Index   FIDE 1948-1990   Pre-FIDE   Highlights   Best games   News/Feedback   Gifts   Site map

Home page

Search Now:
In Association with

World Chess Championship
1974 Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Final Match

Korchnoi had White in the first game.

Game 1 - English Opening

The opening followed game 3 of the 1974 Korchnoi - Petrosian candidates semifinal match, which Korchnoi had won, Karpov varied with his 5th move. Both players castled queenside and followed a 1973 game of Furman until Korchnoi varied on move 18. Korchnoi tried to capture the center, but Karpov countered accurately, also in the center, to achieve equality. The game was agreed drawn after 37 moves.

Game 2 - Sicilian Defence

The opening, a Dragon Variation (...g6), followed game 4 of the 1971 Korchnoi - Geller candidates quarterfinal match, which Geller won. Karpov followed Geller with 14.h5, a typical pawn sacrifice against the Dragon, and varied on the 16th move following published analysis. He then varied from the analysis.

Game 2 : Karpov - Korchnoi
after 20.g4-g5

Korchnoi failed to find the correct defence and resigned on his 27th move under an overwhelming attack

Game 3 - English Opening

The opening followed game 1 until Karpov varied with 7...Ne7 and castled kingside. Korchnoi castled queenside. Karpov gained an advantage, but failed to find the correct continuation on his 23rd move and allowed Korchnoi counterplay. Karpov sealed his 44th move and the game was drawn when the second time control was reached.

Game 4 - French Defence

The players steered into a Tarrasch variation with 3...c5. Because both players were expert in their respective side of the opening, many observers were expecting a theoretical discussion of the Tarrasch during the match. Karpov varied from his favorite line with 10.c3, and a level endgame was reached by move 25. Karpov played too ambitiously and by the time Korchnoi sealed his 42nd move, Black had all the chances. Korchnoi did not, however, seal the best move and the game was agreed drawn a few moves into the second session.

Game 5 - Queen's Indian Defence

Korchnoi varied from game 3 on his 4th move. The opening evolved into a double edged position with chances for both sides. After Korchnoi burst through the center to create a passed d-pawn, he sacrificed an exchange and the game became very sharp.

Game 5 : Korchnoi - Karpov
after 29.Nf3-d2

Karpov returned the exchange a few moves later, but was still in a double edged endgame. Korchnoi sealed his 41st move. A few moves into the second session Karpov sacrificed the exchange, which allowed him to hold the draw. This game was a superb struggle.

Game 6 - Petroff's Defence

For some reason, Korchnoi declined to play a French Defence. Karpov played an old variation which had been thought to favor Black. Korchnoi played aggressively and, while still in the opening, sacrificed a pawn in return for an attack against the castled king.

Game 6 : Karpov - Korchnoi
after 13.Qb3-b7(xP)

Karpov defended accurately, while Korchnoi used most of his time, failed to find the most dangerous continuation, and was left with 10 minutes for his last 25 moves. Korchnoi had a lost position when his flag fell before he made his 31st move.

Game 7 - English Opening

The players repeated the opening of game 3 until Korchnoi varied with his 8th move. He advanced his queenside pawns aggressively which got him in some trouble. He again showed that inferior but unbalanced positions are his strength and by the time he sealed on his 45th move he had achieved equality. The game was agreed drawn a few moves into the second session.

Game 8 - French Defence

After the loss with the Petroff in game 6, Korchnoi returned to the French and Karpov varied from game 4 on his 12th move. Korchnoi equalized easily, played accurately even though he had only ten minutes for his last eight moves, and sacrificed a pawn in return for the more active king position in a N+5P vs. B+4P endgame. Korchnoi sealed his 41st move, but the game was agreed drawn a few moves into the second session.

Game 9 - English Opening

Karpov varied from previous English Openings with 2...e5. Neither player gained an advantage and the game was agreed drawn a few moves after Korchnoi sealed his 41st move.

Korchnoi requested a timeout.

Game 10 - French Defence

Karpov varied from game 8 on his 13th move. He sacrificed a pawn just before the time control and attained an attack in a Q+R+4P vs. Q+R+5P endgame. The draw was agreed just after reaching the second time control.

Game 11 - Queen's Indian Defence

The opening followed game 5 with significant transpositions until Korchnoi varied on his 7th move. On the 25th move, Korchnoi overlooked the best line and played an unsound combination. Karpov missed the refutation, allowing Korchnoi to win a pawn. Karpov continued to play for a win and sealed his 41st move in an endgame of R+B+N+5P vs. R+2B+4P. During the second session, Korchnoi missed the best lines. Although he won another pawn, the game became a theoretical draw of R+3P vs. R+P and was drawn on the 81st move.

Game 11 : Korchnoi - Karpov
after 65...Rg4-d4(xB)

Game 12 - French Defence

Korchnoi varied from previous games on his 7th move, but the opening transposed back to those games with one move less for each player. Karpov steered away from previous games on his 12th move. The game quickly became tactical. Korchnoi sacrificed a minor piece to achieve perpetual check on the 23rd move.

Game 13 - Queen's Indian Defence

The opening followed game 11 until Korchnoi varied on his 11th move. On move 24, Korchnoi chose a dangerous variation which gave both players chances. He won a useless pawn, but gave Karpov a dangerous passed d-pawn. Karpov could have forced a draw, but played instead to win. Both players were in time trouble by move 33, so the last moves before the time control were played very quickly.

