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Anatoly Karpov vs Viktor Korchnoi
Phillips & Drew GLC Kings (1984), London ENG, rd 8, May-05
Gruenfeld Defense: Three Knights Variation. Petrosian System (D91)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-13-05  GBKnight: Maybe the mists of time have left the memory hazy - it was nearly 20 years ago ! One thing is sure for my money, games which you see 'in the flesh' tend to leave a greater impression, probably due to the amount of involvement you have as a spectator, waiting for the game to unfold, rather than playing over the score later. Watching live over the internet has a similar effect, although without the atmosphere obviously. I still think its a pity there is so little top level chess here in the UK nowadays.
Jan-13-05  ughaibu: GBKnight: You dont have a monopoly on haziness and quite possibly your version is correct. Memory's a personal thing and as you say, 20 years is a long time.
Jan-13-05  euripides: Ughaibu <There weren't many people in the actual playing room>

The game was played on a stage, I think, in front of a seated audience of I would say at least two hundred people. I was in that audience, moving between the main hall and a commentary room where William Hartston was holding forth. At the back of the main hall there was a masters' section going on. The applause that I remember came from the seated audience, not from the players on stage. Actualy this is the only time I've watched a public chess event (as opposed to played in one) live and I found the applause rather appropriate.

I don't think Korchonoi plays on too long here - he has equal material with a threat of mate in two as late as two moves before the end. After 36 Qxg4 ?, for instance, things would be quite complex. In acute time trouble I'd expect a player to continue unless there was an absolutely clear forced win.

Jan-13-05  euripides: Yes and we got our money's worth that day - I think this is a marvellous game. I like the very calm way Karpov appears to do amost nothing, exchanging pieces subtly on moves 19 and 26, and Korchonoy's aggressive position somehow falls apart. I remember Hartston in the commentary room arguing that Black should be aiming for d4 and ruling any other plan out - this seemed a bit dogmatic to me at the time, and in fact Black's d4 in the game doesn't resolve his problems.
Jan-13-05  ughaibu: I arrived a few minutes before the game ended. I swapped greetings with a friend outside the playing room, then went in to look at the games. Korchnoi left Karpov a simple mate, I couldn't see the point, even in time trouble one would resign rather than play such a move. The door I entered from was left of and about 15 metres away from the stage, I'd say 20-30% of the seats were occupied, there were plenty of people wandering around but not many watching the games.
Jan-13-05  euripides: <ugh> yes, that all roughly corresponds with my recollections - except for the applause. The audience fluctuated during the game. I assumed Korchonoi's final move was simply an oversight. 37...Qb2 still leaves some variations to be calculated e.g. 38 Ne6 Rg8 39 Nxg7 Rxg7 40 Re8+ , or after 38...Bd4 39 Nxd4 Qxd4 Re8+, or 38...Qf6 39 Rxg7 - White's winning in all lines, but with a hanging flag you could still hope there was somethng you'd missed .
Jan-13-05  ughaibu: Okay.
Jan-13-05  drukenknight: 33...a5 looks like it holds things.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <drukenknight: 33...a5 looks like it holds things.> Did you find a perpetual check or something, after the naive reply of 33...a5 34. Qd7 Qxc4 35. Re7 Rg8 36. Nh5 Qc3 37. Qxb7, seemingly winning?
Jan-13-05  drukenknight: it looks like black can play

36...Qc1+ 37. Kg2 f4!? in that line but....

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <drukenknight>
When you said 33...a5 holds, I thought you must have found some kind of breakthrough against White's king.

But I'll admit I still don't see it after 33...a5 34. Qd7 Qxc4 35. Re7 Rg8 36. Nh5 Qc1+ 37. Kg2 f4!? 38. Nxf4. The pressure on f2 seems to fizzle out after 38...Qc2 39. Qxb7 Bd4 40. Re2, and White looks well on top at the end of this line.

