In 1974, Korchnoi gave an interview to a Yugoslav newspaper in which he criticised certain aspects of the Soviet chess system. This resulted in being dropped from the national team for a year and banned
from playing tournaments abroad in 1975 by his own federation. He was banned from publishing chess analysis, too.
In 1976, after these measures had been lifted, Viktor Korchnoi took part at the
IBM-tournament in Amsterdam, during which he requested asylum in the Netherlands. He lived there for some time, playing and winning the National Championship of the Netherlands in 1977, before moving to Switzerland at the end of 1977.
A sad chapter of competitive chess history:
No invitation for Korchnoi to estimated 40 possible international
chess tournaments from 1976 up to 1983 because of boycott against him by the former Soviet Union.
Viktor Korchnoi was barred from elite tournaments apart from the FIDE
WC cycle. For long ten consecutive years (!!), from 1974 up to and including 1983, there was not a single game between Karpov and Korchnoi outside the official World Championships! Even at the Chess Olympiad in Lucerne 1982, when Switzerland
was paired to USSR, Karpov paused for a second round in a row (with Korchnoi on board one subsequently facing, and losing a spectacular game against rapidly rising Kasparov).
The first international
invitation chess tournament in classical chess with the participation of players of the Soviet Federation and Korchnoi after his emigration, was at Wijk aan Zee (46th annual Hoogovens) in January 1984, won equally by Alexander Beliavsky & Viktor Korchnoi,
both unbeaten and during the tournament visibly on friendly terms.
A selection of tournaments, Viktor Korchnoi was deliberately not invited after his emigration during the years he was boycotted:
Not a single invitation at Bugojno (because of boycott threatens), a super-strong five times biannual tournament in the years 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984, and 1986, won by Karpov in 1978 shared
with Spassky (no Korchnoi), 1980 (no Korchnoi), and 1984 (no Korchnoi).
No invitation for the superstrong Clarin series, played in Buenos Aires in 1978, 1979, and 1980 (Andersson
won the inaugural edition, followed by Larsen as double-winner), and in Mar del Plata in 1982 (Timman took clear first in that last edition). Reigning World Chess Champion Karpov participated twice, finishing fourth-fifth in 1980, and third-fifth in 1982.
No invitation for Korchnoi at Tilburg until the year 1985. Tilburg was played annually from 1977 to 1998 and won a record seven times by Karpov 1977 (no Korchnoi), 1979 (no Korchnoi),
1980 (no Korchnoi), 1982 (no Korchnoi), 1983 (no Korchnoi), 1988 (no Korchnoi), and 1993 (Korchnoi lost to Beliavsky, tournament in k.o.-system). Korchnoi won Tilburg at his first invitation (shared with Miles, Hübner), and was clear second to Kasparov
Following the World Championship title match from 1978, at the one-off Montreal elite event in May 1979, won by Karpov and Tal, half a year after the crown clash
Karpov vs. Korchnoi at Baguio City, Viktor Korchnoi was not invited! The tournament chief consultant, Grandmaster Kavalek even stipulated to other organizers, not to invite Viktor Korchnoi any longer, because this creates troubles with
the Soviet Federation cancelling their players. It was a really top field, and Korchnoi left outside alone:
In the spring of 1979, Lubomir Kavalek, along with Czech filmmakers Milos
Forman and Ivan Passer, organized a double round robin tournament to be held in Montreal, Quebec from April 10th to May 7th. Dubbed "The Tournament of Stars," the event was attended by ten of the very strongest grandmasters at the time, including the world
champion. The complete list of players was (in order of ELO): Anatoli Karpov (2705, ELO no. 1), Lajos Portisch (2640, ELO no. 3=), Boris Spassky (2640, ELO no. 3=), Jan Timman (2625, ELO no. 5=), Bent
Larsen (2620, ELO no. 7), Mikhail Tal (2615, ELO no. 8=), Vlastimil Hort (2600, ELO no. 11=), Robert Hübner (2595, ELO no. 13=), Ljubomir Ljubojevic (2590) and Lubomir Kavalek (2590). As a result, the average ELO rating for the tournament
was 2622, making "The Tournament of Stars" a category XV event. It was also one of the strongest tournaments ever organized at that time. Viktor Korchnoi (2695 ELO, no. 2 of the world just ten points behind Karpov and forty-five points ahead of the rest),
was being boycotted to secure Soviet participation).
The only two international top players missing were Bobby Fischer (who was reclusive at the time), and Henrique Mecking (no. 8= but
inactive in 1979 due to health issues).
(Source: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chesscollection?cid=1016901 by
suenteus po 147)
Montreal originally was labelled "A Man and
His World Chess Challenge Cup" (quite cynical to call it Challenge Cup when the Challenger is excluded), later renamed "Tournament of Stars".
