~~Another Legend~~

Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov (Russian: Анатолий Евгеньевич Карпов Anatolij Evgen'evič Karpov; born May 23, 1951) is a Soviet and Russian chess grandmaster and former World Champion. He was world champion from 1975 to 1985, played three more matches for the title from 1986 to 1990, then was FIDE World Champion from 1993 to 1999. For his decades-long standing among the world's elite, Karpov is considered one of the greatest players of all time.
His tournament successes include over 160 first-place finishes. He had a peak Elo rating of 2780.
Since 2005, he has been a member of the Public Chamber of Russia. He has recently involved himself in several humanitarian causes, such as advocating the use of iodised salt.

Early life

Karpov was born on May 23, 1951 at Zlatoust in the Urals region of the former Soviet Union, and learned to play chess at the age of four. His early rise in chess was swift, as he became a Candidate Master by age eleven. At twelve, he was accepted into Mikhail Botvinnik's prestigious chess school, though Botvinnik made the following remark about the young Karpov: "The boy does not have a clue about chess, and there's no future at all for him in this profession." Karpov acknowledged that his understanding of chess theory was very confused at that time, and wrote later that the homework which Botvinnik assigned greatly helped him, since it required that he consult chess books and work diligently. Karpov improved so quickly under Botvinnik's tutelage that he became the youngest Soviet National Master in history at fifteen in 1966; this tied the record established by Boris Spassky in 1952.

International career


Karpov finished first in his first international tournament in Trinec several months later, ahead of Viktor Kupreichik. In 1967, he won the annual European Junior Championship at Groningen. Karpov won a gold medal for academic excellence in high school, and entered Moscow State University in 1968 to study mathematics. He later transferred to Leningrad State University, eventually graduating from there in economics. One reason for the transfer was to be closer to his coach, Grandmaster Semyon Furman, who lived in Leningrad. In his writings, Karpov credits Furman as a major influence on his development as a world-class player. In 1969, Karpov became the first Soviet player since Spassky (1955) to win the World Junior Chess Championship, scoring an undefeated 10/11 in the finals at Stockholm. In 1970, he tied for fourth place at an international tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, and was awarded the grandmaster title.

Top-Class Grandmaster

He won the 1971 Alekhine Memorial in Moscow (equal with Leonid Stein), ahead of a star-studded field, for his first significant adult victory. His Elo rating shot from 2540 in 1971 to 2660 in 1973, when he shared second in the USSR Chess Championship, and finished equal first with Viktor Korchnoi in the Leningrad Interzonal Tournament, with the latter success qualifying him for the 1974 Candidates Matches, which would determine the challenger of the reigning world champion, Bobby Fischer.

Fischer's opponent in 1975?

Though a world championship match between Karpov and Fischer was highly anticipated, those hopes were never realised. Fischer insisted that the match be the first to ten wins (draws not counting), but that the champion would retain the crown if the score was tied 9—9. FIDE, the International Chess Federation, refused to allow this proviso, and FIDE declared that Fischer relinquished his crown. Karpov later attempted to set up another match with Fischer, but all the negotiations fell through. This thrust the young Karpov into the role of World Champion without having faced the reigning champion. Garry Kasparov argued that Karpov would have had good chances, because he had beaten Spassky convincingly and was a new breed of tough professional, and indeed had higher quality games, while Fischer had been inactive for three years. Spassky thought that Fischer would have won in 1975 but Karpov would have qualified again and beaten Fischer in 1978.

Rivalry with Kasparov

Karpov remained a formidable opponent (and the world #2) until the early 1990s. He fought Kasparov in three more world championship matches in 1986 (held in London and Leningrad), 1987 (held in Seville), and 1990 (held in New York City and Lyon). All three matches were extremely close: the scores were 11.5 to 12.5 (+4 -5 = 15), 12 to 12 (+4 -4 =16), and 11.5 to 12.5 (+3 -4 =17). In all three matches, Karpov had winning chances up to the very last games. In particular, the 1987 Seville match featured an astonishing blunder by Kasparov in the 23rd game. Instead, in the final game, needing only a draw to win the title, Karpov cracked under pressure from the clock at the end of the first session of play, missed a variation leading to an almost forced draw, and allowed Kasparov to adjourn the game with an extra pawn. After a further mistake in the second session, Karpov was slowly ground down and resigned on move 64, ending the match and allowing Kasparov to keep the title.
In their five world championship matches, Karpov scored 19 wins, 21 losses, and 104 draws in 144 games.
Karpov is on record saying that had he had the opportunity to fight Fischer for the crown in his twenties, he (Karpov) could have been a much better player as a result (in a similar way as Kasparov's constant rivalry with him helped Kasparov to achieve his full potential).

