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Walk Through Korchnoi - Kasparov, Olympiad, Lucerne 1982
Introducing game walk throughs, in-depth analysis of famous chess games.

With this article we introduce the About Chess game walk throughs, featuring in-depth analysis of famous games with game notes and diagrams from key positions. Our games in this series are taken from 'Classic Chess : 64 Great Games' (found in the link box at the bottom).

Our first walk through is a tense struggle between Viktor Korchnoi and Garry Kasparov, played at the Chess Olympiad in Lucerne, Switzerland, 1982. The game was played in round 10 of the 25th Olympiad, which took place from 30 October to 16 November 1982. Korchnoi, playing first board for Switzerland, met Kasparov, playing second board for the Soviet Union, when the Soviet team gave their first board, World Champion Anatoly Karpov, a rest day.

The game had significant political overtones. Korchnoi, 51 years old at the time of the Olympiad, had defected from the Soviet Union in 1976, and was granted permission to live in Switzerland in 1977. As a defector, he was persona non grata to the Soviet authorities. He had twice challenged Karpov for the World Championship, losing a hotly contested marathon match +6-5=21 at Baguio City, Philippines, in 1978, and a second shorter match +6-2=10 at Merano, Italy, in 1981.

Kasparov, 19 years old, was the rising star of the Soviet chess machine. A month before the Olympiad, he had won the Moscow Interzonal, entitling him to participate in the series of Candidate Matches which would determine Karpov's next challenger in 1984. It was his first game against Korchnoi, who was seeded into the Candidate Matches because of his unsuccessful challenge in 1981, and who would likely be one of Kasparov's main rivals in the forthcoming series of matches.

Our notes to the walk through incorporate three sources.

  • 'Game of Two Years' by GM Leonid Shamkovich; Chess Life, Sept. 1983; extensive notes based on a translation of Kasparov's comments in the Soviet Chess Observer.

  • Fighting Chess : My Games and Career by GM Gary Kasparov; good notes and a photo from a critical moment in the game.

  • Garry Kasparov's Best Games by GM Raymond Keene; light notes.

You can also find the game in our game viewer (see the link box again) and in PGN format (also in the link box) for loading into your favorite chess playing software.


Viktor Korchnoi (SWI) - Garry Kasparov (USR), Olympiad, Round 10, Lucerne, Switzerland, 1982. • ECO A64 • Kasparov's own comments are noted wherever they have been used.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 c5 5.d5 d6 6.Nc3 O-O 7.Nf3 e6 8.O-O exd5 9.cxd5 a6 10.a4. See the diagram below, which has been reached by an unusual order of moves. The game started as a King's Indian Defense (2...g6), then transposed into a Modern Benoni (4...c5 5.d5). A more common sequence is 2...e6 3.g3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Bg2 O-O 9.O-O a6 10.a4 reaching the same diagram. White's last move inhibits ...b5.

After 10.a2-a4

10...Re8. Black aims to contest the semiopen e-file and to control e5. Also common is 10...Nbd7, but this is often just an inversion of moves. 11.Nd2. Prepares e4 and Nc4. Also possible is 11.Bf4 which prevents an immediate ...Nbd7. 11...Nbd7. This is the only way to develop the Nb8. It aims for e5, but can go to b6, c5 (after c4), f6, or f8 as required. 12.h3. Prevents ...Ng4 and prepares shelter for the King on h2 in the event of e4 & f4. Other moves are 12.a5 and 12.Nc4 12...Rb8. (See the diagram in the next section.)

After 12...Ra8-b8

After 12...Ra8-b8

With the last move, Black prepared b5. White wants to play e4 and f4, but takes time to interrupt Black's plan. 13.Nc4. Attacks the Pawn on d6, preventing b5. Kasparov: 'A critical opening position. The game's character now depends on the direction Black's Knight will take from d7. 13...Ne5 is more ambitious. 13...Nb6 is better from a positional point of view.'

13...Ne5. Defends the Pawn on d6 and attacks the undefended Knight on c4. 14.Na3. Gets the Knight out of danger, and prevents b5. 14...Nh5. Opens the long diagonal for the Bishop on g7, prepares ...f5, and makes f4 more difficult by attacking g3. 15.e4. If 15.f4, then Nxg3 16.fxe5 Bxe5. If 15.g4, then Qh4 16.gxh5 Bxh3.

