MOSCOW (Associated Press) - Chess grandmaster Anatoly Karpov was awarded a medal of honor from Russian President Vladimir Putin and feted at a gala in the Bolshoi Theater marking his 50th birthday. Putin awarded Karpov the Order for Service to the Fatherland on Wednesday, and the Bolshoi Theater production showed film clips from his career.
``A fiftieth birthday, for a man who has retained his strengths, is a glorious birthday,'' Karpov said in an interview on state ORT television.
Karpov became a young Soviet hero in 1975 when he
took the world champion title after American Bobby Fischer refused a
challenge match. Karpov held the title until fellow Soviet Garry Kasparov
outplayed him in 1985.
Throughout his career, he has won 150 tournaments, ORT said, showing footage of a shy-looking Karpov being embraced by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in the 1970s.
From 1984 to 1990, the world of chess was riveted by a record-shattering series of title bouts between Karpov and Kasparov, who criticized Karpov for being too loyal to Soviet leaders. After a five-year hiatus, the two last played each other at the Linares tournament in March. The game ended in a draw.
``I also play rather well at billiards, and backgammon, and cards,'' Karpov said on ORT.