This is almost as big a "miracle" as Notre Dame's win. It's not that Anatoly Karpov has forgotten how to move the pieces or anything, but his salad days pretty much came to an end after the mid-90s, with a few nice results thrown in the early 2000s. At the age of 61 and semi-retired for over a decade, one wouldn't expect him to defeat Vassily Ivanchuk. I don't think Ivanchuk's best is better than Karpov's best, but Karpov's best was last seen in 1996, while Ivanchuk remains in the upper 2700s and as in love with the game as ever. Ivanchuk plays constantly, studies constantly, and will be in the Candidates next spring; Karpov hasn't even bothered with world championship events in over a decade. Maybe he could win a game against Ivanchuk with a bit of good fortune, but certainly if the match continued, his age and rust and Ivanchuk's superior theoretical knowledge and current ability should win the day, right?
Not today. As in the semis, "regulation time" consisted of a pair of rapid games. Karpov struck first with Black, winning in a long ending. For some time Ivanchuk was pressing, but Karpov is nothing if not a resilient defender, and he gradually turned the tables. Still, Ivanchuk made it to an ending with rook vs. rook and knight, which isn't considered to be a terribly difficult draw. It got tricky quickly, though, and Karpov won.
Match over? Hardly. Ivanchuk obtained a positional advantage with Black in a classical Fianchetto King's Indian, and won in good style. And with that, it was time for blitz games (3' + 2"). Again, in keeping with the Notre Dame "miracle" motif, it went to "triple overtime" - 6 games were needed.
Ivanchuk started with White again, but this time he was more successful. He won a pawn shortly after the opening, and was making reasonable progress towards converting it when Karpov missed a simple mating tactic (possibly in time trouble): Ivanchuk 2, Karpov 1. No matter: Karpov generally had good results against Kasparov when the latter played the Gruenfeld in their title matches, and returning to the Exchange Variation he won what at least superficially looks like a very nice game. He sacrificed the exchange for mobile central pawns, and as passers they ran all the way to victory. 2-2.
Time for another overtime. Karpov started with White this time, and Ivanchuk reverted to a King's Indian. Karpov switched to the increasingly popular Makagonov System (5.h3), but the play against centered for a while around Black's attempts to dominate the central dark squares. This time Ivanchuk had to sac a pawn for that control, and the battle was unclear for some time. Finally, he won his pawn back and seemed to have reached a drawn ending, with White having just one small trump left: a little pressure against f7. I wouldn't have thought it would be enough to win, but - quite possibly in time trouble (it is blitz, after all) - Ivanchuk sacrificed one pawn trying to break the bind, but when he blundered a second pawn it was time to give up.
The next game was rather strange. Ivanchuk enjoyed a small edge, which he carried through to a queen ending. Karpov defended resiliently, and eventually Ivanchuk was forced to make sacrifices to try to go forward. On the last move (at least as given on the TWIC page), Karpov took a third extra pawn - and not just any extra pawn either, but White's pride and joy, the d-pawn. After that he could have played for a win if he wanted to, but apparently the shock of being able to take the d-pawn, realizing that it was safe and then executing the move took Karpov too long, and he seems to have lost on time. Ouch!
On then to the third pair of extra games. The match finally had a draw, its one and only, as Ivanchuk more successfully held in the Gruenfeld. (I'm not sure how the game actually finished, but it's a safe bet that what's on the TWIC page isn't correct.) Finally, in the sixth extra game and the eighth overall, the match finished. Ivanchuk was better in a Reti, a pawn up but not necessarily winning in an ending with rooks and opposite-colored bishops. And then...he lost on time! A pity for him, to be sure, but considering the gift win on time in the fourth blitz game it's pretty hard to feel sorry for him. Anyway, with that the Trophee Anatoly Karpov became another trophy for Anatoly Karpov, and a very impressive one at that. (I'm looking forward to seeing what his official rapid and blitz rating is going to be after this event, and where he will rank on those FIDE lists.)
So congratulations to the former world champion, and I hope that all my older readers are heartened by his exceptional achievement.