Spassky-Korchnoi: Candidates Match 1968 – A Win by the Hare

Spassky-Korchnoi: Candidates Match 1968 – A Win by the Hare

GreenLaser
NM GreenLaser
Jun 26, 2011, 12:00 AM |
21 | Chess Players

Boris Spassky became the challenger for the World Championship held by Tigran Petrosian after a successful campaign in which he defeated Keres, Geller, and Tal in Candidates Matches. The title match was held in 1966 and resulted in Petrosian winning 12.5-11.5. Spassky got another shot at the title in the next cycle by winning three more matches. He defeated Geller 5.5-2.5, Larsen 5.5-2.5, and Korchnoi 6.5-3.5. In 1969, Spassky won the earned return match with Petrosian, scoring 12.5-10.5. In 1972, Spassky lost his title to Bobby Fischer. Fischer impressively won 12.5-8.5, losing only two games on the board with one forfeit for not appearing. This put Spassky back in the chase for the title.

The Spassky game selected is from his  Candidates final match with Korchnoi in 1968. Viktor Korchnoi is six years older than Spassky. Although a world class player, Korchnoi came to be regarded as less talented than Spassky. Korchnoi has been considered a harder worker than Spassky over a longer period of time. In 1968, the ambitious Spassky was driving toward the world title. Korchnoi, despite being older, would seem to have reached his peak years later at the time of another match with Spassky, ten years later. It is like the story of the tortoise and the hare. In 1968, Spassky was running hard and not napping on the track. The tortoise needed time and the help of the hare to get ahead. The 1968 match score shows Spassky had 4 wins, 1 loss, and 5 draws. Spassky was leading 3.5-1.5 before Korchnoi won his only game of the match. Spassky responded with two straight wins and then two draws, closing out the match. The game shown is the first of those consecutive wins, that is game seven. Korchnoi’s response to winning his first game was to try to win a tactical fight and tie the match. He astonished his seconds by playing the King’s Indian Defense, which he rarely played and only used against weaker players. Spassky used the Saemisch Variation, which features f3, to reinstate his lead to two points.


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