FIDE champion again (1993-1999)

Karpov in 1996
In 1992, Karpov lost a Candidates Match against Nigel Short in 1992. But in 1993, Karpov reacquired the FIDE World Champion title when Kasparov and Short split from FIDE. Karpov defeated Timman – the loser of the Candidates' final against Short.
The next major meeting of Kasparov and Karpov was the 1994 Linares chess tournament. The field, in eventual finishing order, was Karpov, Kasparov, Shirov, Bareev, Kramnik, Lautier, Anand, Kamsky, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Illescas, Judit Polgar, and Beliavsky; with an average Elo rating of 2685, the highest ever at that time, making it the first Category XVIII tournament ever held. Impressed by the strength of the tournament, Kasparov had said several days before the tournament that the winner could rightly be called the world champion of tournaments. Perhaps spurred on by this comment, Karpov played the best tournament of his life. He was undefeated and earned 11 points out of 13 possible (the best world-class tournament winning percentage since Alekhine won San Remo in 1930), finishing 2.5 points ahead of second-place Kasparov and Shirov. Many of his wins were spectacular (in particular, his win over Topalov is considered possibly the finest of his career). This performance against the best players in the world put his Elo rating tournament performance at 2985, the highest performance rating of any player in history. Jeff Sonas considers this the best tournament result in history.
Karpov defended his FIDE title against Gata Kamsky (+6 -3 =9) in 1996. However, in 1998, FIDE largely scrapped the old system of Candidates' Matches, instead having a large knock-out event in which a large number of players contested short matches against each other over just a few weeks. In the first of these events, the FIDE World Chess Championship 1998, champion Karpov was seeded straight into the final, defeating Viswanathan Anand (+2 -2 =2, rapid tiebreak 2:0). In the subsequent cycle, the format was changed, with the champion having to qualify. Karpov refused to defend his title, and ceased to be FIDE World Champion after the FIDE World Chess Championship 1999.

Towards retirement?

Karpov's outstanding classical tournament play has been seriously limited since 1995, since he prefers to be more involved in politics of his home country of Russia. He had been a member of the Supreme Soviet Commission for Foreign Affairs and the President of the Soviet Peace Fund before the Soviet Union dissolved. In addition, he had been involved in several disputes with FIDE and became increasingly disillusioned with chess. In the September 2009 FIDE rating list, he dropped out of the world's Top 100 for the first time.
Karpov usually limits his play to exhibition events, and has revamped his style to specialize in rapid chess. In 2002 he won a match against Kasparov, defeating him in a rapid time control match 2.5-1.5. In 2006, he tied for first with Kasparov in a blitz tournament, ahead of Korchnoi and Judit Polgar.
Karpov and Kasparov played a 12-game match from September 21-24, 2009, in Valencia, Spain. It consisted of four rapid (or semi rapid) and eight blitz games and took place exactly 25 years after the two players' legendary encounter at World Chess Championship 1984. Kasparov won the match 9-3.


Karpov's "boa constrictor" playing style is solidly positional, taking no risks but reacting mercilessly to any tiny errors made by his opponents. As a result, he is often compared to his idol, the famous José Raúl Capablanca, the third World Champion. Karpov himself describes his style as follows:
"Let us say the game may be continued in two ways: one of them is a beautiful tactical blow that gives rise to variations that don't yield to precise calculation; the other is clear positional pressure that leads to an endgame with microscopic chances of victory.... I would choose the latter without thinking twice. If the opponent offers keen play I don't object; but in such cases I get less satisfaction, even if I win, than from a game conducted according to all the rules of strategy with its ruthless logic."

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