A chess grandmaster and former World Champion, Anatoly Karpov is considered to be one of the best chess players of all time. Official World Champion from 1975 to 1985, and FIDE World Champion from 1993 to 1999, Anatoly Karpov spent an amazing 90 months as the world No. 1 ranked player. Even after losing his title to rival Garry Kasparov in 1985, Karpov remained a formidable opponent (and the world No. 2) until the early 1990s. All in all, Anatoly Karpov remained at or near the top of world chess standings for almost three decades, a mark unprecedented in the game.
Born in 1951, Anatoly Karpov learned to play chess at the age of four. From there his rise was swift. He became a Candidate Master by age 11, and under the tutelage of Mikhail Botvinnik, the youngest Soviet National Master in history (age 15). A year later (1967) he won the European Junior Championship and in 1969 the World Junior Chess Championship. Earning the title Grandmaster in 1970, Karpov eventually went on to win the 1974 Candidates Matches, a tournament that allowed him to challenge the reigning World Champion, Bobby Fischer. In April 1975, a few days before his 24th birthday, FIDE declared Anatoly Karpov the World Champion after Bobby Fischer refused to defend his title. Proving to be a true champion, Karpov spent the following years building one of the greatest tournament records in history. He racked up tournament win after win in a reign that would last an entire decade, up until the emergence of a new Russian phenom, Garry Kasparov.
Karpov vs. Kasparov
Karpov had firmly cemented his position as the world's best chess player when, at the 1984 World Chess Championship, a new challenger arrived on the scene. Garry Kasparov earned the right to play Anatoly Karpov, a match that would see the first to win six games outright crowned the victor. The match, now rightfully known as the Marathon match, lasted an unprecedented five months before being called off by the FIDE president. Still unresolved, Karpov had 5 wins, Kasparov 3, while there were a staggering 40 draws.
A rematch was set for 1985, this time with a match limit of 24 games (with a tie going to Anatoly Karpov, the reigning World Champion). Karpov was unable to muster a win on the final game, thus surrendering his title to his Kasparov. The two would battle in three more World Championship matches (1986, 1987 and 1990), with Kasparov squeaking out hard fought wins on each occasion. In their five world championship matches, Karpov scored 19 wins, 21 losses, and 104 draws in 144 games.
Karpovs Style of Play
Karpov's style of play is positional. He describes his game philosophy as follows:
"Let us say the game may be continued in two ways: one of them is a beautiful tactical blow that gives rise to variations that don't yield to precise calculation; the other is clear positional pressure that leads to an endgame with microscopic chances of victory... I would choose the latter without thinking twice. If the opponent offers keen play I don't object; but in such cases I get less satisfaction, even if I win, than from a game conducted according to all the rules of strategy with its ruthless logic."
Anatoly Karpov Facts
Russian Name: Анатолий Евгеньевич Карпов
Date of Birth: May 23, 1951
Place of Birth: Zlatoust, Chelyabinsk Oblast, USSR
Titles, Championships, Awards
Peak FIDE Rating: 2780 (July 1994)