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Viktor Korchnoi vs Anatoly Karpov
Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1978), City of Baguio PHI, rd 7, Aug-01
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal Variation. Bishop Attack (E47)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-01-04  Helloween: Has anyone ever looked at the continuation 39...Bxf2! 40.Rf1 Qb6 41.Ne4(Qf4) Nxe4 42.Qf4+ Nf6 43.Rxf2 Qd4, retaining winning chances for Black?
Jun-01-04  WMD: Ray Keene: "We started analysing the adjourned position [after 41...Kf8; Korchnoi had sealed 42.Qh8+] in a state of deep depression but it gradually became clear that Korchnoi could fight on. The key defensive resource was found by Murei, appropriately enough on his thirty-eighth birthday. When we finally abandoned analysis at 7 a.m. we had still not solved the position. We had found neither a clear win for Karpov nor a clear draw for Korchnoi. To our astonishment Karpov came to the board next day and offered a draw, which was of course accepted. As the players were seen signing the score sheets most of the spectators assumed Korchnoi had resigned and pandemonium broke loose when it was announced the game was drawn. "They'll never believe me in Argentina," lamented Najdorf.

"Asian Junior Champion, Murray Chandler, articulated the question in everyone's mind for New Zealand radio: "Why was Karpov so sure that Korchnoi had found the crucial saving continuation? Why did he not even probe to find out jus how much Korchnoi knew? Personally I think Karpov was just plain gutless. He could have played on and forced Korchnoi to prove he had found a saving variation. Karpov would not have risked anything."" (Karpov-Korchnoi 1978)

Jun-01-04  WMD: It's interesting that in his book From Baguio to Merano (co-authored with Baturinsky), Karpov does not directly address the finale of game 7, but instead has this to say:

"The seventh game was played in an atmosphere of extreme tension. When in a Nimzo-Indian Defence my opponent with White employed a relatively new continuation, after 20 minutes' thought I realized that it would be extremely dangerous to remain passive. It was amusing that, while I was thinking, Korchnoi literally ran off the stage, demonstating to those present that extraneous forces were acting on him - that hypnosis again. I sacrificed a pawn, and then the exchange, and my opponent could not keep running off to the rest room: White's position, although it looked sound, demanded careful consideration at the board. For the first time in many games between us we both ran short of time, and we both made mistakes, the last one, as later transpired in analysis, being made by me. And although it was terribly vexing to have to reject playing for a win, and to agree to a draw, this seventh game nevertheless showed me that my opponent felt ill at ease in sharp, unclear positions. And another thing: he had become less good at defending. An important conclusion! Formerly he had been a different player, more resourceful, whereas he now had a clear leaning toward technical positions. And the eighth game of the match confirmed the correctness of this conclusion."

Mar-17-05  mcgee: Black is still probably winning regardless of whether he plays 39..Bxf2 or not. 40...Nxe4 is the one that virtually throws the win away, I think. I think that Karpov's analysis of Korchnoi should really be reversed -he plays awfully in this game when he is the exchange up and needs to play boring technical chess. At the eleventh hour, he successfully manages to muck up the position when Karpov is in time trouble and swindle a draw. Indeed, I like Larsen's annotation where he gives 40 Ne4 two exclamation marks in parentheses and says, ' A good try.'
Jul-07-06  who: What are the other options?

Larsen gives 40...c2, but Fritz points out that 41.Nxf6 Qxf6 42.Qxh7+ Kf8 (42...Qg7 43.Re7+ ) 43.Qh6+ Qg7 (43...Kg8 44.Rxd3 ) 44.Qf4+ Qf7 is a draw as well.

Jul-07-06  who: Larsen has another mistake in the annotation of the game. In his analysis of the final position.

He gives 42...Kf7 43.Qh7+ Kf6 44.Qh4+Ke5 45.Qg3+! as drawing, but actually 45.f3! actually wins for white.

Apr-09-08  Knight13: White should've went 14. bxa6. The resulting position after exchange sacrifice is not fun.

I wonder if 36...Re7 followed by ...Rd7 is better since then Black can prevent ...Qh6 with ...Kg7. I'd be fine with trading rooks after exd4.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: This is the final position, after 42.♕h7-h8+.

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Black has two possible moves: 42...Kf7 & 42...Ke7.
In either case white checks with his queen again. If black wants to avoid the checks he has to go at some point to d7, for example: 42. Qh8+ Kf7

<(42... Ke7 43. Qg7+ Ke8 44. Qg8+ Kd7 45. Rxd3+ is the same)>

43. Qh7+ Ke8 44. Qg8+ Ke7 45. Qg7+ Ke8 46. Qg8+ and the only escape route is by 46...Kd7

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But this allows 47. Rxd3+, grabbing a crucial passed pawn with check. 47...Kc8 48. Rxd8+ Bxd8 and this is the position on the board:

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♕,♖ ♙♙♙♙♙ v ♕♗♘♙♙♙.

That whole line is not too hard to see. That was why the adjourned position was agreed a draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I like this position, after 15...axb5:

click for larger view


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Kortschnoi played 32.b4. Keene says that this was en error, giving Black a passed pawn for no reason.

Towards the time control things start to look bad for White.

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He plays a last, very clever bid for salvation, based on Qh6 followed by Ne4!, which deflects the ♘f6 from the defence of the h-pawn. *****
Does anyone know why Karpov played

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28...Kh8? It seems a bit early in the game to be a time-trouble move.

Jan-07-17  Howard: Karpov no doubt would have won this game if he'd had White. Once he was the exchange up, he'd just play in his dry, technical style and just patiently wrap up the win.

The comments by Keene and Chandler, by the way, appeared in Chess Life & Review. In my opinion, they were typical of the biased coverage that Keene and Stean gave of this match, not to mention the Korchnoi-Spassky match in late 1977.

Sep-17-17  Howard: Just looked at the December, 1978 issue of CL&R earlier today. The issue doesn't mention any forced wins for Karpov, though I do recall reading a couple times in other sources that Karpov missed excellent winning chances just before the adjournment.

Perhaps Stean and Keene (Korchnoi's seconds) didn't want to admit that Karpov probably should have won. Their coverage of this match was blatantly biased--no question about it. For example, regarding the adjournment, they remark that Korchnoi was upset during the game by the presence of that "hypnotist" in the audience who was trying to rattle Korchnoi. Now, was his presence really anything to be concerned about?

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