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Anatoly Karpov vs Viktor Korchnoi
Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1978), City of Baguio PHI, rd 32, Oct-17
Pirc Defense: Classical Variation. Quiet System (B08)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-11-16  diagonal: He was sometimes impatient and impetuous otb and beyond the board, but Korchnoi never was tired :)

Just after the WCC 1978 match finished, Viktor Korchnoi went on to the Chess Olympiad at Buenos Aires, missing the first three rounds, then playing all the rounds 4 to 14, unbeaten and achieving at 81,8% the Gold medal on board one for Switzerland (7th-11th, Hungary won); he clearly was superior to the others, watch out for instance his last round game vs. Kavalek, USA: Korchnoi vs Kavalek, 1978, no energy drain, a typical Korchnoi game

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: _<diagonal: He was sometimes impatient and impetuous otb and beyond the board, but Korchnoi never was tired...>

So Karpov won by being a better player of chess.

Aug-12-16  diagonal: <offramp, I did not fully exclude that you couldn’t decline to riposte something like "then AK was better player">

Well, was Karpov a significantly better player in 1978?

Watching out the stats:

Competitive games between Karpov and Korchnoi (alphabetical order) in the 1970s, both as Grandmaster:

1970 USSR Championship
Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-0
Korchnoi took clear first in the ch

1971 Moscow, Alekhine Mem
Korchnoi vs. Karpov 0-1
Karpov’s rise to adult prominence, he won together with Leonid Stein, five former, present or future World Champion competing

1971 Leningrad Training match
Karpov vs Korchnoi 3-3 draw overall
(Korchnoi took Black in five games and forewarned Karpov what opening he was proposing to play)

1971/72 Hastings
Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-0
Korchnoi (first on tie-break) and Karpov joint winners, there was no play-off

1972 Moscow blitz
Korchnoi vs Karpov 1-0

1973 USSR Championship
Korchnoi vs Karpov 0-1
Spassky won that notorious Soviet-ch, including five former or future World Champions, joint 2nd-6th in alphabetical order: Karpov, Korchnoi, Kuzmin, Petrosian, Polugaevsky. 18th and last: young and sometimes erratic Beliavsky

1973 Leningrad Interzonal
Karpov vs Korchnoi ½-½
Korchnoi (first on tie-break) and Karpov joint winners, advancing both with sole third R. Byrne to the Candidate's

1974 Candidate's Final (5 wins, not counting draws, restriction of 24 games): no player achieved five wins, Karpov won at smallest possible margin: 12.5-11.5

1975 no games

1976 no games, Soviet Team Chess Cup in April: Karpov (ARMY) paused in the round versus Korchnoi (TRUD - travail); Korchnoi as individual best on board one, briefly after, he emigrated / defected at Amsterdam-IBM tournament

(to continue)

Aug-12-16  diagonal: (continuation)

1977 no games because of soviet boycott against Korchnoi secure Karpov's participation, Korchnoi was not invited to top tournaments, i.e. never ever at Bugojno series, not at Milano 1975, not at Montreal 1979, not at Torino 1982, etc. In tournaments, Korchnoi played in, there were no soviet players, of course. Sometimes it was rather bizarre: In Argentina, Clarin series was organized with Karpov (two entries, two fails), and Konex series with Korchnoi near same time..

..during ten years, Karpov and Korchnoi did not play a single game in a tournament or team event, unbelievable! data makes it rather difficult to formulate an expectation..

1978 Baguio City, six wins
Karpov finally by a nose: 16.5-15.5 (6-5)

ELO year list in January 1979 after Baguio City:

1. Karpov 2705 (down to 2690 in January 1981)
2. Korchnoi 2695
3. Spassky, Portisch 2640

1979 no games

1980 no games

ELO list in July 1981 (now half-yearly) just before Merano:

1. Karpov 2700
2. Korchnoi 2695
3. Hübner 2640

Then against all ELO odds, Korchnoi started with three losses in the first four games (over-optimism?, Korchnoi just played and won outright the Lone Pine Open 1981, but beating up the folks in swiss system and a match vs. a boa constrictor are different things), and lost clearly to Karpov in Merano 7-11 (6-2 in wins), in fact, Korchnoi was dominated, he had to fight for every draw.

In 1978, Caissa was not with Viktor, a quantum of luck missing (I know, the better player is always lucky, but Karpov showed some lack of stamina, here and especially in 1984/85).

In 1981, Korchnoi, 50 years old (still number two of the world), but apparently past his peak, Karpov was then the better and better prepared player.

