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    Entries in Karpov (12)

    Friday
    Aug262011

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Karpov-Georgiev, Biel 1994

    This time around I cover the game Karpov-Georgiev (Biel 1994), a positional struggle in the Queen's Gambit Declined that concludes, sneakily, with a shower of tactical fireworks. The first part of the video offers what I hope is an instructive look at key themes in the QGD Tartakower where White plays for a fixed pawn center (8.Be2 Bb7 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.cxd5 exd5 11.b4) and Black goes for the more complex option in reply (11...c6 rather than 11...c5).

    A maneuvering battle ensued, and as was almost always the case during his peak years, that battle was more successfully conducted by Karpov. What had looked for a while like a normal, quiet and roughly equal position turned suddenly into a position where Karpov's pieces dominated and a crushing, beautiful combination concluded the game.

    Have a look for yourself - the show is free (free registration required), as always, and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.

    Monday
    May302011

    Anatoly Karpov, Movie Star?

    While doing a little link surfing from the site of the last post, I came across this. Have any of you seen this movie?

    Not quite Academy Award material, but I'm amazed that it even existed.

    Monday
    May302011

    Karpov on Fischer

    It's not a new interview (and almost all the info was familiar), but it was new to me and may be to you as well.

    HT: Brian Karen

    Monday
    May232011

    Happy Birthday, Anatoly Karpov!

    The chess legend Anatoly Karpov, world champion from 1975 to 1985 and FIDE champ (during the divided era) from 1993 to 1999 turns 60 today. If you don't know much about Karpov, take a look at Wikipedia's biography, some of his notable games on chessgames.com, and this nice profile piece on ChessBase.

    I'd also like to mention a remarkable later result of Karpov's that goes unmentioned by Wikipedia and ChessBase, and that's his second-place finish in the Eurotel Trophy rapid event in Prague in 2002. All he did in this knockout event was to beat Short, Kramnik, Morozevich and Shirov before losing to Anand in the final. (Are you kidding me?) Among the other players in the event were Kasparov, Topalov, Gelfand, Grischuk, Svidler, Adams, Leko, Polgar, Bareev and Radjabov. Ho hum. I think most GMs who pulled off such a result might get the knockout bracket tattooed on their arm; for Karpov, then just shy of his 51st birthday and already semi-retired from serious play for several years, it doesn't even merit a mention in his chess biographies.

    Wednesday
    Feb022011

    Karpov and Anand, On the Road (or Rail)

    The 12th and 15th world champions played a pair of exhibition games, and as a happy surprise for fans of Anatoly Karpov, he drew both and if anything had slightly the better of things. (That said, even if Anand was playing seriously, I don't think he was using anything real in the opening.) You can read about the event, see the games, and hear (or try to hear) a long interview with Karpov, here.

    Sunday
    Oct032010

    Book Notice: The KGB Plays Chess

    Boris Gulko, Vladimir Popov, Yuri Felshtinsky and Viktor Kortschnoi [sic], The KGB Plays Chess: The Soviet Secret Police and the Fight for the World Chess Crown (Russell Enterprises, 2010). 176 pp. $19.95.

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. –Thoreau

    Get busy living, or get busy dying. –The Shawshank Redemption

    The KGB Plays Chess is a fascinating volume, focused primarily on the seven years GM Boris Gulko and his wife, WGM Anna Akhsharumova, spent as “Refuseniks” in the USSR. Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov both feature in the story in an integral way, and many other chess players show up in cameo roles. It’s really the Gulko story that’s at the heart of the book, however, so for those who weren’t around when all of this was going on, I’ll offer a brief recap.

    Gulko was an extremely strong GM in the late 1970s, twice winning the Soviet Championship, and his wife was one of the strongest women in the country as well. In 1979 they, along with many other Soviet Jews, applied for permission to emigrate to Israel, and they were refused (thus “Refuseniks”). There may have been any number of reasons for the refusal, but among them was the fear that Gulko might help the defector Korchnoi to beat Karpov in a subsequent world championship match.

    Korchnoi, who defected in 1976, was persona non grata to the Soviet establishment, while Karpov was the communist government’s golden boy. Karpov’s power and prestige were such that legendary players like Mikhail Tal, Lev Polugaevsky and Efim Geller had to work in his employ to ensure their good standing in the USSR. Worse yet, Korchnoi’s son was basically held hostage in the USSR, and Gulko was trapped as well. Korchnoi himself stated in the Western press that Gulko would help train him, and this worrisome prospect only helped keep Gulko stuck in the USSR. (In fact, Gulko seems to think Korchnoi harmed his family by omission as well as commission. Korchnoi's failure to include the Gulkos' release as one a precondition for making up the Candidates match with Kasparov "prolonged our stay in the USSR for two and a half years".)

    Korchnoi lost a tight match to Karpov in 1978, before Gulko tried to emigrate, and a one-sided match in 1981. Yet even then Gulko and his wife were not allowed to leave. It was only in 1986, after seven long years of trying, that they were finally allowed to leave. Along the way they underwent several hunger strikes, risked public demonstrations, and were helped by supportive acts in the West from both chessplayers and non-chessplayers. At the end of the Brezhnev era, they might have been making some small progress, but when he died and was replaced by first Andropov and then Chernenko, things got worse. It was only in the Gorbachev era that the cracks started to appear in the Soviet regime, and it was then that their long wait was over.

