Their contest, which was to mark the 275th anniversary of St Petersburg University, took place from 27 March to 1 April with a final score of 6-4 in Korchnoi's favour; and it featured some excellent play from both players especially in this bruising battle.
Spassky surprised Korchnoi in the opening with the Benko gambit, which it seems he had never before played in a tournament game.
17... g5?! was weakening and 18... g4?! freed the f4 square for the bishop. This position has been played several times previously, including three games by Alexander Khalifman, in all of which he played the better 17... d5.
21.exd5 exd5 and then 22.Nb5 was much safer as was 22.Bd2. After 24... Qxa6 Korchnoi had 32 minutes remaining and Spassky 16. 28.Ra2!? was very bold - 28.Qxg4 Qxa1 29.Rxd7 gxf2 30.Kxf2 is much safer.
In the pyrotechnic diagram, amazingly, 30... f1=Q+ was the losing mistake. Instead, after 30... Rxf3+ 31.Kh2 Rh3+ (31... f1N+ 32.Kg1 Rg3+ 33.Qxg3 Nxg3 34.Rb7! is good for White) 32.Kxh3 f1Q+ 33.Kh2 Qf4+ 34.Kg1 Qf1+ White must acquiesce in perpetual check.
After 32.Rg2 it was simple.
White: Viktor Korchnoi
Black: Boris Spassky
St Petersburg 1999 (8th game)
30.Rxb2 (see diagram)
Black resignsReuse content