16 June 2016

Korchnoi's Complaints

In a recent post on my World Championship blog, Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016), I remarked,

A post about [Korchnoi] on this WCC blog is mandatory, but also problematic. Mandatory because of his long record of participation in WCC events, problematic because of the often controversial nature of his participation.

The most significant act of Korchnoi's controversial life occurred away from the board. In Korchnoi's Defection, I noted,

The 1976 defection separated Korchnoi's life into two parts: before defecting and after defecting. The book 'Chess Is My Life' recounts the before period. He later wrote a second book 'Persona Non Grata (formerly titled "Anti-Chess")' recounting the after period (Thinker's Press 1981).

That description of 'Persona Non Grata' isn't entirely accurate. First, the book's focus is more the 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi Title Match in the Philippines than any other events of that period. Second, although the book's author is listed as 'Viktor Kortchnoi [sic] with Lenny Cavallaro', it is more 'Lenny Cavallaro with Viktor Korchnoi'.

The book uses typesetting to identify its different voices: Cavallaro's voice is in a standard typeface; Korchnoi's voice is in quoted italics; other voices are in standard quotes. Here is an example from Ch.5 'The Situation Intensifies'.

'Persona Non Grata' p.38-39

The first paragraph is the continuation of a letter by Viktor Baturinsky, the chief of Karpov's delegation; the next three paragraphs are commentary by Cavallaro; the rest is a mixture of Baturinsky and Korchnoi.

The most important portions of the book are where Korchnoi speaks. Cavallaro often interjects his opinion as an outside observer, while the thoughts and actions of the other personalities involved in the match are well documented elsewhere. Korchnoi's observations are unique and original. Here is an example from the same chapter, p.45-46, using the same typeface conventions as the book.

In the Soviet press after the match was over, Karpov expressed a strange opinion about this game [the 11th: his first loss]: "I can't explain what happened. I felt excellent, but played badly." Well, from a chess point of view, Kortchnoi has already observed that everything turns out favorably for Karpov when half the game is recorded in his notebook, but if he has to work it out for himself from the first move -- that's another matter altogether.

But Karpov wasn't hinting at this to his readers. He was suggesting that his psychologist was sitting in the 7th row, unable to help him. It soon became apparent that Zukhar's primary function was not so much to distract Kortchnoi (which he certainly did do, at least initially) as to lend some sort of support to the Champion.

The surprise factor here is that Viktor's psychologist, Dr. Berginer from Israel, had arrived in time for the 11th game! Unrecognized, he calmly took a seat in the 5th row.

"Allow me", Viktor writes, "to put forward my own views -- the views of an amateur and in some respects, an experimental subject of psychology and para-psychology. There is no question that hypnosis exists and is a huge force in itself. A few years ago, there were published reports in the press about experiments in the Soviet Union. It was suggested to some people that they were famous artists and although they had never picked up a brush before, they had created very acceptable paintings! A couple of years ago, Tal took part in a similar experiment. It was suggested to his opponent, a chess player of very average ability, that he was the brilliant 19th century champion, Paul Morphy. The encounter began with Tal's partner demanding a fee! Then the game itself started and it required an immense effort on the part of the real former World Champion to finally outplay this newly-revealed genius.

Hypnotism! Here we are in uncharted waters.

"It was precisely such a link that existed between Zukhar and Karpov -- a link which according to FIDE rules (point 5) is illegal.

"Such a link requires total consent, mutual trust, and understanding between doctor and patient. The closer the doctor is (physically) to his patient, the more durable the link. It is very important to reinforce it at times during the game -- say, by visual or some other contact.

"Is support possible at a distance, from outside one's field of vision, even a one-way link? This so-called telepathy is already known from the realms of para-psychology. So far it is a scientific or, rather, a military secret. The super-powers -- the USA and the USSR -- take this matter very seriously, and are reluctant to publish opinions or results. To extrapolate further, a Soviet court sentenced the dissident, Sharansky, to 13 years in prison for allegedly passing secret informa-tion to American intelligence about Soviet advanced scientific achievements in the field of electronics -- and parapsychology!

"And if such a force exists, the FIDE rules are powerless!

For more about the strange events surrounding the 1978 Karpov - Korchnoi match, see my other pages: Highlights and Yogurt, Parapsychology, Ananda Marga, ....

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