Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Korchnoi Wins Caro-Kann Defence

Viktor L. Korchnoi was a grandmaster for 60 years from 1956 until his death in 2016 at age 85. GM Korchnoi was one of the strongest players in history to not become the world champion. He played for the championship three times in 1974, 1978 and 1981. Each time Korchnoi lost to Karpov by a small margin. Korchnoi was famous as a counter attacker. I studied hundreds of his games. He was more dangerous as Black than White.

One of the openings that Korchnoi and I both played as Black was the Caro-Kann Defence. My database has over 100 of his Caro-Kann games. He played all the variations, 80% of the time as Black. He preferred the classical main line 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5. Korchnoi also played 4...Nd7 and 4...Nf6 many times.

What I remember from the 1970s was his play with 4…Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6. True, Korchnoi played 5…gxf6 as well, but what amazed me was that he played 5…exf6 at all! In my thinking, the line gives Black a likely lost endgame. Indeed I have won many endgames as White. Korchnoi accomplished his own successful middlegame attacks as Black with 5…exf6. This made 5…exf6 more playable in his hands. Here is his win vs Eugenio Torre in the Caro-Kann Defence 5.Nxf6+ exf6 line.

Torre (2490) - Korchnoi (2665), Buenos Aires olm 1978 begins 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ exf6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.Be2 [Or 7.Bd3 0-0 8.0-0 Bg4=] 7...Na6 8.0-0 Nc7 9.c4 0-0 10.Be3 Re8 11.Qd2 [11.Qc2 g6 12.Rfe1 Bf5=] 11...Bf5 12.Rad1 Be4 13.Qc1 h6 14.Nd2 Bh7 15.Bf3 f5 16.Nb3 g5 17.Na5 g4 18.Be2 Bb4 19.Nxb7 Qc8 20.Nc5 f4 21.Bxg4 [White could get three pawns for a piece with 21.Nd3! Bxd3 22.Bxd3 fxe3 23.fxe3 Be7 24.Bf5 Qd8 25.Bxg4=] 21...Qxg4 22.Bxf4 Ne6 23.Be3 Rad8 24.Nd3 [24.Nxe6 Rxe6 25.Bxh6 Rxd4=/+] 24...Bd6 25.Ne5 Bxe5 26.dxe5 Bd3 27.f3 Qxc4 28.Qxc4 Bxc4 29.Rxd8 Nxd8 30.Rd1 Bxa2 31.Bxa7 [31.Rd6 f6 32.Rxf6 Rxe5-/+] 31...Bd5 32.f4 Ne6 33.Be3 h5 [33...Rb8!-+] 34.h3 Rb8 35.Rd2 Rb3 36.Kf2 h4 37.Rc2 Bxg2 0-1

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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