Anand and Karpov: chess at 300 km/h

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Anand and Karpov: chess at 300 km/hSpanish railway company Renfe thought of an original way to introduce their new high-speed connection between Madrid and Valencia. On Tuesday reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand played against former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. The two legends drew two blitz games, and played simuls while travelling at 300 km/h.

By Leontxo Garcia

Renfe's slogan, "Caballo Ganador" ("Horse Winner"), to promote its new high-speed line between Madrid and Valencia, got its proper chess translation: Anatoly Karpov and Viswanathan Anand played two five-minute games, one in each train station, and a simultaneous exhibition inside the train, for 90 minutes. They also said many interesting things, covered in great detail by the Spanish press, radio and television.

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From 10.15 am at the Atocha station [in Madrid - CV] until they returned to the same point in the afternoon, Karpov and Anand did not fail to answer questions and sign autographs. Although Renfe's connection to chess is firm - they have also reissued the book of Jacobo de Cessolis, written in the fourteenth century, one of the most important historical chess books - its executives had not expected that the exhibition would receive much media coverage, according to Miguel Lopez, Renfe's Director of Publicity. To understand the popularity of the two players, it must be noted that Spain is probably the most visited foreign country for 59-year-old Karpov, since winning the tournament in Madrid in 1973. Besides, Anand (41) has had a house in Collado Mediano (Madrid) since 1995.

Anand and Karpov: chess at 300 km/h

In addition to his memorable duel with Kasparov for the World Championship in Seville in 1987 (as well as the rapid games of 2009 in Valencia), and his impressive victory in Linares 1994 (one of the best results in history), Karpov yesterday said there were more reasons why Spain has been a very important country in his life: "Twice I secretly met with Fischer in 1976, first in Córdoba and then in Madrid; before that we had seen each other in Tokyo. I felt uncomfortable because I had won the world title a year before the final without playing, because he resigned, and wanted to convince him to play a match, but without the title at stake. We almost agreed, but then he demanded that the match was called 'Professional World Championship'. I assured him that the Soviet authorities would never accept it, but he would not concede."

Anand said that Fischer is like Marilyn Monroe, whom we remember for her great charisma, not by her negative aspects. He visited him when he was a refugee in Iceland, and keeps a very pleasant memory of the dinner they shared. Both in Madrid and Valencia, the reigning world champion was asked for his longevity in the sport: "At the moment, I continue to enjoy high competition. I don't see myself cabable to match what Viktor Korchnoi is doing, whose level of play at 80 years is impressive, but I do not see the moment of my retirement soon either." In addition, Anand was happy with the promotional campaign in his country, involving millions of Indian children, and recently translated into the Guinness record for simultaneous exhibition, battled out in Gujarat with more than 20,000 participants.

Anand and Karpov: chess at 300 km/h

Although the main purpose of the blitz games between Karpov and Anand was the exhibition, the Russian achieved a clear advantage in the first: "In a slow game, I would have found a way to win, but at this speed it was very difficult," he explained later. The Indian could not reach an advantage with White at the station Joaquin Sorolla, Valencia. There, previously another game was played between two amateurs, César Estrada and Emilio Cuevas, selected by Anand and Karpov, respectively, as their best rivals in the simultaneous exhibition in the train, provided, under the supervision of international referee Iosu Mena. Among the special guests was Echagüen Javier Ochoa, president of the Spanish and Latin American federations.

The two champions emphasized the social importance of chess for children and adults. And both agreed: "We have played many games blindfold on trains during our travels. Today we have done so with a board and pieces. "

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