Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Week Korchnoi Died

It must be a sign that I'm getting old, but I seem to be noticing the deaths of a number of my childhood heroes recently. David Bowie's death earlier this year was terrible. And from a chess perspective, I was hit with almost the same gut wrenching feeling when I heard Viktor Korchnoi had died earlier this week.

I started playing chess in the post Fischer time when it was all about the golden boy of Russian chess, Karpov, versus the rebellious Korchnoi. I have to say that I was enthralled by the play of both players. Karpov's handling of simple positions, and endgames, is still a mystery to me, while Korchnoi's willingness to defend ugly positions was amazing. I was just beginning to get interested in the world of chess, and chess theory and ideas, between their first and second matches. And while I've read about how close the 1974 ans 1978 matches were, unfortunately it was the 1981 match, convincingly won by Karpov which first really attracted my attention. Still, it didn't stop me following the play of both players, and looking at many of their games since then.

Korchnoi was truly an inspiration, his career spanning over 50 years, of which 30 were with him near the top of the game. And he just didn't stop playing! I can kind of understand that a player doesn't want to linger after his best, and might move on to other things. I understand it, but I don't personally subscribe to that sort of way of thinking. Like Korchnoi, I'll be playing chess as long as I'm healthy to do so, and if I can't play, then I'll read about, or study, the game.

There have been loads of tributes to Viktor Korchnoi this written this week, and I'm sure there'll be many more. My personal favourite of those I've read was the very personal tribute by Frederic Friedel on Chessbase.

Meanwhile, the MCC Monday night tournament, the City of Melbourne Open, continues without me, and it looks as if I won't be playing any more games in this tournament. The tournament is currently headed by FM Domagoj Dragicevic who beat Vishal Bhat in round 7. Dragicevic is now on 6.5/8, a point clear of the field. FM Greg Canfell, Mehmedalija Dizdarevic, Ray Yang and Tristan Krstevski are all on 5.5, with Vishal the only player on 5. There is then a big group on 4.5 but with only 2 rounds to go, it's really looking like Domagoj will be tough to stop.

And finally, I saw a post on Chesschat, the chess bulletin board, by Brian Jones asking for players to join the Correspondence Chess League of Australia (CCLA). So I decide to give it it a go, and will report on how things are going here. It's been about 30 years since I last tried to play correspondence chess but I didn't have the patience, and gave it up after not much time. Now I feel better prepared for it, and I also get the chance to represent Australia rather than England, where my FIDE rating is set.

Korchnoi-Larsen 1968 (from chess network company)

Finally, as a tribute to Viktor Korchnoi, I've been showing kids one of his games this week, a quick win against Larsen from Brussels 1987. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment