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World Chess Championship
1978 Karpov - Korchnoi Title Match
Yogurt, Parapsychology, Ananda Marga, ...

The moves of a chess game are completely divorced from the physical context in which they were played. We can play the moves, we can analyze them, we can admire their beauty without having any idea of the circumstances surrounding them.

The events surrounding the 1978 match were among the most bizarre that a world championship match has ever seen. Here we try to recall those events as historic in their own right. We must not forget that all of this was a backdrop for a chess match. The games of this match are described on a separate page.

We are fortunate that many accounts, sometimes conflicting, have been written by the match principals -- Karpov & Baturinsky, Edmondson, Keene, and Korchnoi -- as well as by close observers of the international chess scene like Larsen and Hartston. The events described here are taken from these sources.


After defecting from the Soviet Union, Korchnoi was a man without a country. During the 1977 candidates semifinal match against Polugaevsky, he asked to play under the Dutch flag. He was living in the Netherlands and had recently won the national championship. Baturinsky, the head of Polugaevsky's delegation, objected on the grounds that Korchnoi had not been living in the Netherlands for a full year. Keene and Stean suggested that Korchnoi play under the Jolly Roger.

In September of the same year, Korchnoi was granted permission to live in Switzerland. Bondarevsky, the head of Spassky's delegation during the candidates final match, insisted that Korchnoi not be allowed to play under the Swiss flag. Spassky played under the Soviet flag, while Korchnoi had no flag.

A month before the title match, Korchnoi indicated that if he could not play under the Swiss flag, he wanted a white flag marked 'Stateless'. FIDE sought legal opinion on whether Korchnoi was entitled to use the Swiss flag, and was advised that this would not violate any law. The Soviets objected to the Swiss flag, but agreed to a white flag marked 'Stateless'. The jury decided that no flags would be allowed on the playing table, but that flags of the USSR, the Philippines, and FIDE would be present on the stage.


Korchnoi wore mirror sunglasses for the first game and continued to wear them during some of the following games. During the 1974 match he had been bothered by Karpov's habit of staring at his opponent, so in Baguio he wore the glasses to hide his eyes. Karpov wrote, '[The sunglasses] were like two mirrors, and whenever Korchnoi raised his head the light from the numerous lamps on the stage was reflected into my eyes', and complained to Schmid about the glasses.

Before game 9, the arbiters tried wearing sunglasses and taking positions at the board as though they were playing a game. They pronounced the glasses 'not disturbing'. Karpov felt that he was not being taken seriously by Schmid and questioned his objectivity.


Chairs also contributed to the match tension. In prematch discussions Korchnoi declared his intention to bring his own chair, a dark green Stollgiroflex, and stipulated that the chairs 'may not turn but may move only to the front and back' Karpov's chair was furnished by the organizers. He needed a small cushion to raise him to Korchnoi's level.

Karpov requested that Korchnoi's chair be examined for 'extraneous objects or prohibited devices'. A few days before the first game, the chair was dismantled, X-rayed at Baguio General Hospital, and cleared.

During game 14 Korchnoi complained to Schmid that Karpov was swiveling in his chair. Karpov swiveled again during game 15 and Korchnoi complained. Schmid talked to Karpov about it, but Karpov continued -- 'I'll stop swiveling if he takes off his glasses'. The jury decided the next day that 'swiveling of one's chair or standing behind it are not to be allowed'. Karpov stopped swiveling during Korchnoi's move for game 16.


On the 25th move of game 2, a waiter delivered a tray with a glass of violet colored yogurt to Karpov. After the game Leeuwerik sent a letter to Schmid protesting the yogurt. 'It is clear that a cunningly arranged distribution of edible items to one player during the game, emanating from one delegation or the other, could convey a kind of code message'. Although the letter was almost certainly tongue-in-cheek, Baturinsky took it seriously and suggested that the binoculars Leeuwerik used during the game might also convey a coded message to Korchnoi.

