Saturday, 31 March 2007
Chess in the attic, December 1983
I've been in the attic again, and this time it's December 1983; one of the most exciting months ever in the world of chess:
Earlier in the year, a 20 year old Garry Kasparov had romped through his first candidates match with Beliavsky, and seemed on an unstoppable march to the world crown.
In the semi-final matches, held that month in London, Kasparov had to face the great Viktor Korchnoi, whilst the other match remarkably brought together the hungarian Pinter Ribli and 62 year old Vassily Smyslov, some 26 years after he'd previously held the title.
With the matches in London, and Tony Miles beating World Champion Anatoly Karpov in the final of the much lamented BBC Mastergame, chess in the UK was buzzing.
To coincide with it all, a new chess newspaper was launched: Chess Express, promising news every fortnight and boasting an unbeatable array of feature columnists: Kasparov, Karpov, Nunn on endings, Speelman on the middlegame, and Keene on the openings. This was exciting and ambitious. Unfortunately too ambitious, and it folded after just 8 issues. On the bright side, it got me playing the Saemisch against the Nimzo-Indian and a few notable scalps bagged.
Kasparov versus Korchnoi was clearly the big event. They'd played once before, a monumental tussle in the Benoni at the Luzern Olympiad and, after Kasparov's victory there, it seemed that even Viktor Korchnoi would pose little trouble for Garry.
For a couple of years Kasparov had been trouncing anyone who dared to play the Queen's Indian against him; he played Petrosian's a3 system and you waited, usually not for very long, for him to tear apart your king. Only a mad-man, would dare to venture the defence, but that's just what Korchnoi did as Black in game 1:
So Korchnoi led, and for the next 4 games he held Kasparov at bay; had he held the difficult rook endgame in the 6th who knows what might have happened. After that though, Kasparov upped a gear and finished the match in style.
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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.