Next Monday, July 17th, two men in the Philippines resort of Baguio City will start their first match in the world chess championships. 550,000 United States Dollars is at stake, and the contest could go on for two months before one or other wins six games.
Next Monday, July 17th, two men in the Philippines resort of Baguio City will start their first match in the world chess championships. 550,000 United States Dollars is at stake, and the contest could go on for two months before one or other wins six games. The tension of a world championship is screwed even higher this time by the fact that one player, reigning champion Anatoly Karpov, is a Soviet citizens, and his challenger, Viktor Korchnoi, is a Russian-born, now stateless, defector.
SYNOPSIS: The two last played each other in Moscow in 1974, for the right to challenge Bobby Fischer for the world title. Korchnoi claimed that the Soviet chess authorities were already hostile to him, and favoured Karpov, the younger man. Since his defection, Korchnoi has made more extreme charges -- as of secret rays being beamed at him to upset his concentration. But he later admitted this might have been an exaggeration.
Karpov, who won that contests, became world champion without having to meet Fischer -- who would not agree on terms to defined his title. So Dr. Max Euwe, President of the International Chess Federation, proclaimed Karpov as champion by default. That was in 1975, and Karpov was still only 23.
The last championship match was in iceland in 1972 -- when the Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky was beaten by Fischer, of the United States. Fischer's genius and displays of temperament brought added public interest in world class chess.
Karpov is now 27 -- the embodiment of the best-trained talent of the leading chess-playing country of the world. Soon after he was proclaimed champion, a Soviet television reporter how he felt about it.
Karpov said he was sorry about the way it had happened -- by Fischer's default. At the same time, he was naturally pleased that the world title had now come back to his country.
Korchnoi is 47. After seeking asylum in the Netherlands, be has fought through a series of qualifying tournaments -- including beating Spassky -- to gain the right to challenge Karpov. Two months ago, he spoke on British television about his prospects.