and former World Champion
. He was the official world champion from 1975 to 1985 when he was defeated by Garry Kasparov
. He played three matches against Kasparov for the title from 1986 to 1990, before becoming FIDE World Champion once again after Kasparov broke away from FIDE in 1993. He held the title until 1999, when he resigned his title in protest against FIDE's new world championship rules.
Style? I have no style.
I like 1.e4 very much but my results with 1.d4 are better.
To be champion requires more than simply being a strong player; one has to be a strong human being as well.
Chess is my life, but my life is not chess.
Those so-called K-K matches for the title were the biggest misery I had in my life - especially the disappointment of losing in Seville. But, you know, despite our history, there’s still a lot of fight in our battles - it’s still a big fight in the eyes of the media.
For them I will always be ready. (on getting revenge against players who've beaten him)
and former World Champion
. He was the official world champion from 1975 to 1985 when he was defeated by Garry Kasparov
. He played three matches against Kasparov for the title from 1986 to 1990, before becoming FIDE World Champion once again after Kasparov broke away from FIDE in 1993. He held the title until 1999, when he resigned his title in protest against FIDE's new world championship rules. 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, and his 90 total months at world number one is second all-time behind only Garry Kasparov
since the inception of the FIDE ranking list in 1971.
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 lifeKarpov 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
1967–69Karpov finished first in his first international tournament in Třinec
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
, and was awarded the grandmaster
Top-Class GrandmasterHe 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
Tournament, with the latter success qualifying him for the 1974 Candidates Matches, which would determine the challenger of the reigning world champion, Bobby Fischer
CandidateKarpov defeated Lev Polugaevsky
by the score of +3 =5 in the first Candidates' match, earning the right to face former champion Boris Spassky
in the semifinal round. Karpov was on record saying that he believed Spassky would easily beat him and win the Candidates' cycle to face Fischer, and that he (Karpov) would win the following Candidates' cycle in 1977.
Spassky won the first game as Black in good style, but tenacious, aggressive play from Karpov secured him overall victory by +4 −1 =6.
The Candidates' final was played in Moscow with Korchnoi. Karpov took an early lead, winning the second game against the Sicilian Dragon
, then scoring another victory in the sixth game. Following ten consecutive draws
, Korchnoi threw away a winning position in the seventeenth game to give Karpov a 3–0 lead. In game 19, Korchnoi succeeded in winning a long endgame, then notched a speedy victory after a blunder
by Karpov two games later. Three more draws, the last agreed
by Karpov in a clearly better position, closed the match, as he thus prevailed +3 −2 =19, moving on to challenge Fischer for the world title.
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.
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.
World championDetermined to prove himself a legitimate champion, Karpov participated in nearly every major tournament for the next ten years. He convincingly won the very strong Milan
tournament in 1975, and captured his first of three Soviet titles in 1976. He created a phenomenal streak of tournament wins against the strongest players in the world. Karpov held the record for most consecutive tournament victories (nine) until it was shattered by Garry Kasparov
In 1978, Karpov's first title defence was against Korchnoi, the opponent he had defeated in the 1973–75 Candidates' cycle; the match was played at Baguio in the Philippines
, with the winner needing six victories.
As in 1974, Karpov took an early lead, winning the eighth game after seven draws to open the match, but Korchnoi staged a comeback late in the match, as, after the score was +5 −2 =20 in Karpov's favour, he won three of the next four games to draw level, with Karpov then winning the next game to retain the title (+6 −5 =21).
Three years later Korchnoi re-emerged as the Candidates' winner against German finalist Dr. Robert Hübner
to challenge Karpov in Meran, Italy. This match, however, was won handily by Karpov, the score being (11–7, +6 −2 =10) in what is remembered as the "Massacre in Merano".
Karpov's tournament career reached a peak at the exceptional Montreal
"Tournament of Stars" tournament in 1979, where he finished joint first (+7 −1 =10) with Mikhail Tal
, ahead of a field of strong grandmasters completed by Jan Timman
, Ljubomir Ljubojevic
, Spassky, Vlastimil Hort
, Lajos Portisch
, Huebner, Bent Larsen
and Lubomir Kavalek. He dominated Las Palmas
1977 with 13½/15. He also won the prestigious Bugojno
tournament in 1978 (shared) and 1980, the Linares tournament
in 1981 (shared with Larry Christiansen) and 1994, the Tilburg
tournament in 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, and 1983, and the Soviet Championship
in 1976, 1983, and 1988.