By the time a waiter delivered another tray holding yogurt to Karpov on the 17th move of game 3, the first incident had been blown out of proportion by both Baturinsky and Leeuwerik. A few days later the jury met and agreed that Karpov could receive a beverage at a fixed time and that Schmid would be notified before the game if it would not be a violet colored yogurt.


Who was Vladimir P. Zukhar? Edmondson described him as a 'Psychological Consultant. A psycho-neurologist and director of the Central Laboratory for Psychology in Moscow's School of Medecine'.

Karpov wrote in his book about the match:-

So why in fact did I need -- and I certainly did need -- Dr. Zukhar?

Let us go back a few years... The Final Candidates Match for the World Championship has just begun. Each time when I turn to face the nearest box in the theater, I involuntarily notice among Korchnoi's trainers a man who tries to catch my eye. I ask who this man is, and it transpires that he works with Korchnoi. The thought did not occur to me that hypnotism was being used against me, and I did not demand that this person should sit further away, but I decided to engage my own psychologist. And that is how I came to make the acquaintance of Vladimir Zukhar... (p.29)

Later in the same book Baturinsky wrote:-
Among the persons accompanying Karpov to the 1978 match was Dr. V.P. Zukhar, a professor of psychology, who over a period of several years had acted as consultant to the World Champion, observing his work, sleep, rest and mood, and giving necessary advice. This was also Zukhar's function during the match, and there was nothing unusual about this, since in modern day sport the role of psychology is generally recognized... (p.79)

Zukhar was admitted to the Philippines as a member of Karpov's delegation. After game 1, when the first three rows of the spectator area reserved for Marcos and other VIPs were empty, the spectators started to move forward. Zukhar and some other Soviets seated themselves in the second row. Edmondson wrote of game 4:-

Korchnoi headed immediately for his easy chair after making [his 14th move], obviously expecting that Karpov would consider his reply at length. And Karpov did just that; he thought for 39 minutes, during most of which the challenger relaxed and enjoyed his tea and chocolate. [...] In the second row left were ensconced Valery Krylov, Karpov's physical trainer, and a Dr. Zukhar -- the second doctor (exact duties unspecified) in Karpov's entourage. Dr. Zukhar fixed an unbroken stare upon Korchnoi during the entire 39 minutes which Karpov devoted to [his 15th] move; Korchnoi seemed not to notice. (p.31)

Zukhar took the same seat in the first session of game 5. When he moved to the first row for the second session, Leeuwerik's daughter sat on his right and stared directly at him. Her boyfriend took the seat to Zukhar's left.

Game 6 was played between the second and third sessions of game 5. Before the game Leeuwerik complained to Campomanes that Zukhar was a parapsychologist assigned to 'confuse Korchnoi's thinking', thereby increasing his problems in time trouble. When Leeuwerik asked Campomanes to ensure that no one sat in the front row, Campomanes forwarded the request to Baturinsky, who agreed. Zukhar sat in the second row. During the third session of game 5, he sat in the third row, sandwiched by his own delegation, and stared at Korchnoi. Leeuwerik sat directly behind him.

At the start of game 7, Zukhar was again in the second row. A few minutes into the game Korchnoi complained to Schmid, suggesting that the game should be played elsewhere. Although he finally agreed to play in the main hall, he disappeared from view each time Karpov was on move. Zukhar in turn was harassed by Korchnoi's people, most notably when Leeuwerik offered him a copy of Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago. After the game Schmid spoke with Campomanes -- something had to be done about Zukhar.

Before the second session of game 7, Campomanes issued a memo which attempted to place all 'accredited persons' in the last three rows. Baturinsky objected on the grounds that the second session was still to be played, and Campomanes agreed to start with game 8. Later that day Karpov addressed a letter to the jury, where he objected to Campomanes memo on the grounds that it changed prematch agreements. Keene sent a letter to Campomanes complaining about Zukhar.

On the morning when game 8 was to be played, the jury met and agreed that Korchnoi had been disturbed by Zukhar. If it happened again, Schmid would have the authority either to eject the spectator from the playing area or to move the game to another room. Zukhar sat in the fifth row for game 8 and there were no problems.

