Chess grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi, who defected from Russia to the West in 1976, has died in Switzerland aged 85.

Born in 1931 in what is now St Petersburg, Korchnoi survived the siege of Leningrad during World War Two and is seen as one of the best players never to be World Champion.

He was a four-time USSR champion and ranked number one in the world in 1965.

However, he became convinced he had to leave the Soviet Union after being banned from playing internationally.

He played three matches against Soviet rival Anatoly Karpov, losing the 1974 final of the Candidates Tournament – which determines the challenger to play the world champion.

Mr Karpov became world champion in 1975 after the American Bobby Fischer refused to defend his title.

Korchnoi was then allowed by the Soviet authorities to compete internationally again the following year and sought political asylum in the Netherlands after a tournament there.

He later progressed to the World Championship final in 1978 and 1981, but lost to Mr Karpov on both occasions.

Korchnoi continued playing chess well into old age.

He was the oldest active chess grandmaster on the international tournament circuit for many years and won the World Senior Chess Championship in 2006.

Dec 10, 2020

Nakamura gets revenge on So in the semi-finals of the Skilling Open

Hikaru Nakamura made up for losing to Wesley So in the semi-finals of the Skilling Open by defeating his US rival 13.5:12.5 to reach a Speed Chess final against either Magnus Carlsen or Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. Nakamura, who was celebrating his 33rd birthday, said “in many ways he was the better player in the match”, but when they reached the bullet section level on points it was hard to bet against Hikaru. The bullet master did indeed pull away into a 3-point lead, but the games were fierce battles and Wesley got to play the move of the match.

The final will then take place at 18:00 CET on Saturday.

See also:

  • Magnus Carlsen vs. Parham Maghsoodloo | All the games
  • Maxime Vachier-Lagrave vs. Nihal Sarin | All the games
  • Alireza Firouzja vs. Vladimir Fedoseev | All the games
  • Wesley So vs. Nodirbek Abdusattorov | All the games
  • Ian Nepomniachtchi vs. Levon Aronian | All the games
  • Nakamura vs. Martirosyan | All the games
  • Caruana vs. Duda | All the games
  • Giri vs. Artemiev | All the games
  • So vs. Duda | All the games
  • Aronian vs. MVL | All the games
  • Carlsen vs. Artemiev | All the games
  • Nakamura vs. Fedoseev | All the games
  • Nakamura vs. So | All the games
  • Carlsen vs. MVL | All the games
  • Magnus Carlsen starts Speed Chess campaign today
  • Carlsen demolishes Maghsoodloo 24:5
  • Fedoseev shocks Firouzja in Speed Chess
  • Wesley So brushes aside Abdusattorov 18:10
  • Aronian beats Nepo to set up MVL quarterfinal
  • Duda blows Caruana away in bullet chess
  • Artemiev defeats Giri to set up Carlsen showdown
  • MVL beats Aronian to reach Carlsen or Artemiev Speed Chess semi-final
  • Carlsen and Nakamura remain on Speed Chess collision course
Oct 25, 2016

20 Years Later, Humans Still No Match For Computers On The Chessboard

Next month, there’s a world chess championship match in New York City, and the two competitors, the assembled grandmasters, the budding chess prodigies, the older chess fans — everyone paying attention — will know this indisputable fact: A computer could win the match hands down.

They’ve known as much for almost 20 years — ever since May 11, 1997. On that day, IBM’s Deep Blue defeated the great Garry Kasparov who, after an early blunder, resigned in defeat.

“I am ashamed by what I did at the end of this match. But so be it,” Kasparov said. “I feel confident that machine hasn’t proved anything yet.”

Kasparov’s confidence proved unjustified. In the years since, computers have built on Deep Blue’s 1997 breakthrough to the point where the battle between humans and machines is not even close. Even chess grandmasters like author and columnist Andrew Soltis know this to be true.

“Right now, there’s just no competition,” Soltis says. “The computers are just much too good.”

And as it turns out, some players prefer to stay away from computers as opponents, he says.

“The world champion Magnus Carlsen won’t even play his computer,” Soltis says. “He uses it to train, to recommend moves for future competition. But he won’t play it, because he just loses all the time and there’s nothing more depressing than losing without even being in the game.”

Magnus Carlsen, who’s Norwegian, defends his title against Sergey Karjakin of Russia, in November. Carlsen is 25. Karjakin, 26.