Game 13 : Korchnoi - Karpov
after 33...Qb2-e5

After the smoke cleared, Korchnoi spent 40 minutes considering his sealed move in a slightly better R+N vs. R+B endgame. The game was agreed drawn on the 96th move after Karpov defended successfully against White's winning attempts.

Game 14 - French Defence

The opening followed game 10 until Korchnoi varied on his 12th move. After the long, difficult 13th game, the players drew after 30 moves in a relatively quiet game.

Game 15 - Reti Opening

Korchnoi avoided variations played in previous games where he had White. In a known position on the 10th move, he spent more than 40 minutes. Although he had the two bishops, he closed the center, preparing for operations against Karpov's castled king. Karpov responded by attacking on the queenside with his two knights, but left them stranded. With 15 minutes remaining to make 15 moves, Korchnoi played quickly, overlooked an opportunity to win, and allowed Karpov to equalize.

Game 15 : Korchnoi - Karpov
after 25.d4-c5(xB)?
(25.Rxc5 Nc6 26.Qc1 wins)

Karpov played the ensuing 2R+2B vs. 2R+2N endgame accurately, but Korchnoi managed to hold the balance in his usual time trouble. Karpov sealed his 46th move, but agreed to the draw after seeing Korchnoi's first move.

Game 16 - French Defence

Korchnoi varied from previous games on his 11th move. After reaching an equal middlegame, he avoided simplifying exchanges, tried to win, and got into trouble.

Game 16 : Karpov - Korchnoi
after 37...b7-b5

Karpov sealed a 41st move which allowed Black to equalize in the second session.

Game 17 - Catalan Opening

Korchnoi returned to 1.d4, but followed it with 2.c4 for the first time in the match. He thought for 35 minutes on a routine 11th move, which gave him a better position, but he let the advantage slip over the next few moves. After 26 moves, Korchnoi was left with only five minutes on his clock. He blundered on his 30th move, blundered again on his 31st move, and resigned on his 42nd move.

Game 17 : Korchnoi - Karpov
after 30.Ne4-c5

Karpov now led 3-0 with seven games to play.

Game 18 - French Defence

Karpov varied from previous games on his 10th move. Korchnoi was probably trying to regain his psychological equilibrium, so the game was uneventful. Karpov proposed a draw after Korchnoi's 42nd move, which was accepted.

Game 19 - Irregular Queen's Pawn Opening

Korchnoi varied early with 1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5. After the queens were exchanged, Karpov weakened his queenside unnecessarily, allowing White's king to penetrate. The players settled into a R+B+5P endgame with opposite colored bishops. Korchnoi sacrificed a pawn on the kingside to gain a passed pawn on the queenside.

Game 19 : Korchnoi - Karpov
after 38.Rf3-d3

After Korchnoi sealed his 41st move, Karpov gave up his bishop for the pawn. He then missed several drawing lines before giving up his rook for the bishop to struggle in a R+Pa vs. Pfg endgame. Both players queened pawns and although Karpov fought on a rook down, he resigned on his 79th move. It was Korchnoi's first victory in the match and brought the score to 3-1 with five games to play.

Game 20 - Ruy Lopez

Korchnoi abandoned the French and avoided the Open Ruy Lopez by playing a Deferred Schliemann (4...f5), an opening which Karpov had most likely not prepared for the match. Karpov played a known line, sacrificing a pawn to prevent Black from castling. Korchnoi varied from known lines with his 12th move, returned the pawn a few moves later, and then gave up the right to castle to achieve an unbalanced position. Karpov immediately missed the chance to open up the center against Black's king. After most of the remaining pieces were exchanged, the game settled into a Q+N+5P endgame. The queens were exchanged, and although Karpov won a pawn, it was not enough to win the game. The players adjourned on the 45th move and agreed to the draw after 51 moves.

Game 21 - Queen's Indian Defence

The players repeated a variation seen in games 5, 11, and 13. Karpov varied from game 5 on his 9th move, continued weakly, and allowed Korchnoi a sudden kingside attack. Korchnoi sacrificed a knight on his 13th move, which Karpov could not accept.

Game 21 : Korchnoi - Karpov
after 13.Ng5-h7(xP)

Even World Champion candidates forget the rules. In the following position, Korchnoi asked the match arbiter if he could castle kingside even though the rook was attacked. He was assured that he could.

Game 21 : Korchnoi - Karpov
after 17...Bb7-d5(xB)

Karpov resigned on his 19th move. This was the shortest decisive game ever seen in a candidates match. The score was now 3-2 with three games to play.

Game 22 - Catalan Opening

Karpov varied from 1.e4 for the first time in the match. The game continued quietly and was drawn after 30 moves.

Game 23 - Queen's Indian Defence

Trailing 3-2 with two games to play, this was Korchnoi's last chance to play with the White pieces. He repeated the opening from game 21, but Karpov varied on his 6th move. Korchnoi played inconsistently, failed to gain any initiative, and the game was agreed drawn after 29 moves.

Game 24 - Queen's Gambit Accepted

Neither player gained an advantage and the game was agreed drawn on the 31st move. Karpov, with a score of 3-2, had won the right to challenge Fischer for the world championship title.

World Chess Championship Index.
WCC Index
Results for this event.

Previous event.
Next event.