Karpov Shines in Cap d'Agde

Karpov Shines in Cap d'Agde

| 16 | Chess Event Coverage

Anatoly Karpov was the center of attention at the Cap d'Agde chess festival held last week. The 12th world champion did not disappoint.

Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Cap d'Agde, the French seaside resort on the Mediterranean sea, hosted the 12th edition of the traditional autumn chess festival. It also celebrated the 20th anniversary — the first edition was held back in 1994 — with musical festivities and a radio show with the participating GMs.

The highlight of the festival was the 3rd “Trophée Anatoly Karpov”. This year the event consisted of a small match between France and Russia: two duos playing four rapid games and four blitz games. 

Russia played with Anatoly Karpov and Valentina Gunina; France with Romain Edouard and Marie Sebag.

Gunina (25) is the world number eight in the women's list. Born in Murmansk, she was world champion under 14 and under 18. Later she also became European Individual Champion in 2012. Karpov (63) hardly needs an introduction — especially not in Cap d'Agde, where he participated in all events since 1994!

Edouard (23) is France's number four player. He was European champion under 16 and made rapid progress while assisting Veselin Topalov as a second, for example at the 2014 Candidates’ Tournament. Sebag (28) is a former world number seven and triple European champion and vice world champion under 18.

On Thursday and Friday, the players played two rapid games (25 minutes plus 10 seconds per move), and on Saturday four blitz games (3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move).

Images courtesy of Europe Echecs - find their report with videos here

The main reason for this report is obviously the participation of Anatoly Karpov — it's always interesting to see how one of the true chess legends does on the board! And especially since he hardly plays anymore; after his short match with Jan Timman last year he only played three Bundesliga games in 2014.

Well, certainly as far as quick chess is concerned, Karpov can still play! He made that very clear, scoring 3.5/4 in both the rapid and blitz sections. Let's have a look.

His first game with Edouard was a Blumenfeld Gambit where White had less space but an extra pawn. Slowly but surely Karpov untangled himself and then had no trouble converting the ending.

In the next game, Karpov quickly won a pawn in the opening against Sebag, and kept his cool when the French lady tried to launch a kingside attack. Who would have taken that pawn on a2?

Video report day one by Europe Echecs.

On Friday Karpov drew with Edouard, who defended very well in the rook ending. Earlier in the game both players missed one crushing queen move though!

After that, Sebag played a bad game as Black and lost as if she was playing Karpov in a simul...

Gunina had scored 2.0/4, Edouard 1.5/4 and Sebag 1.0, so after the rapid section the Russian team was leading 5.5 vs 2.5.

Video report day two by Europe Echecs.

Saturday was blitz day, and it shows in the games. But, even with lots of mistakes here and there, Karpov was still the top scorer at the end of the day!

First, another fine, positional win over Edouard, who missed a chance to equalize in the early middlegame and then got outplayed:

The Sebag-Karpov blitz game was absolutely crazy. Sebag must have missed a dozen wins there, but Karpov was as slippery as an eel.

In his black game against Edouard, Karpov again played the 3...Qd6 Scandinavian, an opening that indeed seems quite suitable for someone who has little time to prepare. One would have expected the young French GM to have come up with a more critical approach, though!?

Also in the other white game with Sebag, Karpov was clearly too strong:

Gunina scored 2.5/4, Sebag 1.5/4 and Edouard only 0.5/4, which resulted in a 6.0-2.0 score in the blitz, and a crushing 11.5-4.5 victory for Russia overall.

Karpov got the biggest applause at the closing, and greeted it with a big smile.

Video report day three by Europe Echecs

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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