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Borislav Ivkov vs Viktor Korchnoi
"The Leningrad Blockade" (game of the day Apr-25-2011)
URS-YUG (1957), Leningrad URS, rd 5, Jul-??
French Defense: Winawer. Advance Variation General (C16)  ·  0-1

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-11-11  BISHOP TAL: AdrianP: Thats move 61. Nd6
Feb-19-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: I wonder if Korchnoi was familiar with <Bonus Socius>? This was the first known collection of chess problems, published in 1266. How long ago was that? It was before Korchnoi was born!

Probably the most famous problem is this <Mate in 2>:


click for larger view

Look familiar? It's essentially the position after Korchnoi's 61...Nd6, minus the queen and pawns.

The mate is accomplished by <1.Rhg7>, when one of Black's pieces must make a fatal commitment.

Mar-10-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Superb game.

-Garech

Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: I have to ask, though; after <44...Nh2+>:


click for larger view

Why doesn't White just take the knight? It's not like Black can fork the rooks or mate; I doubt he has more than a perpetual check.

Perhaps Ivkov was still playing for a win, thinking if he could escape the checks his doubled rooks might yet carry the day. Or maybe the score is wrong and Korchnoi actually played 44...Ne5+, then repeated the position before playing on.

Apr-25-11  sevenseaman: Ivkov needed to define his ambitions in this game when he gave up his Q. Not losing is at least midway.
Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Phony Benoni> Why doesn't White just take the knight? It's not like Black can fork the rooks or mate; I doubt he has more than a perpetual check.>

After 45.Rxh2 Qf5+ 46.Kh4 the White king breaks the coordination between Black's rooks and it will take White several moves to re-establish it. In the meantime Black's 2 connected passed pawns will march down the board faster than White's passed g-pawn. Rybka 4.1 suggests the following continuation:

[-2.64], d=20: 46...d4 47.g4 Qf4 48.Rh3 e5 49.Rb3 Kc8 50.Kh5 Qh2+ 51.Kg5 Qd2+ 52.Kh5 d3 53.Rxb5 Qh2+ 54.Kg5 Qf4+ 55.Kh5 d2 56.Rc5+ Kb8 57.Rd7 e4 58.Rf5 Qh2+ 59.Kg5 Kc8 60.Rd4 e3 and either the d-pawn or the e-pawn will queen.


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Stockfish 2.0.1 suggests a similar continuation, with the e-pawn queening.

[-3.75], d=26: 46...d4 47.g4 Qf4 48.Rh3 e5 49.Rb3 Qf1 50.Kg5 Kc8 51.a4 d3 52.Rc3+ Kb8 53.Rd7 Qf4+ 54.Kh5 e4 55.Rc5 e3 56.Rxb5+ Kc8 57.Rxd3 e2 58.Rc5+ Kb7 59.Rd7+ Kb6 60.Rb5+ Kc6 61.Re7 Qh2+ 62.Kg5 e1Q 63.Rxe1 Qd2+ 64.Kh5 Qxe1


click for larger view

How much of this did Korchnoi see at move 46? I guess you'll have to ask him.

Apr-25-11  burpcow: Wow, very long and complicated endgame, but with Korchnoi's wonderful technique and skill, he manages to win.
Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <AylerKupp> Thanks for the analysis; it's amazing that the rooks can't get back together in time. This may have occurred after adjournment and thus be home analysis, but it's still remarkable that both players could accurately judge the consequences.

However, the final position is Stockfish's analysis is a tablebase draw. 65.Rf5 is safe enough; White sets up a fortress, and can even afford to give away the a-pawn.

I haven't been able to crack the Rybka position, though. White can use threats of a perpetual to win Black's original queen with check and then win one of the center pawns, but I haven't found a fortress position yet that stands up to the tablebase. Which I'm sure Rybka knows, of course, so why am I wasting my time?

Apr-25-11  nolanryan: lol her name is borislav
Apr-25-11  KingV93: Incredible patience and perseverance to grind out a win here. From what I've read of the guy I suspect Korchnoi was too cranky and stubbornly abrasive as much as genius to Not find the win.
Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: As the pawns began disappearing, it seemed that white could draw.