After 15.e2-e4

After 15.e2-e4

White's last move stops ...f5. White will continue with f4. 15...Rf8. This move was first proposed by Dutch GM Jan Timman. It prepares to take advantage of the soon-to-be-open f-file. Kasparov considers that after 15...f5 16.exf5 Bxf5 17.g4 Bxg4 18.hxg4 Qh4 19.gxh5 Rf8 20.h6 Bh8 21.Ne4 Ng4 22.Qxg4 Qxg4 23.Nxd6 Be5 24.Ne4, the three minor pieces are stronger than the Queen.

16.Kh2. Guards the Pawn on g3 and prepares f4. If 16.g4, then 16...Qh4 17.gxh5 Bxh3 18.h6 Bh8 19.Ne2 f5. 16...f5 17.f4. If 17.exf5 Bxf5 18.g4, then 18...Bxg4 19.hxg4 Qh4+.

After 17.f2-f4

After 17.f2-f4

Kasparov: '17...Nf7 should lead to immediate disaster. But from this moment on, common sense must exit the stage, leaving limitless freedom for flights of fancy. The power of any piece is determined not by its relative value on the commonly used scale, but by the degree of its usefulness at any given moment.' With Black's next move, the game becomes a tactical slugfest.

17...b5. Black leaves the Knight on e5 en prise, but threatens ...b4, forking White's own Knights. Alburt's move 17...Bd7 is also interesting. 18.axb5. 18.fxe5 b4 19.Qb3 Nxg3 is good for Black. 18...axb5. Recaptures the Pawn and renews the threat ...b4. Kasparov: 'The first critical moment'. 19.Naxb5. If 19.fxe5, then 19...Bxe5 (not 19...b4? 20.Nc4, but 19...Nxg3 is worth considering) 20.Ne2 Nxg3 21.Nxg3 f4. Kasparov: 'Black has a strong attack. The White pieces on the Queenside have only static roles.'

After 19...Na3-b5(xP)

After 19...Na3-b5(xP)

Kasparov: 'The second critical moment'. Black is a Pawn behind and the Knight e5 is still en prise, but all of Black's line pieces are on open lines and the Knights are in striking distance of White's King. 19...fxe4. Black leaves the Knight en prise again. 20.Bxe4. Kasparov thought this was the strongest move. Other possibilities are

  • 20.Nxd6 Qxd6 21.Nxe4 Qb6 22.fxe5 Rxf1 23.Qxf1 Bxe5;
  • 20.Na7 (played a few months earlier in Alburt - Olafsson, Reykjavik 1982) 20...e3 21.Qe2 Nxg3 22.Kxg3 g5 23.f5 Bxf5 24.Qxe3; and
  • 20.fxe5 Bxe5 21.Bf4 Nxf4 22.gxf4 Bxf4+.
20...Bd7. Attacks the Knight on b5 a second time. 21.Qe2. Defends the Knight a second time. Other tries are 21.Nxd6 Rb6; 21.Na7 Ra8; and 21.Na3 Qc8. 21...Qb6. Attacks the Knight a third time and prepares the next move. 22.Na3.

After 22.Nb5-a3

After 22.Nb5-a3

22...Rbe8. Kasparov: 'The third critical moment. The heated battle is approaching its White's difficulty lies in the abundance of choices.' 23.Bd2?. White overlooks a tactical blow. Several alternatives are:-

  • 23.fxe5 Bxe5 24.Bf4 (24.Nc4 Bxg3+ 25.Kg1 Qd8) 24...Nxf4 25.gxf4 Bxf4+ 26.Kg2 Qd8.
  • 23.Be3 Nf7 24.Nc4 Qd8.
  • 23.Qc2 followed by 24.Bd2 and 25.Be1.
  • Kasparov thought the best move was 23.Qg2, e.g. 23...Qb4 (23...Nf7 24.Nc4 Qb8 25.g4 Nf6 26.Bd3; 23...Qd8 24.Bd2) 24.Nc2 Qb8 25.Ne3 Nf7.

