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Anatoly Karpov vs Viktor Korchnoi
Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1981), Merano ITA, rd 2, Oct-03
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Rio de Janeiro Variation (C67)  ·  1-0



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Anatoly Karpov vs Viktor Korchnoi (1981)

Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-19-08  The Ninth Pawn: From Game Collection: The Ninth Pawn's Chess Course :

In Karpov vs Korchnoi, 1981 , White plays 35. ♖a5x♙a7! winning a pawn because the queen is NOT a defender, rather it is meeting the threat of 36. ♕e1x♘e6+, with decisive material gains.

Jul-19-08  Some call me Tim: 34...f6 was certainly a blunder especially since the a-pawn won the game for White and would not have been passed but for Black's mistake. Worst ever? Many candidates for that.
Jul-20-08  ravel5184: How about Fischer's ... Bxh2?? in Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (Game 1)
Jan-16-09  M.D. Wilson: <How about Fischer's ... Bxh2?? in Fischer vs. Spassky, 1972 (Game 1)> With precise play, Fischer could have held the draw. But he couldn't. Bxh2 was more Bobby clutching at straws than a complete oversight.
Jan-16-09  acirce: Yes, it was a complete oversight. Not the worst in WCh history though, obviously.
Jan-16-09  M.D. Wilson: I think, acirce, if you take a look at the literature and current analysis, Bxh2 wasn't a complete oversight. Before Bxh2, the position was drawn. It couldn't be a complete oversight, if, with precise play, Fischer could still obtain a draw. Fischer failed to do so, however, but the move itself is not losing.
Jan-16-09  acirce: <It couldn't be a complete oversight, if, with precise play, Fischer could still obtain a draw.>

I've heard the same reasoning before, but even if it's true that it was still objectively a draw, of course that doesn't mean it wasn't an oversight! He simply missed that the bishop would be trapped and he would be a piece down. A move that takes you from a dead equal and easily drawn position to a position that is extremely hard to save but might still be a draw with absolutely perfect play is of course a big blunder.

By your logic, blundering the knight by playing ..Nd4 in this position is not a "complete oversight" since it miraculously remains a draw:

click for larger view

Jan-16-09  M.D. Wilson: Psychologically it might be considered an "oversight" and is certainly unnecessary in a drawn position, but the move Bxh2 is not an oversight in itself, as I have explained above. The reasoning is out there for those interested. The moves required to retain the draw are difficult to conjure, so in fact the move is more foolish and strange than an oversight. An oversight implies a failure to understand the dynamics of the position, which is something you wouldn't expect from Fischer; the desire to create action and unlikely winning chances, in spite of the draw, is more a sign of Fischer's stubborness and single-mindedness, elements of his personality that ultimately destroyed his chess career.
Jan-16-09  acirce: Nonsense, in my humble opinion, just like it would be nonsense to claim that ..Nd4 in my diagram is not a huge blunder. Besides, I <have> taken a look at the literature. For example, some guy called Kasparov says in OMGP IV that the position only turned from objectively won for White to objectively drawn after Spassky's inaccurate 36.a4. Others disagree, of course; I doubt if the definite truth will ever be established. Anyway, Fine says that Fischer had told him personally that he simply miscalculated and thought that the bishop would escape. I don't know for certain if it's true but it's definitely the most plausible explanation. How that doesn't count as a big oversight is beyond me.
Jan-19-09  M.D. Wilson: You completely missed the second half of what I wrote. What of "The desire to create action and unlikely winning chances, in spite of the draw, is more a sign of Fischer's stubborness and single-mindedness, elements of his personality that ultimately destroyed his chess career." doesn't make sense. It's plausible, is it not?
Jan-21-09  acirce: What makes you think I missed it? No amount of "desire to create action" etc etc would have made him play ..Bxh2?? if he had not made a horrible oversight in his calculations.

He blundered a piece. Happens to everyone at times. That's all there is to it.

