Friday, June 17, 2016

Pestaño: Accolades for Victor Korchnoi in memoriam

LAST June 6,Victor Korchnoi--born in Leningrad, Soviet Union on March 23, 1931--died at 85. He is considered the strongest player never to have become world champion.
Korchnoi was a candidate for the world championship on 10 occasions (1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1991). He was also a four-time USSR champion, a five-time member of the Soviet team that won the European championship, and a six-time member of Soviet teams that won the Chess Olympiad.
He was at the very top of world chess for 30 years, winning games against all the world champions from Botvinnik and Fischer, to Kasparov and Carlsen. In 1965 he was rated no.1.
However, he became convinced he had to leave the Soviet Union after being banned from playing internationally.
In 1976 Korchnoi sought political asylum in the Netherlands; he later became a citizen of Switzerland. Korchnoi’s wife and son were refused exit visas until the mid-1980s, and his son was jailed shortly before the 1981 match with Karpov after attempting to emigrate.
In terms of chess longevity, he has few rivals. In January 2007, at 75, he was ranked No. 85 in the world — by far the oldest person to be ranked in the top 100 and taught a lesson to the rising star Fabiano Caruana at age 79. He was a winner of more than 220 tournaments, matches and team events.
He is famous for the quote “No chess grandmaster is normal; they only differ in the extent of their madness.”
The world championship match of 1978 against Anatoly Karpov was held in Baguio and I went there for a few days. There was enormous controversy off the board, ranging from the X-raying of chairs, protests about the flags used on the board, hypnotism complaints and the mirror glasses used by Korchnoi. When Karpov’s team sent him a bilberry yogurt during a game without any request for one by Karpov, the Korchnoi team protested, claiming it could be some kind of code.
Before the title match, Korchnoi indicated that if he could not play under the Swiss flag, he wanted a white flag marked “Stateless.” FIDE indicated that this would not violate any law. The Soviets also objected to the Swiss flag, but agreed to a white flag marked “Stateless.”
Korchnoi wore mirror sunglasses during the match. In an earlier match he had been bothered by Karpov’s habit of staring at his opponent, so in Baguio he wore the glasses to hide his eyes. Karpov also refused to shake with him -- ‘Never! Never will I shake hands with you!”
The winner was the first player to win six games, draws not counting. Karpov won the the match 6–5 with 21 draws.
Wesley So finished fourth overall in the prestigious 2016 Paris Grand Chess Tour rapid and blitz competition. He had a combined score of 19.5 points behind champion Hikaru Nakamura of US (25.5), runner-up Magnus Carlen of Norway (24.5) and third placer Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France (22). Nakamura bagged the $37,500 top purse; Carlsen got $30,000, while Vachier-Lagrave and So settled for $15,000 consolation prize.
In rapid, So had three wins and five draws with wins against against Carlsen in the first round, against Aronian in the fourth round and against Fressinet in the ninth round.
He posted three wins and 11 draws in the double-round robin blitz competition.He defeated Giri in the 11th round; Caruana in 12th and Kramnik in 18th then drew with Carlsen (first), Giri (second), Topalov (fourth and 13th), Vachier-Lagrave (fifth and 14th), Fressinet (sixth and 15th) and Aronian (seventh and 16th).

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