Armenians repeat their success
Little Knight meets big rook
The technical Olympiad spirit


Pair of World Champs Reemerge at Olympiad

Dresden, 22/11/2008

They held the title for much different periods

GM Anatoly Karpov was World Chess Champion for 16 years. Though he acquired the title by default in 1975, he claimed his 11 titles defenses and challenges over the next 25 years spanned 766 days in total. "Two and a half years fighting for only the world title," he said. Bobby Fischer infamously refused to defend his title in 1975 and Karpov never ended up playing him over the board (the reclusive American grandmaster proffered a strange match later in life, which included Fischer Random Chess combined with pawn odds given from White, but Karpov declined).

Anatoli Karpov

GM Alexander Khalifman assumed the mantle in 1999 at the FIDE Knockout Tournament, ending Karpov's remarkable run. Though Khalifman was unable to defend his title at the knockout tournament the following year, he seems content. "I was (world champion) for one year but it was enough," he said.

Karpov said his strength came from the sheer volume of games he played in his career. "I was very active in '73 when I won the interzonal tournament," Karpov said. "With any career, you have your peaks and your best form." He would be end up being champion from 1975-1985, then after a few razor-thin matches with GM Garry Kasparov, he won the title back in 1993 after his rival split to form an alternate championship outside of FIDE. Karpov would defend his title several times successfully in matches until the knockout format arrived in 1999. His total, and it might not yet be final, is 167 international tournament and match victories, presumably more than anyone else in the modern era. Susan Polgar suggested that he was the most active world champion ever.

Alexander Khalifman

For Khalifman, his notoriety was much shorter lived. He never again became an elite player after winning the title, and he has all but retired from competitive chess. Khalifman, in Dresden as coach for his friends on the Estonian team, spend most of his time running a chess school in St. Petersburg, Russia. "Sometimes it is necessary to work 24 hours a day," he said. "I am responsible for everything."

When asked about his extensive new volumes of books he has published, he said, "I will do my best to continue the series, but I will think twice about starting a series again."

FM Mike Klein