Many years ago, I was about to resume a hopeless adjourned game in a British Championship. It was a game in which I had been outplayed throughout, had lost material, still had a terrible position, and was only bothering to resume to see whether my opponent had found the clever sealed move that forced mate in four.

As I approached the tournament room, an eager spectator bounded up to me and asked: "Are you going to win?" When I told him that my opponent had a forced mate in four, he flicked his fingers in a frustrated manner and said: "What rotten luck."

Well, today is Friday the 13th, so here is a game in which the loser really did suffer a horrible bit of bad luck. Some might consider it all his own fault. But when a player as great as Viktor Korchnoi plays a one- move blunder to lose his queen in a position that he ought to have won, then I think "bad luck" is the best way to describe it.

Just after the opening, Korchnoi found a remarkable combination that ended with his opponent's queen trapped. After 21.Qd3, it became clear that Black would obtain only rook and bishop for it. To judge from the moves, both sides must have been suffering from severe time shortage at least from move 30. White could have won the game instantly with 33.Qxc2, while 36.Qc6 would also have left the result in no doubt.

Instead, White played as though trying to find a solution to a four-move Kamikaze problem. There's only one thing one can say after such an ending: "What rotten luck."

White: V Korchnoi

Black: J Estrada

Linares 1998

1 c4 Nf6 22 Qxb3 Be6

2 Nc3 e6 23 Qc3 Rfd8

3 e4 c5 24 b3 Rd4

4 e5 Ng8 25 Qe3 Rad8

5 Nf3 d6 26 Qxe5 b5

6 exd6 Bxd6 27 c5 Bxb3

7 d4 cxd4 28 c6 Rd2

8 Nxd4 a6 29 c7 Rc8

9 Be3 Nf6 30 Qe3 Rc2

10 Be2 0-0 31 Qxb3 R8xc7

11 Qd2 Bb4 32 Rd1 Rc8

12 a3 Ne4 33 Rd8+ Rxd8

13 Qc2 Qa5 34 Qxc2 g6

14 0-0 Nxc3 35 h4 h5

15 Nb3 Nxe2+ 36 Qb2 Rd6

16 Qxe2 Qa4 37 f3 Re6

17 axb4 Qxa3 38 g4 Rc6

18 Bc5 Nd7 39 Kf2 Rc4

19 Ra3 Nxc5 40 gxh5 Rxh4

20 Rxb3 Nxb3 41 hxg6 Rh2+

21 Qd3 e5 White resigned

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