Viktor Korchnoi will soon return to competitive chess - at least for one tournament. The 82-year-old chess legend suffered a stroke in September 2012, and it was feared that he would never play chess again. However, "Viktor the Terrible" can be found in the participants list of the Zurich Christmas Open!
He seems indistructible. Viktor Kortchnoi, until recently the oldest active grandmaster and famous for playing at a very high level for his age, suffered a stroke last year and had to say goodbye to tournament chess — or so it seemed. Apparently the 82-year-old grandmaster, arguably the strongest player never to become world champion, has recovered enough to be able to try it again! This was reported by Franz Jittenmeier earlier this week on Schach-Ticker.
Jittenmeier received the news from Dr Christian Issler, the Chairman of the Zurich Chess Club and a close friend of Korchnoi. Issler wrote that although Korchnoi is moving in a wheel chair these days, he still likes to visit friends at his house, where he lives with his wife Petra, and still analyses chess positions.
On 6 September the Zurich Chess Club organized an excursion to the Swiss Chess Museum, where Werner Hug, Yannick Pelletier, Etienne Bacrot and Christian Bauer were also present. Naturally, the group also played chess and in the photo below Dr Issler is playing with Korchnoi.
Issler: “Ten days ago a group of Swiss senior players gathered in Wohlen and played a small tournament. Of course Viktor won convincingly!”
The Swiss Senior squad in the Güpf House in Wohlen (Viktor Kortchnoi,
Hans Karl, Dragomir Vucenovic und Peter Hohler)
Issler: “Everyone who got to know this chess legend, knows that chess means a lot to him and also that he is extremely tough. So it is not surprising that, despite his health problems at the age of almost 83 years, he's going to fight in one more tournament; he has entered for the Zurich Christmas Open.”
Indeed, a look at the participants list of the tournament website learns that Korchnoi can be found on the 22nd place with a FIDE rating of 2499. The top seeds in this pretty strong tournament are Radek Wojtaszek (2711), Evgeny Alekseev (2698) and Boris Grachev (2669). The tournament runs 26-30 December and takes place in Hotel Crowne Plaza Zurich.
Let's hope Korchnoi will indeed be able to make it to the chess board, and not just for this one. It can definitely be called the chess comeback of the year 2013! We'll certainly be following this event.
This article was largely translated with permission from Franz Jittenmeier's report in German. Further thanks to Dr Christian Issler, Raymund Stolze and Schach-Ticker.