A chess match only an old fart could love: Korchnoi vs. Spassky


The two guys who look like they are too old to be there are the combatants.

It is billed as the “Battle of the Giants”, between tenth World Champion Boris Spassky, 72, and multiple World Championship challenger Viktor Korchnoi, 78. The latter is still very active in competitive play, while Spassky has essentially retired from chess. In the first game an exhausted Korchnoi (he had rushed to Kalmykia from London) put the pressure on Spassky and won. Illustrated report.

My sarcasm is, I assure you, reverential.

Garry Kasparov recently said that it is a sad day when excitement in chess means a match between two “old guys” (he was referring to a recent contest between himself and Karpov). By the same token, however, it is affirming that many chess players do not forget their predecessors, and are appreciative of chess history. Anyone with an appreciation for chess history will understand why Korchnoi vs. Spassky, even today, is a significant event.

Korchnoi, aka “Viktor the Terrible”, I had the pleasure of seeing in the 1970s. I never have gotten to meet Spassky, though he would be on my short list of living players whom I would like to meet. Both played an extraordinary role in the world of chess when the world of chess was still extraordinary. Of all living Grandmasters, Korchnoi impresses me most, because of his longevity in competition at the highest level, which almost should not be possible. Yes, some players are stronger than he, now, but their full history has not yet been written.
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Update: Final Score: Korchnoi 4 Spassky 4
Korchnoi won games 1 and 6. Spassky won games 5 and 7. Other games were drawn.

5 thoughts on “A chess match only an old fart could love: Korchnoi vs. Spassky

  1. Vaclav says:

    Nice article, thank you. I’m glad to see both of them play! Many of their skills were attained by studying chess books in the days when nobody had a computer to practice against!

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