That means, not to be invited to this first international
appearence of Anatoly Karpov after the World Chess Championship at Baguio City in 1978, a unique chess event in a western country.
Bitter for Viktor Korchnoi. The listed tournaments are just examples, there were many more excluding Korchnoi. A sad
chapter of competitive chess history.
Same story following the World Championship title match from 1981 at Torino (World Master tournament) in 1982: explicitly no
invitation for Viktor Korchnoi. An uneven number of oddly seven of the world's top players, including the world champion, Anatoly Karpov, plus Ulf Andersson, Boris Spassky, Robert Hübner, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Lajos Portisch, and Lubomir
Kavalek competed in the double round robin event. Due to illness, Huebner was forced to withdraw after the seventh round, and his schedule was expunged from the second cycle of games. Ulf Andersson shared first place with the world champion at 6/11
each, with Andersson having gone undefeated. Kavalek finished clear last.
Simply fighting his way as stateless player through to two successive candidates cycles, winning seven
candidate matches in a row, took incredible talent, energy and self-belief.
There were organizers who backed Korchnoi, but then there were suddenly no Soviet players participating: 1978, Wijk
aan Zee (Hoogovens), Lajos Portisch placed first, half a point ahead of Korchnoi. The Soviet players boycotted the traditional tournament in 1978 owing Viktor Korchnoi's participation, and once again in 1980, this time young
Yasser Seirawan and Walter Browne triumphed above Korchnoi as clear third in an internationally mixed field including also Andersson, Timman, Miles, Mecking, Panno, and Najdorf.
At the 2nd Konex Tournament at Buenos Aires, an event in 1979 sponsored by Luis Ovsejevich and his Konex-Canon Company (later: Konex Foundation), the Soviets boycotted the tournament because Viktor
Korchnoi was invited. Korchnoi won together with Ljubomir Ljubojevic.
Similar paradigma for the prestigious Phillips &
Drew Kings tournament at London in 1980: Korchnoi invited, alas, no players of the USSR participating. In the following edition two years later in 1982, Korchnoi could not participate although he was title defender from
1980 - because this time Karpov who won, Spassky and Geller were participating (btw: Viktor Korchnoi never met Efim Geller otb after 1975, when the boycott was finally removed in 1984, Geller was no longer strong enough to compete in the
When Korchnoi was invited at Lone Pine in 1979, Oleg Romanishin and Vitaly Tseshkovsky were slated to play, but then it was
discovered that Viktor Korchnoi would also be playing, and the Soviet authorities cancelled their entries. In 1981, Korchnoi entered the Lone Pine Open inkognito, and won a spectacular game against Jussupow
and the tournament as clear first. Besides this exception, Korchnoi has only faced Soviet players in official FIDE competitions after Amsterdam IBM in 1976 (won with Miles) until the end of boycott, Herceg Novi, Blitz in
1983 (Korchnoi clear runner-up after Kasparov), and Wijk aan Zee in 1984 (won with Beliavksy).
As a result of these boycotts, Korchnoi lacked the possibility to play
most of the strongest opponents apart from the Candidate's cycle, ie. no game in classical chess with Tal between the year 1975 and Titograd 1984. No competitive game with young and promising Kasparov before they met at the official Chess Olympiad in 1982.
There were organizers who at least made the boycott transparent:
"Unfortunately, if you
are present in the tournament, too many other players will cancel it". This was written in the letter sent to Viktor Korchnoi one month before the Banja Luka tournament in 1979. Korchnoi was in Lone Pine (1979) then, and 50 participating Grandmasters
and International Masters signed petition to FIDE.
“The letter was first written proof that Soviet Union is imposing boycott on me” – Korchnoi recollects – “FIDE didn’t have power
to punish, the organization officially condemned Soviet Union, but that was it. It’s not just about boycott, they held my family for six years.”
Viktor Korchnoi was supposed to play in the notorious 1979
Banja Luka tournament (won by young and titleless Kasparov, two full points ahead of Smejkal as runner-up, and Andersson, Petrosian on shared third place) but the Soviet Union threatened with withdrawal of its players and the organizers were eventually
forced to revoke Viktor’s invitation. 28 years later, in 2007 Korchnoi finally saw and won at Banja Luka at his first participation in the 8th international tournament, held after a 20 years break where
no tournament at Banja Luka has been played. Banja Luka was the first international tournament win for Garry Kasparov, won at age of 16 - and the last international tournament win in classical chess for Viktor Korchnoi at age of 76.
For more stories about the legendary Banja Luka, especially Garri Kasparov's international debut and Maia Chiburdanidze's tournament of her life in 1985, see on this website
under Banja Luka http://www.chessdiagonals.ch/402840532