MANILA, Philippines — For former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov, the Philippines served as breeding ground for world-class players and helped turn the Asian region into the chess power that it is now.

“The Philippines played an important role for chess especially in Asia,” said Karpov, 71, yesterday during an event that celebrated his 1978 showdown with Soviet émigré Viktor Korchnoi in Baguio City.

A 2021 movie starring Karpov titled “Champion of the World” was shown on a giant screen at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Karpov met his contemporary, 71-year-old Filipino Grandmaster Eugene Torre, and was happy to reminisce about the good old days when they were still at the peak of their games.

“My first visit to the Philippines was in 1976 and I met Eugenio Torre,” said Karpov, referring to the Meralco-Loyola King’s Challenge won by Torre, who is Asia’s first GM.

Also gracing the event were Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Marat Pavlov, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richard Bachmann and commissioners Bong Coo and Walter Torres, and National Chess Federation of the Philippines president chairman Butch Pichay.

Karpov also recalled taking a break from his historic match with Korchnoi that lasted more than a hundred days to watch the finals of the FIBA World Championship between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.

The Yugoslavs won in overtime, 82-81, in a game held at the Araneta Coliseum 45 years ago.

“I took a break and traveled from Baguio to Manila to watch the Soviet Union play Yugoslavia in the finals. It was a great game even though we lost by one point,” he said.

Hundreds of Filipino chess fans, masters and untitled alike, trooped to the RMSC grounds to personally see Karpov.

He spoke for around 13 minutes and accommodated a handful of questions from the media and fans alike then posed for pictures and signed books and other chess materials.

The legendary Russian grandmaster left while the movie was still on.

He was scheduled to proceed to Baguio City to commemorate the 45-year anniversary of one of his most memorable world championship battles at the Baguio Convention Center.

2023-01-31T16:43:57Z dg43tfdfdgfd