“A clear victory and already tired of winning? – An interview with Anatoly Karpov

Anatoly Karpov, born in Zlatoust in 1951, was the greatest Soviet chess talent in the late 1960s and early 1970s and was supposed to bring the world title to the USSR in a match against Bobby Fischer. But as Fischer refused to defend his title in 1975, Karpov became world champion without a title match.

However, in the following years, Karpov confirmed his role as the best player in the world with a unique series of tournament victories. In 1978 and 1981 he had two hard-fought and tense world championship matches against Viktor Kortschnoi. Karpov won the first narrowly and the second sharply.

Karpov’s five world championship matches against Garry Kasparov between 1984 and 1990 turned into an epic duel between two chess giants. In 1993, Karpov became FIDE World Champion again after Kasparov broke with the World Chess Federation.

Karpov is one of the world champions represented in the ChessBase World Champion NFT series. In an interview, he talks about NFTs, his famous match against Kortschnoi given in the NFT series, the 2021 World Championship match between Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi, and Carlsen alluding to his reluctance to defend the title.

Master Class Vol.6: Anatoly Karpov

On this DVD, a team of experts take a close look at the secrets of Karpov’s games. In over 7 hours of video, the authors examine four key aspects of Karpov’s superb play.

Question: You are an avid stamp collector, but what do you think of NFTs and collecting NFTs?

Karpov: These NFTs are a new topic, a new topic for the world and a new topic for collectors. I know you can use NFTs to sell digital artwork, stamps, and other interesting historical documents. This could therefore be a step towards the future

Question: What can you tell us about the game given in your NFT?

Karpov: The NFT cover associated with me shows a Sicilian Dragon replica that was played in a pivotal match of my match against Viktor Kortschnoi in 1974. It was the final of the Candidates matches, which effectively became the match. of the world championship because Fischer then refused to defend his title. And according to the rules of the International Chess Federation, the winner of the Candidates Final was declared World Champion because the World Champion did not show up for the match.

It is quite logical. After all, the winner of Candidates matches, beating other top players of his time in matches, has proven himself to be the strongest of all possible challengers and, without counting the world champion, the player the strongest in the world.

The game with Kortschnoi is an example of high tactical art in chess. I should mention that I had the idea of ​​consolidating the knight on c3 with Nde2 during the preparation for the match, and I showed this idea to Efim Geller, who was a great expert on the Dragon variation. We decided the idea deserved attention, but I didn’t know if Kortschnoi would play the Dragon or not. Although one of his seconds, Genna Sosonko, was a fan of this version of the Sicilian, we thought the chances of a Dragon appearing on the board were pretty slim. That Kortschnoi was playing the strong Dragon Variation right from the start of the match really surprised me.

And it should be mentioned that Kortschnoi immediately deviated from my home analysis after my novelty Rd3, and I had to find the remaining moves on the board. It was particularly satisfying that this beautiful match moment was crowned with a beautiful combination.

Question: Did you follow the World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Ian Nepomniachtchi? What’s your opinion ?

Karpov: A few remarks on the last World Championship match: Of course, it’s good that the number of matches is now higher than before, but I still think that 14 matches is not enough. I always played games of 24 games or more, and all the games went all the way. Only once was I able to win a match early, in 1981, in my second world championship match against Kortschnoi. But 14 games is not enough, because this format offers no room for risk. Today, everything has become a bit flat.

At the start of the Carlsen-Nepomniachtchi match, Nepomniachtchi was the one pushing, and I think he had a decent advantage. I don’t mean he should have won, but he had a decent advantage in game one, game two and game five. Two of those games ended in quick draws. In the opener, Carlsen had some compensation, but that should be enough for a draw at most.

White had a lot of chances, but Nepomniachtchi played very badly, very unlucky in the middle game and almost lost. So: he even had the chance to lose, which is surprising after reaching such a good position.

And if he had played c4 at the right time in the fifth game, his advantage would have been very unpleasant. Maybe White doesn’t win straight, but he has very uncomfortable pressure and defending such positions is quite difficult.

In game six, in which he had Black, it looked like he was very close to a win. Now there are many people who say that the computer shows that there was no direct win, but what the computer shows is one thing, but a practical game is completely different… under the pressure of the clock things are not so simple.

I think the reason for the tragic turn of the game was psychological and mental, when Nepomniachtchi realized he had missed too many chances. And as they say in football, if you don’t use your chances to score, your opponent will score.

It was crucial that Nepomniachtchi didn’t score in the sixth game. After that, he was just a shadow of himself. The following matches were not at world championship level. Carlsen sensed his opponent’s weakness and exploited it vigorously. He won, not spectacularly, but very convincingly. And in general, winning four games out of six is ​​very rare. In fact, I don’t remember anyone winning four out of six games in post-war World Championship matches. There were very sharp title fights, for example Botvinnik against Smyslov, where you had four wins in six matches, but both players won.

Question: What do you think of Carlsen’s hint that he might not defend the title?

Karpov: Carlsen proved he was the strongest player in the world and deserved the title. But as far as his hints go, maybe he’s bored. However, it cannot be said that he beat Caruana or Karjakin convincingly. There were also questions in his match against Anand. If he had beaten all three of them as clearly as he won against Nepomniachtchi, I would understand Carlsen. But is he already tired of winning after clearly winning a match? This surprises me a bit, but first you have to figure out exactly what he means with his hints.

Because the young Iranian player is already so strong, he is the most interesting opponent for Carlsen. But to play against Carlsen, the Iranian grandmaster first had to win the Candidates Tournament. This is how it works.


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