Anatoly Karpov

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Anatoly Karpov : biography

May 23, 1951 –

Match with Fischer 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 after Fisher’s resignation of the championship on June 27, 1974, FIDE declared that Fischer forfeited 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.Kasparov, My Great Predecessors, part IV: Fischer, p. 474 Spassky thought that Fischer would have won in 1975 but Karpov would have qualified again and beaten Fischer in 1978.In (PDF) published in 2004 on the Chesscafe website Susan Polgar wrote: "I spoke to Boris Spassky about this same issue and he believes that Bobby would have won in 1975, but that Anatoly would have won the rematch."

===World champion=== Determined 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 (14). 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 Ljubojević, 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 Ljubojević.