Jan-13-05  drukenknight: what sort of breakthrough? I am happy my K is still alive on move 40. Korch. should be so lucky..
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Black's whole position has looked dubious since about move 15. Given that he's expanding on the kingside, can he try something more drastic such as 14...g4 15. Nd2 Qh4!? 16. Nb5 f4 17. Nxc7 fxe3 18. fxe3 g3 19. h3 Bxh3 20. Nf3 Rxf3 21. Bxf3 Bxg2 22. Bxg2 Qh2+ 23. Kf1 Rf8+ 24. Ke2 Qxg2+ ripping it open at the cost of the exchange?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: To answer my own question <can he try something more drastic such as 14...g4 15. Nd2 Qh4!?> I think White would keep a strong positional advantage with the quiet 16. g3 instead of the greedy 16. Nb5. Then Black's kingside is merely overextended.

It also doesn't quite seem to work to play 14...f4?! 15. exf4 Rxf4 16. Ba6! Bg4 17. Bxb7 Bxf3 18. gxf3 Rb8 19. Bxd5+ Kh8 20. Ne2 Rf8 21. Qb3, and Black has as many weak points as White and is also two pawns down.

Instead of the game's 15...c6, another try for Black is 15...Bg8, preparing ...f4. But Black still gets an overextended pawn structure in lines like 15...Bg8 16. Nb5 f4 17. exf4 c6 18. Nd6 g4 19. Ne5 Rxf4 20. Nxb7 Qc7 21. Nxd7 Qxd7 22. g3 Rxd4 23. Na5 Rxb4 24. Nxc6 Rb2 25. Re7 Qc8 26. Rc2.

So maybe instead of kingside pawn expansion, Black should have accepted the isolated d-pawn with 10...b6 11. Rc1 Bb7 12. Be2 c5 13. bxc5 bxc5 14. dxc5 Qa5, etc.

Jan-18-05  drukenknight: bg: I admire your efforts, but really I think it is to easy too save this great player on move 14. The game is still young.

You are free to suggest anything, of course, but I think the most instructive idea is to try to save him at the last possible moment.

33...a5 could well be the last moment. ANd I could very well be wrong but I think it is more instructive to try. Also: it is interesting from theoretical perspective, no? What has happened? Korch. has advanced the f pawn in an attempt to upset the balance. Of course he tried this sort of stuff many times vs. Karpov.

So what happens? The game seems okay, but then, Korch seems to run out of moves, he moves his Q once more and drops a pawn. THat doesnt seem to work.

What else is left? there is only one thing left to do...send in another pawn. Why not the a pawn?

It may look difficult, but I feel strongly this is the way. It's too late for me tonight, but maybe tomorrow.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <drukenknight>
<I think it is to easy too save this great player on move 14> For club-level players like myself, we can look at these positions and say "Yeah, so it's an overextended pawn structure, that's all." But in a world championship between all-time greats, it is rather hard to recover from even a single dubious move early in the game.

If we are willing to accept difficult but not proven totally hopeless positions, then of course there are many points before move 33 to look for Black improvements.

One possibility is 15...Bg8 as I suggested above. Other tries: 19...Nxd3 20. Qxd3 Qd6 eliminates the bishop that attacks the overextended pawns, or 21...Be5 22. Nd4 Qd6 23. g3 h5!? going for kingside activity, etc. I've looked at several of these and haven't found a way for Black to avoid a difficult position, but I can't claim to give absolute proof of a win for White, either.

Proving what's the last point at which Black can save the game is an ambitious goal that requires lots of analysis. But move 33 is a very late stage to hope for Black to hold. At least the line we looked at earlier <33...a5 34. Qd7 Qxc4 35. Re7 Rg8 36. Nh5 Qc1+ 37. Kg2 f4!? 38. Nxf4 Qc2 39. Qxb7 Bd4 40. Re2> ends in the kind of position we would expect Karpov to win. White simply pushes the b-pawn while Black is tied down defending the kingside weaknesses.

If you find an improvement for Black after 33...a5 34. Qd7 that does hold, it would be surprising and, of course, very interesting, so I'm looking forward to your attempt.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Korchnoi might have tried 15....a6, which was played a few months after this game in Ivkov vs Jansa, 1984.

