Great Chess Player's Gallery. Karpov. 1
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|Full name||Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov
(Анатолий Евгеньевич Карпов)
(No. 72 on the July 2008 FIDE ratings list)
|Peak rating||2780 (July 1994)|
Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov (Russian: Анатолий Евгеньевич Карпов; born May 23, 1951) is a Russian chess grandmaster and former World Champion. He was undisputed World Champion from 1975 to 1985, repeatedly challenged to regain the title from 1986 to 1990, then was FIDE World Champion from 1993 to 1999.
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. He has been an excellent student throughout his life. His early rise in chess was swift, as he was a Candidate Master by age 11. At age 12, he was accepted into Mikhail Botvinnik's prestigious chess school. Ironically, Botvinnik had this to say 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 really helped him, since it required that h e consult chess books and work diligently. Karpov improved so quickly that he became the youngest SovietNational Master in history at 15 in 1966; this tied the record established by Boris Spassky in 1952 at the same age. Karpov won the title in his first international chess tournament (Trinec 1966-67) several months later. In 1967 he won a European Junior Invitational tournament 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 Boris Spassky (1955) to win the World Junior Chess Championship, with a score in the finals of 10 out of 11 at Stockholm. Soon afterwards he tied for 4th place at an international tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, and became a Grandmaster.
The early 1970s showed a big improvement in his game. He won the 1971 Alekhine Memorial tournament ahead of a star-filled field, for his first significant adult victory. His Elo rating shot up from 2540 in 1971 to 2660 in 1973, when he came in 2nd in theUSSR Chess Championship, and placed first in the Leningrad Interzonal Tournament. The latter qualified him for the 1974 Candidates' Tournament, which determined who was allowed to challenge the reigning World Champion, Bobby Fischer.
Karpov beat Lev Polugaevsky by +3=5 in the first Candidates' match, to face former World Champion Boris Spassky in the next 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.
Most expected the Spassky-Karpov match to be a one-sided rout by the ex-champ Spassky. Although Spassky won the first game as Black in good style, tenacious and aggressive play from Karpov secured him a match win by +4-1=6. Karpov was certainly not hurt by the fact that Spassky's chief opening analyst, 1955 Soviet Champion Efim Geller, defected to Karpov's side several months before the match.
The Candidates' final was set in Moscow against fellow Soviet Viktor Korchnoi, a notable fighting player. Korchnoi was a Leningrad resident who had frequently sparred with Karpov after the latter moved there, and the two had played a drawn six-game training match in 1971. Intense games were fought, including one "opening laboratory" win against the Sicilian Dragon. Karpov went up 3-0, but tired towards the end and allowed Korchnoi two wins, making for a nervy finish. However, Karpov prevailed +3-2=19. Thus he won the right to challenge Fischer for the World Championship.
The Big Match that never was
Though the world championship match between Karpov and Fischer was highly anticipated, the match never came about. 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. The sticking point was the 9—9 clause, which was widely seen as unfair on Karpov. FIDE, the International Chess Federation, refused to allow this condition, and so Fischer resigned his crown, to the huge disappointment of the chess world. 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 defeated the reigning champion.
Garry Kasparov argued that Karpov would have had the better 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.