Handshakes & draw offers

As game 8 was about to start, Korchnoi was left with his hand in midair when Karpov refused to shake with him -- 'Never! Never will I shake hands with you!" Roshal explained during the next press conference, 'Recent events have shown that the Challenger has not reduced his line of intensifying tensions and under such circumstances Karpov does not wish to shake hands with Korchnoi.'

Schmid sent a letter to Baturinsky, pointing out that the Chief Arbiter should have been informed in advance about Karpov's decision. Keene commented, 'It will save Viktor having to go into his dressing room to wash his hands after the start of each game.'

A week later, Keene sent a letter to Schmid apologizing for the washing remark. He also sent cigars, with his own name printed on the wrapper, to Baturinsky. A day later Baturinsky sent a bar of soap, with 'Viktor Baturinsky' written on the wrapper, to Keene.

In response to Karpov's refusal to shake hands, Korchnoi started insisting that the players should not speak to each other. Draws could only be offered through the arbiter. Karpov refused to go along with this, considering the complications this could bring in time scrambles. His point was proven during the match.

As the players were about to adjourn game 12, Karpov offered a draw directly to Korchnoi. Korchnoi indicated with a nod that he should go through Schmid, but Karpov shrugged his shoulders and left the playing area. After sealing his move, Korchnoi gave the envelope to Schmid and complained about Karpov's direct offer of a draw. Schmid misunderstood and thought that Korchnoi was offering a draw. He relayed the offer to Karpov, who accepted it the next day. When Schmid announced to Korchnoi that his draw offer had been accepted, Korchnoi was very surprised, but agreed with the result to avoid embarrassing Schmid.

Zukhar (cont.)

Before game 9 Korchnoi asked to use the alternate playing room. Zukhar was sitting in row 5, but moved to row 7, and the game continued in public.

Baturinsky held an impromptu press conference to reveal the content of a letter to Campomanes. His point was that Zukhar performed an important function and a right to watch Karpov's play closely. He also denied that Zukhar was an official member of Karpov's delegation.

Immediately afterwards, Leeuwerik held a press conference. 'We do not ask that Zukhar be ejected from the hall, only that he sit at the rear. If this is not done, then the game must be moved to the alternate playing room'.

During the game, Schmid asked Korchnoi if he still wanted the game moved to the alternate room. Korchnoi declined the offer, 'At this moment, I am not disturbed. I want to play'. When Leeuwerik learned that Korchnoi was 'not disturbed' by Zukhar, she replied, 'Korchnoi must really be going mad. Now he doesn't even know that he is being disturbed'.

After game 9 Karpov sent a letter to the jury, complaining about Schmid's request to move Zukhar. Korchnoi sent his own letter to the jury, complaining about Zukhar. The jury met and voted to agree with Karpov -- it disagreed with Korchnoi, because during the 9th game he had said that he was not being disturbed. Leeuwerik responded, 'We have seen that the jury is not neutral and will decide against us, whether we are right or not. This is because four of its members -- Baturinsky, Malchev, Lim, and Campomanes -- are pro-Soviet.' Her remark was particularly insulting to Lim and Campomanes.

She also announced that Korchnoi was bringing in his own 'parapsychologist, neurologist, and hypnotist', Dr. Vladimir Berginer. Berginer had been born in the USSR, had emigrated to Israel, and was a neurologist at Ben Gurion University Hospital in Beersheba. He stayed in the same hotel as the rest of Korchnoi's team.

During game 10, Filip served as Chief Arbiter. Zukhar, surrounded by groups of young Philippine women, sat in the seventh row and stared at Korchnoi. Leeuwerik gave another press conference to attack the jury, while Campomanes and Lim gave separate press conferences to defend their neutrality. Lim said, 'Mr. Korchnoi should realize that because I am not anti-Soviet, it does not mean that I am pro-Soviet'.

