Viktor Korchnoi (1931 to 2016) was a giant of the chess world with a career embracing seventy years and over 5,000 recorded games. He contested two world championship matches against Anatoly Karpov, coming within a whisker of being crowned World Champion in 1978. He was a world championship candidate, Soviet champion and Olympiad medal-winner on numerous occasions.
In this first of four volumes on Viktor Korchnoi’s chess career, FIDE Master Hans Renette and International Master Tibor Karolyi deeply analyse 181 games and fragments up until 1968. This period encompasses his bitterly tough childhood involving the Second World War and poverty, the death of his father and grandmother, his mother’s mental health problems and his loyal support from his step-mother, but also his chess beginnings and early coaches, his marriage and the birth of his son. We learn about his early rivalry with Mark Taimanov and Boris Spassky in Viktor’s hometown of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), and his later rivalry with Mikhail Tal and Tigran Petrosian. He exchanged blows with Bobby Fischer on equal terms.
Korchnoi won three of his four Soviet championship titles during this period, for the first time in 1960, and according to Chessmetrics rating calculations he began a four-month stint as world number 1 in 1965. He played at the 1962 candidates tournament in Curacao and reached the 1968 candidates final versus Spassky. This volume concludes with two of Korchnoi’s most impressive international tournament wins, at Wijk aan Zee and Palma de Mallorca in 1968.
The work is supplemented with a generous portion of photos taken in particular from Soviet-era chess publications and the Korchnoi family archive.
Hans Renette, a FIDE Master with two International Master norms, is a historian and chess coach. He has written chess biographies of the great players Emanuel Lasker, Henry Edward Bird, Louis Paulsen, Gustav Neumann and John Wisker.
Tibor Karolyi is an International Master and chess coach who has written games collections of Magnus Carlsen, Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Bobby Fischer, Boris Spassky, Tigran Petrosian and Mikhail Tal, among many other chess books.