Monday, May 14, 2012

Chess is My Life – Korchnoi

      My copy by ARCO Publishing was published in 1978.  Viktor Korchnoi, aka “Victor the Terrible” or as Chessbase called him,  the "Methusaleh of chess", was born March 23, 1931, in Leningrad.  He defected to the Netherlands and later moved to Switzerland. In 1974, he lost the Candidates final to Karpov and played World Championship matches with Karpov in 1978 and 1981. Korchnoi was a candidate for the World Championship ten times (1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1991) and won the USSR Championship four times. In 2006, he won the World Senior Championship. A very impressive record, but his games remain mostly unknown to the players of today.       Korchnoi is either loved or hated but it must be admitted there hasn’t been anybody like him in decades.  In this autobiography Korchnoi voiced his opinion on openings, endgames, grandmasters, FIDE, the Soviet-Union, history, chess organization, the quality of food in Havana, Cuba and the contents of Karpov’s yogurt.
       Prior to his defection Korchnoi was a member of the Communist party but he left his wife and son behind when he decided to ask for asylum in the Netherlands and refused to go back to the USSR. It was left to his wife and son who had to take all the heat back home in Leningrad…a rather controversial decision.
       In this book he writes about his childhood in WW2-torn Leningrad, his time as a student of the university, his rise to the top in the USSR and the years before and after his defection to the West in 1976.
       Fascinating reading but it only contains 72 games, mostly unannotated.  Not worth the price unless you can find it used in which case buy it. 

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