Good Karpov vs. Bad Korchnoi: the film "World Champion" was released

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Good Karpov vs. Bad Korchnoi: the film "World Champion" was released
Good Karpov vs. Bad Korchnoi: the film "World Champion" was released
31 December 2021, 16:10CulturePhoto: Кадр из фильма
This film tells about one of the most dramatic episodes in the history of world chess - the match for the title of world champion between the Soviet grandmaster Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi, who fled the USSR.

On December 30, a feature film by Alexei Sidorov about one of the most dramatic and legendary matches in the history of chess was released: the match for the world title between the reigning world champion Anatoly Karpov (Ivan Yankovsky) and the contender for this title - grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi (Konstantin Khabensky), who emigrated from the USSR a few years before this match.

The critic Susanna Alperina called the film's ideologization the biggest disadvantage of this film:

“Khabensky turned out to be a great villain. I am writing this because Korchnoi is represented in the picture by a typical “dark force”. We are used to seeing heroes in Khabensky. Sometimes heroes-lovers ... Let's move on to the minuses. The first is directing. This film is a logical continuation, the last part of the "triptych" of sports dramas from the same producers. The first film is Legend Number 17, the second is Moving Up. (...) But the main disadvantage is ideology ... Don't you think that ideology plus "good Karpov and bad Korchnoi" is a kind of veiled anti-Semitism? "

Manager Tatiana Lieber enjoyed this picture:

“It was interesting, because I remember the match very well. Young people may not understand / will not believe, but then the country really lived with this match. (As, however, and the games of the World Cup in hockey). I liked the film mainly because of the excellent performance of Khabensky (Korchnoi). A very controversial figure: unpleasant, tragic, and sympathetic. Very good grandson Yankovsky (Karpov). In a word, I got pleasure on the eve of NG! "

But the journalist Dina Radbel during the last visit of Korchnoi to Moscow interviewed him for the magazine "Egoist generatuon".

“I was incredibly lucky to talk to Viktor Lvovich, although, as everyone knows, he avoided giving interviews in every possible way. Korchnoi did not like Russia; lately he came to Moscow extremely rarely, incognito. I was warned that the grandmaster especially does not favor Russian journalists ... "

Viktor Korchnoi died in 2016 in Switzerland, where he lived after his escape from the USSR. With the permission of the author, Novye Izvestia cites some of the most interesting excerpts from this conversation.

About emigration

I did not emigrate! I ran! There are two words in English - immigrate and to be basked. They didn't emigrate in the 70s! I went to play in Amsterdam for the International Tournament and asked for political asylum. They refused. They were given only a residence permit. Moved to Switzerland. Received political asylum and later citizenship. I've been living here for over thirty years. My wife supported me in everything, tried to explain to my son, but what could he then understand? They found themselves in a difficult situation, but there was no other way out.

I was going as if on an ordinary business trip. Practically, without things, I took only letters and photographs. He hid the letters at the bottom of his suitcase among the chess relics. The customs officials were not interested in my epistolary heritage. I was never particularly checked, I freely took out my favorite books by Solzhenitsyn, Pasternak, Mandelstam, Akhmatova. Ask why? Nobody was interested in what I read, I am a chess player, an athlete. But it was these letters that saved me, became the main trump card. The envelopes contained anonymous messages with insults and threats, they called me a dirty, disgusting Jew, a Jewish face, threatened to beat me up ... I began to receive such letters when the figure of Anatoly Karpov appeared. And I really hoped that the letters would help me get political asylum, serve as proof that I was treated badly at home.

About the consequences of escape

My escape is a desire to play chess and nothing more. I was not a dissident. Didn't think about sausage. But today, looking back, I feel in a sense guilty that then a mass flight from the USSR began. There were over 40 thousand of us defectors. And all these people disappeared, no one in the Union heard anything about them anymore.

