Question: How did you feel when Fischer defaulted on his world
Anatoly Karpov: So I wasn’t very happy that Fischer
didn’t appear for the match and I made many efforts to play another
match. Okay, even it could be not official match for world title, but I
wanted to play Fischer and I met him for several times, but I believe
he had psychological problems at that moment. And so first of all he
couldn’t accept to lose even one game. And so you could feel it when we
had discussions. He thought that when he became world champion he had
no right to make one mistake or especially to lose chess game. And with
such approach it is very difficult to play chess because when you meet a
player who is on the same level and very strong, you can’t avoid losing
game. Even one game. You can win a match, but not playing without
losing the game. It’s almost impossible.
Question: Did you ever meet Fischer?
Anatoly Karpov: Yes I met Fischer a couple of times and the first
time, I mean in this set because we met first in San Antonio in 1972
just after he became world champion, after he beat Spasky in Reykjavik.
I played in San Antonio in 1972 and then Fischer was invited by
organizers. He was guest of honor now for the closing ceremony and the
final round. That time I met him for the first time and then we had set
of meetings in 1976 and 1977. And so 1977, it was last time and we met
here in the United States. It was in Washington D.C.
Question: What did you think of Fischer as a person?
Anatoly Karpov: I must say that we had full respect of
each other and so it was nice to talk to him. And what I could realize,
he had no patience to listen to his partner or opponent, and if he
could find out any ideas, he should express this immediately even he
could interrupt the other person. He couldn’t wait. He was very
impulsive in this way. But I have good memory of these meetings and I
must say I had not any problems to contact him and to talk to him.
Question: Do you think Fischer was crazy?
Anatoly Karpov: Well Fischer was always thinking that he
belongs to planet and he’s not a member, or citizen of one country or
another and he thought, okay, of course he was great star and also great
player, one of the greats in the history of chess, so he considered
that he belongs to the planet. And then he was very independent and so
he expressed these feelings, sometimes with very sharp sentences which I
would not support, but this was his character.
Question: Wasn’t Paul Morphy, the only other American to become
world champion, also crazy?
[0 0:29:01.00] Paul Morphy had another story and so he got mad
because he wasn’t well accepted. If we recall the history of Paul
Morphy, he made fantastic tour through Europe and he beat the strongest
players of that time, the strongest part of the world in chess. He beat
Europeans and he became unofficial world champion. But then he came
back to the United States and it was time of the problems between North
and South, and it was Civil War and then Morphy was well accepted,
accepted with triumph in lots of United States but then he came back to
his area, and he was from South, so people there didn’t appreciate his
victories. And so it created a lot of personal problems and he ended
his life I think in the hospital.
Question: Do you have to be crazy to play great chess?
Anatoly Karpov: No. Absolutely not.
Recorded on May 17, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman