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Korchnoi vs Cow

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Mike Roberts just sent in a link to a commercial at the new Google Video service. It's for milk and has none other than Viktor Korchnoi playing a game against a cow. The ending voiceover is in English. Anyone seen it or know where this was shown? There are a few other chess videos on the site, mostly very lame homemade affairs. The old AltaVista commercial with Kasparov is there, but not his SuperBowl Pepsi commercial. Maybe it's a good place for me to start dumping my hours of chess footage and interviews.

Chessplayers are a natural fit for advertising. We've had epic conversations here about why this hasn't happened. Chess imagery is used in ads and movies all the time, even in the supposedly anti-intellectual, "chess is for geeks" USA. But companies (or ad firms) don't see why they should go the next step and employ actual chessplayers for these spots. I'm impressed that the milk ad doesn't explain who Korchnoi is at all since it's unlikely he is widely known by name or face anywhere I can think of. Perhaps some of the chess-mad countries would note his name when presented in a chess context like this.


Thank you, Mig! Korchnoi is playing Korchnoi very well indeed (by which I mean no disrespect at all, I hasten to add).

Yah, it reminded me immediately of his ChessBase DVDs, which I've seen more recently than Korchnoi himself.

There is also a 6 minute clip on Kasparov-Deep Blue. Not terribly interesting, but maybe worth watching to see some of Kasparov's reactions while he's playing. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2016794608230991590&q=kasparov

I'd like to see a Google Video "Kirsan defeated by a silly donkey"

Mig:Thanks for URL. Did not know google was doing that. What will they think of next!
I liked the Chess1998 video but I swear the chess board was set up wrong most of the time. Will have the watch it again.
Look forward to your videos.


Korchnoi finally fell from the top 100 list in this latest listing ... hope that flash in the pan cow is pleased with itself...

Are there other examples of this sort of top level longevity in chess lore?

He's been out of the top 100 before, so never say never with Korchnoi.

oh man, that kasp ad was awesome! makes me sad I have never seen the man live in action, and now will most likely never do. thanks mig, great viewing, never seen this before.

He is out of 100 only becouse he lost too many ELO points in that match against the cow.
The cow is in the top under16 list now, and after Viktor he will match Magnus.
I hope for him that match will be again sponsored by the milk company and not by a meat one.

How well known is GM Korchnoi in Switzerland (his home for a number of years)? One would think there might be a Switzerland/dairy connection, although the tagline is English.

Also--was this a real ad, or a demo project? Anyone know?


I think Korchnoi missed his calling. He should have been an actor. He might have won the Academy Award and been rich. I think his acting was excellent in the shot. an actor could not have done so well. it took a real chess player to know what it is like to sit there playing a game while losing. haha.

3 cheers for Victor

Even the cow looked kind of pleased. I thought I saw the cow laugh.


Cow had beaten Karpov a few days earlier and Korchnoi gave the her a $400 reward. That's why she looks pleased.

"Maybe it's a good place for me to start dumping my hours of chess footage and interviews."

Very interesting, ever considered putting it to a torrent?

A nice little parody of Kasparov's "Caro-Kann" loss to Deep Blue. I like the way Korchnoi throws up his hands at the end mimicking Kasparov's reaction. Of course the sweeping of the pieces was over-the-top. I'll bet he got a little chuckle out of the rub. Should have named the cow...Deep Pink.

No way--Deep Moo.

Deep Blooooooooooooo!

"A nice little parody of Kasparov's "Caro-Kann" loss to Deep Blue. I like the way Korchnoi throws up his hands at the end mimicking Kasparov's reaction. Of course the sweeping of the pieces was over-the-top. I'll bet he got a little chuckle out of the rub. Should have named the cow...Deep Pink."

Actually, I saw Korchnoi sweep the pieces from the board, indicating his resignation at the Vienna tournament in 1996.
(The same tournament where Kramnik showed up 50 minutes late for his game against Karpov and was ground down in an ending.) I think Korchnoi swept the pieces aside in his first round game against Topalov, although he may have even done it when he only drew with Leko in the next round, if memory serves me.

It is not exactly unheard of for Korchnoi to sweep the pieces away after a game if he is unsatisfied with the result. Of course, one tolerates that kind of thing in a living legend.

I was only comparing it to Kasparov's responses in which he didn't sweep the pieces from the board at that time. I guess I shouldn't have used "over-the-top" unless Korchnoi would have done back flips across the floor.

I heard that Walter Browne once resigned a game by picking up the clock and throwing it across a crowded hotel ballroom. And in a local tournament just a month ago, an Expert who shall remain unnamed on this public thread, resigned to Jay Bonin by catching him across the forehead with a thrown Bishop. (I was told to look for a gash on Jay's head the next time I saw him, but there was non; though his opponent did confirm the story.) I hope this doesn't give anyone any ideas.

I would have loved to personally witness Korchnoi's behavior when he loses. Does anyone know how he reacted to losses that could not have been unexpected (e.g., to Kasparov, who has always completely owned him)?

Korchnoi as an actor:

After the infamous stalemate game in Baguio, Larsen wrote:

"When he was young, he was very interested in the theatre. But a slight speech difficulty kept him away from acting (though he did perform, and not without success, in a Russian movie about a chess grandmaster).
Which speech difficulty? Now we know. He finds it difficult to pronounce 'Nitchya'! "

After Korchnoi lost to Svidler in their first encounter at Groningen '96, he left the board without analysing. Later they bumped into each other in the hotel elevator and Korchnoi said "Young man, you are a very superficial player."

