The Road to the World Chess Championship: Karpov's Path to Glorious Victory

Here is how Anatoly Karpov won the World Chess Championship:

In the following position, Anand, as black, is a pawn up. The game is clearly won for Black, as the passed pawn on a5 is unstoppable.

There is no doubt that in a normal tournament game, played at a normal rate of speed, Anand or any other grandmaster or master would have beaten Karpov in this position. Indeed, Karpov might have resigned on the spot.

Yet, for some inexplicable reason, Kirsam Ilyumzhinov, who had only recently gotten out of prison, where he had spent several years for various petty crimes, only to become President of his Republic of Kalmykia only a few months after getting out of jail on the strength of being a strong supporter of Boris Yeltsin, and who had then bribed his way into becoming President of the World Chess Federation, had decreed that this game for the World Chess Championship be played at the rate of 25 minutes for each side for the entire game!

In this position, Karpov, who was hopelessly lost, had less than two minutes left on his clock, whereas Anand had 15 minutes.

Here, Anand made a fantastic blunder. He played 40. ... a4???, to which Karpov simply replied 41. Qxf6 gxf6 42. Bd7, forking the rook and pawn, thereby winning back the pawn.

Had I made this blunder at the Manhattan Chess Club Friday Night five-minute Rapids, I would gone off muttering about what a bad night I was having. In a normal tournament speed game, anybody who would make this blunder can safely be said to be less than 1800, or Class B, in chess strength.

Yet, this was a game for the World Chess Championship, with the winner to receive $1.3 million dollars and the loser $700,000!

Here is the key position in Forsythe Notation:


Even after this blunder, the game was not yet over. Anand could have held at least a draw with 42. .... Re7 43. Bxa4 Rxc7 44. Rxc7 Nd4 and Black has a slight edge and cannot lose, with a probable draw in sight.

Instead, Anand played the tricky but losing (although it was later proven that he still could have saved a draw) 42. ... Nd2? 43. Bxe8 Ne2+ 44. Kg2 Nxc3 45. Bxf7+ Kf8 46. Bxg6

The game became wildly complicated, with Anand eventually losing by a margin of one tempo. Anand could have drawn with 53...Ra8! 54.g5 Rg8 55.Rf5 Nd6 56.Rxe5 Nxe4 57.Rxe4 Rxg5+ and a book draw.

The game continued until move 62, with each player playing the last 20 moves in less than two minutes altogether!

Was there such a big rush to get the thing over with that the World Chess Championship had to be decided by a game of two-minute chess?

Sam Sloan

[Event "World Chess Championship Quick Chess Playoff"]
[Site "Lausanne"]
[Date "1998.01.09"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Karpov"]
[Black "Anand"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2745"]
[BlackElo "2765"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 c6 4. O-O Bg4 5. d3 Nbd7 6. Nbd2 e6 7. e4 Be7 8. Qe2 O-O 9. h3 Bh5 10. Re1 dxe4 11. dxe4 e5 12. b3 Qc7 13. Bb2 Rfe8 14. Qf1 Rad8 15. a3 b5 16. Bc3 Bf8 17. Nh4 Nc5 18. Bf3 Bg6 19. Nxg6 hxg6 20.Bg2 a6 21. Qe2 Ne6 22. Nf3 Nd7 23. a4 b4 24. Bb2 a5 25. c3 bxc3 26. Bxc3 Rb8 27. Rab1 Bb4 28. Rec1 Bxc3 29. Rxc3 c5 30. Qe3 Qd6 31. h4 Nd4 32. Bh3 Nb6 33. Rbc1 c4 34. bxc4 Nxa4 35. c5 Qe7 36. Ra3 Nxc5 37. Rac3 Ncb3 38. Rc7 Qf6 39. R1c3 Nxf3 40. Qxf3 a4 41. Qxf6 gxf6 42. Bd7 Nd4 43. Bxe8 Ne2 44. Kg2 Nxc3 45. Bxf7 Kf8 46. Bxg6 Nb5 47. Rf7 Kg8 48. Rxf6 Ra8 49. h5 a3 50. h6 a2 51. Bf7 Kh7 52. Bxa2 Rxa2 53. g4 Nc3 54. g5 Nxe4 55. Rf7 Kg6 56. Rg7 Kf5 57. h7 Rxf2 58. Kg1 Kg4 59. h8=Q Kg3 60. Re7 Rg2 61. Kf1 Nd2 62. Ke1 {Black resigns} 1-0

(3:27/3:19) Here is a photo of Anatoly Karpov with his dear friend, Kirsam Ilyumzhinov:

Here is: Game One

Here is: Game Two

Here is: Game Three

Here is: Game Four

Here is: Game Five

Here is: Game Six

Here is: Karpov defeats Anand in two Quick Chess games to retain FIDE World Championship.

Here is my chart showing all seven rounds of the 1997 FIDE World Chess Championship Candidate's 96 player knockout tournament, won by Anand: The FIDE World Chess Championship Candidate's Tournament Chart.


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