Former World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov is engaged in a fierce battle for the FIDE Presidency, but in a recent interview he told Alexander Kochetkov of “Novye Izvestia” of a tribulation that befell him in the somewhat less cut-throat world of stamp collecting.
The interview consists mainly of standard questions and responses on chess politics that would be familiar to anyone who’s followed the campaign for FIDE President. To give an idea, the section I’ve translated includes Karpov’s post-election plans. When he mentions “legal claims” he’s referring to his earlier comments in the interview that FIDE is wasting 10% of its budget on legal matters.
Then he goes on to mention the greatest players in chess history, which may again be familiar – he talks in much greater details about the champions in this interview, and mentioned the same top 5 on Russian TV. It’s noticeable that he remains sceptical about the players who followed himself and Kasparov, though in part it can perhaps be explained by the split in the chess world, and championship system, that came with the Kasparov-Short match in 1993.
Finally, it’s worth adding that when it comes to stamps the newspaper notes that by some estimations Karpov’s coin and stamp collection is worth $15 million…
What will be first on your list of things to do as FIDE President?
The primary task is to sign an agreement with a new general sponsor. As my team includes serious businessmen I think I’ll be able to do it. Then it’s essential to resume cooperation with UNICEF on developing children’s chess. We’ll cooperate with UNESCO and that will help us establish chess teaching in schools and institutions. I hope I’ll be able to resolve the situation with multiple legal claims. The fact is that I have experience in such matters. And in general I want to raise the prestige of the International Chess Federation. I’ve got a lot of ideas.
Who do you consider the world’s greatest chess player? As far as I know you called the Cuban Capablanca your teacher…
I’d mention five surnames: Capablanca, Tal, Fischer, Kasparov and Karpov. Well, and you could add Alekhine, Lasker and Botvinnik to that list. And in general there were 13 fully valid World Champions, beginning with Steinitz and ending with Kasparov. Perhaps the Dutchman Euwe was weaker than the rest. So you almost end up with the 12 Apostles (laughs).
Let’s talk not only about chess. It’s well-known that you’re a big philatelist and are even writing a book on the subject…
True. I’ve got a very large collection of stamps and coins dedicated to chess. And I really am writing a book in which I describe not only the stamps and coins themselves, but the historical events they relate to. I think that in its way it’ll be a unique work. The book might have seen the light of day around two years ago. Unfortunately, the manuscript was stolen from me in Brussels, in broad daylight. I couldn’t even imagine that someone would attack me in the EU capital. I let my concentration slip. One thief distracted my attention while the other attacked from behind and snatched the case. Besides the manuscript there was nothing valuable inside. There were, it’s true, bank cards, but I blocked them immediately. The manuscript was much harder to recover. But I hope that the book will, after all, be published this year. It’s 300 pages long and has a print run of 1000 copies. If there’s demand for this unusual encyclopaedia then the circulation will increase.
For more stamps featuring Karpov see this page from the “Anatoly Karpov International School of Chess”.