Reports | November 04, 2012 10:54

Karpov beats Ivanchuk in final, wins 'Trophée Anatoly Karpov'

Cap d'Agde Echecs

Beating Vassily Ivanchuk 4.5-3.5 in the final, Anatoly Karpov won the "Trophée Anatoly Karpov" in Cap d'Agde on Saturday. The 61 year old World Champion clinched the trophy named after himself when his opponent lost on time in the 6th blitz game. In the semi-finals on Friday the two players had eliminated Romain Edouard and Ju Wenjun.

Event Trophée Anatoly Karpov | PGN | via TWIC
Dates October 26th-November 3rd, 2012
Location Cap d'Agde, France
System Round robin & knockout
Players Ivanchuk, Bauer, Edouard, Karpov, Sebag, Ju Wenjun, Milliet, Goryachkina
Rate of play

25 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move


World Champion. Don't use 'former',

said Anatoly Karpov at a press conference during the Anand-Gelfand match back in May. He felt that Garry and him and other 'former' World Champions shouldn't be called that way.

We're still World Champions!

He's right of course, and so ever since we prefer to use a phrase like "12th World Champion".

Yesterday Karpov put some more weight to his argument by showing that he can still play wonderful chess. He holds the record for most tournament victories collected by a single player, and in Cap d'Agde he added one more. Named Trophée Anatoly Karpov, it must be one special victory for the now 61 year old Russian Member of Parliament.

On Friday Karpov played the young French grandmaster Romain Edouard in the semi-final. The first game ended in a draw, and in the second the Frechman allowed a (pretty neat) tactic early on that led to a lost position. Ivanchuk expectedly won both games against Ju Wenjun, and so the organizers got their dream final.

That final, played on Saturday, became a nerve-racking affair with the players exchanging win after win. Playing Black, Karpov won the first rapid game from a Schlechter - a dramatic game that would set the tone for the whole match. Ivanchuk was better in the first half, then lost a pawn, then had to give a piece for a dangerous passed pawn but he could liquidate to a R-RN ending, but lost that anyway.

Ivanchuk then had to win with Black, and did so impressively, in a King's Indian. The rapid match, played at 25 minutes + 10 seconds, was tied 1-1 and the players switched to blitz, played at 3 minutes + 2 seconds.

Ivanchuk scored again, winning a pawn early on in a Bf4 Queen's Gambit Declined and finishing off with good technique. Karpov then levelled the score in a Grünfeld after he got two central pawns for an exchange which became too strong.

Then it was Karpov's turn to take the lead again. Against Ivanchuk's King's Indian he went for an early h3 and won a pawn after a dubious knight manoeuvre by his opponent. The Ukrainian eventually managed to win back the pawn, but Karpov won the resulting RB-RB ending anyway. Ivanchuk then stayed in the match thanks to a win in a queen ending - perhaps one of our readers can enlighten us about this one and whether the clock played a role here as well?

The regulations stipulated that instead of an Armageddon game, the players would continue with 2-game matches until there would be a decision. The fifth blitz game was the first draw between the two matadors (another Grünfeld), and then the match finished as dramatically as it started. Being two pawns up in an ending, Ivanchuk lost on time, and everything was over. At 61, Karpov had won yet another tournament!

Below you can replay all games of the semi-finals and the final.

PGN file

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Daniel's picture

Wow! Impressive performance by Karpov!

PeterV's picture

Indeed it was. Very impressive!

Matt's picture

Karpov's not one of the chess history greats for nothing, even half-retired and at 61 years of age. Great stuff.

strana's picture

Bravo !! In fact Tolya lost the 4th blitz game on time but won the last one also on Ivanchuk´s clock. Remember that Karpov also beat Kasparov in a rapid match in 2002, with 51 years of age, 12 less than Garry, who was active at that moment of his career. I think i have a good explanation: in Anatoly´s 2007 book " My best games " Raymund Stolze said that Karpov´s "ability to instantly evaluate positions and to calculate variations at lightning speed were a great advantage" in lightning and rapid games. Perfect definition.

Karpov Very Fast's picture

This comment must mention Seirawan, but is entirely about Karpov and not meant to grandstand the prior. Indeed. Karpov was very fast. Personal, direct conversation--across one hundred hours--with Yaz, 'I beat Anatoli three times in a row at blitz'. He said to me, 'Yasser! NO ONE has ever beaten me three times at blitz'. Seirawan does not need the imprimatur, even still beating Radjabov at 5 0 at ICC when he was still retired and thus not in theory, maybe not winning all the time, but the latter hardly a laughing matter. It stands for itself. What matters, is that Yaz is known for his honesty, and when he tells me Karpov said this, full stop, its a fact. Karpov could see. And see fast. strana has it exactly right. Thank you. For all his rationality, Karpov was an intuitive player, who more than a pure calculator, seemed to always 'know where the pieces go' The part of chess least affected by the attrition of time, pure chess understanding. Congratulations GM Karpov, if GM is adequate enough to call it, and thank you stana. Read lineage Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov. Or is it Capablanca, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, four on the paper leaps and bounds beyond all the others in results--sustained results.

redivivo's picture

"Capablanca, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, four on the paper leaps and bounds beyond all the others in results--sustained results"

I would place Lasker well ahead of Capa and Fischer in that department.

