We have been sadly informed that the legendary Grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi passed away on 6th June 2016 at the age of 85.


Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi was a professional chess player, author and, until recently, the oldest active Grandmaster on the tournament circuit. He is widely considered the strongest player never to have become World Chess Champion.

Korchnoi was born in Leningrad, Soviet Union, and in 1976 he defected to the Netherlands, and has been residing in Switzerland for many years.

Korchnoi played three matches against Anatoly Karpov. In 1974, he lost the Candidates final to Karpov, who was declared world champion in 1975 when Bobby Fischer refused to defend his title. He then won two consecutive Candidates cycles to qualify for World Championship matches with Karpov in 1978 and 1981, losing both.


Viktor Korchnoi was a candidate for the World Championship on ten occasions (1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1991). He was also a four-time USSR chess champion, a five-time member of Soviet teams that won the European championship, and a six-time member of Soviet teams that won the Chess Olympiad. In September 2006, he won the World Senior Chess Championship.

In September 2006 Korchnoi won the 16th World Senior Chess Championship, held in Arvier (Valle d’Aosta, Italy). This was the first world title Korchnoi has won and his only participation in a World Senior Chess Championship.

Korchnoi is noted for his unusual longevity at the chessboard. He has been at or near the top of the game for nearly half a century. He continued to play many tournaments every year, playing more than 15 tournaments in 2006. He won the 2005 Quebec Open in Montreal, and in August 2006 at age 75 he won the Banyoles Open in Spain.

He became possibly the oldest player ever to win a national championship, when he won the 2009 Swiss championship at age 78.

His peak rating  reached the highest point of 2695 ELO points in January 1979. On the January 2007 FIDE rating list Korchnoi was ranked number 85 in the world at age 75, by far the oldest player ever to be ranked in the FIDE top 100.

Korchnoi also wrote some notable books, such as King’s Gambit (along with V. G. Zak, 1974), Chess is My Life (1977), Practical Rook Endings (2002), My Best Games Vol 1, 2 and 3 (Games with White, Games with Black, Biography), etc.

The European Chess Union expresses most sincere condolences to Mr. Korchnoi’s family, Swiss Chess Federation and the whole chess community on their loss.

The ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili announced a moment of silence in memory of the late Viktor Korchnoi, tomorrow, before the last round of the European Individual Women’s Chess Championship in Mamaia, and before the 3rd round of the European Senior Chess Championship in Yerevan.