Korchnoi won a stretch of seven tough Candidate's matches in a row,such Candidate's matches were mostly lasting longer than today a WCC match:

<Vic won vs. Tigran Petrosian, quarterfinal (Ciocco 1977)

Vic won vs. Lev Polugaevsky, semifinal (Évian 1977)

Vic won vs. Boris Spassky, final (Belgrade 1977/78)

Vic won vs. Tigran Petrosian, quarterfinal (Velden 1980)

Vic won vs. Lev Polugaevksy, semifinal (Buenos Aires 1980)

Vic won vs. Robert Hübner, final (Meran 1980/81)

Vic won vs. Lajos Portisch, quarterfinal (Bad Kissingen 1983)>

If Korchnoi really was tired, he would have every right :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: So Korchnoi was less tired than Karpov but he still lost. Is that right?
Aug-13-16  diagonal: your initial claim, <Korchnoi was obviously tired> (without any reference or source) isn't sound, matter closed
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <diagonal: your initial claim, <Korchnoi was obviously tired> (without any reference or source) isn't sound, matter closed.>

I'd say that 30+ serious games of chess in the Filipino heat of July and August would tire anyone out. Karpov was tired, but obviously not as tired as Korchnoi, because Karpov won the last game quite easily.

If Korchnoi was NOT tired, and still lost to a tired Karpov, then Karpov was clearly the better player.

If Korchnoi, like Karpov, WAS tired, then his loss was more of a lottery.

He still lost, though.

Aug-14-16  Sally Simpson: Hi Guys,

Who was the most tired?

According to Ray Keene 'Karpov -Korchnoi 1978 The Inside Story of the Match' After game 6 which was played between the 2nd and 3rd adjournment of game 5 (the 124 marathon the finally ended in a stalemate) it was Karpov who was looking 'haggard and tired'.

A link from another thread:

Has it that Karpov was looking 'haggard and shattered.'

Today starting a match game whilst another was still unfinished seems incredible but then it was relatively common.

Regarding who was the better player. (good post Diagonal) reading the above book and Korchnoi's quoted comments you can see he did not fear Karpov and in some parts of the game, notably the ending, he thought he was superior.

Whether or not you agree, the important thing is Korchnoi thought like this and believed it, that mind set is far more important at that level than grades and past results. .

This match spun on Game 8 with Karpov refusing to shake Korchnoi's hand. Keene calls it a Soviet master stroke. (possibly regretting team Korchnoi had not thought of it first).

A livid and insulted Korchnoi should have demanded a time out for at least an hour (hindsight) but instead played on in this foul mood and lost the first game of the match.

Up to then Korchnoi had been playing the better chess. That missed win in game 5.

click for larger view

55.Bf7+ 1-0 (Korchnoi played 55.Be4+) time trouble accepted is still to this day a wonder. 55.Bf7+ could have changed the course of chess history.

Or maybe not. Korchnoi wins in 1978 but there was a Botvinnik re-match rule in place. Karpov wins the re-match, we still get the Karpov - Kasparov matches.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Sally Simpson: Hi Guys,
Who was the most tired?

According to Ray Keene 'Karpov -Korchnoi 1978 The Inside Story of the Match' After game 6 which was played between the 2nd and 3rd adjournment of game 5 (the 124 marathon the finally ended in a stalemate) it was Karpov who was looking 'haggard and tired'...>

Haggard after game 6! I am amazed he was still standing by game 32! But he won it easily.

OR is it possible that playing 32 5-hour games over 3 months is NOT that tiring? That one night's sleep repairs almost all tiredness, and that in long matches the better player wins?

Is THAT possible?

Aug-14-16  john barleycorn: I assume only the spectators were tired.
Aug-15-16  Howard: This matter as to who was more "tired" is getting beaten to death, IMO.
Aug-10-18  Howard: Having looked at the Stockfish analysis, I never would have imagined that so many mistakes took place in this game.

Keene's annotations in CL&R obviously left a lot to be desired. For example, he stated that 15...Nd7 was "virtually forced". Frankly, I don't see why, and Stockfish definitely disagrees with that assessment.

Feb-20-19  WDenayer: What Perfidious says above is true, but the question remains why the Pirc? Timman and Max Pam (illustrator) published a really excellent book on this WC (in Dutch). It was 5-5 now. Korchnoi had won the last game in a fantastic endgame. Now he had Black. Timman quotes Keene saying that Korchnoi didn't even trust his own secondants - they had no idea what he was going to play. When the Pirc appeared on the board, Keene called Korchnoi's treatment of it 'barbarian.' It was obvious that it was going to lead nowhere. I think that Keene said that by move 16, it was clear that Korchnoi was positionally busted. I think he used the word 'disgusting.'
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: The most BORING World Chess Match EVER until Carlsen v Caruana 2018 lol
Apr-12-20  jerseybob: It's actually a kind of Benoni, a bad Benoni from black's standpoint, with no c4 for white. Without the usual pawn imbalance, black's push toward b5 loses its sting. Painful to once again play this over since I was rooting for Victor, but Karpov plays it perfectly.
Apr-12-20  SChesshevsky: Why the Pirc? It does make some sense from Korchnoi's point of view.

He's no stranger to the defense and kind of familiar with Karpov's handling. Played twice, drew twice including earlier in the match.

Match tied and on a roll, Korchnoi winning the last three games. With white twice. He likely figures Karpov really doesn't want to face another white so may play more aggressively and loosely than usual here.

Looks like in this game Korchnoi is playing uncharacteristically very passively. Apparently looking for Karpov to be loose, overextend and offer targets.

Unfortunately, strategy seems to backfire as Karpov plays super solid forcing Korchnoi into more and more passive position. A defensive task that is probably not his most preferred or comfortable.

Pirc was maybe a reasonable gamble that just didn't payoff.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <jerseybob: It's actually a kind of Benoni, a bad Benoni from black's standpoint, with no c4 for white....>

In their early 1970s work on the Pirc, Botterill and <ray keene> refer to 6....c5 7.d5 as the Schmid Benoni.

Apr-13-20  jerseybob: <perfidious: In their early 1970s work on the Pirc, Botterill and <ray keene> refer to 6....c5 7.d5 as the Schmid Benoni> Schmid, that's the name I was looking for. My faulty memory told me this line occurred in Unzicker-Botvinnik 1954, but actually that was a Winawer. Botvinnik-Schmid 1960 was the game I was actually thinking of. Kmoch's Pawn Power has a lot about various Benonis.
Apr-13-20  jerseybob: <harrylime: The most BORING World Chess Match EVER until Carlsen v Caruana 2018> Both players seemed nervous, with each missing good chances. Hard to picture Kasparov or Fischer not cashing in on some of those positions.
Apr-13-20  Everett: <offramp>
I found your discussion on who was more tired quite entertaining, thank you!
Apr-13-20  Petrosianic: offramp: Wouldn't that mean that he lost all those matches? But he won the first 2.

No, it would just mean he didn't perform as well.

Botvinnik also faded in matches. His record in Games 16-24 of World Championship matches is significantly lower than his record in Games 1-16. That's not to say he lost every match, of course.

Jul-18-21  RookFile: It's black's turn to play in this position:

click for larger view

I think that Emanuel Lasker goes "all in" here and plays 21....e6. Anything beats going quietly into the night. The main advantage to the move is it makes the black white squared bishop a relevant piece again, aiming at white's king. If Korchnoi had played this way and won a confusing position, it would have been the greatest moment in chess history.

Jul-18-21  RookFile: With best play, white still gets an advantage, but this may have been black's best chance to press the "random" button.
Jul-01-22  cormier: depth=30 | Komodo 2901.00
+1.92 15. e5 dxe5 16. Nxe5 Qd6 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Nxf7 Rxf7 19. Ne4 Qd7 20. Nxf6+ Rxf6 21. d6+ e6 22. Qc3 Ne8 23. Qxf6 Nxf6 24. Bxe6+ Kf8 25. Bxd7 Nxd7 26. Re7 Bc6 27. Rxh7 Re8 28. Rh8+ Kf7 29. Rxe8 Kxe8 30. Re1+ Kd8 31. Re6 g5 32. b3 g4 33. Re7 Nf6 34. h4 gxh3 35. gxh3 Bd7
Jul-01-22  cormier: depth=35 | Komodo 2901.00
+0.79 14... Nd7 15. h3 Ne8 16. Rb1 h6 17. Be3 Kh7 18. Qd2 Nc7 19. Rbd1 Qc8 20. Bf4 Ne8 21. Be2 Qc7 22. Nh2 Nef6 23. Nf1 Rfe8 24. Ng3 Rad8 25. Be3 Qc8 26. f4 h5 27. Nf1 e6 28. dxe6 Rxe6
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