Culcheth against The Greats: Part 1

I hope you are all managing to keep well in these most unusual times.

Chess activity has ground to a halt in Warrington along with everything else due to the virus, some however are still managing to play plenty of chess of the online variety while others may be casting their minds back to yesteryear playing through games of the greats.

During the 1970’s all the way through to the early 90’s chess was pretty much dominated by three players, the three K’s as they were known;

Korchnoi, Karpov and then Kasparov.

Firstly Viktor Korchnoi, widely considered to be the strongest ever player not to become world champion. A feat he would no doubt have achieved but for the long reign of Karpov.


Born in Leningrad USSR he learned chess at the age of seven and won the Soviet Championships four times.

In 1968 he reached the Candidates final but failed to beat Spassky in the final. Then in 1971 he lost in the semi final to another Soviet legend Petrosian.

He challenged again in the Candidates final in 1974, this time against his long time rival Karpov but again lost the match.

In 1976 Korchnoi defected from the USSR and soon took up residency in Switzerland.

In 1978 Korchnoi finally challenged for the World Chess Championship again against Karpov. In a thrilling match Karpov took an early 5 – 2 lead (they didnt count draws in those days) but Korchnoi staged a thrilling comeback! Winning three games to tie the match at 5-5! Karpov however was to win the final game and retain the title. This was to be the closest Viktor would come to winning the title.

In 1981 Viktor again met Karpov in the World title rematch however this time Karpov came out a convincing 6 – 2 winner.

After this with the emergence of a young Kasparov, Korchnoi never challenged for the world title again. However he continued to play at a very high level well into his 80’s.

Remarkably in 2011 aged 79! Viktor pulled off a win against a young up and coming Fabiano Caruana, at the time this was widely talked about as a great win however now looking back at what Caruana has gone on to do becoming the worlds number 2 and 2019 World title challenger this seems even more remarkable. That game can be viewed in the video below.

Sadly in 2012 Viktor suffered a small stroke, however even this did not stop him playing chess!

Visiting the London Chess Classic which has now become one of the preeminent tournaments on the world chess tour he gave a number of simuls which again showed his amazing stamina. He played our own Nick Burriss in one of these and this game with Nick’s comments can be viewed here:

A was privileged to be in the room for this commentary session of which this is a very small surviving snippet

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