A King without a throne
Today I would like to present to You a great Chess player that I am sure You already know. He is and was very often underestimated perhaps because he never was champion of the world, underestimated probably because he just plays what I call real Chess, probably without thinking who he should or should not play against, in other words just plays his opponents without choosing them in his favor, but isn’t this what all players should do? There are many books on him, an autobiography and interesting history elements and books of his life but this is not a biography so they unfortunately won’t be covered here. I believe his huge contribution to Chess is priceless, he is not just another Chess player, he is Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi. At age 82 and until recently, he was the oldest active grandmaster on the tournament circuit and to this day, I think, he holds the record for the longest Chess-longevity. But this is not his only achievement. He never succeeded in becoming World Champion because Chess is often played on more squares than the ones on the board, but many people consider him the strongest player never to have done so.
Korchnoi was a candidate for the World Championship on ten occasions (1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1991). Back in the days and even today, the youth policy that is often preferred largely classed Korchnoi as the old vanguard; as a consequence, he and many other players were sometimes overlooked when it came to distribution of opportunities to play in international chess tournaments. Korchnoi's mood largely dictated his plan for the game. His playing style initially was an aggressive counterattack. He excelled in difficult defensive positions. He was comfortable playing with or without the initiative, attacking, counterattacking or play positionally wasn’t a secret for him, he perfectly knew how to. He became known as the master of counterattack, and he was Mikhail Tal's (out-and-out attacker) most difficult opponent. He had a large lifetime plus score against Tal, and also has plus scores against world champions Petrosian and Spassky. He had equal records against Botvinnik (+1 −1 =2) and Fischer (+2 −2 =4). He has defeated the eight undisputed world champions from Botvinnik to Garry Kasparov, as well as FIDE world champions Ruslan Ponomariov and Veselin Topalov. Korchnoi won the USSR Chess Championship four times during his career.
In September 2006 Korchnoi won the 16th World Senior Chess Championship, held in Arvier (Valle d'Aosta, Italy), with a 9–2 score. Korchnoi scored 7½–½ in his first eight games, then drew his last three games. This is the first world title Korchnoi has won (and his only participation in a World Senior Chess Championship).
Garry Kasparov beat Viktor Korchnoi 16 to 1, with 23 draws during his career, so some say that there is nothing to argue about. Well sometimes comparison is subjective. Korchnoi was 51 years old when he first played Kasparov, that's exactly the age of Kasparov now, and Kasparov is already 9 years into retirement. This is like asking Kasparov to come out of retirement to play against Carlsen Magnus, so I think we can cut Korchnoi some slack. In the second example we’ll see what a younger Victor Korchnoi is able to do.