Igor (Korchnoi's son, ed. ) Was kicked out of the institute. They planted. He refused to serve in the Army, for which he "served" three years in prison. I was in Switzerland, moreover, I was still powerless, I could not come to them under any guise. The life of my family in Leningrad turned into a prison, they were not allowed to come to me, they were accused of anti-social actions, they could not live a full life. The wife is dead. The son lives in the French part of Switzerland. He's fine, working as a computer technician. But how long have I been waiting for them! I remember reading an open letter to Brezhnev at the airfield in Zurich, then at a press conference in Manila I attracted everyone to whom I could turn, begging for help. Besides requests, calls, appeals - what else could I do?

About the second wife

Корчной со второй женой Петрой
Photo:Фото автора.

Petra deserves a separate interview, a whole book. In a nutshell: she is German, she was arrested in Austria in 1945 on charges of espionage and anti-communist activities, she was sent to Siberia, to a camp for 10 years ... Years later, the camp past turned into privileges and helped Peter to arrange her life, well , and get to know us. She became my secretary, psychologist, bodyguard, muse, cane, umbrella, glass of water ... Journalists could not calm down. The newspapers wrote: “Why does Korchnoi call his family when she’s around, he’s going to live in two families?” Don't ask. They did not answer. I will not answer you.

About your destiny

I would never call myself a happy person, happy - has no future. To myself, I seemed like a privileged Soviet person. In the Union, any step had a political coloration, the longer the step, the brighter its coloration. It was necessary to mature for a serious step, I regretted that I had been immature for too long. Back in 1966, at a tournament in Germany, I was offered not to return to the USSR, I refused, and lost 11 years of human life!

I began to develop when my father was gone, he died at the front, at thirty-one. He taught me to play chess. We lived in besieged Leningrad, first they took me out, and then they returned me to the blockade. I remember the winter of 1941-42, when the food warehouses were set on fire, the houses were not heated, the janitors did not remove the snow, and it was impossible to walk. I am ten years old, I have two buckets in my hands, I am going to the Neva for water. I had a mother, a stepmother ... My hobby for chess distracted me from real life. At sixteen, I went to get a passport: my mother is Jewish, my father was born in Ukraine, there is Polish blood, which means most of the Jewish blood. Said, "Sign me up as a Jew." At home, my Jewish stepmother made a scandal, they say, I don’t understand anything, and ran to the house manager with a request to write that I was Russian. Years later, my son had to enroll in school. Who I am is understandable, but my mother is Armenian. I decided to let him be Armenian. I came home, now my wife, an Armenian, made a scandal. It is necessary - he says - to register his son as a Russian. And so they did. Of course, in the Soviet Union, there was a difference between the rights and responsibilities of certain nations. But in my chess brain there was no place for all this.

About chess

All defeats are unforgettable, painful, excruciating. I lost painfully to Karpov, to Petrosyan, to Spassky ... A defeat is not only a lost game. Karpov arrived in Baguio for the world championship match with a huge retinue, and the astronaut with him, a cook, a massage therapist, and a hypnologist. But most of all I was surprised by his nails! With a manicure! In the USSR, they were proud of their rough, working hands. Karpov became the first manicured grandmaster, a manicured member of the Central Committee of the Komsomol ... Ha-ha! We lived in a country where men just cut their nails, and I cut like everyone else. Karpov was given everything - from space to manicure. This can also be viewed as a defeat. I was not given. I was worried. At one time he even started drinking.

In 1981, I announced that I would never play with Karpov again. "A soldier who does not want to become a general is a bad soldier." And so it happened. After this statement, perspective disappeared. Refusing to meet Karpov at the highest chess level, I lost my future, said goodbye to the high chess life.

I live the life of an active pensioner. I give trainings to young people. I play less than before, but I'm spoiled, I have to be invited personally, for royalties. There are fewer and fewer such tournaments. I walk a lot, in principle I do not use transport. Ten kilometers to the target? I'm going ten. I love reading books on psychology. Thanks to one of them, I quit smoking ten years ago. I got up in the morning, did not smoke in the evening.

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