Anatoly Karpov
World Chess Champion 1975-1985

Garry Kasparov Hates It When You Mess With His King

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The thirteenth world chess champion had an unrivaled mastery of opening-move theory and was unstoppable when he had the initiative. But “he was not so strong when his king was in danger,” says archrival Anatoly Karpov.

Anatoly Karpov

Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov was the world chess champion for a decade, from 1975 to 1985.  He won the title when Bobby Fischer, the American grandmaster and reigning world champion, failed to show up at the chessboard.  Born in 1951 in Zlatoust, a Russian industrial city in the Urals, Karpov is widely considered to be one of the greatest players of all time.  He finished first in more than 160 tournaments and occupied the Number 1 spot on the world chess rating list for 90 months, a record surpassed only be the man who dethroned him as world champion, Garry Kasparov. Today, two and half decades after his reign as world champion, Karpov is still an active and strong grandmaster (rated Number 155 in the world, as of June 2010). Karpov is running for president of FIDE, the world chess federation. 

Question: What are Kasparov’s strengths and weaknesses?

Anatoly Karpov: So, opposite to me he knows chess theory, even now very well.  And he was always big expert in Chess openings, and then probably he is not so good in positional play, but he is fantastic in the positions where he has initiative. And so he can he sacrifice material to get initiative and so he, in active positions, he is very strong.  Maybe he’s less strong in boring positions, and then maybe his weakness was, of course now he is not playing so active like before, so he was not so strong when his king was in danger.

Recorded on May 17, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman