Victor Korchnoi, who died last week, would probably have become World Champion at some point, had he not been a Soviet dissident who regularly incurred the wrath of the authorities and was denied many opportunities to travel freely to important international events, and who, he asserted, devised subtle ways to prevent him winning any of his World Championship matches. The story up to 1977 was told in his autobiography, Chess Is My Life, but the shenanigans continued beyond that until he eventually escaped the Soviets’ clutches and settled in Switzerland.
He was particularly good with the Black pieces, often favouring the French Defence. This was a typical example, that he listed in his book My Best Games Vol. 2 – Games With Black. (Edition Olms – 2001). Notes much condensed from those in the book.
White: Dr. J. Nunn. Black: V. Korchnoi.
World Team Championship 1985
French Defence – Advance Variation.
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Be3 Black aims to create pressure on d4 a.s.a.p. 7…cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bc5 9.Qd2 Bxd4 This series of moves that Black now makes quickly leads to an endgame position. 10.Bxd4 Nxd4 11.Qxd4 Qb6 12.Qxb6 Nxb6 (Having lost to him earlier in the year at Wijk aan Zee Korchnoi had a great respect for John Nunn as an attacker and sought to keep things relatively simple by exchanging pieces). 13.0–0–0 Another good move in this position is 13…h4 introduced by Kasparov in the 1990s. Bd7 14.Bd3 h5 Limiting White’s chances of advancing the kingside pawns. 15.Ne2 Ke7 16.Nd4 g6 17.g3 Preventing an immediate f4. 17…Bc6 18.Rde1 Nd7 19.c3 Rag8 20.Rhf1 g5! 21.f5 g4! Possibly it was this move that Nunn overlooked – Black will inevitably open the h-file for his rooks. It is also important for him to secure the g5 square, to have the possibility of attacking the e5 pawn from the side. 22.Re2 h4 23.b4 hxg3 24.hxg3 Ba4 25.Kb2 Rh3 26.Rg1 Rgh8? Better was 26…Rc8 after which White has no active moves and Black can develop his offensive. 27.Ka3 Rc8 28.Kb2? This move concedes the initiative for good. 28…a6 29.Rgg2 intending to exchange the rook on h3. 29…Bd1 30.Re3? Losing. 30…Nb6 31.Rf2 Rh1! Weaving a mating net around White’s king. 32.fxe6 fxe6 33.Rf1 Na4+ 34.Kc1 Rxc3+ 0-1. If, for example, 35.Nc2 then …Rxf1 36.Bxf1 Rxc2+ 37.Kxd1 Rxa2 etc.
Last weekend, Devon lost 5-9 to Essex in the National semi-finals of the U-180 championship. Full details next week.
Last week’s study by Troitsky was won by 1.f6! Black is forced to take it …gxf6. 2.Kxg2 Kf4 and the key move is 3.a4 forcing an outside passed pawn that Black cannot prevent from queening 3…bxa3 4.bxa3 etc. though careful play is still required with the queen as Black will have 4 pawns all advancing.
Here is another pawn-only study, this time by the Swiss, Samuel Isenegger (1899-1964). White to move and clearly he can queen quickly, but so can Black.
How is this resolved?