As things went, even after 18....Nxc5 19.Nb3 Nxb3, White has no more than a small edge, though Korchnoi did well to avoid 19....Nxd3 20.Qxd3. After Nd4 and Nce2 to come, Karpov would have gained good play against the IQP and Black's position is looking rather loose.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Zhbugnoimt: I don't think anyone has said this, but in my opinion, the beginning of the end is 13.Re1!
Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: I spectated when this game was played too. The players did shake hands at the start which brought applause from the audience.

It was an impressive performance by Karpov. Of course, the public sentiment was with Korchnoi. In the commmentary room, Hartston kept asking for good move suggestions for White as everyone tried to find hope in the positions for Black.

King-safety won this game for Karpov: there was no way in for Viktor. He could have tried to fix his own weaknesses by playing 20..d4 earlier in the game. Also Karpov's tricky 28 Qe1 had to be taken on with 28..Bxc4 29 bxc4 Qxc4 30 Re8+ Bf8 Of course white has more than enough counterplay but Korchnoi is one of the great defenders. He was busted after 28..Bd4

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <woldsmandriffield> Black might be able to hang on after 28...Bxc4, but White probably has some improvements before that point. For example, <25. e4> looks strong.

<20...d4> looks interesting. Is that a pawn sacrifice? Do you have any analysis?

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Well, that's a lot to look at. Does White really have only a small edge by move 20? Does 20...d4 work? Does 25. e4 work? Does 28...Bxc4 work?

I'll start with 28... Bxc4. It's clear that White will quickly regain the pawn.

28...Bxc4 29. bxc4 Qxc4 30. Re8+ Bf8

click for larger view

Now 31. Qa1+ wins back the pawn, leading to an endgame where White's pieces are more active and Black's pawns are exposed. For example, 31. Qa1+ Kg8 32. Rxc8 Qxc8 33. Qa2+ Kg7 34. Qxa7.

From the diagram, <31. Nd5> is also possible and then 31...Rxe8 32. Qxe8 Qxd5 33. Qxf8+ Qg8 34. Qxf5. Again, it looks like a better endgame for White.

But, I don't see a forced win for White. So yes, 28...Bxc4 is a major improvement.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: 38.? would make a good Monday/Tuesday puzzle.
Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: The move 20..d4 exploits a pin on the d-file. White is obliged to capture: 21 exd4 Qxd4 22 Rxe6 Rad8 winning back the piece. Now:

a) 23 Be2 Qxc3! (the point) is fine for Black as after 24 Rxc3 Rxd1+ 25 Bxd1 Bxc3 26 Re7 Rd8 followed by Rd2 there is great counterplay

b) 23 Bxf5 now Black has several options but lets go for opposite coloured Bishops again 23..Qxc3 24 Qf1 (the only move) 24..Qxb3 25 Bxg4 Bd4 and I prefer Black here as he is so active

c) 23 Re3 (looks best) 23..f4 24 Ne2 Qd6 25 Nxf4 Qxf4 and Bd4 is again coming.

The move 20..d4 is suggested in a contemporaneous NY Times column written (I think) by Robert Byrne.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <woldsmandriffield> Yes, 20...d4 does look fine for Black.

The remaining question then is what happens after 25. e4.

After 25. e4 fxe4 26. Rxe4 Bxb3 (might as well take the pawn, because otherwise White has a better position for free).

click for larger view

White clearly gets enough compensation for the pawn, but I don't see a direct win. However, computer evaluations look strong for White, so maybe I'm missing it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: From the diagram above (after 25. e4 fxe4 26. Rxe4 Bxb3), I foresee 27. Nh5 Bh6 28. Qa3 Bg8 29. Qe7 Qg6. Now, White can play 30. Qe5+ Bg7 followed by exchanges on g7, Rg4+ and Rxd4 coming out a pawn ahead, but I'm not sure it's enough to win. I also don't see a clear win with other White attempts.
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