Bartleby's picture

> Ivanchuk then stayed in the match thanks to a win in a queen ending

Ivanchuk had to win, and got a good position right out of the opening, with a pawn structure made for putting up pressure. They exchanged everything but the queens, Ivanchuk found a nice way to steal a pawn, but it looked drawish anyway. He had to take up risks to create winning chances. Ivanchuk did this quite well, but it looked nearly impossible to run his free pawn and fend off all the perpetuals. Just when Karpov had eliminated the free pawn, White's last hope, he looked like the winner of the tournament. Next thing, his flag fell.
Erh, probably not. Perhaps his clock blinked or something.
No sense for a good narrative, these modern gadget designers.

Anonymous's picture

Congratulations Karpov! and attention Diaz!

Anonymous's picture

So two games were decided by the clock even though there was increment. I can't imagine this happening to a young player, then again I can't imagine any of them playing this strong in their 60's or 40's either.

redivivo's picture

Did they really play all that strongly? I mean, Ivanchuk was the only participant anywhere close to top 50 level and he didn't play so impressively going by the games I looked at that it is impossible to imagine younger players doing as well in their 40s.

Anonymous's picture


Anonymous's picture

Redivivo, Ivanchuk qualified for the finals with 13.5/16 undefeated and a tpr of 2810+. You should look at other games, or look better. He played very good, although mistakes in the blitz games are inevitable of course.

redivivo's picture

Ivanchuk was the only player in the top 50 and didn't even win, so I'm just not convinced that he played on such a strong level. Ju did well to finish third being rated below 2500, and Karpov did well to win a final that looked like a lottery going by the moves that were played, but it all didn't say much to me.

Thomas's picture

"perhaps one of our readers can enlighten us ..."
I will try, based on watching the live video (with French live commentary) yesterday evening. Yes, Karpov lost the fourth blitz game on time (what else?), Bartleby's narrative of what had happened before is spot on.
The next (fifth) game also finished in extreme mutual time trouble, the game score is probably incomplete. Ivanchuk seemed very upset at the end, unclear if he was angry about himself (he seemed to have the upper hand towards the end of the game) or if pieces had been knocked over.

As to losing on time despite increments, two seconds isn't much ... and such blitz tiebreaks are a matter of nerves, much more than regular blitz tournaments where single games do not matter as much. Overall I wouldn't say Karpov was better than Ivanchuk - but it's of course a surprise and an achievement that he wasn't worse either.

Niima's picture

" Overall I wouldn't say Karpov was better than Ivanchuk"

What else was he? In a situation like this, he was just that: better overall, resulting in a win. Give Toyla his due.

Thomas's picture

What else was he? Good question. With so many games having "random" results Karpov may have been luckier, or he had the better nerves - which isn't the same as playing better chess (but certainly plays a role particularly "in a situation like this"). Which raises the question how Karpov would do against a current world top player comparable to Ivanchuk but with better nerves (e.g. Nakamura!?).

I do give him his due, but for this it doesn't make any difference who won at the end of a tense fight.

redivivo's picture

Karpov played the World Blitz Championship 2009 and finished between Ivanchuk and Gelfand:

kentohtan's picture

ivanchuk just gave it to karpov.if the tourney was not named after karpov,the result would be different.

Anonymous's picture

You don't know Ivanchuk!

jambow's picture

Anatoly is 61 years old and honestly hasn't looked impressive for at least 15 years. Yet here a return to the old champions form at least on some level glad to see him score so well.

jambow's picture

Anatoly is 61 years old and honestly hasn't looked impressive for at least 15 years. Yet here a return to the old champions form at least on some level glad to see him score so well.

RG13's picture

Well he looked at least this good 10 years ago when he defeated Kasparov in a short exhibition match.

hansie's picture

Karpov winning his own trophy! At the age of 61 years!! Can't believe this!!! Must be cheating!!!!

brock's picture

he recently showed good form at rapid/blitz against yaz in a friendly match and its in poor taste to accuse the man of cheating (in blitz no less), i hope this was simply a bad joke. and to say the competition was poor is also untrue as you had chucky, romain, and bauer all strong players not to mention Karpovs current rating is only low 2600s plus he is essentially retired from play. relatively speaking I would say he was up against strong opposition and had an excellent result

Anonymous's picture

Any active player rated over 2750 that gets beat by a retired old man must feel like crying the way Kasparov did when Karpov beat him in 2002!

foo's picture

When will Anand win a game? That's all I care about.

Anonymous's picture

Anand will be hiding preparation until his next world champion match! (-;

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