Anatoly Karpov

Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov is a Russian chess grandmaster and former World Champion. He was the official world champion from 1975 to 1985 when he was defeated by Garry Kasparov.

Anatoly Karpov has compiled perhaps the best tournament record in chess history, achieving more than 160 first-place finishes.

As a teenager, he won the 1967 European Junior Championship and the 1969 World Junior Championship, and was awarded grandmaster status in 1970.

  • Full name: Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov
  • Born: 23 May 1951, Zlatoust, Russia
  • Spouse: Natalia Bulanova
  • Movies: Closing Gambit, Fool’s Mate, The Great Chess Movie, Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine, Red Army
  • Children: Sophia Karpova, Anatoly Karpov

About Anatoly Karpov

Karpov was born on 23 May 1951 in Zlatoust in the Urals region of the former Soviet Union. He learned to play chess at the age of 4. His early rise in chess was swift, as he became a Candidate Master by age 11.

At 12, he was accepted into Mikhail Botvinnik’s prestigious chess school, though Botvinnik made the following remark about the young Karpov: “The boy does not have a clue about chess, and there’s no future at all for him in this profession.”

Karpov acknowledged that his understanding of chess theory was very confused at that time, and later wrote that the homework Botvinnik assigned greatly helped him, since it required that he consult chess books and work diligently.

Karpov improved so quickly under Botvinnik’s tutelage that he became the youngest Soviet National Master in history at fifteen in 1966; this tied the record established by Boris Spassky in 1952.


He continued to succeed in tournament play, winning Moscow’s 1971 Alekhine Memorial, sharing second place in the 1973 USSR Championship, and qualifying for the 1974 Candidates Matches.

His victory in the latter competition earned him the right to challenge defending World Champion Bobby Fischer.

Following Fischer’s forfeiture, Karpov was named the 12th World Chess Champion in 1975. Karpov successfully defended his title in 1978 and 1981 before losing to Garry Kasparov in 1985.

During his decade as world champion, he was a constant and dominant presence on the international tournament scene.

Karpov and Kasparov would compete for the World Championship three more times, in 1986, 1987, and 1990, with Kasparov narrowly defending his title each time.

However, Karpov would recapture the World Championship crown in 1993 and successfully defended in 1996 and 1998.

Following changes to the format of FIDE competitions, he resigned the title in 1999 and has since limited his chess participation to exhibition and rapid chess events.

Despite his gradual retirement from competitive play, Karpov’s impressive record remains, including a peak Elo rating of 2780 and 90 total months as the world’s top-ranked player.

In recent years, Karpov has become involved in several political and humanitarian causes, both internationally and in his native Russia.