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Werner Hug vs Viktor Korchnoi
SUI (1978)
Zukertort Opening: Queen's Gambit Invitation (A04)  ·  0-1



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Given 11 times; par: 34 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: What a marvelous game by Korchnoi. We went over this game in a book I had brought with me from home. SUPER!!!

What was the losing move?
I am thinking about annotating this game for one of my chess web sites.

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: This game is now deeply annotated on my big Geo-Cities chess web site. (Look for the link on my "Annotated Games" page.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  samvega: omigod what a fantastic combination
Premium Chessgames Member
  Zenchess: AJ, thanks for the annotations; Korchnoi is one of my favorite players. Here is the link:

Here are my impressions of this game:

--9. d4?! is questionable; see AJ's notes of this game on his site. I would add that 9. b3! was better because White can capture if Black goes ...b5. White is better here.

--14. Rc1?! was another sloppy move; what about 14. e3!? This protects the Knight so the Queen can move off d1. White can follow with 15. Ne4 and Qh5 targeting h7 after the Nf6 is exchanged or driven away. If Black then plays ...f6 to stop Ng5, White can play Bh3 to tie Black's pieces down to the newly-weakened e6 pawn.

--I think that playing e3 on move 14 is better than on move 15; AJ's 15. e3 line is not as good (but still equal) because the Q still has to guard the Rc1. The idea behind e3 is to free the White queen to roam around and provoke weaknesses.

--I agree with AJ's criticism of 15. Nf3; White trades off a perfectly active N for an unguarded N that is blocking Black's e6 pawn from advancing.

--On move 17, Chess Tiger 15 disagrees with most other comps and recommends 17. a3 Bc6 which it considers Black a quarter of a pawn better. But after I feed it 17. Ne4, its evals equalize. It agrees with Korchnoi's criticisms of 17. Qb3 and gives Black almost a half a pawn advantage.

Is this Korchnoi's immortal game or is there one better than this?

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: Korchnoi played many games better than this. Have you ever seen his game versus Tal ... where it looks like Tall is playing like Korchnoi ... and visa-versa?
Jun-12-05  aw1988: I think this is a KIA, not a Reti.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Everett: Great combination, yet I find 9..b5 the most intriguing, refuting the natural 9.d4
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: The link has moved:
the new (correct) link would be:
Jun-13-16  jith1207: After the game, Did Viktor the Terrible give Werner a hug, or Did Viktor the Terrible give Hug a Sterner?
Dec-11-17  SpiritedReposte: A slept on gem.
Sep-27-20  offramp: <Virtual Hug>.
Sep-07-21  Gaito: This game is game number 400 in Korchnoi's famous book "Korchnoi's 400 Best Games 1946-1978". In his brief comments, Korchnoi attached the sign !? (interesting) to the move 9...b5. Curiously enough, the move 9...b5 is the move chosen by Stockfish 14, but the evaluation given by the engine is equal. (See diagram below).

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The Swiss master Werner Hug did not accept the pawn (10.Nxb5), probably fearing some deep opening preparation by Korchnoi, and so played 10.Qd3. But the engine assures that 10.Nxb5 was a good move for White, and probably his best choice. A likely continuation might have been 10.Nxb5! Na5 11.Qa4 Rb8 12.Bd2 Rxb5 13.Ne5! and White will presently regain his piece with a comfortable game (see diagram below):

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Further there might follow 13...a6 (if 13...Rb4 14.Qc2! gives White the advantage) 14.Nxd7 Nxd7 15.dxc5! Bxc5 16.Bc3 Qb6 17.Rac1 O-O 18.b4 with equality (Computer evaluation by SF14: +0.36). See diagram below:

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Sep-07-21  Gaito: From the last diagram of my previous note, further there might follow 18...Bxb4 19.Bxb4 Rxb4 20.Qxd7, and the position looks quite drawish (evaluation by SF14: +0.19). See diagram below:

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Sep-07-21  Gaito: Up to move 16 the Swiss International Master Werner Hug played very correct chess against "the terrible Viktor". Actually both masters played without noticeable mistakes from the viewpoint of the chess engines, so that the following equal position was reached just before White's 17th turn:

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The engine (SF14) suggests that now White play 17.Ne4 with total equality (computer evaluation: 0.00). But it was here that Hug made the first mistake in the game by playing 17.Qb3? This move changed the engine's evaluation from 0.00 to -1.45.

Sep-07-21  Gaito: As a matter of fact, Korchnoi (obviously without the aid of any engine) made the same comment, attaching the sign "?!" (dubious) to the move 17.Qb3, and suggesting instead 17.Ne4 Bc6 18.Qe1 with equality. Perhaps Korchnoi wanted to be politically correct, and so used the symbol "?!" when in fact the symbol "?" shoud have been used, because the move 17.Qb3 was a clear mistake.
Sep-07-21  savagerules: Never saw this game before but 24...Qe2 is odd and outstanding. Viktor was at his peak in the mid to late 1970s. I see the old comments and wonder what AJ is up to these days.
Sep-07-21  Gaito:

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Again, Korchnoi's brief annotations more or less agree with what the modern engines think. In this position 18.Ne4? was a serious mistake. White should have retreated the attacked knight to its home square b1, whrereupon Korchnoi was intent on playing Qa6 (SF14 believes that Qa5 was even better, for the reason explained below). The engine's evaluation after 18.Nb1! Qa6?! 19.Bxf6 gxf6 is only -0.38 (equality), in comparison to 18...Qa5! 19.Bxf6 Bxf6! (evaluation: -1.25). Naturally enough, Black's queen at a5 protects tha b4 pawn, whereas at a6 she does not.

Sep-07-21  Gaito: 18.Ne4?? deserved two question marks, not just one. But again, Korchnoi presumably did not wish to be impolite with the Swiss master, because Korchnoi was looking forward to be accepted as a Swiss citizen. I may be wrong, that's only a personal opinion. But in those years Korchnoi was worried by some issues that had nothing to do with chess, like his son being withheld in the Soviet Union without a chance to let him get out of that country.
Sep-07-21  Gaito:

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In this position White played 22.Qd1.
Korchnoi gives the following variation in his book: 22.Rxc8+ Bxc8 23.Qd1 (diagram)

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23...Qxf3+!! 24.exf3 Nf2+ winning outright.

Sep-07-21  Gaito:

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Solution: 23...Bc6!! 24.Bxb4 Qxe2!! 25.Bxe2 Ng3++ 26.Kg1 Nxe2+ and wins (see diagram)

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A wonderful game by Korchnoi with a neat finish.

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