bad Russian is grinding down the good Russian. Or, from the Russian point of
view, vice versa.
Is that all there
is to be said, of a bottom-line nature, about Anatoly Karpov's commanding
five-games-to-zero lead over Gary Kasparov after 29 games (24 of them draws) in
the world chess championship match, which began in Moscow on Sept. 10 and will
end when either Karpov, the cagey 33-year-old titleholder, or Kasparov, the
apparently disheartened 21-year-old challenger, has six wins?
Not an easy
We must expect no
easy answers. But, offhand, I would say no. I would say there is a great deal
more to be said.
Kasparov, although he was favored by many experts (was regarded, in fact, as
the next Bobby Fischer), has so far succumbed almost meekly. After losing a
game or two through carelessness, he has overlooked openings that could have
brought him three wins. Now, in a reversal of his usual form, he seems content
to gain as many draws as possible before giving up the ghost.
Consider that in
the U.S.S.R., sport is an extension of state policy. Consider that in January,
U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei
Gromyko will sit eyeball-to-eyeball across a table like Karpov and Kasparov as
they try to work out guidelines for the ultimate chess game: arms limitations
signs of a thaw in U.S.-Soviet relations have been noted. For instance, when
John Denver sang We're All in This Together at the U.S. ambassador's
Thanksgiving dinner in Moscow, Soviet ministry official Alexander Bessmertnykh
sang along. On the other hand, if the Russians really wanted to be on good
speaking terms with us, would they send people named Bessmertnykh to our
there have been no outrageous insults or accusations traded during this match.
In 1978, when Karpov successfully defended his title against Russian defector
Viktor Korchnoi in Baguio City, Philippines, Korchnoi complained that he was
being hypnotized by a parapsychologist in Karpov's camp and that Karpov was
receiving signals from his seconds by means of different flavors of yogurt.
Karpov suspected Korchnoi's chair was beaming secret rays at him. Korchnoi
cried out to Karpov, "Stop wiggling in your chair, gudyonesh!"
(Gudyonesh means something like worm or creep.) When the two met again in 1981,
Korchnoi said, "Stop smiling or I'll call you a fascist!" Nothing like
that this time. For a world championship match to be devoid of bizarre touches
is verrr-ry strange.
Kasparov's manager is his mother. She is said to be domineering. It is said
that she has become very nervous during the title match, which has made
Kasparov nervous. Hmmm.
Karpov is the bad
Russian because the Kremlin seems to love him so. He is a hard-liner. On or off
the chessboard, he avoids risk. He makes his moves with cold, bland precision,
waiting patiently until his opponent reveals the slightest weakness, which he
usually exploits. He is a solid supporter of the Communist Party, and it is
said that other Russian players dislike and fear him: He is tight with the
right apparatchiks, and he has a great deal of say-so over who plays in
international tournaments. He is pale, thin, haughty-looking. He probably
doesn't even want to defect.