Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Viktor Korchnoi passes

Word has just come through that Viktor Korchnoi has passed away at the age of 85. He had a career spanning almost 80 years, including a spectacular run from 1968 to 1983 where he played 2 World Championships matches,  2 candidates finals (one of which was a de-facto World Championship match), and 2 Candidates Semi-Finals. His major success came after the age of 40 and he was an active GM well into his 80's.
I never had the chance to meet Korchnoi directly although I did once share a dinner table with him. At the 2006 Olympiad in Turin he happened to be aitting at the same table as members of the PNG team (due to a shortage of space), although I assume that he did not know who we were. It turns out that one of the PNG team had no idea who he was either, having struck up a conversation with Petra Leeuwerik (his wife). After some initial chit chat the following question was asked 'Are you here for the chess?' Fortunately for the player concerned Petra just looked at him and shook her head, rather than passing the question on to her husband. Otherwise a display of Korchnoi's legendary temper may have suddenly occurred.
Probably the best player never to be World Champion, the legend of Korchnoi will live long in the memories of chess players.

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