Anatoly Karpov won the world championship when Bobby Fischer abdicated the title without playing in the championship match in 1975. Fischer wanted restoration of the rule that the first player to win six games would win the match. FIDE did not accept it, but, surprisingly enough, the rule was adopted for the Karpov- Korchnoi match in 1978!
Karpov defeated Victor Korchnoi in the Candidates' Final in 1974 to become world champion. Korchnoi was never happy with the result and complained that the Soviet authorities had thrown their full weight behind the 23-year old 'conformist'. That created a lot of controversy and Korchnoi finally left the Soviet Union in 1976.
Korchnoi became the challenger in 1978 and again the match was marred by allegations and counter allegations. Karpov finally won it, after a dramatic comeback by Korchnoi.
As world champion Karpov was very active. He played in many major tournaments and proved beyond any doubt that he was the best player in the world, despite Korchnoi's consistent grumbling that Karpov was a privileged man whose position was unassailable within the Soviet Union. The only thing that can be said about the then Soviet chess administration is that it was too politicised. The 'non-conformists' had a record of facing too many unexpected obstacles. To tell the truth, the very thought that the chess bosses were supporting a particular player could be a matter of great discomfort to others.
Karpov's biggest virtue was his ability to face any situation with the same composure. He had a simple style which Botvinnink once described as positional play at its best. Korchnoi tried to confuse him with some unexpected and tricky variations, but Karpov never lost his way. Rather, it's Korchnoi who really got nothing out of his attempts to catch his opponent unawares.
Karpov is much younger than Korchnoi. He is now 54 but his active chess career is virtually over. On the other hand , Korchnoi was winning major tournaments only a few years ago when he was well over 65. He actually proved many pundits wrong by performing so well at the top level for such a long time.
Here is the decisive game from the 1978 world championship match.
Black- Victor Korchnoi [A43]
World Championship 1978
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Be2 00 6.00 c5 7.d5 Na6 8.Bf4 Nc7 9.a4 b6 10.Re1 Bb7 11.Bc4 Nh5 12.Bg5 Nf6 13.Qd3 a6 14.Rad1 Rb8 15.h3 Nd7 16.Qe3 Ba8 17.Bh6 b5 18.Bxg7 Kxg7 19.Bf1 Nf6 20.axb5 axb5 21.Ne2 Bb7 22.Ng3 Ra8 23.c3 Ra4 24.Bd3 Qa8 25.e5 dxe5 26.Qxe5 Ncxd5 27.Bxb5 Ra7 28.Nh4 Bc8 29.Be2 Be6 30.c4 Nb4 31.Qxc5 Qb8 32.Bf1 Rc8 33.Qg5 Kh8 34.Rd2 Nc6 35.Qh6 Rg8 36.Nf3 Qf8 37.Qe3 Kg7 38.Ng5 Bd7 39.b4 Qa8 40.b5 Na5 41.b6 Rb7 1-0
(R) thedailystar.net 2005