Europe

Victor Korchnoi, Soviet-born chess grandmaster, dead at 85

  • FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006 file photo, chess master Victor Korchnoi, center, play against Gilberto Hernandez of Mexico as Alexandra Kosteniuk, of Russia during the Mexico City Chess Festival. Chess grandmaster Victor Korchnoi, a prominent Soviet defector who saw his citizenship restored by Mikhail Gorbachev in the waning days of the USSR, has died on Monday, June 6, 2016. He was 85. The Russian chess federation says Korchnoi died in Switzerland, where he had lived for decades. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias, file)

    FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 22, 2006 file photo, chess master Victor Korchnoi, center, play against Gilberto Hernandez of Mexico as Alexandra Kosteniuk, of Russia during the Mexico City Chess Festival. Chess grandmaster Victor Korchnoi, a prominent Soviet defector who saw his citizenship restored by Mikhail Gorbachev in the waning days of the USSR, has died on Monday, June 6, 2016. He was 85. The Russian chess federation says Korchnoi died in Switzerland, where he had lived for decades. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias, file)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this July 20, 1978 file photo, chess players Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi are seen during their second game in the Philippines. Chess grandmaster Victor Korchnoi, a prominent Soviet defector who saw his citizenship restored by Mikhail Gorbachev in the waning days of the USSR, has died on Monday, June 6, 2016. He was 85. The Russian chess federation says Korchnoi died in Switzerland, where he had lived for decades. (AP Photo/Neal Ulevich, file)

    FILE - In this July 20, 1978 file photo, chess players Anatoly Karpov and Victor Korchnoi are seen during their second game in the Philippines. Chess grandmaster Victor Korchnoi, a prominent Soviet defector who saw his citizenship restored by Mikhail Gorbachev in the waning days of the USSR, has died on Monday, June 6, 2016. He was 85. The Russian chess federation says Korchnoi died in Switzerland, where he had lived for decades. (AP Photo/Neal Ulevich, file)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 25, 1983 file photo, Garry Kasparov, 20, left, the young Soviet number 2, makes notes as his opponent Russian exile Victor Korchnoi makes a move during the World Chess Championship semi-final in London. Chess grandmaster Victor Korchnoi, a prominent Soviet defector who saw his citizenship restored by Mikhail Gorbachev in the waning days of the USSR, has died on Monday, June 6, 2016. He was 85. The Russian chess federation says Korchnoi died in Switzerland, where he had lived for decades. (AP Photo/Taggart, file)

    FILE - In this Nov. 25, 1983 file photo, Garry Kasparov, 20, left, the young Soviet number 2, makes notes as his opponent Russian exile Victor Korchnoi makes a move during the World Chess Championship semi-final in London. Chess grandmaster Victor Korchnoi, a prominent Soviet defector who saw his citizenship restored by Mikhail Gorbachev in the waning days of the USSR, has died on Monday, June 6, 2016. He was 85. The Russian chess federation says Korchnoi died in Switzerland, where he had lived for decades. (AP Photo/Taggart, file)  (The Associated Press)

Chess grandmaster Victor Korchnoi, a prominent Soviet defector who saw his citizenship restored by Mikhail Gorbachev in the waning days of the USSR, has died. He was 85.

The Russian chess federation says Korchnoi died in Switzerland, where he had lived for decades.

Korchnoi was one of the leading Soviet chess players before defecting in 1976 in the Netherlands. His matches against the official Soviet champion, Anatoly Karpov, became famous as duels on political, psychological and physical levels.

Korchnoi tried and failed twice to unseat Karpov as world champion.

In August 1990, Korchnoi welcomed as an "important step" Gorbachev's move to restore his Soviet citizenship, along with 22 others including novelist Alexander Solzhenitsyn. But Korchnoi said it wasn't enough to make him return to the Soviet Union.