Talk:Viktor Korchnoi

Active discussions

Best player ?Edit

I've inserted "sometimes" into the assertion that Korchnoi is reckoned to be the best player never to be world champ - plenty of others have been called that (Keres and Rubinstein are the two that come immediately to mind, I'm sure there are more). Also, were Korch and Karpov really "friends" when they played in '74? I thought they'd always been mortal enemies, but I could well be wrong. --Camembert

Malathion 22:31, 15 Apr 2005 (UTC) I think it's pretty clear that Anand is the strongest player never to be world champion, although I guess that has yet to be determined. I'm removing this line, as it seems to be too controversial.
Isofarro 17:06, 25 Feb 2005 (GMT) Karpov and Korchnoi had a private training match together before the the 1972/4 candidates cycle (Korchnoi was invited by Karpov/his group). That would suggest they were on good terms at that point (I remember reading about this in a chessbook about Karpov or Korchnoi, but can't remember which one!). Correction: From Anatoly Karpov - Chess is my life p52: "I appeared in my second USSR Championship after winning one of the Semi-Finals in the Latvian town of Daugavpils [1971]. That qualifying tournament had shown that I was clearly superior to the semi-final level, and was no longer a novice grandmaster, but a real, fully-fledged one. In addition, I had behind me a secret training match with Korchnoi. A match, which had ended in a draw, and shown me things were not as difficult as might have been expected."
  • Something interesting just cropped up in Korchnoi's "Chess is my Life" autobiography. Karpov and Korchnoi played a secret training match, where Korchnoi had White in one game, and Black in the other five games of the six game match. I wonder if that is the same match as identified above? As far as I can tell both players won a game, with the rest drawn. Korchnoi also informed Karpov of the exact variation he would play, allowing Karpov to study that variation. This was part of a match designed to improve Korchnoi's match playing style. That's an interesting twist. Isofarro 11:31 30 April 2006.
Isofarro 17:06, 25 Feb 2005 (GMT) As far as I can identify, the relationship starting cooling rapidly on the 1974 Candidates final when Karpov was favoured by the Soviet authorities and thus benefitting from better living quarters and his own choice of seconds. (Source: Korchnoi vs Spassky, Chess Crisis, by Raymond Keene, p12) There is also the accusations that Korchnoi received threats from angry chess fans, during that match, when he was close to winning the match - but I saw no evidence to suggest this was linked to Karpov.
I'de say he's quite possibly the strongest non champion, but it's so hard to tell, for it could also be Keres, Rubinstein, Najdorf, Larsen, Short, Reschevsky, Chigorin, Marshall, Schlechter, Tarrasch, Nimzovitch, Reuben Fine, or Flohr. (talk) 12:33, 14 June 2008 (UTC)

I know, as the article says, that it is "oft repeated", and I'm not really doubting its veracity, but could we perhaps give a source supporting the "can I castle when my rook is attacked" story? In particular, could we give the source in which Korchnoi himself confirmed the story? --Camembert

  • Its mentioned hear. [1] 22:25, 30 September 2005 (UTC)
  • Game 21 of the 1974 Candidates Final, Korchnoi won in 19 moves. References [2] and [3] -- Isofarro 17:36 25 Feb 2006
  • In Korchnoi's Best Games, volume 1: Games with White, Game 19 is this win against Karpov. The annotation before 18. O-O! "The last trap: ...Nf3+ is threatened, and White must remove his king from the centre. Fortunately, castling when the rook is en prise is permitted..." which is a tantalysing clue, if not a complete reference! Isofarro 17:51 25 Feb 2006
  • I'm pretty sure that the GM who got confused about the rules was Averbakh, not Korchnoi [4]. I semi-remember CJS Purdy's "Life and Games" book mentioning the incident, but I'm not sure of that. Phr 16:11, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
  • I've just got back from the Chess & Bridge book signing with Victor Korchnoi. I asked him specifically about the annotation above and whether that was the point he asked the match referee on whether he could castle in that position. Korchnoi confirmed that he did ask the match referee whether he could castle - he asked because the chess rules he grew up with were a bit unclear in whether castling was permitted when the rook was being attacked. There was a lot of anxiety around the game itself, so Korchnoi wanted to be sure before making the move - which was 18. O-O. Korchnoi's lecture later went through this game (21st game of Candidates Final, against Karpov), and retold the story, including the detail that the match referee he approached was Salo Flohr. Essentially, he'd never played in a position where this situation occurred before. Isofarro 16:00 29 April 2006
  • My notes of the lecture are here: Isofarro 11:26 30 April 2006

Karpov said his relationship with Korchnoi depended of Viktor's mood.


This article needs some help with sections and layout, rather than just being one big block of text. 17:16, 3 February 2006 (UTC)


Did his wife ever leave the Soviet Union? The article only talks about his son. AxelBoldt 00:28, 17 October 2006 (UTC)


Korchnoi took the opportunity of the match to publicize the situation of his wife and son, drafting an open letter to the Soviet government to release them both. This continuing effort likely led to his dismal performance as Karpov swept to victory in what was dubbed the "Massacre in Merano".


