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Viktor Korchnoi vs Anatoly Karpov
"This Old Man Plays d4" (game of the day Sep-24-2010)
Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1974), Moscow URS, rd 21, Nov-11
Queen's Indian Defense: Anti-Queen's Indian System (E17)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 6 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-01-05  pastpawn: If I remember right, this is the game where Korchnoi had to ask the arbiter if 18. 0-0 would be legal with the king's rook under attack.
Feb-16-05  mcgee: Pastpawn, you are correct. Korchnoi admitted that he had never encountered this scenario in all the years he had been playing chess; presumably this legal finesse had bypassed him when he learnt the rules of chess, and as such he was unsure at the age of 43 whether castling with the rook under attack was legal. Without 18.O-O White has to work harder for the win as Black's dual threat of 18...Nf3+ and 18...Bxh1 pulls him back into the game. Korchnoi checked with arbiter O' Kelly and all was well.

Would Korchnoi have played 13 Nxh7 if he had forseen the position at move 18 and was stone cold certain he could not castle?!??

>>One cannot disregard the impression that this is all way too sharp for a taste of a player that would use Queen's Indian as black and no wonder that Korchnoi would like to play this as white.<<

Dead right in Karpov's case. Korchnoi's sudden recovery at the end of this match was almost entirely down to Karpov's dislike of unfamiliar opening positions, especially when playing Black. Korchnoi had whupped Karpov with the Trompowsky/Torre system twice after this match (once in this match and once at Hastings a couple of years before); with hindsight he could have thrown this variation in a few more times. I wager that Korchnoi wishes that his openings preparation was as good in 1974 as it was in 1978.

Aug-08-05  Chess Addict: Something's wrong here. Why didn't Karpov grab the Queen right away?
Aug-08-05  sneaky pete: <Chess Addict> If you mean 17... Nf3+ intending .. Nxg5, white can play 18.Bxf3 Bxf3 19.0-0 .. etc.
Oct-28-05  Chess Addict: Oh, missed that Bishop. >_>
Aug-01-06  LIFE Master AJ: This game is now annotated on my web site ... you can find it with any search engine.
Aug-19-06  LIFE Master AJ: Thanks to Bill (of Buffalo, NY) for his long and thoughtful e-mail.

He also requested that I post a link here. (

Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: AJ, Played through with interest your analysis of this game, which I don't remember having seen before. I laughed about the comment that on move 18. O-O Korchnoi had to consult the arbiter to make sure castling was legal, I guess because the Rook was attacked by the Bishop. I am amazed that sometimes even GMs do not have a full understanding of all the rules for castling. Paul Albert
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <paulalbert> Paul, you should also check out this game Averbakh vs Purdy, 1960
Aug-20-06  whatthefat: <mcgee>
Astounding that Korchnoi wasn't aware 18.0-0 is a legal move.
Aug-20-06  LIFE Master AJ: Paul:

Apparently GM's in Russia don't bother to learn the basic rules of chess, I can site 4-5 such instances.

The main thing is that apparently many were taught (as young children) that when the Rook was attacked, that you could not castle, perhaps this is part of the confusion.

This is kind of like the "box-set" rule ... as I like to call it. (When you promote a pawn, you can only have what's in the box - i.e., an already captured piece.)

I have played in many bars and stuff across the country. In such environs, all the rules of chess are NOT clearly known, take a pawn "EN PASSANT," and you are liable to have your arm broken for being a cheater. (It got so bad that for many years I took toting a rulebook around in my car just for such instances.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: <Benzol> Thanks for the reference to the Averbakh vs. Purdy game. I wasn't aware of that incident which involved the issue of whether the R may cross an attacked square in castling, which of course it may. I have answered that question several times here on the site to some of our colleagues who raised the question in other games on the site where such castling occurred. On the Averbakh vs. Purdy discussion there is some really amusing discussion of whether in a Q's R odds game the side without the R could in effect "castle" by playing K(e1) to c1 even though there is no R to move. We chessplayers really have creative, inquisitive minds, but I never would have thought of that. Amazing.

Paul Albert

Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: <AJ> I've had similar experiences, especially in Lyon,France in 1963 when I worked for the Credit Lyonnais during the summer. Castling, en passant, and promotion are usually the areas of ignorance of the precise laws of chess. Some local rules also are that you can't capture a promoted piece on an immediately following move. Three fold repetitions and perpetual checks are not necessarily understood either. I've never been threatened by violence, but I had one diplomatic incident, this time in the U.S. When I was 12 and already a serious player, my grandmother arranged for me to play the husband of a friend, a man in his 60s. It was at his house. He wasn't a total neophyte player, but I took most of the games. In one game he had a better position, so I decided to force a draw by a three fold repetition. After two repetitions, he insisted that I had to play a different move, repeating the position not being permitted. Even at 12 I had some degree of judgment ( he was my host and his wife a good friend of my grandmother ), so I acquiesced, which resulted in a lost position. Whether he really believed what he said or was just bullying a young boy so he could win one, I'll never know.