Karpov represented the Soviet Union at six Chess Olympiads, in all of which the USSR won the team gold medal. He played first reserve at Skopje 1972
, winning the board prize with 13/15. At Nice 1974
, he advanced to board one and again won the board prize with 12/14. At Valletta 1980
, he was again board one and scored 9/12. At Lucerne 1982
, he scored 6½/8 on board one. At Dubai 1986
, he scored 6/9 on board two. His last was Thessaloniki 1988
, where on board two he scored 8/10. In Olympiad play, Karpov lost only two games out of 68 played.
To illustrate Karpov's dominance over his peers as champion, his score was +11 −2 =20 versus Spassky, +5 =12 versus Robert Hübner
, +6 −1 =16 versus Ulf Andersson
, +3 −1 =10 versus Vasily Smyslov
, +1 =16 versus Mikhail Tal
, +10 −2 =13 versus Ljubojevic.
Karpov had cemented his position as the world's best player and world champion by the time Garry Kasparov
arrived on the scene. In their first match, the World Chess Championship 1984
, held in Moscow, with the victor again being the first to win six games outright, Karpov built a commanding 4–0 lead after nine games. The next seventeen games were drawn, setting the record for world title matches, and it took Karpov until Game 27 to gain his fifth win. In Game 31, Karpov had a winning position but failed to take advantage and settled for a draw. He lost the next game, after which fourteen more draws ensued. In particular, Karpov held a solidly winning position in Game 41, but again blundered and had to settle for a draw. After Kasparov won Games 47 and 48, FIDE President Florencio Campomanes
unilaterally terminated the match, citing the health of the players. The match had lasted an unprecedented five months, with five wins for Karpov, three for Kasparov, and a staggering forty draws.
A rematch was set for later in 1985, also in Moscow. The events of the so-called Marathon match
forced FIDE to return to the previous format, a match limited to 24 games (with Karpov remaining champion if the match should finish 12–12). In a hard-fought match, Karpov had to win the final game to draw the match and retain his title, but wound up losing, thus surrendering the title to his opponent. The final score was 11–13 (+3 −5 =16), in favor of Kasparov.
Rivalry with KasparovKarpov 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 11½ to 12½ (+4 −5 =15), 12 to 12 (+4 −4 =16), and 11½ to 12½ (+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. 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 (1993–99)
. 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
, Ivanchuk, Gelfand
, Judit Polgár
, 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 2½ 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 up until 2009, when Magnus Carlsen
won the category XXI Pearl Spring chess tournament
with a performance of 3002. However, chess statistician Jeff Sonas
still considers Karpov's Linares performance as 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 knockout 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 2½–1½. In 2006, he tied for first with Kasparov in a blitz tournament, ahead of Korchnoi and Judit Polgár.
Karpov and Kasparov played a mixed 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.
Candidate to FIDE PresidencyIn March 2010 Karpov announced that he would be a candidate for the presidency of FIDE. The election took place in September 2010 at the 39th Chess Olympiad
. In May a fund-raising event took place in New York with the participation of his former rival Garry Kasparov and of Magnus Carlsen, both of whom supported his bid and campaigned for him. Also Nigel Short has announced he supported Karpov's candidacy. However, on September 29, 2010, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
was reelected as President of FIDE, winning the election by 95 votes to 55.
StyleKarpov'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.
- Viktor Korchnoi vs Anatoli Karpov, Moscow 1973 Karpov sacrificesSacrifice (chess)In chess, a sacrifice is a move giving up a piece in the hopes of gaining tactical or positional compensation in other forms. A sacrifice could also be a deliberate exchange of a chess piece of higher value for an opponent's piece of lower value....
a pawn for a strong center and queenside attack.
- Anatoly Karpov vs Gyula Sax, Linares 1983 Karpov sacrifices for an attack that wins the game 20 moves later, after another spectacular sacrifice from Karpov and counter-sacrifice from Sax. It won the tournament's first brilliancy prize. This was not the first time Karpov used the sharp KeresPaul KeresPaul Keres , was an Estonian chess grandmaster, and a renowned chess writer. He was among the world's top players from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s....
