Reports | August 19, 2011 16:34

Korchnoi wins Botvinnik Memorial Veterans

Korchnoi wins Botvinnik Memorial VeteransViktor Korchnoi won the Botvinnik Memorial Veterans rapid tournament in Suzdal-Vladimir Oblast, Russia. The 80-year-old grandmaster finished on 7/9, a full point ahead of Evgeni Vasiukov. The rest of the field included many legends: Lajos Portisch, Borislav Ivkov, Igor Zaitsev, Aleksandar Nikitin, Wolfgang Uhlmann, Oleg Chernikov, Anatoly Bykhovsky and Mark Taimanov.

Michael Botvinnik was born on August 17, 1911. He won the World Championship title three times, and passed away May 5th, 1995, at the age of 84. Two days ago, on August 17th, he would have celebrated his hundredth birthday. For this reason, FIDE declared 2011 the Year of Botvinnik, and several Botvinnik memorial tournaments are taking place this month, including a strong open in St. Petersburg.

However, arguably the most interesting of these Botvinnik memorials was the veterans event held August 15-19 in Suzdal-Vladimir Oblast, Russia, with legendary players from the era of the 6th World Champion. It was a 10-player, single round robin rapid tournament with 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment on the clock.

When we saw this tournament announced for the first time, we were thrilled to see Boris Spassky named as one of the participants. We concluded that he must have recovered enough from his stroke to play again. Unfortunately, in later reports we read that the 10th World Champion had cancelled his participation "due to health reasons". GM Oleg Chernikov took his place in the tournament.

The field of participants included former top players like Lajos Portisch (74), Borislav Ivkov (77), Wolfgang Uhlmann (76) and Mark Taimanov (85), and famous trainers such as Igor Zaitsev (73) and Aleksandar Nikitin (76). The oldest grandmaster in the world, Yuri Averbakh (89), was the arbiter. The prize fund was not bad either: 14,200 Euro.

The legends playing on stage

The legends playing on stage, watched by the great Mikhail Moiseyevich

Despite being one of the oldest participants, Viktor Korchnoi once again proved to be the world's strongest veteran chess player, by far. He maintained the lead throughout the tournament took a clear first place with 7/9, finishing a point ahead of Evgeni Vasiukov.

To the Russian news agency RIA Novosty Korchnoi said:

"Botvinnik was a real fighter. He tried to fight with any colour and against any opponent. And he did find the opportunity to fight and beat world champions, and the strongest grandmasters of the Soviet Union and the West."

Korchnoi added:

"After I emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1977, a judgmental letter against me was signed by 31 Soviet grandmasters, and Botvinnik was the only one who did not do that."

Yuri Averbakh was interviewed as well, by Yuri Vasiliev for Sport Express. Some quotes:

I saw him for the first time in 1935, when the 2nd International Chess Tournament in Moscow was held. I was interested in chess and back then he was the idol for many Moscow boys. He first went to the Young Pioneers Stadium, then to the Palace of Pioneers. And, of course, we were all delighted by Botvinnik. He was an example for us. In 1936, when I was at summer camp, I remember how we ran to listen to the radio when Botvinnik won in Nottingham, his strongest tournament thus far. As a player I grew up almost simultaneously with the successes of Botvinnik.

(...)

In the mid 40s, when Botvinnik was going to play a match with Alekhine, he was the strongest chess player, not only in the Soviet Union, but throughout the world. In 1945, at the 14th championship of the USSR, Botvinnik made 4 draws, and won the other 13 games! It was the best result ever, which could never be repeated.

But after Botvinnik became World Champion in 1948, he decided to focus on his doctoral dissertation. For three years he worked - and achieved it. But due to the fact that he spent three years away from the chess board, his huge superiority was gone. He ceased to be above all, and was only first among equals. (More here, in Russian.)

Update: here's a long video in Russian we found at the Russian Chess House website:

Selection of games

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Botvinnik Memorial Veterans 2011 | Final Standings


Memories of Botvinnik on the wall

Memories of Botvinnik on the wall

Ivkov vs Korchnoi

Ivkov vs Korchnoi

Bykhovsky-Chernikov

Bykhovsky vs Chernikov

Nikitin vs Portisch

Nikitin vs Portisch

Taimanov vs Zaitsev

Taimanov vs Zaitsev

Uhlmann-Vasiukov

Uhlmann-Vasiukov

Korchnoi

It was no surprise: Viktor Korchnoi took first prize

Averbakh

Not just an arbiter: Yuri Averbakh (89), the oldest grandmaster in the world

Photos © Marina Romanko for Chess-News

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

unknown's picture

I hope I will age like The AllMighty Victor!

Eric's picture

How will you play when you are 85 ?

stevefraser's picture

Any chance of an indepth interview of Victor K. on chess vibes?

stevefraser's picture

I didn't see it, but Botivnnik was a loyal Stalinist, perhaps to keep himself alive.

Willem Achterkamp's picture

Taimanov has not recovered yet from his los against Fischer

Arctor's picture

He has certainly outlasted Fischer though

supergrobi's picture

Nice to see both Kortschnoj and Uhlmann winning with the French opening.

Michael Lubin's picture

What are those kids doing there?

phil's picture

Aren't they operating the old fashioned demonstration boards seen in the top picture?

Zeblakob's picture

@Last Korchnoi Photo;

PLEASE give them good chessboards for the post analysis, look at Korchnoi
Queen on c2, Isa tour???

check it out's picture

Korchnoi's meaner than those other guys. Look at that picture: he eats pawns for breakfast. Not to mention he probably plays 20 times as many tournament games; Viktor loves to play chess! He's well known for saying things he doesn't mean. One day he praises Botvinnik, the next he curses him. Not hard to do in Botvinnik's case.

adam's picture

isn't it ironic that he recently trash-talked (this time) about botvinnik in one of the latest nic issue...

freakclub's picture

Victor the Terrible! One of the greatest players of all time...

Wlad's picture

RIA Novosty is obviously wrong. I am also sure that they did not take any interview.

4 people did not sign the letter of grandmasters:
Botwinnik, Gulko, Bronstein, and Spassky.
This is well-known.

Korchnoi repeated the same thing several days ago.

http://potemkin.myff.ru/viewtopic.php?id=687

(in russian)

lex's picture

Go Korchnoi you mean old turtle!

Peter's picture

Most important is the event by its existence also honours these great living legends. There should be more of this events for them! All the other mentioned issues of the tournament are just collateral to that!

John Volodin's picture

I guess in date of born of Korchnoi is mistake. He's born in 1931 not 1911. It's my view. English is not my mother tongue. Sorry

John Volodin's picture

Michael Botvinnik was born on August 17, 1911. He won the World Championship title three times, and passed away May 5th, 1995, at the age of 84. Two days ago, on August 17th, he would have celebrated his hundredth birthday. For this reason, FIDE declared 2011 the Year of Botvinnik, and several Botvinnik memorial tournaments are taking place this month, including a strong open in St. Petersburg.

Korchoi was born in 1931!!!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Korchnoi

John Volodin's picture

Sorry! Now I knew its not about Korchnoi, it's about Botvinnik... Sorry I'm crazy I was drunk...... Sorry if you try

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