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Monday, December 05, 2016

Kortschnoi, Grand Master - Mirror Glasses

This is a picture of Viktor Kortschnoi. He died this year aged 85. We can learn a lot from him. He was a world class chess player who knew the meaning of struggle.
He was a good player in the 60s but not world class until he re-evaluated his style and changed the way he played. He then started getting stronger and stronger. This is unusual as he got better the older he got. But age was the reason why he got passed over for Soviet state support, as they thought Karpov would be more likely to beat Bobby Fischer.
In 1976 Kotschnoi defected from the USSR. (He smuggled his chess library across the boarder in 2 batches). He left his family behind and his son was put into hard labour for 'dodging draft'.

Korschnoi did not get top level support but was able to qualify for the 1978 World Chess Championship - beating fellow Soviets and even playing under the Jolly Rodger flag, as he was stateless!

The picture here shows an event from the final match. Karpov's group had KGB support and a parapsychologist staring at Kortschnoi -from the front row ..... who lost games when this started. The mirror glasses gave some respite - as well as a group of religious gurus vibing for him to counter the parapsychologist. Kortschnoi went 5-2 down in the match. You needed 6 to win and he pulled it back to 5-5.

When I read about this match, when I took up chess and started reading and studying. I was transfixed by these events. Korschnoi played the same openings I  did so I identified with him. But ... he lost the final game and the match 6-5. Damm. I still read and re=read about this match and his life. I still want him to win that final game and I have played through these games again and again as if I was there, or part of his team - a second - helping him with ideas and approaches.

He came back. He defeated other challengers again, in the next World Chess Championship Cycle and qualified for the final in 1981 in Merano. He was 50 now and past his best. He still ahd to face Karpov again, plus his entourage and KGB tricks. He played one or two great games but lost. (These events in his life are well worth looking at in-depth for more details. The nuances are excellent to read about. Who else could cope with all the things he faced and perform).

  • I want to be like Kortschnoi - 
  • Getting better as I get older.
  • Overcoming massive barriers - State level bad tricks / efforts to unnerve me / 
  • Massive resilience / 
  • Top skills.  
  • A fighter.