From a technical standpoint the match sets two entirely different styles of chess against each other. The paradox of Karpov and Korchnoi is that, although the chess world reveres the former's youth, everyone describes his game as that of an old man, while Korchnoi, who is always spoken of in terms of his great experience, plays an attacking, energetic "youthful" style. Karpov, says Kashdan, "is the classic positional player in the manner of Capablanca. He takes the most minute positional advantages and patiently exploits them into a win." William Hartston, the British master and chess theoretician, puts it differently: "Karpov is a boa constrictor who squeezes his opponent to death—effective but undramatic." Says U.S. Grandmaster Robert Byrne, "The only way to play Karpov successfully is to try to rough him up. You have to choose openings and select lines with a great many counterattacking possibilities."
If anyone can do this, it is Viktor Korchnoi. "I am nothing if I am not an infighter," he has said, adding that he would beat Karpov "with my energies." Virtually all the current major grandmasters agree that Korchnoi's style produces devious, complex games with little thought given to positional esthetics or higher strategy. "Capablanca may be Karpov's model," Korchnoi says, "but Lasker is mine. The old German tiger didn't see chess as art or science or psychology, but as sport—a rough sport."
But Tolya Karpov is not afraid, nor, as the match moved along, did it seem he had reason to be. If Bobby Fischer's resignation should prove to be irrevocable, the world title—for whatever it will then be worth—may hang on the outcome. Karpov is a genius of chess, and he is young. If it were not for Fischer, he would probably be the world's best player as well as the world champion in 1975. But chances are he will have to wait a few years.