ΣΤΗ ΜΝΗΜΗ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΤΕΡΑ ΜΟΥ
Χτύπησε τα μεγάλα, αδύναμα φτερά του στον αέρα για να κρατηθεί για άλλη μιά φορά. Μέσα του ήξερε ότι δεν θα το πετύχαινε αυτή τη φορά.
Εδώ και πολύ καιρό είχε αρχίσει να χάνει ύψος. Η αμείλικτη βαρύτητα τον τραβούσε όλο και πιό δυνατά προς την μάνα Γή.
Μισόκλεισε τα μάτια του, και ταυτόχρονα συνειδητοποίησε ότι δεν είχε άλλα περιθώρια, ότι ετούτη θα ήταν η τελευταία του πτήση....συνεχεια..
Viktor Korchnoi was a professional chess player, one of the strongest grandmasters in the world, twice World Championship challenger, the strongest player never to have won the title. He was also, in recent years, the oldest active grandmaster on the tournament circuit.
Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi was born on 23 March 1931 in Leningrad, Soviet UNION, to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. He learned to play chess from his father at the age of five. He graduated from Leningrad State University with a major in history.
In 1974 Korchnoi lost the Candidates final to Karpov, who became the Challenger and was declared world champion when Bobby Fischer refused to defend his title in 1975. After that Korchnoi won two consecutive Candidates cycles to qualify for World Championship matches against Karpov, in 1978 and 1981. He lost both. In total Viktor Korchnoi playing in ten Candidate tournaments (1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1991). He was also a four-time champion of the Soviet Union. In September 2006, he won the World Senior Chess Championship.
In 1974 it became clear that a campaign was underWAY in the USSR to promote Karpov over Korchnoi. The central authorities prevented him from playing international tournaments, or even in Estonia, which was part of the Soviet Union. He was Korchnoi was allowed to play in the tough 1976 IBM Amsterdam 16-player round robin, probably in order to prove that he was not so strong, and that Karpov was a worthy World Champion. Korchnoi was the joint winner of the tournament along with Tony Miles, both scoring 9.5/15 points.
At the end of the tournament, Korchnoi famously asked Miles to spell "political asylum" for him. He became the first strong Soviet grandmaster to defect from the Soviet Union. He had to leave his wife and son behind. He resided in the Netherlands for some time, moved to West Germany and then eventually settled in Switzerland by in 1978. HeCONTINUED to play chess, and in 2009 became the oldest player ever to win a national championship, when he won the Swiss championship at age 78.
In 2012 he suffered a stroke and the general opinion was that he would never play competitive chess again. Still he continued to give simultaneous exhibitions and in 2015, bound to a wheelchair, he played a matchagainst German GM Wolfgang Uhlmann. He attended the 2016 Zurich Chess Challenge earlier this year, but was not able to play anything himself.
On a personal note
I got to know Viktor Lvovich shortly after his defection, when he visited Hamburg. We got on well, shared a slightly deviant sense of humour, with myself enjoying his sometimes caustic and rude remarks. He always spoke to me in German, even if ISTARTED the conversation in English.
Viktor Korchnoi and Petra at the ChessBase Christmas dinner in Hamburg
At some stage I got to know his wife Petra, who quickly became one of my best friends in the chess world. I have always sought and enjoying her company, joking and flirting. I know her harrowingLIFE story, how her life was interrupted by captivity and a decade-long incarceration in a Soviet concentration camp in the Arctic Circle immediately after the war. Hers is a life story that must be told – and will be sometime in the future.
When I met Viktor and Petra in Zurich in February this year, he was frailer than I had ever seen him before. When he saw me he simply smiled and shrugged his shoulders: "What you gonna do?" was the meaning of that shrug. Petra, who is a couple of years older, was also uncharacteristically shaky, and I foundMYSELFhelping her to her armchair or through doors. When I commented on Victor's feebleness she said to me: "I only hope he dies before me, Frederic." "Why?" I protested. "Because I do not know who could care for him if I am gone."
There will me many stories following this somewhat rushed eulogy. Our editors are already working on them. I myself could go on all night, but will restrict myself to pointing our readers to a few of the great number of article we have published on this great man over the years.
Viktor Korchnoi's 80th Birthday Celebration
2011, Viktor Korchnoi turned 80. There was a week of celebrations, held mainly in Zurich, which is not far from where Viktor Lvovich and his wife PetraLIVE. The celebrations were kicked things off with a clock simul by Korchnoi, and then a gala dinner in his honour. Guests included Mark Taimanov and Garry Kasparov.
Above you see the man for whose 80th birthday all this had been organised, already hard at work himself. Viktor Korchnoi was playing a clock handicap simultaneous exhibition against ten talented youngsters from the Swiss Youth team. Absolutely amazing.
Incidentally, I came down to the Festival Hall, where the simul was under WAY, with a message from another guest: if the eighty-year-old simultaneous master was overcome with fatigue he could enlist the assistance of an unrated player who was willing to jump in for him, for a move or two. However, Viktor refused: he would do the job by himself. But thank you very kindly for the offer, Garry Kimovich.
Viktor and Garry – for decades they have shared a very affectionate relationship
And here are some picture of two great chess legends: below we see Viktor in animated conversation with 85-year-old Mark Taimanov, who had come to Zurich for the celebrations.