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Anatoly Karpov – The Making of a Champion


Anatoly Karpov – The Making of a Champion

Anatoly Karpov on 23rd May 2020 celebrated his 69th birthday.  He became the 12th World Champion when Bobby Fischer refused to defend his title in 1975. His ten-year reign ended in 1985 when Gary Kasparov dethroned him.

Photos of Anatoly Karpov. Photo credits https://kids.kiddle.co/.
Photos of Anatoly Karpov. Photo credits https://kids.kiddle.co/.

Tibor Károlyi, the renown Hungarian writer, has published two fascinating books on Anatoly Karpov. These include;

The Making of a Champion – 1961 to 1985.

The Prime Years – 1986 to 2010.

Quality Chess is the publishers of these excellent books (Euro 24.99), and the hardcover options are selling at Euro 32.99.

I ordered ‘The Making of a Champion – 1961 to 1985‘ from Amazon and had to wait for like five months before delivery!  This is the last time that I will every order from Amazon.  Their service for Kenyan customers leaves a lot to be desired!

The book starts with Karpov as precocious youngster and tells the story of the making of a champion.  It concludes with Karpov losing his title to his nemesis, Garry Kasparov.

If you are a fan of Anatoly Karpov, then this is a book you must have. It has a total of 76 games covering the period 1961 to 1985.  

Tibor Károlyi’s analysis is excellent and just enough for wood-pushers like me. However, some games have incredible in-depth analysis to satisfy the grandmaster minds. For example, game 64 Anatoly KarpovJohn Nunn, which has 51 moves, takes up 11 pages!

Tibor Károlyi‘ starts off each chapter with a summary of what happened in Karpov’s life. I found this to be enjoyable. Karolyi has carried out a Herculean task in digging up bits and pieces about Karpov’s life. 

Leonid Gratvol

The book has an interview with one of Karpov’s first trainer a certain Mr Leonid Gratvol  who now resides in Israel. To round off the conversation, Tibor has included one of Gratvol’s games. 

Book layout

A summary is found for each year.

One will find at the end of the chapter, a summary of the significant events that Karpov played. It also includes a pie chart showing the wins, draws and losses in that particular year.

Sample pages of the book can be downloaded here The Making of a Champion – excerpts.

1998 World Championship Match

I think the year 1978 deserves a special mention. It was the year when Karpov played Korchnoi for the World Championship in Manila, Philippines.  

It was the match that I followed very carefully as a teenager and which took place at the height of the Cold War.

We in Kenya had been fed with enough of anti-Russian propaganda and viewed the USSR with great suspicion.  Our late President Jomo Kenyatta was viewed by Western Nations as a stalwart against communism designs in Eastern Africa.

In my opinion, Karpov was the blue-eyed boy of the Evil Russian Empire. I wanted Karpov  to be crushed and sent back to Moscow!

I was firmly in the Victor Korchnoi camp and desperately wanted him to snatch the Crown from the custodian of the Evil Empire.

We all know what happened in the match. Korchnoi clawed back from a 5-2 score to level at 5-5.  Karpov went on to win the final 32nd game, which was a devastating blow for Korchnoi’s fans around the world.

Tibor covers this match very well and mentions something that I did not know. Karpov’s play it appears was affected by the death of his long time coach Seymon Furman who passed away just before the match.

I have now become a big fan of Anatoly Karpov over the years. His style of play is a delight to go through. I was lucky even to meet him in person!

1998 Chess Olympiad in Elista, Russia. Standing from left Nathan Ateka, Anatoly Karpov and Kim Bhari. Photo credit Kim Bhari.
1998 Chess Olympiad in Elista, Russia. Standing from left Nathan Ateka, Anatoly Karpov and Kim Bhari. Photo credit Kim Bhari.

Queen-side expansion

Game 9 Vladimir AvetisianAnatoly Karpov from 1967 is another interesting one. Here Karpov goes on a massive Queen-side expansion to win in elegant style. It is an excellent example for chess coaches to use with their students.

My gripe about the book is that it does not have any photos.  It would have been great if Tibor Károlyi had included some rare photos of Karpov’s.

Vladimir Avetisian – Anatoly Karpov

Light Square Symphony

Game 75 of the book is another interesting one. It was the 4th World Championship Match KarpovKasparov held in 1985. Here Karpov played 18 consecutive moves on the white squares. Mark Taimanov, who was a well-known chess grandmaster and pianist, allegedly referred to the game as the ‘Light Square Symphony‘!

Anatoly Karpov – Garry Kasparov

Tibor Károlyi

Tibor Károlyi was the 1984 Hungarian Chess Champion and is a renown author and trainer. He was the coach to GM Peter Leko who in the space of four years went from a promising youngster to world-class Grandmaster.

His other fine book is on Georgian legend GM Nona Gaprindashvili.

Review of other chess books

The Story of a Chess Player” by GM Jaan Ehlvest.

The Grandmaster Battle Plan by Vassilios Kotronias.

The Giant Chess Puzzle Book by Zenon Franco.

Chess Highlights of the 20th Century by Graham Burgess.

The Art of Planning in Chess by Neil McDonald.