Chess legend Karpov marks world title match milestone in Manila 

Philip Matel
Chess legend Karpov marks world title match milestone in Manila 

LEGENDS. Eugene Torre (left) welcomes fellow chess great Anatoly Karpov in Manila.


‘The Philippines played an important role for chess especially in Asia,’ says former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov as he reminisces with Filipino icon and Asia’s first Grandmaster Eugene Torre during his Manila visit

MANILA, Philippines – Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov returned to the capital city just in time to commemorate the 45th anniversary of his classic match against Soviet émigré Viktor Korchnoi.

Karpov, then the top-ranked player in the world, beat the second-ranked woodpusher Korchnoi in Baguio City during the 1978 World Chess Championship.

The match is noted in the annals of history for its tension-filled matchup – and at the same time strange – with both sides accusing each other of alleged hypnotism and intimidation.

“I’ve visited Manila five times since 1976 and I can see a big development of the Philippines,” said Karpov during a short lecture at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday, January 31.

He also credited the country for spearheading the rise of the sport in the continent.

“The Philippines played an important role for chess especially in Asia,” he remarked.

Accompanied by Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov, Karpov was received by the country’s top sports officials, led by Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann, and commissioners Olivia “Bong” Coo, and Walter Torres.

Eugene Torre, the first chess Grandmaster in Asia, also met with his peer, and reminisced about some of the battles they waged in the 1970s.

“Personally I’m very proud of my result against Karpov considering he’s a world champion and he’s a kind of champion who is very difficult to beat,” recalled Torre, who had two wins, four losses, and five draws against Karpov.

“It was big news because at that time Karpov would rarely lose a tournament or even a game,” recollected the 71-year-old Pinoy chess legend, referring to their 1976 matchups at the Meralco-Loyola King’s Challenge.

A 2021 film based on the Baguio face-off, Champion of the World, was shown to the hundreds of chess enthusiasts that attended the event. –

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