Paul Albert

Aug-21-06  LIFE Master AJ: <paulalbert>


Interesting story ... and you hit the nail on the head. En passant and promotion see to be the most misunderstood, the average player that I have played usually knows about castling. (But not always.)

Probably the funniest story I know of was playing a guy in AL for a small stake. I insisted the owner hold the money ... and that all disputes be settled through him.

We got into a K+P endgame, he pushed a Pawn two squares, and I captured in passing. A hullaballoo immediately ensued, and I fetched the rulebook out of my car.

He spent close to half an hour examining the text, and told me that he did not understand the rulebook enough to make a decision. I explained the rule as carefully as I could ... and he still looked to be in doubt. He then asked for proof that I knew what I was talking about. I produced my card proving that I was a certified Club TD ... (I am a Local TD now,; and that settled the argument in my favor.

- aj

Sep-11-06  LIFE Master AJ: Someone was nice enough to send me an e-mail and pointed out that I had repeated one diagram ... I think its fixed now.
Oct-29-06  MadBishop: Well, it looks like Korchnoi had fun on this one. Here's some annotation:

7. ...c5!?

9. ... Nc6?!(9. ... g6 10. Qd1 d6 11. cxd5 Na6 12. 0-0 Nd7=)

11. Qd2! Nxd5?(11. ... Re8!? Zaitsev; 11. ... Qb8!? Byrne,R)

12. ... Rb8?(12. ... Bf6 13. Nxh7 Kxh7 14. Qh6+ Kg8 15. Qxg6+ Bg7 16. Bh6 Qf6 Zaitsev; 12. ... Bxg5 13. Qxg5 Qxg5 14. Bxg5 +| Byrne,R)

Oct-29-06  MadBishop: Carrying on ... :

13. Nxh7 +\-- Re8(13. ... Kxh7 14. Qh6+ Kg8 15. Qxg6+ Kh8 16. Qh6+ Kg8 17. Be4 f5 18. Bd5+ Rf7 19. Qg6+ +\--)

14. Qh6(14. Qf4 Nb4 15. Qxf7+[15. Bxb7? Nxd3+ 16. exd3 Bg5+] 15. ... Kh8 16. Bh6 Rg8 17. Nxf8! +\--; 14. ... Kxh7 15. Qh6+ Kg8 16. Qxg6+ Kh8 17. Bxf7; 14. ... Ne5 15. Bxb7 Rxb7 16. Qxe5 Kxh7 17. Qd5 Osnos)

18. 0-0(18. Rf1 Nf3+; 18. cxd5 Nf3+)

Oct-29-06  MadBishop: And finally:

18. ... Bxc4 (18. ... Bf3 19. Qe3 Bg4 Zaitsev)

It is said that during this game, Korchnoi got up and in spite of the rules, adressed an official, asking whether he could castle now that his rook was under threat. A couple moves later he castled and got a victory!!!

Dec-11-06  mcgee: >>MadBishop<< see the various comments by myself and others above

as I said before, did Korchnoi play 13Nxh7 and see through to the position in the game at move 18 at the time? The win would not have been easy if White could not have castled short.

Jan-01-07  Fisheremon: <MadBishop> 11...Rb8 also possible, but once Black played 11...Nxd5, 12...Rb8 was really a blunder (12...Bf6 was necessary for a save).
Mar-06-07  ALEXIN: Fabulous combination of Korchnoi. 11.Qd2 (preparing move) is the key in this game.
Mar-06-07  TrueFiendish: If I were Korchnoi and been unsure as to whether I could castle with my rook under attack, I would just have done it and pretended I hadn't noticed if subsequently told it was illegal.
Mar-06-07  whatthefat: <TrueFiendish: If I were Korchnoi and been unsure as to whether I could castle with my rook under attack, I would just have done it and pretended I hadn't noticed if subsequently told it was illegal.>

But if castling were not legal, he would have been forced to move his king by touch rule, dropping the rook to ...Bxh1. Note that he could not have touched the h1-rook first to be safe, since in that case castling is illegal:

<4.4 (b) If a player deliberately touches a rook and then his king he is not allowed to castle on that side on that move and the situation shall be governed by Article 4.3(a).>

[From the FIDE Handbook]

Mar-06-07  TrueFiendish: <whatthefat> Yes, quite right. I guess I was speaking from an embarrassment point of view rather than from a game-winning point of view. Shows I'll never be a world title contender, I suppose.

Maybe, then, he should have had a quiet word with a buddy (his second?) behind his hand rather than going public.

Apr-11-07  Darth Simplicio: It is not possible for Korchnoi to check with anybody (except the arbiter) otherwise that would be considered cheating. Look at all the cheating accusation on Topalov because of possible communication between him and Danailov ...
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