Former chess world champion Anatoly Karpov came to the nation’s capital just in time to honor the 45th anniversary of his memorable encounter against Soviet émigré Viktor Korchnoi.
During the 1978 World Chess Championship in Baguio City, Karpov, the world’s number one player at the time, defeated Korchnoi, the number two player.
Both sides accused each other of hypnotism and intimidation, resulting in a peculiar and tense showdown that is recorded in the annals of history.
“I’ve visited Manila five times since 1976, and I’ve witnessed the Philippines’ tremendous growth,” Karpov remarked during a brief presentation at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum on January 31.
In addition, he praised the nation with advancing the sport throughout the continent.
“The Philippines played a significant role in chess, particularly in Asia,” he noted.
Karpov was welcomed by the country’s top sports authorities, led by Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann and commissioners Olivia “Bong” Coo and Walter Torres. He was accompanied by Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov.
Eugene Torre, the first chess grandmaster in Asia, reunited with his rival and reminisced about the fights they had in the 1970s.
Torre, who had two victories, four defeats, and five draws versus Karpov, said, “Personally, I’m really happy of my record against him, given he’s a world champion and a type of champion who is extremely tough to defeat.”
The 71-year-old Pinoy chess hero recalled their 1976 confrontations at the Meralco-Loyola King’s Challenge. “It was significant news at the time since Karpov seldom lost tournaments or games,” he said.
Champion of the World, a 2021 film based on the Baguio match, was screened to the hundreds of chess aficionados who attended the occasion.