Classic Viktor Korchnoi game

If you want my take on Korchoi’s style, for those who have never really studied him before, it would be “Technical player/Defender” (he’s also known as a materialist). This is one reason that I think his style simply doesn’t match up well against Karpov’s (who is more vulnerable to a pure attacker). He had a strong record against Tal, for example, because he could simply defuse Tal’s speculative attacks.

Incidentally, I would call Timman’s style positional (Timman was essentially no threat to Karpov, IMHO, as I went over their match as well).

Okay, here is the game:
Korchoi – Suetin, Vilnius 1953

At first glance, you may see this game and not “grok” Korchoi as a non-attacking style, but pay closer attention. 20..Qg6? gets punished by an aggressive defensive reply.

23.Nxf5? is actually a poor attacking move, as Korchnoi states in his book ‘Viktor Korchnois Best Games’ that 23.Qxf5 would win material.

24…Bd6!, 25.NxBd6!

Starting with 25…Nbd5? (Korchoi recommends Rd7) Black commits a pile of defensive inaccuracies that Korchnoi notes. Now watch how Korchnoi just plays solid, so solid that his defense turns into an offense. Which of us would have played 31.Kf2! (?) One could make a case that Korchnoi essentially “out-defended” his opponent.


6 thoughts on “Classic Viktor Korchnoi game

  1. Belated note to my last tournament game.

    A chess board is about 2′ by 2′ by 3′ diagonal. At Panera’s small tables, there is about an inch and a half of border/elbow room for both players combined. IOW, as soon as you lean over the board, you are missing seeing your own back rank.

    Jason will stand a couple feet behind an opponent on their move, which made me want to lean over more (as if I were being graded on my position/homework and needed to concentrate/work harder to prove that I was working). Well, anyway, that did cause my vision to focus squarely on the center of the board, missing the long pin.

    Online this isn’t a problem because the eye can see the whole board without needing to move, and also body movements when looking at a monitor do not change one’s field of vision.

  2. When one studies Korchnoi, though, they should be studying for technique. Kortchnoi may attach a “?” to a move “merely” to indicate that it leads to unfavorable endgame chances or loses initiative.

    What I learn from him is the importance of solid play, hinting at aggressive endgame technique.

    Wow, this is a serious “in your face” example of the endgame technique that I was talking about:
    He wins a pawn against Botvinnik and then forces an opposite-colored bishop endgame that he knows is winning, Korchnoi gives the nice would-be finish in his notes, which a commenter there gives. Botvinnik’s chances for a draw would have been better if he had taken on f4, White retakes with rook, earlier in that tactical phase instead of moving the queens’s knight (which they discussed in the post-mortem). Korchnoi simply outcalculates opponents in complications. That is brutal winning a pawn up opposite-colored bishop game against Botvinnik, and forcing the exchange of the last pair of rooks.

  3. So that is what Anthea was winning with, the ‘Canal Variation’ of the QGD:
    which Viktor K says is “condemned by theory” on p.69.

    It’s not her main opening, but I thought I saw her pull it out once, and I have seen lower-rateds try to analyze it at tournaments. Yes, Black can spring it on a theory-hapless White, but I’ll pass now, knowing that it’s bad.

    Nice exchange sac winning combo here starting with 36.RxN. 42.Qd3 would have been the finish. Funny how that part of the game is almost routine for a super-GM compared to where we are at.

  4. Interesting game again Suetin. I wouldn’t say non-attacking style, he didn’t castle and his attack on the king-side looks pretty sharp. Excellent ending, his king works magic.

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