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Anatoly Yevgenyevich Karpov was the world chess champion for a decade, from 1975 to 1985.  He won the title when Bobby Fischer, the American grandmaster and reigning world champion, failed[…]

The board game has been a national pastime in Russia since well before the Bolshevik Revolution.

Question: Why has Russia dominated the chess world?

Anatoly Karpov: Because of long time traditions and chessrn was... chess was part of intellectual life in Russian Empire.  And so rnbig writers, great writers they were playing chess and so this was rnprivilege in part of top society, in top society people. And then after rnthe revolution, new power, they saw in chess the tool of bringing rnknowledge and education because it was easy, it was cheap and if you rnrecall the time when revolution happened, most of educated people and rntop society people they left the country.  And so new power should work rnout something to make new intelligencia and new intellectual people. Andrn so they believed that with the help of chess they could do it, and rnespecially it’s very cheap compared to any other things.  I don’t talk rneven about sport, but about other subjects and sciences.  And that’s whyrn it was supported and even during civil war, when we had civil war in rn1920, first championship for Soviet Russia took place.  And later it rnbecame part of education system, before World War II. And after all rnchess became national game.  Like you have here in America, you have rnbaseball, and so Russia had chess.
rnRecorded on May 17, 2010
rnInterviewed by Paul Hoffman