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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Karpov Makes Opening Move

Chess champion Anatoly Karpov, 42, now a candidate for parliament, finally came home to the Urals this weekend to canvass his district voters after spending the entire campaign outside the country.


His long-time adversary, Garry Kasparov, 30, had already been on the campaign trail for several weeks in support of Russians Choice, and he is not even running for office.


In politics, as in chess, Karpov and Kasparov find themselves on the opposite sides of the board, clashing in style as well as substance as they have since first faring off a decade ago.


"Kasparov has already been involved in politics for a long time, but I can't say he's very successful", Karpov said. "In chess, he is a genius, but as a person, I can't stand him".


The feeling is mutual, and Kasparov, an Azeri-born Armenian, does not even like talking about Karpov, whom he overthrew as world chess champion in 1985. A staunch free-marketeer, Kasparov paints his old nemesis as a political extremist, with close friendships among Communists and hardliners.


"We have a different outlook on life", said Kasparov, who is widely acknowledged to be the better chess player although both men now hold competing championship crowns.


Karpov is running for the new State Duma as an independent candidate in Zlatoust, his hometown near Chelyabinsk in the southern Ural Mountains.


He favors more government credits to industry and agriculture to prevent unemployment. Combating inflation is only a secondary concern, he says.


The campaign is not Karpov's first foray into politics. He served as a Soviet people's deputy from 1989-91, but that job-was far easier than serving as a full-time parliamentarian since Congresses met only twice annually. He also serves as president of a charitable organization.


His competitors in the Dec. 12 election include a former Russian people's deputy, the former mayor and a local bank official.


Despite the potentially difficult lineup, Karpov kicked off his campaign only on Sunday after returning from Holland where he was playing chess for the last three weeks.


"I have a very difficult week ahead, with work from the morning to the night", he said.


Karpov brings a far more subdued, easy-going style to politics than Kasparov, and his relaxed personality seems very much at odds with the Western image of him portrayed during the 1970s and 1980s as a stiff and loyal servant of the Soviet state.


"Perhaps I don't work well with the press", he said of his image problem. "I know in politics you can't always say the truth; sometimes its not bad to lie, but I don't know how to do this".


Kasparov, by contrast, has often charmed the press with his rapid wit and energetic charm.


He admires the United States and is a leading voice within Russia's Choice lobbying for more Western-style campaigning. Despite his popularity, he has declined to run himself because he does not want to stop competing in chess.


"I don't think you can make laws and be a chess player", Kasparov said. On the other hand, Karpov plans to keep playing if elected.


"The work of a deputy is one of working on problems and laws and you can do this in Amsterdam and New York as well as in Moscow. You can take documents with you and do the work there", he said. "Chess has taught me how to work intensively; what someone might take all day to do, I can do in perhaps an hour".