Schmid was back as Chief Arbiter for game 11. During the game Zukhar sat in row 7; during the following games he gradually moved into rows 4 and 5. Berginer was in the audience for the first time during game 12. Almost a week later, on the morning when games 13 & 14 were to be resumed, Leeuwerik said, 'Korchnoi is now convinced that neither Zukhar nor Berginer can have any effect upon a player during the game'. Berginer left Baguio after game 14.

During game 16, Zukhar sat in row 4 in clear view of Korchnoi, and was tickled and kicked by Leeuwerik. When he sat in the fifth row at the start of game 17, Korchnoi announced to Filip that he would refuse to play until Zukhar was moved farther back. Filip, who was standing in for Schmid, started Korchnoi's clock. Shaking his fist, Korchnoi said, 'No matter what your jury thinks the rules say, I tell you this man disturbs me. If he is not moved within 10 minutes, then I will move him.' Campomanes decided that no spectator would be seated closer than the seventh row during the game. The delay cost Korchnoi 11 minutes on clock.

After game 17 the jury held another meeting to consider a Campomanes letter stating that he would no longer have spectators moved. Korchnoi appointed Keene to replace Leeuwerik on the jury, while Korchnoi and Leeuwerik stayed in Manila during Korchnoi's double timeout. Before leaving for Manila, Leeuwerik submitted a protest about Zukhar's presence and about excessive radiation levels in the playing hall.

At another jury meeting, Keene withdrew the protest and requested the jury to 'help Korchnoi by keeping Zukhar in the background during playing sessions'. On the same day Korchnoi & Leeuwerik held a press conference in Manila attacking Zukhar and requesting that 'The organizers install a one-way mirror between the stage and the audience'. Korchnoi declared, 'I will not play if a one-way mirror is not installed'.

After consultation with Korchnoi, Keene issued a communique together with Baturinsky where they agreed that

Starting with game 18, Zukhar sat with the Soviet delegation.

When Korchnoi requested his first timeout after game 17, Campomanes sought advice in Manila from experts on parapsychology. He received an opinion from Jaime Bulatao, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Manila University, saying that Zukhar could very well be disturbing Korchnoi, although not necessarily by telepathic means. By coincidence, Korchnoi also visited Bulatao who suggested the one-way mirror to separate him from the spectators.

When play resumed for game 18, Rita Mataragnon, who worked for Bulatao, was present in Baguio, seated in the fifth row. Another associate of Bulatao, a Belgian whose identity can not be confirmed, was present for game 19, along with groups of young psychology students. Karpov sent a letter to Schmid after game 20 complaining about the students.

Ananda Marga

Steven Dwyer & Victoria Shepherd, also known as Dada & Didi, were American members of the Ananda Marga, an Indian sect. Wearing white garments and saffron robes, they attended the 18th game. Dwyer spent much of the game in meditation, while Shepherd concentrated on Zukhar and the players.

The couple had been tried in February on charges of stabbing an Indian diplomat, the First Secretary of the Indian Embassy in the Philippines, in Manila. Their objective had been to draw the attention of public opinion and to free one of their leaders, imprisoned in an Indian jail. They had been convicted of attempted murder by a Philippine court and each sentenced to 17 years imprisonment. Their case had been appealed and they were released on bail pending a hearing or retrial.

During the four day break between the second session of game 18 and game 19, Dwyer & Shepherd gave lessons in transcendental meditation to Korchnoi. They also moved into Korchnoi's hotel.

When Shepherd arrived for game 19, her bag was searched, but she was admitted to the playing hall. Dwyer was stopped by security until Leeuwerik intervened -- 'He is our friend and has just as much right to see the match as Zukhar'. When she threatened to disturb the game, which was already in progress, Dwyer was allowed to enter, and was seated by Leeuwerik near the Soviet delegation. Security men placed themselves near Dwyer & Shepherd, as well as around the Soviets. Baturinsky told Campomanes that he did not feel secure with the Ananda Marga paying so much attention to the Soviet delegation.

