Anatoly Karpov

Anatoly Karpov – biography

Anatoly Karpov took the chess throne quickly and unexpectedly. He had a universal playing style with a fine mastery of gaining an advantage. It was obvious that the world of chess acquired a new star! 

The player was born on the 23rd of May, 1951. His hometown is Zlatoust which is located in the Urals, Russia. He took to chess at the age of 4. The progress was showing gradually. The boy became the Candidate Master at 11. The title of Master of Sports was achieved at 14. 

As you may know, every rule has an exception. Experienced Mikhail Botvinnik didn’t recognize the young talent when Karpov visited his chess school. The Soviet Chess patriarch made a mistake in thinking there was nothing special in Anatoly’s play. 

The sweeping rise

In 1968, the famous Semyon Furman became Karpov’s chess trainer. He helped the adolescent fix his main weak point – gaps in chess openings. 

The results appeared quickly. A year later Karpov won the Youth World Championship. He also obtained the title of International Master. The next year Anatoly was victorious in the RSFSR Chess Championship. In 1971, he shared 1st place in the Super-Tournament. It was held at the famous Alekhine Memorial. Many contenders including Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, and Smyslov were left behind. In 1973, Karpov took 2nd place in the world rating table with 2660 points.

The 1973 Interzonal match made no trouble for Karpov. He casually shared the 1st place with Korchnoi without a single loss. Anatoly’s playing style left no chance for the rivals to win against him. 

Later, Anatoly Karpov regarded that qualifying cycle as good training with the strongest grandmasters. However, appetite comes with eating. 

In the quarterfinals, he beat Polugaevsky with scores 5,5 to 2,5. The same thing happened to Spassky: 7-4. The final match against Korchnoi was a real battle. But the younger player was luckier: 12,5 to 11,5. 

World Champion

It would’ve been really interesting to see Karpov playing against Fischer. He was the World Champion at that time. However, the latter seemed to be alarmed about the Soviet chess player. So he kept making more and more new requirements for the match. 

Max Euwe, who was the president of the World Chess Federation, acted diplomatically. And he’d been patient with the eccentric American. But he hadn’t accepted all the demands. Eventually, Fischer refused to participate. Thus, Karpov became the 12th person who obtained the World Champion title.

This case was unique. The fairness of the title was yet to be proven. And Karpov succeeded in that for the next 10 years. 

The next year, in 1976, he became the USSR Champion for the first time. Anatoly won the matches in Milan (1975), Amsterdam (1976), London, Las Palmas, Tilburg (all 1977). He managed to turn every competition into his triumph. According to his own calculations, Karpov was victorious in over 150 tournaments during his career. This number is quite impressive.

A matter of honor

In 1978, the World Championship was conducted in Baguio (Philippines) between two old acquaintances. They were Karpov and Korchnoi. The latter one “fled” the country in 1976. Therefore, keeping Karpov’s title was the principal matter for the party government. 

The battle was full of scandals, but we’ll omit the psychological games of the two maestros. Instead, let’s analyze the chess play. Karpov’s advantage was obvious.

The eighth tour brought the first resultative game. Karpov didn’t shake the opponent’s hand in the beginning, and Korchnoi completely lost his spirit. He lost. However, Anatoly’s success didn’t last long. After the 11th game, the scores were equal. 

Karpov consistently won the 13th and 14th games. And he was victorious in the 17th one. What’s more, in the last game, Korchnoi gave up a perfect winning position. It looked like the end of the match. However, unexpectedly, after the scores had shown 5-2 in Karpov’s favor, Korchnoi perked up. Anatoly needed to do one last step as the match was played until 6 wins. But he was already out of breath. The 32nd game was a determining one. The scores were even: 5-5. Korchnoi decided to finish the opponent with black pieces. Nevertheless, an incorrectly chosen opening led to the defeat. The champion defended his title!

The battle was fantastic. 3 years later, Karpov won against Korchnoi once again in Merano. But this time, there was no big fight: 6-2 with ten draws. 

2 Ks

Further, a long-standing battle of two Ks started: Karpov vs Kasparov. It became one of the greatest chess confrontations in history. The first match went just great for Karpov. He was leading 4-0 after 9 games! Then, a number of draws followed. Anatoly won the 27th game, but after that, Garry started to dominate. He won three times. After the 48th game, FIDE president Campomanes stopped the match. The reason for that was the players had run out of resources. What a unique solution!

6 months later, Kasparov had the fortune to defeat the opponent. After a cruel battle, he was acknowledged as the 13th World Champion. 

Anatoly Karpov used the right to play a re-match, but in 1986, it was unsuccessful again. In Seville (1987), Anatoly had all the chances to bring back the title. He was winning, and there was just one tour left before the end. But Kasparov managed to win and retain the title. 

Despite that, Karpov held a lot of practical power. His triumph in Linares (1994) was something special. Anatoly gained 11 out of 13 points. Thus, he left behind Kasparov and Shirov with 2,5 points of difference. 

In 1993, Kasparov established his own chess organization called PCA and left FIDE. This way, he had no decent opponents left. According to FIDE, he was the World Champion since 1993. And it lasted until 1999. Anatoly won the matches against Short, Kamsky, and Anand. 

At that time, the International Chess Federation decided to conduct knockout tournaments to define world champions. Then, Karpov finished his path on the Qualifying cycle for the World Championship for good.


Anatoly Karpov vigorously burst into the chess elite and represented it for over 25 years. He is a determined man with incredible chess technique. Besides, he has a fine capacity for playing any endgame and technical positions. These are the distinctive features of the 12th person who became the World Champion in chess. This is, undoubtedly, one of the most significant players in history!

Anatoly Karpov
Karpov – Spassky, Leningrad, 1974

24. Nb1! – what a genius positional decision! The point is that we kick the knight away from b4 by moving to c3. So we send the only active piece to the edge of the board. The knight moves to f3 and drives the bishop away from h4. The second rook takes the f2 square. Now White uses three chess pieces to create pressure for the f7 pawn!

Anatoly Karpov
Karpov– Topalov, Linares, 1994

20. Re6! – Ra7 21. Rg6! – fg 22. Qe6 – Kg7 23. Bc6 and White have enough compensation. Then Anatoly Karpov wins. 

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