Happy Birthday, Anatoly Karpov | ChessBase

Karpov at 70

While some people retire at 65, former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov is still going strong. He turns 70 on May 23. A three-volume retrospective of his life and career has just been published.

Anatoly Karpov and FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich present Karpov’s biography | Photo: FIDE

From May 31 to June 1, 2021, Karpov will be giving a simultaneous (simul) chess exhibition at the Karpov Children’s Cup. Apparently, even the pandemic hasn’t slowed Karpov down. As reported on ChessBase, Karpov also gave a simulation on August 21, 2020.

Three teenagers

In 1994, three of my private chess students played Karpov in a sim. These adolescents are now adults. Dr. Heather Flewelling is an astrophysicist. John Hendrick is a chess teacher, rated 2180 in the American Chess Federation system, who swears to soon become a National Master (2200 or higher). I wrote about Flewelling and Hendrick in this article. Hendrick is an online chess teacher for Grant Sitta’s daughter. Sitta is now a lawyer working in the Patent Office. Although only Hendrick made a career in chess, all three have fond memories of Karpov’s visit to Austin, Texas.


Prior to the sim, Flewelling attended a banquet that included Grandmaster Ron Henley (Karpov’s second in command), Karpov, and his parents. Her mother, Judy, is a longtime friend of Henley’s and her father, Mike, is a chess expert. Flewelling had taken a Russian course and had spoken briefly in Russian to Karpov.

Like the sim, the banquet on June 24, 1994 was part of the Lions Club’s fundraising efforts, with a special cause being a girl’s heart transplant in Moscow. The banquet included a barbecue buffet of Mesquite smoked chicken and Angus beef brisket, along with cobbler desserts of Fredericksburg peaches and Bluebell ice cream. The Austin Lions Club and the Moscow Arbat Lions Club (where Karpov was president-elect) shared the proceeds for the banquet and the simulation. According to then-Texas Chess Association president Michael Simpson, writing in the September-October 1994 issue of Texas knights, the simulation could have sold more boards at $ 1,000 each if there had been more than five weeks’ notice of the exact date of the simulation.

Contacted via Facebook on April 27, 2021, Henley recalled:

“I think this might have just been Karpov’s second trip to our great state of Texas! (When he was young he was tied for first place in the famous San Antonio Church Fried Chicken Tournament. in 1972.) The organizers were wonderful and very hospitable. I believe they even made him an honorary brother of the Lions Club. They also gave him a Texas Ten Gallon Stetson hat! On the day off we did a good barbecue by the pool, and my good friend Principal Petty Officer Joseph Mark Bradford came over and we have blitz games with Karpov. “

The simul

On June 25, 1994, fifteen young people and eight adults faced off against Karpov, then FIDE World Chess Champion. Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short had played for the Professional Chess Association (PCA) World Championship, with Kasparov becoming the PCA World Champion. In the pre-simulation talk, at the start of this YouTube video, Karpov answered questions on several topics, including the division of the world championship, the role of computers, and his chess heroes.

The venue for the banquet and simulation was The Terrace, formerly the Austin Opera House. One adult, National Petty Officer Jim Gallagher, won a draw. Gallagher, who died in 2004, was 37 when he drew Karpov. He paid $ 400 to play; the original asking price of $ 1,000 was met on a single plank. Gallagher told a reporter: “It was exciting, even for a tough, tough old chess player like myself …. To be honest with you, he’s great. He’s pretty much flawless.”

Texas Middle School champion Sitta also drew and then had his game analyzed on a demo board by Henley and international master Doug Root. This scan begins 57 minutes from the YouTube video. You can see me (Alexey Root) and my daughter (Clarissa) hanging around the edges of the demo board.

Karpov, chess idol

In 1994, at age 15, Flewelling wrote: “Personally, I’m glad I lost. If I had drawn it would have been different. What would you do if you had DRAWN your idol and also the chess champion FIDE ? “

In April 2021, Hendrick recalled his thoughts on the 1994 simulation:

“I was extremely excited to play Anatoly Karpov. It was a charity simulation. My father was unable to donate the required $ 500. However, the organizers were kind and let me play in the simulation at the last minute for a donation of $ 100. I was happy to see Karpov, but I couldn’t believe I was going to play him too! “

Anatoly Karpov vs. John Hendrick | Courtesy of John Hendrick

Game Score Sheet | Courtesy of John Hendrick

In April 2021, Sitta sent an email:

“Karpov has had such a positive effect on my life, and I was very proud to have drawn the simulation game against him. In my applications to university and law school, I included that I drew Karpov in a simulation. I think it changed the course of my life.. I wish him a happy birthday! “


A. Karpov – Sitta

The annotations for the game Karpov – Sitta are based on the 1994 post-match analysis by Ron Henley and Doug Root, available unpublished at approximately 57 minutes in this YouTube video. This analysis was also mentioned in a Texas knights article, September-October 1994, by Richard Strauss.

A. Karpov – J. Hendrick

In 2021, John Hendrick analyzed his 1994 game with Karpov in a YouTube video.

A. Karpov – Flewelling

The Karpov – Flewelling game has not been annotated.


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