Anatoly Karpov tells all (2/4)

by Albert Silver
2/13/2015 – In this second part of this in-depth interview, Anatoly Karpov discusses psychologists, parapsychologists, betrayals, and reveals the man responsible for his loss of the match in 1985 to Kasparov, and the subsequent course of chess history. He talks about what he knows about the mysterious interruption of the 1984 match, and one of the most astounding heists in Soviet history.

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Betrayal and parapsychology

Once in an interview you commented that in 1962 Korchnoi had deliberately dumped a game to Petrosian. "Their wives were friends and the wife of Petrosian persuaded Kortchnoi's wife Bella to lobby her husband to lose on purpose. Since it made no difference by that point, he agreed." Have you ever been asked to deliberately lose a game?

(Editor's note: This is in reference to the 1962 Candidates Tournament in Curacao, where Korchnoi lost two of his four games against Petrosian. Later in 1971 Petrosian was promoted as the next rival to Fischer, as it was believed he had the best chances...)

Yes, it has happened. In the Candidates Final in 1990 against Jan Timman. The winner of the candidates would earnt the right to play against Kasparov. One of the sponsors of the Dutch grandmaster asked me straight out: If you're tired of facing Kasparov, I am prepared to compensate you to lose the match to Jan. How much do you want?

What was your answer?

Nothing! If I agree, I will lose my self-respect. I believe Jan knows nothing of this episode.

The most painful betrayal in your life?

Beliavsky. We were friends and worked together in 1986. A year later he went to Kasparov.

What did he tell you?

Nothing at all. He said nothing. I simply learned at some point that he was there.

Had you quarreled? Or was it a question of money?

The circumstances that led him to take this step are not known to me. There was no conflict between us. Even if there had been a disagreement, it is morally wrong to immediately go work for the opponent. Finally it comes down to chess secrets and nuances of preparation. But Beliavsky found this perfectly normal. In general, there have been a lot of defectors in chess at all times. Once the world champion loses his title, many around him will switch and try to be part of the winner's camp. When I became FIDE world champion again many tried to come back, but that train had already left.

Was Beliavsky among them?

No, he knew that the feelings toward him were very negative, not as a chess player but as a person.

Your parapsychologist Vladimir Suchar also switched to Kasparov's camp. Isn't that also betrayal?

That is a different situation. Suchar liked to present himself to journalists, telling them what a great psychologist he was. The crazy Petra Korchnoi always poured gasoline on the fire, instead told Korchnoi: "Viktor, don't concern yourself with such useless things."

Originally, I had invited Suchar to the match with Korchnoi in Moscow in 1974 as a counter action. In Kortchnoi's team a parapsychologist showed up and I was tense for this reason. I knew the character of Viktor Lvovich: If he has something that his rivals doesn't, he gains confidence from this. His forces grow.

Korchnoi (left) playing Karpov in the 1978 match

I noticed this man in the very second game. At that time I did not know who he was. I described his appearance to my coach Furman and was told: "I didn't want to mention it ... Korchnoi has brought a parapsychologist." My doctor Mikhail Gershanovich suggested he call up Suchar. "I studied at the military medical academy with him. He is now in Moscow, working in psychology. Let him come and they will work against each other!"

Suchar has - it seems - worked at the Center for Space Medicine?

Exactly. He is a specialist in sleep and learning foreign languages ​​in your sleep. However, in Baguio, all he demonstrated was utter incompetence. After the Game 22 I suffered from insomnia. He sat there the first night, and then the second - to no avail. At six in the morning I told him, "Vladimir Petrovich, do not torture yourself. I can hear you whispering. I will try to fall asleep on my own" - He said, "You have such a strong nervous system! I cannot penetrate it." He could not, even though I wanted him to! And if I had opposed it? On the whole Suchar's defection to Kasparov's team did not worry me.

And Tofik Dadashev? Did he tell you, years later, what Kasparov tasked him with?

Dadashev has told it this way, and one can read all about it in his articles. He told me the same thing, but I do not believe he was sincere. I noticed him before the last game of the match in 1985. I arrived a bit earlier in the room, and there weren't many spectators yet. I became aware of a man in the sixth row. During the game, I often caught his eye. Dadashev has claimed that he was trying to muster strength for Kasparov. No! He was clearly working against me.

In 1985, Garry Kasparov successfully wrested the title from Anatoly Karpov

For some things I have a feeling. I do not think that psychics can exert constant influence. If so, then only for a short period of time. I suspect that was the case here. Dadashev captured the moment when my nervous system was somewhat relaxed and was able to penetrate it. He destroyed my concentration. There is no other explanation for what happened thereafter, absolutely none.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Kasparov had eight minutes to make sixteen moves. This is a terrible shortage of time, even more so when you have a bad position. I had 46 minutes, and a completely winning position. And then the unbelievable happens! I miss the win! Of course I would be able to achieve a draw, even when a draw would have achieved nothing. But I was so upset that I lost in the end.

