Back in the game: Karpov to play classical tournament in Malmö

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
3/3/2021 – The traditional TePe Sigeman & Co tournament will take place at the Malmö Live Concert Hall on April 24-30. A highly attractive 8-player lineup will battle it out in a single round robin with a classical time control. Most notably, 69-year-old former world champion Anatoly Karpov will be participating. Alexei Shirov, Jorden van Foreest and Nihal Sarin will be among the Russian legend’s rivals! | Photo: Andrei Nikerichev / Moskva news Agency

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Anatoly Karpov’s illustrious career was marked by two major rivalries, as he played multiple, hard-fought World Championship matches against Viktor Korchnoi and Garry Kasparov. While the 12th world champion defeated Korchnoi twice in the fight for the title (in 1978 and 1981), he was defeated by Kasparov four times (in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1990) in very close matches — the 1984 match was abandoned in controversial circumstances with Karpov leading 5 wins to 3.

Coincidentally, both his rivals are known for opposing Soviet and Russian administration and policies, but, on the other hand, they took very different approaches regarding their late careers — while Kasparov retired from competitive chess at 41, Korchnoi continued playing past his 80th birthday, sporadically getting impressive wins against much younger stars at a very advanced age.

Karpov is following Korchnoi’s footsteps in this regard. At 69, he has agreed to participate at the 2021 TePe Sigeman & Co tournament, a classical event with a time control of 100 minutes for 40 moves, 50 minutes for the next 20 moves, 15 minutes for the rest of the game and an increment of 30 seconds per move. A game might easily last over five hours!

Anatoly Karpov, Viktor Korchnoi

Candidates Final 1974 — Karpov beat Korchnoi 12½:11½

Not only that. The Russian legend will be facing a tough field as well. The 8-player lineup includes two 2700+ rated participants and a number of talented, ambitious rising stars:

  1. Le Quang Liem, Vietnam (2709)
  2. Jorden van Foreest, Netherlands (2701)
  3. David Navara, Czech Republic (2697)
  4. Nils Grandelius, Sweden (2670)
  5. Alexei Shirov, Spain (2662)
  6. Nihal Sarin, India (2620)
  7. Anatoly Karpov, Russia (2617)
  8. Harika Dronavalli, India (2515)

Note that the ever-fighting Shirov is also in the lineup. Nihal Sarin, at 16, will be the youngest in the field — Karpov was 53 when the talented Indian grandmaster was born!

In an interview with David Llada from 2018, Karpov talked about his first chess trip outside the Soviet orbit — to Sweden:

Anatoly KarpovDL: Please, tell me more about your first chess trips. Your first travel abroad was to Trinec, but your first trip somewhere outside the Soviet orbit was to Sweden, right?

AK: Yes, apart from my trip to Czechoslovakia, Stockholm was the first foreign city I visited, and there is where I first met Ulf Andersson, for instance. There was this nice traditional tournament, in which the Soviet Union Juniors would play a match against junior players from the Scandinavian countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. We won very easily in 1967, but the next year, in Tallin (Estonia) it was much more tough. I was not in good form and played very badly. 

DL: Which country made a bigger impression on the young Karpov?

AK: Well, Sweden was indeed a very interesting experience, and so was the Netherlands. I went to Groningen in 1967, that’s where I first met Jan Timman, and also Max Euwe, who at that moment he was running for FIDE President.

[Photo: David Llada / TePe Sigeman Tournament website]

Max Euwe, Anatoly Karpov

Max Euwe greets Karpov in 1976 | Photo: Rob Bogaerts / Anefo

It was also in Stockholm where Karpov won the 1969 World Junior Championship with an astounding 10/11 score, conceding draws only to András Adorján and Julio Kaplan.

Karpov’s games - 1969 World Junior Championship


It will certainly be interesting to see the highly-competitive Karpov facing such a strong field. Three of the rounds in Malmö will be played concurrently with the Candidates Tournament (April 24, 26 and 27) — luckily, we will not suffer from top-chess withdrawal symptoms once we find out who will be Carlsen’s next challenger as the chess action will continue in Sweden!

Master Class Vol.6: Anatoly Karpov

On this DVD a team of experts looks closely at the secrets of Karpov's games. In more than 7 hours of video, the authors examine four essential aspects of Karpov's superb play.


Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.


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hansj hansj 3/6/2021 08:19
"We won very easily in 1967 ..."
The match in Stockholm was played in august 1966.
Bill Alg Bill Alg 3/5/2021 07:27
In 1987 he was "defeated" by Kasparov 12-12
hansj hansj 3/4/2021 04:41
"but the next year, in Tallin (Estonia) it was much more tough. I was not in good form and played very badly ..."

Well, Karpov was up against a strong opponent on that occasion, Bo Jakobsen, and lost ½-1½.
PhishMaster PhishMaster 3/4/2021 12:58
It will be interesting. There is no doubt in my mind that Karpov understands chess better than all but a two or three other players on Earth today....that does not go away, and in fact, increases. But as we get older, rust from not playing, mind slowing down, and the fact that he probably does not keep up on theory, it will be a tough road.

Nevertheless, this deep understanding is why Kortchnoi, and surely Karpov, can beat anyone if they get a position that is less about pure calculation, and more about where to best put the pieces.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 3/4/2021 12:39
Fantastic game, @Juliok
Gerald C Gerald C 3/4/2021 07:03
A. Karpov, one of the greatest world champions and perhaps the best one ! But I'm afraid he will encounter difficulties playing these young and competitive guys. Let's see !
KingZor KingZor 3/4/2021 02:53
"he was defeated by Kasparov four times..." I think you mean three. The 1987 match was drawn. Kasparov, being the defending champion, retained the title.
calcomar calcomar 3/4/2021 12:38
@juliok - Sorry about that, Julio. I've fixed the error. And you played the King's Gambit!
juliok juliok 3/4/2021 12:11
My draw with Karpov in the 1969 World Junior is getting credited to Urzica instead.
Am I a victim of cancel culture? In Chessbase??
zedsdeadbaby zedsdeadbaby 3/3/2021 09:59
Who does this young whipper snapper think he is Korchnoi.
Letolk78 Letolk78 3/3/2021 03:28
Amazing to see Karpov back, even though it will be a tough ride for him.