The "Super Final" of the 57th Russian Championship started with very high expectations. Two qualification championships were held earlier this year in St. Petersburg and Tomsk, the three top scorers earned the right to play in the Super Final. These six were Alexey Dreev, Vitaly Tseshkovsky, Vladimir Epishin, Alexander Motylev, Artyom Timofeev, Alexey Korotylev. They were to be joined by the seven top GMs in Russia: Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Morozevich, Peter Svidler, Evgeny Bareev, Alexander Grischuk and Anatoly Karpov.
On Monday night news broke that Vladimir Kramnik would not participate. The classical chess world champion handed in a doctor's letter which said that he had been under too much stress and would not be able to play in any tournament for two months. That reduced the number of players to an even twelve.
Many times world champion Anatoly Karpov
On Saturday night we were told by contacts close to the organisation committee that Anatoly Karpov has dropped out as well, due to "other business commitments". There are rumours that Alexander Khalifman, who narrowly missed qualifying in the St Petersburg tournament, would be invited as a replacement, but it was unclear whether he could play at such short notice.
We had no independent verification of this information, and promised more details as soon as they became available. On Sunday morning we heard from chess friends in Moscow that Karpov had attended a press conference with Kasparov and confirmed his participation – as given on the official web site of the tournament. From this it seemed that Karpov would indeed be one of the twelve GMs at the Super Final. However, the press conference had taken place on November 12, and our source in Moscow informed us about Karpov's withdrawal on November 13.
Itar Tass confirms report
On Sunday evening the Russian news agency Itar Tass confirmed what our source had reported: "Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov said Sunday he would not take part in Russia’s chess super-finals. He made his decision known just a few hours before sortition and gala opening of the competition." With that it would appear to be certain: Karpov is not playing in the Super Final.