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Anatoly Karpov vs Viktor Korchnoi
Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1981), Merano ITA, rd 8, Oct-22
Italian Game: Classical Variation. Giuoco Pianissimo (C53)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-18-03  drukenknight: another fantastic end game from these two. 2N vs K cannot force mate, hence trading the p for a N is only a draw.

I wonder if 82 h8=Q NxQ and then go after the K with the Ns? Probably wont work.

Jan-01-06  refutor: Maybe Kasparov (in his match v. Kramnik) should have taken some advice from his predecessor Karpov and tried something different. In the previous White game Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1981 Karpov was defeated by Korchnoi's Open Lopez. Instead of banging his head against it immediately (like Kasparov did v. Krammy's Berlin) Karpov tried something different. If Kasparov would have tried the Scotch for a game or two, maybe this whole Kramnik-Topalov thing would have been avoided
Jan-01-06  suenteus po 147: <refutor> A captial idea! Although, this is one of the fascinating things that make up these match clashes. Korchnoi was Karpov's nemesis. Karpov had to pull all the stops to win this rematch. In the Kramnik-Kasparov match, on the other hand, the greatest player in the world is facing his former second. I don't think it was in Kasparov to vary his repertoire and his approach in the match. He had to show that he could beat Kramnik on his terms. He, as Kasparov, could not concede the Ruy Lopez to this challenger he had worked with. Thus the tragedy ensued....
Jul-29-06  Fast Gun: How frustrating for Karpov, two pieces up !! But as we all know that the two solitary knights cannot force a win, however great credit to both players, firstly to AK for even managing to create winning chances in a technically difficult knight ending and secondly to VK for his patient defence that earned him a hard fought half point:
Nov-19-06  kevin86: Chess 101:while two knight can DELIVER mate,it cannot force it. The quirk is that if the lesser side has a pawn,he can actually lose!

The reason is that two knight can chase a king into a corner,but without the enemy pawn,a knight must be moved to relieve a stalemate.Regarde!

click for larger view

White would love to move Nd5 with a mate to follow at c7,but it is stalemate.

Jan-16-08  Ulhumbrus: About the adjourned ending at move 40 Keene says something like " We were confident that if there was one person in the world who could hold this ending against Karpov, it would be Korchnoi"
Apr-11-08  Knight13: Except that mating with two knights and one black pawn is a lot harder than a knight and a bishop.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: After 8...Ba7

click for larger view

Karpov played 9.h3. One is normally told not to play such moves. I think Karpov wanted to play Re1, but if he played it immediately black might play ...Ng4.

May-11-12  King Death: <offramp> True that all of the beginners books used to say to avoid moves like h2-h3 but like you say with the bishop on the long diagonal, White needs to play against e5 and the best way is to go for Re1. Also Black's other bishop is prevented from reaching g4 so it doesn't really have much to do.

I bet that this is the only world title game to end with 2 knights against a bare king.

May-13-12  Chessdreamer: The game score here is inaccurate. Actually this game ended with 80.Nf5 1/2-1/2.

Final position:

click for larger view

Jun-19-12  Howard: Chessdreamer is correct----the game did NOT end with the "barebones" position of K and 2N vs. K. But since that particular endgame was virtually inevitable, the two combatants naturally just decided it was time to call it a day.
Jun-19-12  Howard: One book on world championship games, incidentally, states that when Korchnoi made his 40th move just under the wire (Back then, the first time control went for 40 moves.), "the audience burst into spontaneously applause." Nice audience !
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Korchnoi had a practice for this game: Nunn vs Korchnoi, 1981, another Italian Game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <refutor:...In the previous White game Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1981 Karpov was defeated by Korchnoi's Open Lopez...>

This match took place in Merano (Meran), Italy. The opportunity to play the Meran did not arrive, so the Italian Game is the best Karpov could do as a tribute to his hosts.

Kortschnoi didn't even bother to try out the Damiano, the old git.

Oct-11-15  Howard: Did Karpov, by some chance, miss some winning chances in this game. It was reported that he did, but I don't recall the specifics...

...and I don't have a computer to find out for myself.

Oct-13-15  NeverAgain: I'll put this game on my to-do list.
Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: The question of whether Karpov could have won this ending can now be answered definitively by means of a 7-piece table database:

The answer is ... no! White never had a win and with the exception of the 'only' move 75..Ne4+, Korchnoi always had multiple drawing moves at his disposal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <NeverAgain: I'll put this game on my to-do list.>

I think we are getting near to the top of that list.

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