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Viktor Korchnoi vs Anatoly Karpov
USSR Championship (1973), Moscow URS, rd 6, Oct-08
King's Indian Attack: Spassky Variation (A05)  ·  0-1



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Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Spitecheck> Korchnoi is a regular contributor to ECO and the young Karpov may have been trying to get his opponent out of the book. It is actually quite a good move. It is an extended fianchetto that also prevents pc4. Spassky may have played it in a simul but he also played it in a WC match - against Petrosian in 1966.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I remember reading Karpov's annotations of this game long ago -- he wrote something like "after 2...b5, Korchnoi gave me an angry look, and it became clear I could not avoid a real battle. Nevertheless I think it is a sound move."

Positionally the game is very interesting -- Karpov sacrifices a pawn but leaves his opponent with very bad pieces. After move 24 white's bishop never stirs from a1!

Mar-06-06  Jim Bartle: Just to look at, not for pure chess reasons, I like the position after 37...Qc4, with pieces filling the a2-g8 diagonal.
Nov-17-09  Praxis: 41. ...Ne3, wins.
Feb-25-10  Marmot PFL: <Spitecheck> Karpov was to play in the Candidates so he tried <to play well without putting all my cards on the table in the opening. Korchnoi had surprised me with opening novelties in some of our games and I decided to do the same this time>.
Feb-25-10  goldenbear: <Praxis> I agree. <Benzol> says Be3, and he is always right it seems, but I don't see how that wins. Ne3, however, should win: if Qh3, then Qd1+.
Feb-26-10  maelith: Impressive game here by Karpov.
Feb-26-10  raychandler: This was actually the second time Karpov played 2. ... b5 after 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3

The first time was against Anthony Saidy in San Antonio in 1972. He won a fine positional masterpiece. He seemed to handle this pseudo-Queen's Indian set up well.

Mar-07-10  SPINK: GOTD this one
May-15-10  Eric Farley: 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b5 is actually the Polish Defense Deferred. The "pure" Polish Defense is 1. d4 b5. Spassky played the "pure" against Petrosian in 1966 and could've drawn the game but as he desperately needed a win he pushed the envelope and lost.
Dec-09-10  Everett: Feb-25-10<    goldenbear: <Praxis> I agree. <Benzol> says Be3, and he is always right it seems, but I don't see how that wins. Ne3, however, should win: if Qh3, then Qd1+.> After 41..Ne3 42.Qh3 Qd1+ 43.Kh2 and how does black continue? He has two pieces hanging. Of course white's qside pieces are terrible.

At least <Benzol> shows some lines. Still, after 41..Be3, even if white does not take the bishop, he's got serious problems with his qside pieces.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: <After 41..Ne3 42.Qh3 Qd1+ 43.Kh2 and how does black continue? He has two pieces hanging.> One line is 43...Qe2 44.hxg5 Qxf2+ 45.Kh1 Qe1+ 46.Kh2 Qe2+ 47.Kh1 Qd1+ 48.Kh2 Qxb3 49.gxh6 Qa2+ .
Dec-09-10  kingfu: Korchnoi is an expert in the English with c4. b5 prevents this line.

What is the final consensus?

Did Korchnoi resign a game where he might have drawn?

Dec-09-10  Everett: <Kingfu> Seems both minor piece moves to e3 for black win. Thanks <Sastre> and <Benzol> for the lines.

This is remarkable play by Karpov, yet subtle restriction of his opponents' pieces (Nb3 and Ba1) is very typical of his style. I hope to find the time to analyze the game properly to see where white went wrong. Any particular candidate moves?

Dec-09-10  goldenbear: <Everett> Do they? Looking at it today, I am not so sure. 41.Ne3 allows the unexpected 42.Nd2!, and I can't see anything particularly decisive for Black, although after Qa8 certainly Black is better. Probably <Benzol> had it right in the first place, as I suspected.
Dec-09-10  goldenbear: <Everett> Also, in Sastre's line I had intended 44.hxg5! for Black, winning the queen (on account of the threat of g4!), instead of Qxf2+. You work it out...
Mar-07-13  Poisonpawns: 42..Bf4! and frustration caused Korchnoi to resign. 40.Qf1? is blunder,40.Qb2=
Sep-28-14  Everett: <Poisonpawns: 42..Bf4! and frustration caused Korchnoi to resign. 40.Qf1? is blunder,40.Qb2=>

Between the time control/trouble and the many traps in this position, Korchnoi can hardly be blamed for not finding the toughest defense. I'm curious what the comps say to <40.Qb2 Qd1+ 41.Kg2 h5!?> this looks like trouble for White, and things start getting weird after <42.Nc5 h4 43.Ne4 Bf4!?> with lots of interesting lines and dastardly traps.

Sep-29-14  thegoodanarchist: <keypusher: I remember reading Karpov's annotations of this game long ago -- he wrote something like "after 2...b5, Korchnoi gave me an angry look, and it became clear I could not avoid a real battle. Nevertheless I think it is a sound move.>

Did Korchnoi ever play a game with anyone where he <didn't> give his opponent and "angry look"?

Sep-29-14  RookFile: Not sure what Korchnoi had to be angry about. Spassky played like this against Petrosian in the World Championship, so it's not like b5 is a joke move. It's possible that Korchnoi hoped to play some sort of delayed English setup involving c4 from white. That's gone now that black played ...b5.
Sep-29-14  Sally Simpson: Korchnoi played 2...b5 aganst Anand in 1992 (blitz game - draw) I wonder if Anand shot back the fabled 'angry look.'

"Not sure what Korchnoi had to be angry about."

How about some good old fashioned speculation.

A speculative remark on a forum one day will become fact the next.

And anyway, You guys have been using computers to look for all the answers for far too long. This has stunted you imaginations. Free flights of fancy are good for the spirit.

So off we go.......

Korchnoi knew of the Saidy-Karpov game and he and his team had been prepping a wee surprise should Karpov venture it again in the candidates.

When Karpov played 2...b5 Korchnoi knew his team were leaking anlaysis to the Karpov camp. Karpov played it to let Korchnoi know he knew what Korchnoi knew. Hence the angy look.

Korchnoi deviated from his home analysis of the Saidy game fearing Karpov had a counter surprise and drifted into a grim position.

Don't try and de-bunk the theory, run with it. Add more fuel and soon (I reckon about two months) we will see posters on other sites claiming Korchnoi defected because of 2....b5.

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Sep-29-14  Everett: <on a forum one day will become fact the next>

Indeed, I'll skip this post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Here 'tis from an inner monologue in late 1974:

<That little bugger plays a cheeky move like 2....b5 and wins a game against me, the great Viktor Lvovich? Then he gets lucky in a match? I gotta tell the people what I think of this! They give me a hard time, I'll up and leave! The bigwigs give this young punk everything on the way up, I help him and look what he does to me. I'll show them!>

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The white QB's four moves.

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Final position.

Jun-01-18  Everett: 39.Qc1 is the losing move
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