Rapid match Hou Yifan vs Anatoly Karpov

by André Schulz
2/7/2018 – The northern Chinese city of Harbin was the venue for a friendly competition between Hou Yifan and Anatoly Karpov. Over two days, the pair contested six rapid games. Karpov won the match 3½ : 2½. These days the 66-year-old Karpov rarely competes in serious tournaments. But he is still dangerous. | Photo: Imsa.cn

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Karpov wins narrowly

On Saturday, Anatoly Karpov was still a guest at the 13th Congress of the Russian Chess Federation. The next day, the 12th World Chess Champion was already in China, specifically in Harbin, located in the north of the country, in the Amur province, where he played a match with Hou Yifan.

After the Russian occupation of Manchuria in 1898, Harbin was one of the stations of the Trans-Siberian Railway: a number of Russian-style buildings still characterize the cityscape. After the Second World War, Harbin remained occupied for some time by Russian troops, before 1946, when Chinese Communists took over the city and used it as a base in the Chinese Civil War. 

Karpov and Hou played six rapid games with 15 minutes plus 10 seconds per move for each player. Karpov took an early lead with a finely played positional game and then increased his victory in the second game. Hou won the third game. The fourth game ended in a draw. With a victory in the fifth game, Karpov decided the match with a game to spare. On the white side of a Benoni defense from Hou, Karpov proceeded with careful and prudent play, which eventually resulted in a strong counterattack.

The last game was perfunctory, and Karpov lost without much of a fight, resulting in a final match score of 3½ : 2½.

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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The_Tenant The_Tenant 2/10/2018 07:56
Someone tell Karpov he can get some stem cell injections into his brain to repair any damages sustained over the years. Worth looking into considering the ravages of various kinds of dementia. I'm sure he can afford it.
twamers twamers 2/9/2018 09:22
Karpov just a legendary player. One of the best ever, easily. Good to see him still playing a bit like this.
maxharmonist maxharmonist 2/8/2018 11:52
"Had there been no computer revolution, Karpov could conceivably still hold his own in elite tournaments, as Lasker did in the 30s"

Nah, I don't think computers have that much to do with it, the last classical tournament Karpov played was almost ten years ago and far from top elite, and this is how it finished:

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=68460

This is how Korchnoi did in a much stronger tournament when he already was 70:

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=80051

Karpov dropped quite a bit in playing strength when he was around the age of Anand, Ivanchuk and Gelfand. Nothing wrong with that, but he just could never hold his own in the elite today, computers or no computers.

"I personally doubt that Carlsen's legacy will surpass Karpov's once all is said and done"

Difficult to say, Carlsen just turned 27 and has quite an impressive CV already.
Maatalkko Maatalkko 2/8/2018 04:49
A whole generation of players who even today, past their prime, are serious contenders - Kramnik, Anand, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Kamsky - all cut their teeth mostly losing to a 40+ Karpov. Had there been no computer revolution, Karpov could conceivably still hold his own in elite tournaments, as Lasker did in the 30s.
Maatalkko Maatalkko 2/8/2018 04:40
Karpov has to be in the top 5 of all time. He outclasses all living players aside from Kasparov. I personally doubt that Carlsen's legacy will surpass Karpov's once all is said and done. Karpov hasn't had any serious chess ambitions since FIDE removed his title privileges in 1999, yet he still plays at a level that nobody else in his generation is remotely close to. Only the word "genius" is fit to describe him.
Goodinoff Goodinoff 2/7/2018 07:19
Im impressed by Karpov .Hou Yifan has just had bad tournement.
Hhorse Hhorse 2/7/2018 03:53
The first game alone shows how lethal Karpov still is! After a quiet 15.Rb1 it is already clear the boa constrictor has begun its work!
AIekhine AIekhine 2/7/2018 03:22
Karpov! Johnnyballgame is correct.
KevinC KevinC 2/7/2018 02:08
@Bill Alg, he could mean literally: He is "only" 2623 now in classical, and less in blitz and rapid. As you get older, you lose the ability to calculate as quickly, but his understanding of chess is probably pretty close to the same as it always was.
Jarman Jarman 2/7/2018 12:37
Hou Yifan should be very worried about her play. First a disappointing performance in the Tata Steel tournament and now this. Even in the third game she fell in a hopeless position and won only because Karpov blundered with 40. Ke1.
KOTLD KOTLD 2/7/2018 12:15
Karpov is still amazing. I believe he has still won more top-level tournaments than anyone in history, and his 1994 whitewash in Linares will always be legendary.
mehmet17 mehmet17 2/7/2018 10:43
Beautiful game.Hope to see more by Karpov.
Bill Alg Bill Alg 2/7/2018 09:22
One small addition: In their five world championship matches, Karpov scored 19 wins, 21 losses, and 104 draws in 144 games.
Bill Alg Bill Alg 2/7/2018 09:19
Underrated by whom? There are many who believe him to have been the best ever. There are many who believe Kasparov was the best ever. But there was not much separating the two of them in their matches, the matches were always sooo closely fought. Overall in classical games: Garry Kasparov beat Anatoly Karpov 28 to 21, with 121 draws. This includes games played in the nineties, when Karpov's play visibly deteriorated, say after the age of 45. But Kasparov already retired at the age of 42, so we cannot even compare.
Johnnyballgame Johnnyballgame 2/7/2018 09:09
Karpov might well be the most underrated player in the history of chess. Just extraordinary.
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