

Remarkable that Geller (who, as you say, was an outstanding player and theorist) got as far as he did so often, but he was just short of being in that group of challengers for the title. No shame in that.

Sep-11-20  m.okun: Atypical game for "computer"-Karpov.
Sep-12-20  Viking707: Geller had a winning record against the best players of his time, including Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky and Fischer. He never won the world championship, and neither did Akiba Rubenstein in the previous era, but they were both great players.
Sep-12-20  W Westerlund: I would add Schlechter to the list of never beens, because he almost beat Lasker in 1910. We will never know what really happened then, whether it was a WC and which were the conditions, but it is absolutely remarkable that Schlechter came close to beating Lasker. These games are really interesting. I suspect that there were psychological issues at stake, just as with Geller later on, who could defeat the very best today and lose tomorrow to someone much less strong. Perhaps it had to do with his "emotive nature." He did much better in tournaments than in match play.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jambow: <"When the topic of ‘the best player never to be World Champion’ is raised, Korchnoi and Keres are often mentioned, but Geller deserves to be on the shortlist. Among his many achievements, he won two Soviet Championships, seven Olympiad team gold medals and three Olympiad...>

Couldn't agree more... Besides his incredible plus record against world champions... Geller has been on my short list for the greatest players to never be world champion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: It's korchnoi, then everyone else.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jambow: <HeMateMe: It's korchnoi, then everyone else.>

No it's Korchnoi then Keres then Geller and probably not anyone else...

Sep-21-20  optimal play: <<HeMateMe: It's korchnoi, then everyone else.>

Jambow: No it's Korchnoi then Keres then Geller and probably not anyone else...>

No, it's Rubinstein then Korchnoi then Keres then Geller and probably not anyone else.

Premium Chessgames Member
  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.

Sep-21-20  Sally Simpson: ***


Korchnoi played in two W.C. finals, your three looks like a typo, not an error. (or you counted the 1974 candidates final twice.)

His bid to become world champion is unequalled he qualified for and played in all the candidate matches from 1968 - 1991 twice winning the right to play in the final.

I'd say he is the most popular choice for the best player never to win the title, but there again he did become the World Senior Chess Champion in 2006 so maybe we should look further down the pecking order...Bronstein!

The shout for Rubinstein and other pre-FIDE are OK, but the gruelling process required to play in a final was not then required. (here also consider the obstacles placed in Korchnoi's path after 1974 and his sporting gesture, refusing to take a win v Kasparov by default....that decision had a major impact on chess history. It eventually gave us the Moscow Marathon and the return of the 24 game matches.)

All you had to do(!) pre-FIDE was find a someone to finance you.

The two most often cited are Pillsbury, poor health robbed him of his chance and Rubinstein who was unlucky due to the timing of WWI (when is there ever a good time to hold a World War.) His health too suffered in the war years.

Having said that beating Lasker in a world title match would have been a huge hurdle, my choice pre-FIDE has always been Tarrasch.


Sep-21-20  Viking707: Rubinstein was blocked from a world title match with Lasker by WWI, which dried up the funds needed to support it. But Rubinstein had beaten Lasker before, and was clearly in his prime in 1914. Thereafter his mental health deteriorated, and he became non compos mentis before WWII.
Sep-21-20  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.
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.
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