Attack (6. g4) – see his win in Anatoli Karpov vs Vlastimil Hort, Alekhine Memorial Tournament, Moscow 1971
HobbiesKarpov's extensive stamp collection of Belgium philately
and Belgian Congo stamps and postal history covering mail from 1742 through 1980 is being deposed of by David Feldman's
auction company in December 2011. He is also known to have a large chess stamp and chess book collections. His private chess library consists of 9000 books.
Honours and awards
- Order of Merit for the FatherlandOrder of Merit for the FatherlandThe Order of Merit for the Fatherland was instituted on 2 March 1994 by Presidential Decree. The statutes describe it as a decoration for merit, not an order of knights....
, 3rd class (2001) - for outstanding contribution to the implementation of charitable programmes, the strengthening of peace and friendship between the peoples
- Order of FriendshipOrder of FriendshipThe Order of Friendship is a state decoration of Russia established by decree # 442 of March 2, 1994 of the President of the Russian Federation....
(2011) - for his great contribution to strengthening peace and friendship between peoples and productive social activities
- Order of LeninOrder of LeninThe Order of Lenin , named after the leader of the Russian October Revolution, was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union...
- Order of the Red Banner of LabourOrder of the Red Banner of LabourThe Order of the Red Banner of Labour was an order of the Soviet Union for accomplishments in labour and civil service. It is the labour counterpart of the military Order of the Red Banner. A few institutions and factories, being the pride of Soviet Union, also received the order.-History:The Red...
- Order of MeritOrder of Merit (Ukraine)The Order of Merit first, second or third class, is the Ukrainian award, given to individuals for outstanding achievements in economics, science, culture, military or political spheres of activity...
, 2nd class (Ukraine) (13 November 2006) - for his contribution to the victims of the Chernobyl disaster
- Order of Holy Prince Daniel of MoscowOrder of Holy Prince Daniel of MoscowThe Order of Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow is an award of the Russian Orthodox Church, established in 1978...
, 2nd class (1996)
- Order of St. Sergius of Radonezh, 2nd class (2001)
- Medal "For outstanding contribution to the Collector business in Russia"
- Honorary member of the Soviet Philately Society (1979)
- Diploma of the State Duma of the Russian Federation № 1
- Order "For outstanding achievements in sport" (Republic of Cuba)
- Medal of Tsiolkovsky Cosmonautics Federation of Russia
- Medal "For Strengthening the penal system", 1st and 2nd class
- Breastplate of the 1st degree of the Interior Ministry
- International Association of Chess Press, 9 times voted the best chess player of the year and awarded the "Chess OscarChess OscarChess Oscar is an international award given to the best chess player every year. The winner is selected by a poll of chess experts across the world, including Grandmasters...
- Order of Saint Nestor the Chronicler, 1st class
- Elista Diaries: Karpov–Kamsky, Karpov–Anand, Anand Mexico City 2007 World Chess Championship Matches (with Ron HenleyRon HenleyRonald Watson "Ron" Henley is a grandmaster of chess, chess writer, producer of chess videos and is involved in financial trading funds...
) ISBN 0-923891-97-8
(also a 1992 Simon & Schuster
- World chess champions by Edward G. Winter, editor. 1981 ISBN 0-08-024094-1
- The World's Great Chess Games by Reuben FineReuben FineReuben Fine was one of the strongest chess players in the world from the early 1930s through the 1940s, an International Grandmaster, psychologist, university professor, and author of many books on both chess and psychology.Fine won five medals in three chess Olympiads. Fine won the U.S...
, Dover; 1983. ISBN 0-486-24512-8
- Anatoly Karpov's Best Games by Anatoly Karpov, BatsfordAnova BooksAnova Books is a UK-based publishing company founded in 2005, with the acquisition of the Chrysalis Books Group from the Chrysalis Group. Since its inception, the firm has acquired or created several other imprints...
; 2003. ISBN 0-7134-7843-8
- Curse of Kirsan: Adventures in the Chess Underworld by Sarah Hurst, Russell Enterprises, 2002.
- Karpov's official homepage in Russian.
- Edward WinterEdward Winter (chess historian)Edward Winter is an English journalist, archivist, historian, collector and author about the game of chess. He writes a regular column on that subject, Chess Notes, and is also a regular columnist for ChessBase.-Chess Notes:...
, List of Books About Karpov and Korchnoi
- Happy Birthday! Anatoly Karpov turns sixty, Chessbase News, 23 May 2011