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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[…]

The twelfth world chess champion says that, even when things were bleak, he “never lost the will to fight.”

Question: How would you describe your playing style?

Anatoly Karpov: So, I was, and I am, how to say—a rnpositional player, but active positional player.  So, we had purely rnpositional player who was Tigran Petrosian, world champion for six rnyears.  But I have active positional style and so I played quite rnstrongly endings.  So this was my advantage also and then I could defendrn difficult positions, which is quite seldom in modern chess.  So, and I rncould resist in positions where other players probably would resign.  rnAnd I was finding interesting ideas how to defend difficult positions rnand I could save many games.  So, I never gave up.  I was... okay, I wasrn stubborn as a chess player, and so I tried to defend even very bad rnpositions, and in many cases succeeded.

So you played on in bad positions?

Anatoly Karpov: Yeah, so as a personality, I’m fighter, rnyou know.  And I don’t give up and if I believe I’m correct, I’m right, rnthen I work and I fight.  Okay, this could be over chess board, this rncould be in life and so I defend my principles.  And in chess, okay, rnthis is a special, how to say, characteristic when you, when you try to rnfind the best move whatever the position is, because many people they rnsay, okay, this is bad and then they lose will to fight.  I never lost rnwill to fight.

How do remain calm after you realize you’ve made a poor rnmove?

Anatoly Karpov: No, this is a very important and this is rngood question because many people would call back the situation, they rnmissed chances, and then of course it will spoil the rest of the game.  rnBut it is concerning not only special situation during the game, but rnalso the bad result of previous game for the next game you play.  So, inrn my life, I tried and I succeeded in many cases to forget everything rnthat was in the past.  So, of course you need to make some analysis and rnnot to repeat mistakes, but it’s extremely important to accept situationrn like it is, the real situation, not with thoughts of regrets of what rnyou missed and okay, two moves ago you had winning position now, you rnhave to defend a difficult position and probably you might lose the rngame.  So, this thought shouldn’t be when you play chess game.  And so rnlater on maybe you analyze and then you will, how to say, make some rnconclusions.  But during the game... and this is also very important rnpart for chess education because chess is getting ideas how to accept rnthe real situation and how to be objective.  To be objective and to meetrn unexpected situations and to adapt to this immediately and to start to rnthink and to solve the problems.

You have to develop this.  I rndon’t think it comes from your childhood or with birth. 

Recorded on May 17, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman