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Viktor Korchnoi vs Henrique Mecking
Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates Quarterfinal (1974), Augusta, GA USA, rd 7, Jan-27
Zukertort Opening: Grünfeld Reversed (A49)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-10-05  tjipa: Fantastic play by Mecking up to move 40! Absolutely marvelous knight manouvres that rendered Korchnoi helpless! In his new book, Chess Without Mercy, Korchnoi writes about this game (I translate from Russian): 7th game turned out tragically for Mecking. He showed great ingenuity. Energetically he took over the initiative, and when the game was adjourned he had a spare pawn and good chances to win. Then it turned out that his secret pre-adjournement move was not very good. As was his home analysis, despite Ulf Andersson being in his team. I offered a draw, he declined. Soon my passed pawn became unstoppable.
Aug-07-10  Marmot PFL: Best to win before the ending,
Else a loss is surely pending.
Feb-22-11  wordfunph: Korchnoi was quoted in his CL&R article, "This ending, Mecking's second loss, once again confirmed the weakness of his endgame technique and the incompleteness of his home analysis."
Feb-22-11  Everett: <"This ending, Mecking's second loss, once again confirmed the weakness of his endgame technique and the incompleteness of his home analysis.">

The reason why Bronstein did not make it to the top. Those champions who did not have natural and outstanding technique in the ending had to become analytical beasts, such as Alekhine, Botvinnik and Kasparov. These three were all very good, but IMO a level down from Smyslov, Fischer, Karpov and perhaps Kramnik (when he's on).

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett> In your group of Smyslov et al, I would certainly also number Capablanca, for without his contributions (and Kasparov's sometimes harsh criticisms of his approach in OMGP notwithstanding), Fischer could not have become the superb technician he was at his zenith, for all his greatness.
Feb-22-11  Everett: <perfidious> Absolutely! Capablanca and Lasker both belong in the Smyslov-Fischer-Karpov group.

How would you rank Anand's endgame? Of course it's amazing, but which group do you think he belongs in? As for others, like Spassky and Petrosian, where to put them?

Lasker-Capablanca-Smyslov-Fischer-Karpov at least should be in the top tier.

I feel like Anand is like Spassky with some work ethic.

Feb-22-11  TheFocus: <Everett> I have to disagree with you about Botvinnik's endgame strength.

Maybe you should go back and study Botvinnik's games and see how good of an endgame player he was.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett> Not sure what I'd do with Anand, but Petrosian was also a first-rate technician, and one might well be discussing him amongst the very greatest of the champions had he displayed more ambition and less of a safety-first approach.

Of course, when evaluating the contributions of the greatest top-class players (as best this ordinary player can, anyway!), all this is quite a lot of hair-splitting, for even 'ordinary' 2550 GMs (an oxymoron if there ever were one) display strength in all phases of the game.

Feb-24-11  Everett: <TheFocus> Maybe you should see if much of his stellar endgame technique came after extensive and accurate analysis of adjourned positions. This was a particular strength of his.

I hold to the idea Kasparov would not have won many of his endgame advantages vs Karpov if it were not for extensive homework. I feel similarly regarding Botvinnik's endgame prowess. In short, his was more studied than natural. Certainly strong in both areas, but given a format of match games with no adjournments, he would clearly not be in my top 5 of champions in this area.

Feb-24-11  M.D. Wilson: The best endgame players of the Olden Days (pre-1950s) were Rubinstein, Capablanca and Lasker.

The best endgame players from 1950-1995-ish were Korchnoi, Fischer and Karpov.

Kramnik and Carlsen are the premier endgame masters of this era, although and GMs from all eras have mastered all aspects of the game, including the endgame, some players stand out from the crowd.

Feb-24-11  Everett: <perfidious> <M.D.Wilson> <TheFocus> Your points are well taken. Thanks for adding to the discussion. I for one look forward to the day when I can simply enjoy the games and stop ranking players in various categories.

<M.D.Wilson> No Smyslov? What do you think of Anand's play in this area?

<Everyone> I've been through some games of Alexey Dreev; though not in the top echelon of players nowadays his endgame is one of the best around.

Feb-24-11  TheFocus: <Everett> <TheFocus> <Maybe you should see if much of his stellar endgame technique came after extensive and accurate analysis of adjourned positions. This was a particular strength of his.>

Truthfully, it would be hard to disagree with this statement.

I would say that his great endgame prowess helped him in his analysis of adjourned positions; but on the other hand, the analysis of these positions greatly INCREASED his ability to play for and into those positions, and to do well once he got into them.


Feb-24-11  M.D. Wilson: Smyslov should be on any list! He was certainly one of the best. Not sure about Anand, his style is more along the lines of Spassky and Tal, although he's a great technician. I'd rank Kramnik above Anand in the endgame, but only just.
Feb-24-11  TheFocus: <M.D. Wilson> I think that Silman was right when he put Smyslov in the top 5 ever of endgame specialists.

You can gain some valuable rating points by a careful study of Smyslov's games and definitely increase that endgame knowledge.

Feb-25-11  M.D. Wilson: Smyslov's game flows like water and his games are very easy to learn from, unlike, say, Botvinnik and Petrosian.

My list of best endgames players, in no particular order, would be: Rubinstein, Lasker, Capablanca, Smyslov, Korchnoi, Fischer, Karpov, Kramnik. There's no way that I could give the best five, as all of these players were so evenly matched, but it's fun to compare!

Feb-25-11  bubuli55: perhaps 37...Nf5.

37...Nh5 made that a-pawn a giant

not a good idea Black left himself outnumbered on the Qside when W's only win is thru that a-pawn

Mar-01-11  M.D. Wilson: Anyway, how is Mecking these days?
Nov-16-11  Robeson: "Maybe you should see if much of [Botvinnik's] stellar endgame technique came after extensive and accurate analysis of adjourned positions. This was a particular strength of his."

I see. So you're saying the "top" endgame players you mentioned didn't bother to analyze their adjourned games? Someone's wrong here, I think.

Nov-16-11  Robeson: "The best endgame players from 1950-1995-ish were Korchnoi, Fischer and Karpov."

This would come as an extraordinary surprise to Smyslov, who was certainly a stronger and more natural endgame player than Korchnoi. I think the GMs who played with Petrosian would also question why he isn't among this group.

Nov-16-11  King Death: <Robeson> I remember Joel Benjamin commenting on Korchnoi's exceptional prowess in the endings in an interview a long time ago. He would be one to know. Smyslov belongs in this group without a doubt. The problem is that there's always going to be someone left out when these lists come up. Petrosian's skills were undoubted too for anyone who's studied his games.
Nov-16-11  AnalyzeThis: You need to have killer instinct and the skills and technique to back it up.
Jan-05-12  M.D. Wilson: Note my correction on Feb-24-11 re Smyslov, Robeson. Petrosian was a great endgame player of course, but so was Spassky.
Mar-14-15  offramp: There is an appropriate phrase Russian players used to use:

<"Western players are Grandmasters in the openings, Masters in the middle game and beginners in the ending.">

Sep-10-16  cehertan: Without the benefit of computer checking I think 37...Nf5 was inferior due to Nb7-xa5 with back rank mate hanging.
Dec-20-17  offramp:

click for larger view

22. a3 Nc6!
Some time later on another part of the board...

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Black's bishop on b6 is attacked.
27...Ba5! People like me might think that the White king is "in a mating net" created by the bishops on b6 and h3. Of course that is a load of hooey. Mecking doesn't try to create an attack out of thin air, he carries on making positional gains.

click for larger view

Mecking played 36...Nxg3. There was probably time-trouble around this point.
He could have played 36...Rxd3 37. Rxe4 Rxa3, but with all the pawns on the same side that looks drawn.
After 36..Nxg3 Korchnoi could have played the desperado 37. Ne5!=
Mecking's adjournment analysis seems to have been faulty. He goes downhill quickly.

click for larger view

51. Rd4! the only move to win.

Superb game.

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