At move 75. why can't white play 75. R-b4, which seems to keep the tension in the position? by checking on the back rank, the Rooks become separated and black has a way to win.

Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gilmoy: <HeMateMe: why can't white play 75. R-b4> Nc3 triple mate fork: a2, b1, c1.

76.R(b2,h1) White can stop <any two> of them ...

Apr-25-11  Rookey: I've been always afraid to run into such a game by myself. I mean, it seems to go on and on and on. Yet, it is not easily played. One slip, and it's all gone. Still being funny to watch the master playing such an endless story, it surely will leave me totally exhausted. So, what is the king without his shielding pawns? A victim for perpetual checks and threads.

The two connected rooks look like a study. They seem to build a balance of threads, but the checking and pawn munching Kortchnoi works himself to a winning position.

Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: What a game! I never would have figured that blacl could pull it out!
Apr-25-11  drnooo: perhaps this was how come Fischer had so much trouble with ole Vic: he finally had met somebody with is own fighting spirit, the utter ferocity to match his own, of which nobody else comes to mind. Everyone of the greats then including Petrosian did not have that kind of blind hatred when they sat down to the board. Of course that ain't enough, but coupled with Korchnois talent, well....
Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Phony Benoni> However, the final position is Stockfish's analysis is a tablebase draw. 65.Rf5 is safe enough; White sets up a fortress, and can even afford to give away the a-pawn.>

You're right. I forgot that Stockfish doesn't (yet) support tablebases. I used Stockfish because it was getting late at night and Stockfish, on the average, gets to deeper depths faster than any engine I know. Rybka does support Nalimov tablebases but I don't have them installed. Maybe one of these days.

So I tried Houdini with the 5-man Gaviota tablebases and, just to make it more interesting, set Analysis_Contempt=2 to encourage it to avoid draws. This is what it came up with from


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Houdini 1.5a, d=28

[-2.40] 46. ... d4 47.g4 Qf4 48.Rh3 e5 49.Rb3 Qh6+ 50.Kg3 Qb6 51.Rh7 e4 52.Rh8+ Ke7 (maybe going the other way is better in order to hide behind Black's queen) 53.Rh7+ Ke8 54.Rh8+ Kf7 55.Rh7+ Kg6 56.Rh5 d3 57.Rbxb5 (but now the rooks are connected again in the same rank) Qe3+ 58.Kh4 Qf2+ 59.Kh3 d2 60.Rhg5+ Kf6 61.Rbf5+ Qxf5 62.Rxf5+ Ke6 63.Rf1 e3 64.Rd1 Ke5


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If instead 64...e2 66.Rxd2 e1Q then Black mates in 34 moves per the Nalimov tablebases, too deep for Houdini to see, as follows (I'm too lazy to change the move numbers):

1. Rc2 Qf1+ 2. Rg2 Kf6 3. g5+ Kg6 4. Kh2 Qe1 5. a4 Qe3 6. Rg3 Qd2+ 7. Kg1 Kh5 8. g6 Qe1+ 9. Kg2 Kh4 10. Rf3 Qe2+ 11. Rf2 Qe4+ 12. Kh2 Qxg6 13. Rf4+ Kg5 14. Rf3 Qd6+ 15. Kh3 Qd1 16. Rf8 Qb3+ 17. Kg2 Kg4 18. Rf2 Qxa4 19. Rd2 Qb4 20. Re2 Qd4 21. Rf2 Qd1 22. Rf8 Qd5+ 23. Kf1 Kg3 24. Ke2 Qe6+ 25. Kd3 Qd6+ 26. Ke4 Qxf8 27. Kd4 Qd6+ 28. Kc3 Qc5+ 29. Kb2 Qb4+ 30. Ka1 Kf4 31. Ka2 Ke5 32. Ka1 Kd4 33. Ka2 Kc3 34. Ka1 Qb2#

Instead, Houdini continued: 65.Kg2 e2 66.Rxd2 e1Q (this is also a mate but in 46 moves) 67.Rf2 Qa1 68.Rf5+ Ke4 69.Kg3 Qxa3+ 70.Kh4 Qb2 71.Kg5 Qg7+ 72.Kh5 Qh7+ 73.Kg5 Qg7+ 74.Kh5.