After 23...Qb6-b2(xP)

After 23...Qb6-b2(xP)

24.fxe5. White finally captures the Knight (Kasparov: 'At the least suitable moment!'), which has been en prise for seven moves. Korchnoi undoubtedly overlooked that trapping the Queen with 24.Rfb1 is refuted by Nf3+!. If 24.Ra2, then 24...Qb8. Better might be 24.Nc2 Qb8 25.fxe5 Rxf1 26.Rxf1 Bxe5 27.Rf3.

24...Bxe5 25.Nc4. Forks the Queen and Bishop, but Black has a counterblow. 25...Nxg3! 26.Rxf8+ Rxf8 27.Qe1 Nxe4+ 28.Kg2 Qc2. 28...Rf2+ 29.Qxf2 Bxh3+ is faster, e.g. 30.Kxh3 Nxf2+ 29.Nxe5.

After 29.Nc4-e5(xB)

After 29.Nc4-e5(xB)

29...Rf2+?. Black lets the win get away. 29...Bxh3+ or 29...Nxd2 wins easily. 30.Qxf2 Nxf2. Kasparov: 'Both players had only five minutes left. Thank goodness for intuition! Some sixth sense made me reject the obvious 30...Bxh3+.' If 30...Bxh3+? 31.Kg1 Nxf2 32.Ra2 Qb3 (32...Qf5 33.Ra8+ and Black must accept perpetual check) 33.Ra8+ Kg7 34.Ra7+ Kf6 (Not 34...Kf8 35.Bh6+ mates) 35.Nf3 Nd3 allows mate by 36.Ne4+.

31.Ra2 Qf5. 31...Bxh3+ 32.Kg1 Qb3 is the same as the previous note. 32.Nxd7 Nd3.

After 32...Nf2-d3

After 32...Nf2-d3

33.Bh6?. Kasparov: 'After the game I devoted an enormous amount of time to analysing this position.' 33.Ra8+ should draw after 33...Kg7 34.Ra7 Qf2+ 35.Kh1. The variations are long, but show how a Rook and Knight can coordinate against a King:-

  • 35...Qf1+ 36.Kh2 Nf4 37.Ne5+ Kf8 38.Rf7+ Ke8 39.Rxf4.
  • 35...Nf4 36.Ne5+ Kf8 37.Ra8+ Ke7 38.Ra7+ Kd8 39.Ra8+ Kc7 40.Nb5+ Kb7 41.Ra7+ Kb6 42.Nc4+ Kxb5 43.Nxd6+ Kb6 44.Nc8+ with perpetual check [Shamkovich].
  • 35...Qxd2 36.Ne5+ Kf8 37.Ra8+ Ke7 38.Ra7+ Kd8 39.Ra8+ forces a draw, because 39...Ke7 (not 39...Kc7 40.Nb5+ Kb7 41.Ra7+ Kb6 42.Nc4+) 40.Ra7+ repeats the position [Short].
33...Qxd7 34.Ra8+ Kf7.

Post Mortem

After 34...Kg8-f7

35.Rh8 Better is 35.Ne4, but after 35...Qe7 36.Rf8+ Qxf8 37.Ng5+ Ke8 38.Bxf8 Kxf8 39.Nxh7+ Kg7 40.Ng5 Kf6 Black easily wins the Knight and Pawn endgame. 35...Kf6 36.Kf3 Qxh3+ 0-1.

In this game, Kasparov demonstrated all of the qualities that led him to become World Champion a few years later.

  • Deep opening preparation.
  • Double edged opening play striving for an advantage, even with Black.
  • Excellent judgement in sacrificing material for qualitative reasons ('The power of any piece is determined not by its relative value on the commonly used scale').
  • Choosing the most complicated variations to confront the opponent with problems.
  • Computer-like calculation of the same complicated variations.
  • Striving to learn the truth about any position ('I devoted an enormous amount of time to analysing this position').

 Related Resources
• In Game Viewer
• In PGN (offsite)
  Famous Chess Players
• Garry Kasparov (offsite)
• Viktor Korchnoi (offsite)
• Classics : 64 Great Games
• Chess Olympiads (offsite)