    That, in a nutshell, is the story. The vast majority of the book is an elaboration of the story from two complementary perspectives: Gulko’s and the KGB’s. Gulko’s is told by Gulko himself, while the KGB’s point of view is depicted by Vladimir Popov and Yuri Felshtinsky (P&F). Popov worked for the KGB in various capacities from 1972 to 1991, while Felshtinsky is a Moscow-born American who has studied and researched in Russia over the past two decades. Gulko's story is fascinating and at times moving, while P&F's narrative fills in some details from the other side. Often those details match Gulko's, sometimes they add new information.

    One thing confuses me about the P&F story, and it's their source material. There are many precise details, but as far as I can tell Popov wasn't one of the agents assigned to the Gulkos, while Felshtinsky was not an agent at all. Were the records on the Gulkos made publicly available? Even if Popov had access while he worked for the KGB, that information is 24 years old and it beggars belief that Popov would have memorized all those details, especially if he wasn't directly involved. Would he have walked out with the files? It's not as if he has access from Canada, where he has lived since 1996.

    There were some remarks of Gulko that seemed curious too, and some clear factual errors as well. To note one especially nonsensical example, there is this passage: "Karpov tried to prove that he had still been capable of playing at the moment when the match [DM: the unlimited one against Kasparov in 1984/5] was stopped. A week after the memorable press conference, Karpov traveled to Sweden to play for the Soviet team in the European Team Chess Championship. Not winning a single game in the competition, Karpov proved nothing to anyone. In November 1985, in a new match, Karpov would lose the title of world champion" (pp. 126-7).

    It's easy to understand Gulko's antipathy to Karpov, but the remark bears almost no resemblance to the truth. There was no European Team Championship in 1985. There was a World Team Championship, but it was in Switzerland, not Sweden; it took place after the second K-K match rather than the first; and Karpov didn't go winless but scored an undefeated 5-2 (including a win over Boris Spassky, no cream puff). Karpov did play in one event between the matches, a double round-robin in Amsterdam, but he won it comfortably enough to draw his last three games in 11, 15 and 16 moves, respectively. Of course, this event wasn't right after the first match either.

    It's a minor point, but it does remind the reader that recollections of the past are fallible, especially for matters the person didn't experience himself. It's also a reminder to be doubly careful when making statements about people one dislikes (or worse) - who knows how many of his other remarks and judgments about Karpov and others might be more or less colored by his anger? All the same, it's a remarkable story whose broad outlines aren't in any doubt.

    The book is recommended to those interested in the human beings in the chess world, those with an interest in the world of the Cold War, and to the countless university professors in the U.S. and elsewhere who think that the Soviet Union was really a nifty idea, if occasionally a touch imperfect in practice.

    Tuesday
    Sep282010

    Kasparov-Karpov Videos

    Starting here, you can find a series of videos made on the Lyon half of the 1990 World Championship match between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. (The audio on the first one is poor most of the way through, but it improves after that.) I might have referred to these videos before, but since a reader ("Matt") mentioned them and since Kasparov recently released the final book of his games against Karpov it's worth a second mention.

    Tuesday
    Sep282010

    Iljumzhinov Officially On The Ballot

    Anatoly Karpov & team tried to have current FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov tossed out of the current race for that job, but lost. With that obstacle cleared, I expect, unfortunately, that Iljumzhinov will win - no doubt he, like Florencio Campomanes before him, will have used the position to ingratiate himself with enough small countries to win re-election without much trouble. (The presidential election is determined by the votes of FIDE's member countries, where nations with barely a chess club having equal voting weight to chess powers like Russia, Germany and the United States.)

    Friday
    Sep032010

    New Chess Book: Kasparov's Third and Final Volume on His Games with Karpov

    It's not quite out yet in the U.S. (though the book is available for pre-order on Amazon and elsewhere), but it's presumably available in the U.K. and perhaps other European countries as well. The book, by Garry Kasparov, brings to completion his series on his battles with Anatoly Karpov, covering their games from 1988 (after the Seville match in 1987) up through their blitz battles last year.

    More information and a brief excerpt here.

    Thursday
    May132010

    The Battle of World Champions: Karpov vs. Spassky on TV in 1982

    In 1982, Hamburg TV ran a very strong tournament in two stages. In the first stage there were two double round-robin quads. In one, Anatoly Karpov won with 4.5/6, a point ahead of John Nunn; Slim Bouaziz and Yasser Seirawan tied for last with two points apiece. In the other, Boris Spassky won with an enormous 5.5/6 score, ahead of Jan Timman (3), Eric Lobron (2) and Eugenio Torre (1.5).

    In the final match, Karpov played Spassky. I won't tell you what happened, if you want to see the drama for yourselves, but after you watch the videos, click here - I give all the games from that match.

    For those of you who prefer the drama, you can watch the Hamburg presentation of the two 1-hour games between Karpov and Spassky - complete with voice-over commentary by the players themselves. The links from one to the other aren't so clear, so I'll provide them all here.

    Game 1, Part 1

    Game 1, Part 2

    Game 1, Part 3

    Game 2, Part 1

    Game 2, Part 2

    Game 3, Part 3

    And remember to check out the replayable boards on here when you're done watching!

    (HT: Ben Vinyard)