At the request of Campomanes, the jury met before game 20. He wanted an opinion on whether the two members of Ananda Marga should be allowed into the playing hall. Before the game started, he announced that 'we have decided to disallow entrance into the Karpov - Korchnoi games by persons of known criminal record'. Korchnoi, who was not aware of the decision, wore a saffron colored necktie during game 20. Leeuwerik wore a saffron colored dress during game 21.

Between games 21 & 22 Campomanes warned in a letter to the jury that the match would be terminated unless the Ananda Marga 'question is resolved by the jury'. The warning was partly precipitated by a threatening phone call which his wife had received. The next day Keene informed Campomanes that 'the two members of the Ananda Marga will be departing from [Korchnoi's] Hotel this afternoon' and promised that they would maintain a 'low profile'. Campomanes authorized the 22nd game to be played as scheduled, while Dwyer & Shepherd moved into Korchnoi's villa. The tension about their presence subsided considerably.

After game 31 was adjourned, Dwyer & Shepherd, accompanied by Korchnoi & Leeuwerik, were again seen at the Pines [Korchnoi's] Hotel by Campomanes. He immediately informed Keene that the Ananda Marga would no longer be permitted at the villa nor could they use official cars. Campomanes said, 'Whatever takes place, Korchnoi and his friends have brought it upon him. I'm fed up with taking shots from them. This time, I will take my shot at them and they can worry about the consequences.' Keene promised that they would move out the next day. Euwe also asked Campomanes to take no action until the adjourned game was finished.

The day after Korchnoi won the adjourned position to tie the match at 5-5, Campomanes held a press conference and released a statement that 'Dwyer and Shepherd have violated [Keene's] letter of assurance that they would [...] maintain a low profile'. Dwyer responded that he would 'undertake to avoid any presence [...] in the Pines Hotel'.

The next day Korchnoi held a press conference at his villa. Dwyer & Shepherd demonstrated to American television cameras the yoga exercises which they had taught Korchnoi. This was not what had been understood as a 'low profile'.

Balashov requested an urgent meeting of the jury, which convened the following day -- the same day on which the 32nd game was scheduled to start. Baturinsky 'requested that Mr. Dwyer and Ms. Shepherd be ejected from Baguio City [...] before the beginning of game 32. If this was not done, Mr. Karpov would not continue the match and the entire question would be submitted to the FIDE Congress in November.' One hour before the game was scheduled to start, Keene delivered a letter that 'the two Ananda Margii left this afternoon by private car'.

Game 32 & afterwards

After the 32nd game started, Zukhar moved from the seating area for the Soviet delegation to the fourth row. Balashov's letter had stated, 'The Soviet side considers the challenger's delegation relationship with the criminal elements contradicts the contents of the joint communique signed on August 31, 1978, [...] which stressed the desire to normalize the further course of the match'. Or, as Baturinsky put it, 'the Soviet delegation considered that, through the fault of the challenger, the agreement [of 31 August], had lost its validity, and on this basis Professor Zukhar again took his seat nearer to the stage' (p.80).

Korchnoi adjourned the 32nd game in a lost position. The next morning Keene reported that Korchnoi would not be resuming the game. Filip & Kazic informed the match principals that 'Korchnoi will not resume the adjourned 32nd game'.

On the same day Korchnoi sent a letter to Filip stating

I don't resume the 32nd game but I am not going to sign the score sheet of the game because it has been played under absolutely illegal conditions. I don't consider the game valid. The match is not finished. I reserve the right to complain to FIDE on the intolerable Soviets' behavior, a hostility of the organizers, a lack of activity of the arbiters.
Stean read a letter from Korchnoi to the press blaming Campomanes for making 'a mockery of this match'. Campomanes's replied, 'I can only forgive Korchnoi, for I know it is not easy to lose such a closely fought match.'

The next day Korchnoi wrote another letter to Filip, 'I protest against the unfair and unequal conditions of the 1978 World Chess Championship Match. [...] I consider the 32nd game of this match not valid because of these circumstances.' For some reason, Keene also sent a letter to a sponsor stating

In order to set the records straight, I am hereby informing you that Viktor Korchnoi lost the 32nd game in complete ignorance of the pseudojudicial proceedings that morning and afternoon by the jury. Neither was he ever cognizant of the fact that Zukhar was sitting in the 4th row during the game.