They have both arrived at the highest ranks of the game in an era when a $100 chess computer can easily dispose of them both. That superiority had been pursued and imagined for decades.

There was a chess match in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. HAL, the computer, versus Frank, the astronaut. The chess match in 2001: A Space Odyssy between HAL, the computer, and Frank, the astronaut.

But here’s the question. Do HAL’s real-life progeny — computers that can see 30 moves into the future — play the game differently? Do they have a style? Have they taught humans new strategies?

Murray Campbell of IBM was part of the Deep Blue project. As he says, chess computers do play differently. They make moves that sometimes make no sense to their human opponents.

“Computers don’t have any sense of aesthetics or patterns that are standard the way people learn how to play chess,” Campbell says. “They play what they think is the objectively best move in any position, even if it looks absurd, and they can play any move no matter how ugly it is.”

Human chess players bring preconceptions to the board; computers are unbound by habit. And, unlike people, computers love to retreat, Soltis says.

“And if you see a game in which one of the players is doing a lot of retreating mysteriously and so on, and the game goes on forever and ever, that’s a computer,” he says.

Susan Polgar is a grandmaster and a six-time national collegiate champion chess coach. Computers do all that retreating, she says, because they’re not slaves to human nature. Humans, she says, don’t like to admit a mistake unless they really have to.
“And in those borderline cases when it’s not obvious that you have to retreat, chess players tend to not like to retreat,” Polgar says. “Let’s say you move a knight forward towards your opponent’s king, attacking. Unless you absolutely have to retreat, you rather try to follow up that attack by bringing more pieces to attack your opponent’s king.”

Computers display no such stubbornness. “A computer, if it calculates that the best move is to retreat, it has absolutely no psychological boundaries holding it back from retreating,” Polgar says.

One of the human players in November’s match, Magnus Carlsen, the world champion, was described as playing a very un-computer like game of chess. Polgar says this means Carlsen can win with different kinds of strategy, and he might choose his strategy based on what he knows about his opponent.

“Against one opponent that loves having queens on the board — the most dangerous attacking piece — he would make sure, you know, try to get rid of the queens as soon as possible and put his opponent in a more uncomfortable setting on the chessboard,” Polgar says.

To the great human chess champion, understanding the foibles of his foe can be a key to victory. To a computer, all opponents look the same. “I think many of the common board games don’t have the unknown element in it,” Campbell says. “They may have chance elements. A game like backgammon, for example, there’s roll of the dice, but you can calculate the probabilities quite accurately. When there’s unknowns, there’s things … just are hidden from you, and even the alternatives, the things you can do, can’t be set down and enumerated. There’s maybe too many possible actions you can take. That’s the challenge for modern artificial intelligence research.”

Meanwhile, back at the chessboard, two of the best human players in the world — Carlsen and Karjakin — play their championship in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, starting Nov. 11.

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Apr 23, 2021

FIDE Candidates Tournament R10: The Game of the day

23-year-old underdog Kirill Alekseenko had been under pressure in his first two games back, but his resilience against Alexander Grischuk was ultimately rewarded with a first win, while he pulled off the impressive feat of outpreparing Fabiano Caruana. He called his clash against compatriot Ian Nepomniachtchi an “awful game”, however, and it was hard to disagree.

Ian Nepomniachtchi has taken a one-point lead over his three pursuers with just four rounds of the FIDE Candidates Tournament to go. He surprised Kirill Alekseenko in the opening and was essentially winning in a dozen moves. Elsewhere Caruana-Ding Liren and MVL-Giri were exciting battles that ended drawn, while Wang Hao-Grischuk was also drawn, but an extraordinary spectacle. Alexander Grischuk spent 1 hour and 12 minutes on move 11, but later had winning chances when Wang Hao gave up his queen and lost his way in the complications.

See also:

  • Official website
  • FIDE Candidates Tournament games on chess24
  • FIDE Candidates Tournament stopped at halfway
  • FIDE Candidates to resume after 389 days
  • Carlsen to play 5th World Championship in Dubai this November
  • Magnus Carlsen to commentate on the Candidates
  • Jan, Laurent & Peter preview the Candidates
  • Alexander Grischuk on the FIDE Candidates
  • Candidates Round 8: Caruana stuns MVL to blow race wide open
  • Candidates Round 9: Giri back in the race