Viktor Korchnoi died last week, aged 85. He was an absolute Titan of the chess world (possibly the strongest never to be World Champion), and probably the greatest chess fighter of all time. Almost fitting that his passing should have come just three days after Muhammad Ali, the greatest fighter of all time.
I played Korchnoi once - in a simul, of course. It was at the old Morris Motors factory in Courthouse Green, Coventry, when he was on what was then a traditional post-Hastings tour. He had just come from finishing equal first there, with Karpov (who he beat in their individual encounter), while I was in my first season in the lower reaches of the Coventry League and didn't even possess a grade. We can all guess what happened, but behind Korchnoi's prosaic victory there lies a hidden story, never told until now. Of how the game very nearly became a significant piece of chess history, and without which Bobby Fischer may never have ascended to the chess summit. Intrigued? Bemused?? Disbelieving??? Read on ....... and prepare to be amazed - and ultimately disappointed!
So farewell, Viktor the Terrible. A mighty warrior, on and off the board. We shall not see his like again.