May-23-09  WhiteRook48: 35 Rxa7!
Oct-02-09  WhiteRook48: 34...f6 was basically the root of Korchnoi's trouble
Oct-16-10  BarcelonaFirenze: You know, I always thought that Ficher's Bxh2 was not a miscalculation. I really think that he was so convinced of his superior strength over Spassky that he could afford losing a game in order to show his willingness to held the initiative in all the aspects of the match.
Oct-17-10  Petrosianic: A lot of people try to rationalize all his blunders away that way. (they weren't really blunders at all). It's a part of The Cult of Fischer. The problem, in this particular case, at least, is that we have it on Fischer's authority that it was in fact a blunder.
Oct-17-10  BarcelonaFirenze: Ok, but he told in the 1992 match press conference that he was trying to get winning chances in an apparent draw position... But of course, Fischer was a human and he could blunder like any other else... Although it is true that he blundered less than others great champions.
Jun-01-11  Catfriend: No doubt the worst blunder in the history of World championships is Chigorin vs Steinitz, 1892 with Chigorin ruining his best chance in life with a single move, missing a mate in 2.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: This is a very poor choice of variations against Karpov. In this variation black has weaknesses and hopes his counterplay counterbalances them.

Two of Karpov's strengths are exploiting positional weaknesses and stifling counterplay. Korchnoi played right into them.

Oct-13-15  Everett: Karpov could not have been expecting the Berlin Ruy, so one can at least tentatively assume that the play is not theoretical or home prep of any kind.

That said, though there is all the talk about the blunder ..f6 which loses immediately, it is important to note that Karpov is in complete command of this position. Look at the pieces, the squares, etc. Korchnoi was under a bit of stress here, and may have made a different blunder on the next move.

Anyone check the position after White's 34th with a program?

Oct-14-15  Sally Simpson: World Championship blunders!

Yes 34...f6 is a blunder in a very difficult position.

Karpov adjourned to win it. (hence the wee shiggle-shuggle on moves 37-39 to get closer to move 40.)

For a Blunder with a capital 'B' we want one where the player making the blunder resigns the moment he sees what he has done.

We have a candidate in:

Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908

click for larger view

Tarrasch played 26.Nd4 and Lasker played 26....Bxd4 0-1 (White's back rank is hanging.)

Not only did Tarrasch resign after 26...Bxd4 but it was the last move of the match. This blunder ended the match in Lasker favour.

May-12-18  yureesystem: A horrible blunder by Korchnoi,34..f6?? 35.Rxa7 Qxa7 36.Qxe6+ Kf8 37.Qxc8 wins, at best Korchnoi lose an important a-pawn and the game.
Feb-29-20  Ulhumbrus: If the move 15 Nf5 counts as a threat one alternative to 14...Bd7 is 14...Nxd4
Oct-29-20  fisayo123: Korchnoi was already pretty much toast before the blunder. His position was much worse with Karpov having a "+2" advantage.

The middlegame play by white is textbook Karpov were he seems to make non-commital manuvuers and little pawn moves as his opponents position gradually crumbles.

Oct-03-21  Catur Proklamasi: Greetings from Indonesia, my country!

This is the second match of the World Chess Championship between Anatoly Karpov vs Viktor Korchnoi which was played in Merano , Italy on 3 October 1981 exactly 40 years ago .

And now October 3, 2021 is the 40th Birth Day of this party being played.

Be the first to remind this party's Birth Day

Jun-29-22  cormier: depth=33 | Komodo 2901.00
+0.91 19. b3 Nf8 20. Rc1 Qe7 21. c4 Be6 22. Nd4 dxc4 23. Nxc6 Qa3 24. bxc4 Rac8 25. Nxa7 Rxc4 26. Nb5 Qa4 27. Rxc4 Bxc4 28. Nc3 Qa6 29. Rd1 Ra8 30. f4 Qa5 31. Qd4 Re8 32. Bf2 Bxa2 33. Ra1
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