Anatoly Karpov: story of one of the most famous chess players in the world

Anatoly Karpov: debut of the young Russian chess player

Anatoly Karpov is much more than a simple chess player, he is truly a legend in the chess world. Karpov is now teaching children at the Chess Academy at Forte Village Resort, but his career began in the 70s when Russia was still named USSR.

Every sport has a story, secrets and its own champions, when talking about chess it’s impossible not to mention Anatoly Karpov, Russian politician and chess player as well as being Great International Master in 1969, world champion from 1975 to 1985 in USSR, and FIDE world champion (acronym of Fédération Internationale des Échecs) from 1993 to 1999 in Russia.

Anatolij Evgen’evič Karpov, or in English Anatoly, was born in 1951 in Zlatoustn, a city west of the Urali mountains in the ex Soviet Union, he began playing chess at the age of 4 with his father Evgenij Stepanovič.

He moved to Moscow with his family when he was still a child so that Evhenij could finish his university degree in mechanical engineering. Once his father finished his studies, Karpov and his mother Nina, his sister Clarissa and Evgenij moved back to Urali where he began his career in chess.

Anatolij, nicknamed “Toji” by his family, revealed himself to be a true talent and rapidly climbed the minor categories and reached a master candidate level before his twelfth birthday. His success allowed him to enter the famous chess school managed by Michail Botvinnik, world champion and one of the most famous soviet chess players whom was also master of Garri Kasparov, Karpov’s famous adversary.

Anatoly Karpov: how he became a legendary sportsman

The first period of Karpov’s education in the Botvinnik school wasn’t easy, he appeared to be a slow student with an uncertain style. Botvinnik wasn’t at all encouraging and said: “ the boy knows nothing about chess; I can’t see a future for him in this profession”. Nonetheless, Karpov studied the chess rules hard and didn’t let his master’s harsh words make his give up his dreams.

It’s likely Anatolij’s destiny changed after the match against Capablanca, Cuban chess champion in the 20s. In fact, Karpov admitted that the “chess manual” written by “Capa” was the first chess text book he read.

Karpov’s hard work and effort quickly rewarded him with good results, in 1996 when he was just 15, Karpov became the youngest chess master of the Soviet Union, some months later the soviet federation selected him as the their representative at the Třinec tournament in Czechoslovakia, but what was supposed to be a simple competition transformed into a diplomatic incident. The Soviet chess federation thought it was a youth tournament but the Czechs didn’t retain on expressing their discontent since they had organized a tournament for adults and seeing the young boy who also seemed younger than his birth date made a troublesome event. The frustration was quickly put at end by Karpov’s victory to which will follow many more in juvenile sector.

Between the 60s and the 70s Karpov was taught by the great soviet master Semën Abramovič Furman, who led him to win the junior world championships in Stockholm in 1969, soon after he also came fourth in the tournament in Caracas and appointed Grand Master.

Anatoly Karpov: world champion

During the 70s Karpov gained many Elo points, the scale of a players strength evaluation used by FIDE to which he was at 2540 in 1971 and at 2660 in 1973. He came second in the Soviet Union’s absolute championship and first, as well as Viktor L’vovič Korčnoj, in the International tournament at Leningrad, allowing him to enter the circle of selected candidates in 1974 after which the winner would challenge world champion at the time Bobby Fisher.

Anatolij defeated many of the other candidates including one of the strongest chess players of that time Victor L’vovič, and became Fisher’s adversary at just 24 years old. Although he was so young, Karpov was perfect for Russia’s revenge against USA, he was member of the Soviet Union Communist party and also of Komsomol, the youth communist Leninist party, also he was completely Russian unlike other champions mentioned previously including Botvinnik who had Jewish origins.

The expectations for a great match were high until Fisher withdrew. The world champion suggested there be new rules to the chess international federation and economic conditions which were considered unacceptable by the organizers. After a long negotiation, Fisher was subject to a decree of expulsion by the world federation and Karpov was claimed world champion on the 3rd of April 1975. His success was celebrated in Moscow on the 24th of that same month in the Hall of Columns. It was the first time in history a world champion was nominated by office without there being a match.

That same year in August, the new world champion participated in the international chess tournament in Milan and won.

Once Anatolij returned to Russia, he finished his degree in political economy at the university of Leningrad. According to his biographies, there was no mention of chess in his thesis. When he finished his studies he returned to Moscow, got married in 1980 and had a son. Two years later he separated from his first wife.

Anatoly Karpov: matches against Kasparov, the historical adversary

In 1978 and in 1981, Karpov was in need to challenge and defeat Viktor Korčnoj whom he had already played against during the selection of candidates in 1974. Karpov won both matches at the beginning of the 80s to which followed many other victories including Tilburg 1979, 1980, 1982 and 1983, Bugojno 1980, Linares 1981, Tourin 1982 and London 1984.

A new fearsome adversary was coming: Garri Kasparov.

They had their first match in 1984 after Kasparov’s victory in the selection of candidates. The differences where immediately visible: Kasparov’s game was strategic and calm meanwhile Kasparov preferred a dynamic and aggressive game. The game was very long and after 5 months of playing FIDE decided to interrupt the match and offered there to be new rules. Karpov did not loose his title as world champion and there were complaints from both sides.

They met just a few months later for a new match and Kasparov defeated the world champion. They played against each other another three times: in 1986 in Leningrad, in 1987 in Seville and in 1990.

Anatoly Karpov: what is one of the best chess champions doing today

After a series of events which separated Kasparov from FIDE, Anatolij was nominated world champion once again in 1993 and established a new Professional Chess Association, PCA.

During the season of 1994, the word champion had more important victories: the tournament of Wijk aan Zed, a chess tournament in Linares and the Saint Jorge tournament in Legnano. He also defeated Gata Kamskij in 1996 in Elistá, and Vishy Anand in 1998 in Lausanne.

In 1999 he refused the new conditions imposed by FIDE and lost his title as had happened in the past to Fisher and Kasparov.

In 2010 he was candidate at the elections to be president of FIDE, although he was supported by many federations and Great Masters, including Kasparov, he did not manage to gain enough votes and beat his adversary Kirsan Iljumžinov. he was later nominated “ambassador for life” of FIDE.

Alongside Anatolij Karpov’s choice of teaching chess, he is now also connected to supporting the discipline and organizing benefit matches and simultaneous matches around the world. He is also busy in activities to help solve hunger in the world.

Anatoly Karpov will be at Forte Village to teach adults and children about chess. Challenge this great champion and be a part of the Chess Academy on an unforgettable vacation in a true paradise. Discover Forte Village Resort in Sardinia.


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