Sometime later, on our way to a tournament, Kasparov would not give it a rest on the plane. Using the computer he tried to prove that his position was not dead lost. He did his analysis. I waved it off and said, "It's all forgotten." But Dadashev had an effect on both me and the history of chess. If I had won that game and as a result that match, Kasparov would not have become world champion. I do not think he would have been able to bear it.

What about the hypnotist from Odessa in your team who proposed piercing the cheeks with needles?

Grisha Rozhkovsky. He was not actually part of the team, but we had a good relationship. An exceptional personality. Leaving aside the needles, Grisha freaked us out in another case. He was extremely displeased when I lost the last game against Kasparov in 1985. The match was over, and we sat there eating, dejected. Quietly Grisha took a piece of cut-glass and began to eat it.


Yes, yes, you hear me right! It crunched when he bit into and while he chewed it. Before the eyes of the entire team he ate the glass. Maybe he wanted to cheer us up. But the shock of defeat was followed by the shock of what we had just seen. Grisha, however, continued to eat normally, as if nothing had happened.

Kasparov and the 1984 match interruption

It would seem that everything that could be said about the match against Kasparov has been said and written. Have there been any subsequent revelations on the subject? Something that is only now coming to the fore?

There are still mysteries that only the former deputy chairman of the State Commission for Sport, Marat Gromov, could shed light on. Only he knows what he told Campomanes, the FIDE president, in the car, whose instructions he then followed. An extremely unpleasant citizen.

What could he have said?

I took leave of Campomanes in Gramov's office. Campomanes got into the car to drive to the press conference. He was to announce the match with Kasparov would continue. I know for sure that someone called him and he then changed his mind. He had to cancel the match.

Karpov and Kasparov played Fischer's idea of the first to six wins, and the result in 1984
was a match that was still going after five months

Have you any idea why?

Someone called him on behalf of Gramov. Probably an order by Gaydar Aliyev. But what did he say? Why did Campomanes change his mind all of a sudden?

They must have been strong arguments.

And how!

Have you spoken with Campomanes about this?

What was there to admit? This is the president of an international sports federation, who can issue commands that are not subject to the law!

The match was not to be played anymore in the Pillar Hall due to a number of deaths in the Central Committee. First Ustinov died, followed relatively quickly by Chernenko.

Chernenko died sometime during the 40-plus games. You understand, it was expected that the Hall would be cleared for the funeral.

You later visited Kasparov in jail after he was arrested in the "Dissenters' March" and imprisoned for five days.

They arrested him wrongly. I went there, but even I was not allowed to see Kasparov. Suddenly all the generals were gone. There was some colonel there who said, "I can not take this decision..."

Was that in "Matrosskaya Tishina"? (Ed: a well-known Moscow detention facility)

No, in Petrovka. They have an entire building of detention cells.

What did Kasparov later say? "Thank you, Tolya?"

No, but he was touched. When we visited the radio station "Echo Moskvy" there was one statement he did not like. He began to speak of the difficult conditions as there were four beds in the cell. I clarified, "Garry, the four beds there don't matter since you were alone in the cell." Whereupon Kasparov frowned.

Is there something that really surprised you at Petrovka?

No, nothing. I know it well.

My God. How come?

That was long ago. There is a fantastic Museum. I had befriended the head of the Moscow Criminal Investigation. In the movie "The colorful gang of Moscow", he was the prototype of the investigators. He invited me, "Drop by, it is incredibly interesting!"

What exhibit do you remember?

At that time there was one story on everyone's lips, where a lot of an unbelievable amount of money was stolen from a bank in Yerevan. They had succeeded in bypass the alarm system and security. They had everything thoroughly investigated and drilled a hole in the ceiling. They then entered from the upper floor, and stole two million rubles. Can you imagine how much money that was in 1977? In the museum they showed us just how much money stealing that would be if you stole it in one or three-kopek coins?

Around ten kilograms.

Ten is nothing. Try to calculate the correct number!

I have no idea, Anatoly.

I'll tell you. There was a brigade of technicians responsible for the maintenance of the agricultural services at the exhibition hall (Ed: a typical Soviet exhibit to show their achievements). They stole over 300 thousand from the vending machines and it brought in the very best members of the Judicial Police to help. Today it is not so difficult to catch such a band, but at that time it was absolutely impossible to find who they were. Until they devise a powder that was sprinkled over the machine, the thefts continued. They began to review the brigades and quickly found the right one.

Continued in part three

Click to see the original interview in Russian

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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