To Victor Korchnoi's anniversary
But he, restless, seeks a storm...
Victor Korchnoi appeared in the Pioneers Palace of our city only some month earlier than me but was considered as a prominent figure. He had the 3rd category and we who pretended on the 5th (the less) category looked at the lucky bearer of such a high rank respectfully
I remember the match "Young member of Dinamo" - Pioneer's Palace. On the 1st board fought S.Khavsky - V.Korchnoi. White attacked don't taking into account the material losses but Black accepted all what was possible and desperately warded off . Our leader managed to stand fast and won.
In 1946 Korchnoi was a participant of the Country Championship between youths but this tournament has not brought him peculiar laurels. But next year he wins unexpectedly though before the start as a main favorite was considered Moscower Yury Vasilchuk who played successfully in two previous Championships (1945 -1-3 places with T.Petrosian and A.Reshko and 2nd place in 1946 behind T.Petrosian). Next year in Tallinn Korchnoi shared 1-2 places with the host of the tournament I.Nei and in 1949 shows the best result (5.5 out of 6) in the Team Youth Country Championship in Moscow.
This time he is a candidate to master and 2 years later becomes a master. It turned out that Victor has absolutely unusual style of playing. He was able perfectly to be as sportsmen say the second number and then to intercept the initiative. For a young chess players he possessed an uncommon talent - an extraordinary high technique of outplaying the endgames although usually this skill comes with ages. Korchnoi himself wrote in his book that he didn't tried to play from defence , that the journalists overestimated this his skill too much. However that may be, when in rival's camp arise any weakness the GMs phenomenal technique made its "black affair".
Especially successfully Korchnoi played in the team tournaments: once in Moscow he analyzed the adjourned games of the match between two chess capitals (Moscow and Saint-Petersburg) all night and after that morning won two adjourned games against World Champion of that time T.Petrosian. He always went all out playing for a team - at that doesn't matter was this the university team, Leningrad team or the USSR team. He always was the Patriot from capital letter! The author of these lines consider that only our "genius" soviet system could throw out such a man abroad!
For the pressing against Korchnoi was used his uncomplying character, independence opinion and straightforwardness of utterances. At one time after the duel vs Karpov in Moscow he was accused of a
prediction Fischer's victory in the forthcoming match and this was a knife in Karpov's back!!! Was Korchnoi right we don't know since this meeting don't took place. The most amusing fact is that Korchnoi's interview which was criticized in the domestic press afterward was published word for word in a sketch by Y.Zerchaninov and A.Roshal in the magazine "Youth" and there were not any claims to authors nevertheless. Not simple otherwise to say a complicated Korchnoi's character became formed mainly in war years. Victor spent in besieged city all 900 days of the blockade. Not in vain recently he was rewarded with a medal "The inhabitant of the besieged city".
After the departure of the three time Country Champion to the West a torrent of filth fell on him. The situation was redoubled his victory in challengers matches since on the agenda arose the match Karpov - Korchnoi. This duel remembered as a war of compromises. The information which passed in our mass media sometimes bore a comical character. Once during the 30th game the All-Union radio in 3 p.m. informed that in the Bagio recommenced the adjourn of the game Karpov - Korchnoi: just after the beginning of the adjourn determined the Karpov's advantage, Korchnoi began to repeat the moves!! In 3.30 p.m. radio "Mayak" informed: after the beginning the adjourn Korchnoi began to repeat the moves. But in 4 p.m. BBC gladden that Korchnoi won quickly. In the USSR passed an anecdote that Brezhnev sent a telegram: the winner could come back! In Bagio Korchnoi has not became the World Champion because he has not guessed with the opening in 32th game. If he played White this day his victory would be rather close. He preserved a huge stock of forces to overcome of this hard event and this fact was confirmed by GM's brilliant play at the Olympiad in Argentine ( the first place on the 1st board for the Switzerland with the result 9 out of 11 (+7 -0 =4!)
Still living in the USSR Korchnoi often suffered from his straightforwardness in relations with sport officials with different ranks. Once as a joke I quoted him a phrase from a brilliant G.Gorin's play "To forget Gerostrat" - "When you say what you think, think what you say"!