Svidler took it in good humor, but his own reaction was not recorded when Korchnoi shellacked him the following year in St Petersburg.

I remember that this commercial was shown on the swiss TV something like 7-10 years ago (hard for me to be more precise... because of poor memory). And I think that only chess players know Korchnoi's face in my home country !

I've never seen this commercial on Swiss TV but I've seen others involving Lovely the Cow. You can check them out here: http://www.milch.ch/e/action/action_video_e.asp?id_Session=%27%7B024F9787%2DCA72%2D4D35%2D9748%2D4382EB2800A5%7D%27.

Thanks for the anecdote, Clubfoot. I always find it amusing how judgmental the old generation of players (especially Soviet) were about other players' understanding. "Superficial player" was the ultimate condemnation from the likes of Botvinnik and Korchnoi. I can't really see Anand or Topalov saying that. It's possible the older players had more respect for the richness of chess.

Anyone who has seen VK's chessbase videos knows just how expressive his face can be...

This is a cute ad, and VK does a nice job displaying the misery he says he 'feels in his body' when he has a piece misplaced or inactive.

A Korchnoi comment I would like to add:
From personal experience of simultaneous exhibitions during the 70s I can say that he was pleasantly appreciative of diligent efforts. He wasn't exactly happy to surrender full or half-points, but did not seem to begrudge the delighted recipients their moment in the sun.
I can, of course, well imagine that he is much more strict (I won't say churlish) towards his colleagues.
"Chess Is My Life" may serve as an explanation.

I remember seeing a video of Kortchnoi (can't remember where) resigning a speed game against Sofia Polgar. He was so angry and outraged. I remember him finally fumbling for speech and angrily telling the young lady that she would never, ever beat him again. Don't know if she ever did...

I've always found Korchnoi to be fascinating, both as a chess player, and as a human being. It's amazing that he retained the will to excel at chess into his 60's and 70's, when so many top players give up in their 40's.

Here's an interesting link about Korchnoi:
* http://www.kevinspraggett.com/humour.htm

Among the other videos they have, the Fiat commercial is worth a look.... "Why it's a good idea to bar cell phones from the playing area"

Who wants to volunteer to review the 3 hour video of the Long Beach City Council meeting? :-)


The Sofia Polgar - Korchnoi video can be viewed here: http://home.hetnet.nl/%7Eleendie/SofiaKortsnoj.wmv

The Karpov vid is hilarious too- click it and take a look!

I have to speak up in defence of Korchnoi over the So. Polgar thing. Apparently, she and at least one other had been pestering or annoying him somehow for at least a few minutes before that game. That video was used in some kind of documentary, that I have unfortunately not seen, and it was the maker himself who commented on the tormenting of poor Victor somewhere that he had observed... sadly, I can`t recall EXACTLY what he said, or whether it was said on Usenet, an e-mail list, or somewhere else. I just remember him saying that they (Polgar and at least one other) had been messing with him prior to that blitz game.

Anyway, that`s terrific to see Korchnoi in a commercial, made me laugh for quite a while when I saw it. I also got a big kick out of the Kasparov Coca-Cola (or was it Pepsi?) commercial, I`d like to see that one again. That was actually a great commercial by way of its writing and concept, and not just because it had The Great Artist in it.

So Polgar acts really immature in that one. You happen to draw a blitz game and qualify against a chess legend that is 30 years older than you and you talk nonsense. I think Korchnoi acted really calm considering his nature and didn't smack her. Still it is really funny to watch it everytime.

Well now, I don`t know all that. It probably wasn`t THAT bad. I`m still hoping to find the comments by the documentary-maker who recorded that video clip, where he was talking about how there was stuff before the game that led to the anger of Korchnoi, that it wasn't just the game.

I only mention it because it makes him look really bad, only seeing that small clip, and I wanted to point out that there may be some mollifying circumstances, at least to some extent.

Thanks, Joshua, for explaining a bit of the back story on the Sofia Polgar-Kortchnoi video clip. By itself, it makes Viktor look truly terrible. Bad sportsmanship and all. It's a shame this clip is most often seen out of context.

Whoa whoa... I was THERE. You can see me in the video.

I wrote about this years ago on rgcp:


I don't know about resposting such a long story here. If you're really interested, click on the link and read my account.

John that thread is hilarious.

Personally I HATE people disturbing my games- I wear earplugs and do my best to block it out but still in most OTB games I play there is some disturbence. Kortchnoi is a pretty... stern sometimes but a great character.

On Susan Polgar's blog someone also asks about this video clip portraying Kortchnoi as rude and unsportsmanlike. Susan responds. Check it out at http://susanpolgar.blogspot.com/

korchnoi chose defeat in the clip to refer that the cow is karpov!

Viz. Korchnoi and the cow, do you remember when
Viktor played against the (very) late great Geza
Maroczy? One link:


Compared with that, the cow was a more realistic
opponent. At least she could moove.

I would guess it was shown in the swiss TV, that would explain why they donīt introduce Korchnoi (there he is popular enought), and also the cow looks like a couple of swiss chicks I got to know... But there they speak french, italian and german, no english, so doesnīt make total sense...

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 9, 2006 4:24 PM.

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