Veteran Grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi has had an amazing year.
Already the oldest world-class player by decades, Korchnoi also seems to be
trying to prove that he can also be the most active.
In an era when the top players prefer to compete in only three or four tournaments per year, Korchnoi has already managed 10 in 2001, enjoying considerable success.
The ex-Russian's 70th birthday in March provided an excuse to compete in rapid tournaments in his home cities of St Petersburg, where Korchnoi lived until his defection in 1976, and Zurich, Switzerland, his home country since then.
In addition, Korchnoi has played eight other events this year, with stand-out results at GM tournaments in Biel, Switzerland, and Buenos Aires.
Korchnoi's latest triumph looks likely to be at an elite four player Essent tournament in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands.
The Hoogeveen tournament brings together the world's top woman player, top Dutch player, previous year's World Junior Champion and a living legend. In years past, the legends, even Anatoly Karpov, have tended to struggle.
However this year Korchnoi seeded third, has led from the start, and enjoyed a full point lead at the halfway stage. Korchnoi was slowed down in the second cycle by the Cuban junior Lazaro Bruzon in the following extraordinary endgame. (See diagram)
Rook endgames with two pawns against one are usually drawn and Korchnoi may have been expecting 52.Rg6 Rd3+ 53.Kg2 Kf4 with an inevitable draw. However Bruzon found
Bruzon - Korchnoi
preparing to answer a rook check with 53.f3. Korchnoi could find nothing better than
Korchnoi faced a depressing choice. If he plays 54...Kd4 then after 55.f4! his king is too far away to stop White's pawn. Korchnoi tries the alternative, exchanging to a pawn endgame he knows to be lost but which requires great precision by the youngster.
Good enough, but 62.f5 would probably have provoked immediate resignation by Korchnoi.
Not 67.Kf6 stalemate!
Essent GM Tournament
Hoogeveen, The Netherlands
Scores after 5 rounds:
2eq.Korchnoi(Swi), Van Wely(Ned) 2.5;
October 2001 Australian Rankings
(Average of latest FIDE and Australian ratings)
1.Rogers(N) 2559; 2.Johansen(V) 2523; 3.Lane(N) 2458; 4.Wohl(N) 2436; 5.Gluzman(V) 2403; 6.Sandler(V) 2393; 7.Solomon(Q) 2392; 8.Tao(SA) 2383; 9.Wallace(N) 2361; 10.West(V) 2352; 11.Chapman(SA) 2351; 12.Zhao Zong Yuan(N) 2341; 13.Teichmann(V) 2340; 14.Laird(Q) 2336; 15.Rujevic(V) 2330; 16.Speck(V) 2324; 17.Samar(N) 2317; 18.Depasquale(V) 2315; 19.Smerdon(Q) 2312; 20eq.Stephens(N), J.Curtis(N) 2308.