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And here Houdini may not be able to find the win since it seems to be stuck in a loop. It wasn't able to find the win at even when starting from this position and with tablebases enabled ([-2.34] at d=36, getting stuck in another loop).

Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Leningrad Blockade (continued)

But now you made me curious, usually a bad thing given that I have some time on my hands. I looked at Stockfish's suggested line more carefully and I saw that it sacrificed 2 pawns because it calculated (erroneously) that it could win one of the rooks and get to what it thought was a wining endgame. So I tried the following:

46...d4 47.g4 Qf4 48.Rh3 e5 49.Rb3 Qf1 50.Kg5 Kc8 51.a4 d3 52.Rc3+ Kb8 53.Rd7 Qf4+ 54.Kh5 e4 55.Rc5


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Now instead of Stockfish's 55...e3 giving up first the b-pawn and then the e-pawn I tried 55...bxa4 just to give White another passed pawn to worry about and deny White's rook the pawn support it needed for the check on move 60. After all, a pawn is a pawn. Black can then give up one of his connected passed pawns and queen the other one to force White to give up one of his rooks. Then, instead of R+2P vs. Q it's a R+P vs. Q+P, a very different ending and much more to Black's advantage.

This is what Stockfish then came up with after 55...e3 at d=28 without the benefit of tablebases: [-7.02] 56.Rf5 Qh2+ 57.Kg5 Qh8 58.Kf4 a3 59.Rb5+ Kc8 60.Rdd5 Qf8+ 61.Kxe4 a2 62.Ra5 Qf2 63.Kxd3 Qf3+ 64.Kc4 Qf1+ 65.Kb4 Qe1+ 66.Kc4 Qc1+ 67.Kd4


click for larger view

This is also a won game for black after ...a1Q (mate in 41 moves) but Stockfish was having a problem finding that. A lesson not to put too much faith in engines' abilities in the endgame!

So, after all that, I think that the position is a win for Black after 45.Rxh2. I don't know how much Ivkov saw of any of this but since he managed to drag the game out to 94 moves (although he should have resigned earlier), he made the right decision, if you call prolonging a lost game the right decision. He is still alive and apparently working on his autobiography so maybe we should write him and ask him. :-)

Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <AylerKupp> Thanks for taking an interest in this. The gap between drawing and losing in those R+P vs. Q endings is very narrow!
Apr-25-11  lost in space: Incredible! Not in 1 Mio. years I would be able to come close to win this with Black. Such pity that Korchnoi never was able to win the world champion title
Apr-25-11  WhiteRook48: this is nice queen and knight play
Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: To play a game like this you need killer instinct. I remember Fischer saying (more than once) that his favorite moment of the game was when his opponent squirmed,... when his ego was broken. You need this kind of aggressiveness to get to the top in games.
Apr-25-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: What an awesome endgame.
Apr-26-11  Rookey: Well, I would like to let Vic and Bobby out on this. They showed us so much love for our little game, take this GOD, Kortchnoi just wanted to know if there is a win in this Queen versus Rooks game, and he never got enough from chess, even when it took hours and hours. Of cause, there is always someone to loose the game, when another is winning, but loosing and winning a simple game is building our characters, since it has to be done the right way.
Feb-03-17  Ibisha Biscotto: ヽ(^o^)┳┳(^o^)/ ~~~MARVELOUS~~~
Nov-11-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield:


click for larger view

If 88 Rf8 (distance defense) then 88..Qh6 89 Re8 Qf6+ 90 Ke2 Qg5 91 Kf2 Kd3 wins

Ivkov played 88 Rg3 Ke4 89 Rh3 Kf4 and now 90 Kg1 Qe2 91 Rh2 Qe1+ 92 Kg2 Kg4 93 Rh8 Qe4+ 94 Kf1 Kg3 95 Rg8+ Kf3 96 Rf8+ Ke3! 97 Kg1 Qg6 wins (note how the Black King is sheltered by the Queen in this line).

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