Yeah, double checked. Same guy.
Back in the eighties around the time Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov were facing off for the world championship in chess, I recall reading something (possibly in Chess Life or maybe in a newspaper–back when these things were strictly print publications) about the backroom Soviet politics behind those two contenders. Karpov had close connections to mid-level apparatchiks and apparently was more savvy about using his connections than Kasparov was with his respective connections (which were higher up in the party at the time, yet relatively hands-off). None of which, unfortunately, is mentioned in the Wikipedia article.
Since retiring from chess Kasparov has become an international human rights leader and a prominent critic of the Putin regime. Gotta hand it to Kasparov: he put himself on the line and was beaten by Russian police a decade ago before he became an expatriate. Kasparov spoke out against the Russian annexation of Crimea back in 2014.
Karpov, on the other hand, became a politician and went into the Duma. As of this comment no one has edited today’s attack into Karpov’s Wikipedia biography.
Reading archived articles regarding the weird connection between late Soviet era politics and top tier chess. This is strangely gripping reading even all these years later. Slightly different article from the piece summarized above–there were several good news articles on this topic during that era.
Quoting “When Chess Becomes Class Warfare” (Washington Post, March 1, 1985):
Chess? You may have trouble seeing chess as politics. Americans think chess is a game. The “Great Soviet Encyclopedia,” in one of its few correct entries, defines chess as “an art appearing in the form of a game.” And like all art under socialism, it is to be turned into an instrument of the state…
The story is this. On Sept. 10, 1984, the world chess championship begins in Moscow. Both players are Soviet citizens: champion Anatoly Karpov and challenger Gary Kasparov. To win, one must win six games. Draws don’t count. After nine games Karpov is ahead 4-0. An astonishing lead.
Kasparov then launches the most relentless war of attrition in the history of championship chess. He deliberately forces draw after draw, at one point 17 in a row, to one purpose: to exhaust the older and frailer champion.
On Nov. 24, Karpov does win a fifth game, but he will not win again. On Dec. 12, Kasparov wins his first. The score is 5-1. Then 14 more draws.
Then something extraordinary happens. Karpov, known for his metronomic logic and unshakable composure, loses game 47, playing “as though in a daze,” writes chess master Robert Byrne. Game 48: Karpov loses again. The score is 5-3.
By now, says another expert, Karpov “looks like Chernenko.” Chernenko looks bad, but Karpov is 33. He has lost 22 pounds and did not have very many to start with. He is close to collapse. He is about to fall — as Nabokov’s fictional champion, Luzhin, fell — into what Nabokov called “the abysmal depths of chess.” Kasparov is on the brink of the greatest chess comeback ever.
And on the brink both will stay. Six days later, on Feb. 15, the president of the International Chess Federation, under enormous pressure from Soviet authorities, shows up in Moscow and declares the match a draw — and over. Karpov is saved by the bell, except that here the referee rang it in the middle of a round and at an eight count.
*Why? One can understand the Party wanting Karpov to win in 1978 and 1981, when the challenger was Victor Korchnoi — defector, Jew, all around troublemaker, Trotsky at the chessboard. But Kasparov is not Korchnoi. He is a good Soviet citizen, a party member, and not known for any politics. He is, however, half Armenian, half Jewish. Until age 12, his name was Gary Weinstein. He is no dissident, but he is young (21) and independent. Above all, he is not reliable.
Karpov, a man who needed to be named only once, is. Conqueror of Korchnoi (twice), receiver of the Order of Lenin, ethnically pure (Russian) and politically pliant (a leader of the Soviet Peace Committee), he is the new Soviet man. And he receives the attention fitting so rare a political commodity: he says he was told of the match’s cancellation over the phone in his car. Cellular service is not widely available in the Soviet Union.
Now, this is the third time that Soviet authorities have tried to undermine Kasparov’s shot at the championship. In 1983 they stopped him from traveling to his quarterfinal match in Pasadena, Calif. The official reason (later pressed into service for the Olympics) was “lack of security.” Only a sportsmanlike opponent and accommodating chess officials (they rescheduled the match without penalty) saved Kasparov from defaulting in the candidates’ round and losing his chance to challenge Karpov.