Good point. I've removed the linkage between the two events. Rocksong 04:15, 26 April 2007 (UTC)


I believe that the Korchnoi piece deserves "Top" importance rather than "High" on wiki's scale for chess. Bronstein and Keres also deserve "Top" importance, rather than "High", in my view, based on their achievements and status. And Portisch (which I am adding to) deserves to be boosted from "Mid" to "High", since Portisch was a top player for a very long period, with many impressive achievements.

Frank Dixon 14:02 (GMT +5), 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Nah, 'High' is about right for Korchnoi. He's no Capablanca or Kasparov. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:01, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

defection - soviet grandmasters condemning itEdit

There is no mention of the open letter from a number of proeminent soviet grandmasters (except bronstein, spassky and botvinnik, who refused to sign it - see David Bronstein) that condemned korchnoi for defecting. I think this is something interesting for the "defection" section, but sources needs to be found. (talk) 14:40, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

  • I agree. This would be a good thing to cover in the article. Quale (talk) 20:25, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Wow. he switched over to play for the swiss... he's cool. this shame should definitely be mentioned in his history.

  • This was first mentioned, so far as I know, in an interview I read in Chess Life & Review just after Korchnoi left the USSR, but I can't actually cite a source, so will leave it alone for the time being. Hushpuckena (talk) 05:07, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
There are two sources for the open letter : Korchnoi, Chess is my Life and Bronstein, The Sorcerer Apprentice.--Cbigorgne (talk) 07:56, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

This Article Needs AttentionEdit

A good place to begin is at the very start- Korchnoi and Karpov played two official matches for the title, not three, though I'll agree with anyone who recognises the 1974 candidates final as a de facto title bout.

There are numerous POV statements and instances of weasel words in text, which are apparent to me, even as I acknowledge that Korchnoi is one of my favourite players. Time for a heavy dose of NPOV for this piece. Hushpuckena (talk) 05:02, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

  • Also missing is much of his personal life outside of the world of Chess. -- (talk) 03:54, 7 June 2016 (UTC)

Importance Level?Edit

This article is rated High-Importance. In my opinion, it should be rated Top-Importance, unless there is a policy that only World Champions or the equivalent (Adolf Anderssen, Howard Staunton, Philidor) can be Top-Importance. Korchnoi played two matches for the World Championship (1978 and 1981), and a third de facto World Championship match in 1974, all against Karpov (Fischer forfeited his title after the 1974 K-K match, making Karpov the champion). He came within a hair's-breadth of winning, and thereby becoming World Champion, in 1974 and 1978. Chessmetrics ranks Korchnoi No. 1 in the world for four months at the end of 1965, and in the top 10 almost continuously from May 1956 to November 1990, a longevity record that no one besides the immortal Emanuel Lasker can touch. Krakatoa (talk) 13:19, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes, should be Top-Importance. --MrsHudson (talk) 13:33, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
It somewhat depends where you draw the line in the sand between Top and High. I do not care which side of the importance line this is in, although looking at criteria: "Top - Extremely important, even crucial, to its field, and very significant beyond it". crucial? Most likely not. Was his defection very signnificant? Similiar chess players are Aaron Nimzowitsch, Judith Polgar, Paul Keres. All high. High seems fine to me. SunCreator (talk) 14:31, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

More info on why Korchnoi was treated badly by the Soviet establishment?Edit

The article refers to this but doesn't really say why Korchnoi went out of favor. Guessing that it was because Karpov was well connected politically. Can anyone shed more light on this? ty66.25.177.117 (talk) 17:24, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

Wife and son?Edit

Did he ever see them again? Kingturtle = (talk) 02:53, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Effect of the Siege of Leningrad on KorchnoiEdit

The article Effect of the Siege of Leningrad on the city mentions Korchnoi as a survivor of the siege but his Wiki page has no mention of it. Other sources mention the fact, but go into little detail on how the siege affected his life, play, or ambition.[5][6]. This passage seems apropos:

It is not difficult to trace the roots of this voracious hunger. As a boy, Korchnoi lost his father in the war, and then had to survive the grotesque privations of the Siege of Leningrad. “A youngster can live anywhere because it’s his life, he has not seen anything else,” he says. “But it did get into my blood that I have to be alert, have to fight – whether against difficult conditions in life, or against authority. From the very beginning, I was forced to become a fighter. A fighter in life, and so a fighter in chess.”[7]

Is there a place for such info on his Wiki page? Joel.sbateman (talk) 05:44, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

Source for his deathEdit

Could those editing the article to say that Korchnoi has died today please provide a source? I believe it's customary to do so. I have done a quick Google search but could not find anything.--Pawnkingthree (talk) 16:02, 6 June 2016 (UTC)

As usual it's all over twitter before the mainstream news outlets report it, but there's this. [8]. More will follow, no doubt. MaxBrowne (talk) 16:14, 6 June 2016 (UTC)

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Family, etc.Edit

The following have more details about his wives, son and step-mother: (includes links to 7 other obituaries)

Press Association obit.:

Perhaps more can be added to the article from some of them. Mcljlm (talk) 02:53, 26 May 2018 (UTC)

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