Viktor Korchnoi, the great Russian chess champion, yesterday passed away. He was born in Leningrad in 1931; he was graduated in story; in the seventies of the past century he left the Soviet Union and moved to Netherland, thence to Switzerland.
Korchnoi never won the world title; he often got very next to, but never grasped it. However he was deemed on the same level of the giants of his time: Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Spassky, Petrosian, Fischer, Karpov.
Korchnoi was a very nice guy to talk with (or to play bridge with), in the evening after the chess game. Once, it was in early seventies, dining with other chessplayers during an international tourney, he told a funny joke rather mocking at the then ruling communist party in Soviet Union. All laughed but Yuri Averbach, another Soviet master, who stood up in the middle of the dinner and walked away from the room without saying a word. The Italian master Enrico Paoli, who was sitting at the same table, pointed that out to Korchnoi:
‒ It seems that he didn’t like the joke.
But promptly Korchnoi reassured him:
‒ He liked: he’s just waiting to be back to his room to laugh.
We knew this story from the beloved chess master Pierluigi Beggi, from Pisa.
We’ll miss your smile, Viktor
Paolo Enrico Garrisi