Anatoly Karpov

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Anatoly Karpov : biography

May 23, 1951 –

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. Mark Weeks’ Chess Pages 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 Kasparov

Karpov 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)

Karpov in 1996 In 1992, Karpov lost a Candidates Match against Nigel Short. 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, Shirov, Bareev, Kramnik, Lautier, Anand, Kamsky, Topalov, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Illescas, 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.. ChessBase.com. Retrieved on 2009-10-26.