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Friday, April 4, 2008

Victor Korchnoi

It is nice to see 77-year old Victor Korchnoi playing in this year's Russian Team Chess Championships. Korchnoi, who had all sorts of difficulties with the Russian Chess Federation in the 1970s' which lead to his defection to the Netherlands in 1974. Many Russian GM's (including Petrosian) had voiced their anomosity towards Korchnoi, and this was the main reason Korchnoi decided to leave the Soviet Union in 1977 and was forced to play his World Chess Championship match knowing that his son had been imprisoned in the Soviet Union for "draft evasion."

In round one of the 2008 Russian Team Chess Championship, GM Korchnoi was defeated by GM Sakaev in 54 moves. Korchnoi had the white pieces and the opening was the very complicated Semi-Slav Defense-Meran variation which begins: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 Bd6. On move 9 Korchnoi played the interesting 9.a4. The game followed known opening theory until move 12, when Sakaev played the theoretical novelty 12...O-O. By move 25, Sakaev had achieved an equal position (according to the Rybka 2.3 chess engine). On move 29 Korchnoi decided to give up his bishop for one of Sakaev's knights. This weakened Sakaev's kingside, however it also gave Sakaev the two bishops. However, on move 33 Sakaev decided to give up one of his bishops for Korchnoi's knight on c4. Korchnoi could ha ve played 33.Qd2 and play might have continued: 33...Bc3 34.Qe2, however after 34...Bxc4 Korchnoi still would have had to deal with isolated pawns on a4 and b4.

Korchnoi played on but decided to resign on move 55:

[Event "TCh-RUS"]
[Site "Dagomys RUS"]
[Date "2008.04.02"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Korchnoi, V."]
[Black "Sakaev, K."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D47"]
[WhiteElo "2598"]
[BlackElo "2649"]
[PlyCount "108"]
[EventDate "2008.04.02"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Nf3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3
Bd6 9. a4 b4 10. Ne4 Nxe4 11. Bxe4 Bb7 12. Nd2 O-O N (12... Qc7 {
Pelletier-Soln}) 13. Nc4 Be7 14. b3 Rc8 15. Bb2 Ba6 16. Qc2 Nf6 17. Bd3 c5 18.
Rd1 Qc7 19. dxc5 Qxc5 20. O-O h6 21. Bd4 Qc7 22. Qe2 Rfd8 23. Rc1 Qb8 24. h3
Bb7 25. Qb2 Qa8 26. f3 Rd5 27. Bb1 Rcd8 28. Qc2 Kf8 29. Bxf6 Bxf6 30. Qh7 Ke7
31. Qc2 Rc5 32. Rfd1 Bd5 33. Qe2 (33. Qd2 Bc3 34. Qe2 Bxc4 35. bxc4) 33... Bxc4
34. Rxc4 Rxd1+ 35. Qxd1 Rxc4 36. bxc4 Qc6 37. Qb3 Qd6 38. Bd3 a5 39. f4 g5 40.
g3 h5 41. Qc2 Qc5 42. Kf2 h4 43. Qd2 b3 44. fxg5 hxg3+ 45. Kxg3 Qxg5+ 46. Kf3
b2 47. Qh2 Qh5+ 48. Kg2 Qc5 49. Qg1 Qd6 50. Be4 Qd2+ 51. Qf2 Qc1 52. Qc2 Qxe3
53. c5 Bd4 54. c6 f5 0-1

Due to a series of exchanges, on move 36 Korchnoi was forced to accept isolated a- and c-pawns. Korchnoi immediately decided to use his queen and bishop to protect his weak a- and c-pawns.
However, at a later point in the game, Sakaev was able to gain a protected- passed pawn on the a2-square, which was decisive. Korchnoi's downfall in this game appeared to begin on move 29 when he played 29.Bxf6 (instead Rybka suggested 29.Ne5 as favoring Korchnoi). In his life Korchnoi was one of the survivors of the the Nazi Germany 900-day siege of Leningrad (during World War 2) , which occurred between January 1941 and January 1944. He has always been a fighter on and off the chessboard. For more on Korchnoi read Raymond Keene's column at Chessville:

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.