Korchnoi left the Philippines without attending the closing ceremony and without receiving his prize money. The organizers made the check conditional on accepting the match result. During the ceremony Keene made a speech that was written without Korchnoi's knowledge. Karpov was crowned with a floral, instead of laurel, wreath.

Keene left Korchnoi's team. He later explained

I was placed under the intolerable strain of defending, on [Korchnoi's] behalf, the two members of the Ananda Marga sect [... which] culminated in my eventual resignation from the joint post of chief second and jury representative and my unequivocal disassociation from his effort to demand a replay over the Zukhar issue' (p.20)
At the end of the 1978 match I notified the organizers of my resignation from the post of Korchnoi's Chief Second / Jury Representative. At the same time I also wrote to Korchnoi. In this note I declined any payment for the match from his part of the prize fund and suggested that he donate the money to his Ananda Marga gurus. (p.24)

In November, the FIDE Congress and Olympiad were held at Buenos Aires. The Swiss Chess Federation raised a protest on behalf of Korchnoi for consideration by the Congress. Campomanes lodged another protest against Korchnoi to the Congress. Korchnoi, who was now represented by the Swiss lawyer Alan Brodbeck, also initiated legal proceedings in an Amsterdam court against FIDE and Karpov.

In Buenos Aires the General Assembly 'declared the match finished with a score of 6-5 and declared Mr. Karpov winner of the match'. It asked the FIDE Bureau to examine the Chief Arbiter's report and the protests by Korchnoi and Campomanes. Korchnoi played first board for Switzerland in the Olympiad and won the gold medal. A few months later, he also won the 1978 chess Oscar, which Karpov had won for each of the five previous years.

In February 1979, the FIDE Bureau met in Graz, listened to Brodbeck, and unanimously decided that

Considering that both heads of delegations had concluded a private accord compromising among other things that Dr Zukhar, not an official member of the Soviet delegation, had to be seated in one of the rear rows of the hall because the Challenger had declared that he felt disturbed by the nearness of Dr Zukhar;

Considering that during the whole 32nd game Dr Zukhar was seated in one of the front rows;

Considering that from the point of view of the Challenger and his delegation this behavior of Dr Zukhar could very well be considered as a disturbance;

Considering, however, that neither the Challenger nor any members of his delegation, who were present in the hall, protested against it during the whole game;

The Bureau unanimously came to the conclusion that during the 32nd game both the Match Regulations and the Rules of Play of FIDE were respected and fully enforced.

The World Chess Championship Match between Karpov and Korchnoi in Baguio 1978 was prepared and organized in a thoroughly excellent manner by the Chess Federation of the Philippine Republic.

After a painstaking examination, the FIDE Bureau confirms that the Jury and Panel of Arbiters aIso fulfilled their duties in an objective and effective manner.

Under these circumstances, we must condemn premeditated actions and omissions on the part of the Challenger within the framework of the World Chess Championship which did not conform to the sporting ethics of chess and general social obligations and which also damaged the dignity and prestige of FIDE.

The FlDE Bureau regrets the Challenger's attitude and severely admonishes Mr Korchnoi to conduct himself in a correct manner in aIl future chess matches.

A few months later the Amsterdam Committee issued improvements on the 1978 match regulations. These included expanded arbiter powers to act on disturbances, mandatory attendance of the players at opening and closing ceremonies, a deposit of 500 SFR for any protest to be returned if considered well founded, an appeal jury of only three neutral members, and a new rule about starting clocks in the absence of a signed scoresheet.

In August 1981, during game 12 of the Karpov - Korchnoi match in Merano, the Amsterdam court delivered its verdict. It rejected Korchnoi's action concerning Baguio and directed that legal costs were to be paid by Korchnoi. The 1978 match was finally finished.

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