It is well-known a historical Korchnoi's reply on the Gufeld's apply "Greetings, colleague", which took place at the beach of the Tunisian health resort. The reply was rather wicked, although had a number of reasons: "Damianovic to you is a colleague!" The matter was that Gufeld has not gathered some part of percents to the GM's norm and in Korchnoi's opinion has not the right to pretend on a highest chess status. Besides our compatriot considered that it is not very ethically to be a second to a chess player at the Interzonal tournament and to lose him at the very finish. By the way Damianovic was born at the same day March 23 as Korchnoi and the third participant of this "Bermuda triangle" Gufeld was born March 19.
Generally with GM's birthday was an amusing incident. In chess dictionary 1964 turned out a misprint. Korchnoi was "rejuvenated" quite on the four months. Just the date 23.07.31 figure in almost all official hand-books as the Korchnoi's birthday. Once even the Leningrad team was going to congratulate GM with his birthday at summer and only the International arbiter A.Deuel saved them from a confuse. Deuel who always was well posted on persuaded the chess players that for a cap of coffee with balsam he will agree with Victor that he will not be angry on his team!
I remember the day of a conclusion the Korchnoi's disqualification after the match with Karpov in 1976. We both with Deuel come to congratulate him. GM appeared in the flat just in that very moment when on TV during the demonstration of the film "The captain's daughter" one demanded "the yesterday's malefactor" on an interrogation. Who could predict then that a nickname "Malefactor" will become the GM's visiting card for ages.
They say, that a talented man is talented in everything. Concerning to Korchnoi I had a possibility to make sure of this, when in the beginning of 70-s a film director Sergey Mikaelian applied to me with a request to acquaint him with anybody from GMs for participation in a shooting of the film "Grandmaster".
I took him to the Victor's flat and absolutely unexpectedly for me Korchnoi instantly agreed to act in the film. Later I learned that one of the reason of such an interest to the cinema was the fact of Spassky's test in a film of L.Gaidai "12 chairs". Korchnoi played in the film splendidly. Arose an impression that all his life he was a film actor. His work was very high evaluated by the great producer of the contemporaneity George Tovstonogov!
The reason of his chess longevity lies probably in a phenomenal sports spite of GM in a noble sense of this word. I remember a typical episode: in 1949 our young Leningrad team was at an assemblage in a sport camp in a settlement Vyritsa. The chess players happened to be engaged in different kinds of track and field athletics and usually we were not very successful in this. The athletes, which trained nearly chuckled at us. And then Korchnoi suggested to make a heat on 800 meters, coming forward as a candidate against the second young city team! It was established a prize - a bar of chocolate! The future GM won only on a spirit with clenched teeth. He outstripped the "professionals" on 10 meters!
The return in the native city for Korchnoi turned out to be not very simple. Naturally after all that he suffered in the USSR was difficult to believe in changes in Russia. But gradually an ice in GMs soul melted and already at the end of the century he suitably performed as a member of Saint-Petersburg team on the Championship of Russia and European Team Cup.
Korchnoi's attitude toward the city characterize a fact that he wished to celebrate his anniversary just at the native land. Today Korchnoi is 70 and all of us, his friends, wish him many long years, health and good luck at the chess board!
Alexander Geller, international arbiter
1. V.Korchnoi, "Selected games", St.Petersburg, 1996, 232 p., $13.
The outstanding contemporary grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi has for many years
belonged to the world chess elite. This is the first collection of his
selected games published in Russia. Its issue timed to celebrate 50 years of
Korchnoi's performances in tournaments this distinguished chessplayer. The
book collects 86 games critically selected and annotated by the author. Last
10 games are annotated by other grandmasters. V.Korchnoi's annotations
written during the intervening years and revised in 1995 reflect the creative
style of the author and the evolution of his chess world view. Of great
interest is the article about the candidates' match vs. Mikhail Tal (1968). A
separate section has games with comments by Mikhail Botvinnik, Salo Flohr,
Boris Gulko and other grandmasters. Two interesting games from recent
tournaments are annotated by grandmaster Alexander Khalifman specially for
this collection. The book is a result of a great deal of interest in
perfomances in both tournaments and matchs played by V.Korchnoi over the
period of 1946-1995 years. The book is illustrated with previously
unpublished photos of V.Korchnoi spanning his career.
The cost of the book is $13 -
Shahcom Company, © 2001