Karpov retains Fide world title in southern Russia

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 1996 12:00:14 PDT

Copyright 1996 by Reuters ELISTA, Russia (Reuter)

Russian grandmaster Anatoly Karpov retained his World Chess Federation (FIDE) title Thursday when he drew with U.S. challenger Gata Kamsky in a sleepy Russian town near the shores of the Caspian Sea.

The draw, after 80 moves in the 18th game, brought the score to 10.5 to 7.5, giving Karpov, 45, an unassailable lead over his 22-year-old rival in the 20 game series.
Karpov, who had won his FIDE title in 1993, praised Kamsky, a Russian-born chess prodigy who defected to the United States with his father Rustam in 1989.
``I think he showed fighting qualities in a difficult situation,'' he told reporters after the end of the game. ``He showed that it was no accident that he had reached the world championship final.'' Karpov said he had been exhausted after the last game was adjourned Wednesday. ``I did not sleep all night except for one hour,'' he said. ``It was a very difficult analysis and I think my opponent did not sleep either. I am very tired.''

Karpov may only hold his title for a few months as plans are afoot for a new-style world championship tournament at the end of 1996 to restore the battered authority of FIDE over the World's top chess title. World number one Gary Kasparov, who broke away in 1993 to found his own Professional Chess Association (PCA), did not take part in the FIDE competition.

Kasparov is still regarded as the strongest player in world chess and heads the FIDE rankings. But some experts feel his breakaway movement has lost the initiative to FIDE, which can now claim to have sucessfully staged its world title match after a year's delay. FIDE vice president Morten Sand of Norway told Reuters ``I think this match was really about the credibility of FIDE.''

Karpov and Kamsky will share over a million dollars in prize money. The challenger's father, head of his delegation, was fined by organisers for persistently alleging that the Karpov camp was receiving secret advice during games from the tournament computer room.
The match in Elista, capital of the small Russian ethnic republic of Kalmykia, was brought here at short notice, by Kalmykia's President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who became president of FIDE last November. Ilyumzhinov, a 34-year-old millionaire known for his gift for publicity, has promised to try to heal the split between FIDE and Kasparov.
But his task has been complicated by rivalries not only within FIDE but within the Russian Chess Federation which has been split for years between supporters of Karpov and Kasparov. Ilyumzhinov drew sharp criticism from some of FIDE's 154 member federation earlier this year when he flirted with the idea of staging the world championship in the Iraqi capital Baghdad under the patronage of President Sadam Hussein.
``The Baghdad issue was a big mistake and a failure on his part,'' commented Sand, who supports Ilyumzhinov's reelection. ``You have to allow a FIDE president to make some mistakes. He has only been in office since November.'' Sand said that because of the flirt with Baghdad Ilyumzhinov will face moves to replace him at a FIDE congress in Yerevan, Armenia, this October.