My column this week reflects on players whose careers have spanned multiple generations, and I focus on the great Viktor Korchnoi in particular. He became a grandmaster in the 1950s, a Candidate for the first time in the early 1960s, and as recently as 2011, shortly before turning 80, he managed to defeat - nay, crush! - no less a player than Fabiano Caruana. Have a look.
Entries in Viktor Korchnoi (10)
Hopefully. There have been a couple of false alarms since he suffered a stroke two or three years ago, but apparently things are going well enough for Viktor Korchnoi that he's going to try facing fellow octogenarian Wolfgang Uhlmann in a rapid match in Zurich. Their match will be a side event to the Zurich Chess Challenge, a six-player single round robin with Caruana, Anand, Nakamura, Kramnik, Aronian and Karjakin.
The documentary film Chess: A State of Mind came out in 1986 and was written by British IM William Hartston. This (almost) 30-minute piece offers a recap of the world championship from Paul Morphy (not an official champion) through the beginning of the Garry Kasparov era. It goes from Morphy through Boris Spassky pretty quickly, and then takes its time with Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. Viktor Korchnoi gets a lot of air time in the Karpov segment, and both Korchnoi and Spassky have a bit of fun at Karpov's expense.
Young whippersnappers should watch for the history lesson, and oldsters should watch for the nostalgia.
Even though he has withdrawn from competitive chess as far as I know, Korchnoi is still in good enough shape to play exhibition matches. He won two games against Uhlmann in Leipzig this weekend. (Uhlmann is only 6 years younger, but still played in the Bundesliga two years ago and in Snowdrops vs Old Hands last year.) Here are the games with annotations in German.
Thank you for passing that along, and for others' convenience I've posted the games here for reply and download.
According to the Zurich Christmas Open website, Viktor Korchnoi had to cancel his participation in the tournament due to health reasons. Here's the Google Translate version:
Unfortunately, Viktor Korchnoi can not fulfill his wish of participating in the traditional tournament. Health reasons force him to stay at home. We wish him a speedy recovery and all the best in the coming year.
For those of you looking to get your fix of old-timey chess players, Anatoly Karpov and Jan Timman are playing a four-game rapid (40' + 30") match. Game 1 was played earlier today and was drawn in a fairly dull game, thanks to Karpov's unfortunate but understandable continued advocacy of the Scandinavian with 3...Qd8.
Here's some good news for chess fans this Christmas season: it appears that Viktor "The Terrible" Korchnoi is resuming his chess career. According to Chessdom (HT: Brian Gaines), he will be playing in the 37th Zurich Christmas Open from December 26-30. (The "Day After Christmas Open"?) Korchnoi suffered a stroke about a year ago, and it was thought that the (now) 82-year-old's competitive career was at an end. So to all of you who grew up with Korchnoi as a strong or even elite GM - and that's just about everyone between the ages of five and 75 - be heartened and inspired that the great warrior of the chessboard will fight on.
Well, it's happy news that Viktor Korchnoi is recovering from a stroke; the unhappy part is that he has to recover in the first place. Let's hope (and, to my fellow believers, pray) for a positive outcome.
Viktor Korchnoi recently had a terrible performance in the Swiss Championship: he played poorly, behaved listlessly and his playing from a wheelchair all combined to look like the beginning of the end. Although he's still in the wheelchair and is unfortunately unlikely to get springy like a teenager, he played quite reasonably in a recent event. The Geneva Chess Club created a norm event for five aspirants in a double round-robin Scheveningen event against the "Legends" team comprised of five former Candidates ranging in age from 57 (Kevin Spraggett) to 81 (Korchnoi). All the Legends outscored their opponents, but all the CEGers made (generally slight) rating gains while all the Legends suffered (generally slight) rating losses. Korchnoi, Spraggett and Zoltan Ribli each went 7/10; Ulf Andersson scored 6.5 and Vlastimil Hort only managed to get 5.5 points. The big success for the CEG team was Lars Rindlisbacher, whose 4 point total was good for an IM norm.
Back to Korchnoi: his 2499 TPR was a little below his 2519 rating, but stopped the bleeding and suggests that he is again adapting and continuing the fight. Long may he live, long may he fight!
This isn't good. It looks like the hitherto seemingly ageless wonder, Viktor Korchnoi, is finally really slowing down (HT: Thomas Richter). His performance in the Swiss Championship was a disaster, and he was listless and playing in a wheelchair. He is 81, it's true, but even a year and half or two ago he was still vigorous and playing excellent chess, even managing to defeat Fabiano Caruana in last year's Gibraltar tournament.
We all slow down at some point, and must finally give up the ghost and meet our maker. But I for one am hoping Korchnoi can rally at least one more time and stick around the world chess scene a few years more.