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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Diplomats Taste Success After Draw With Karpov

Last week, Bobo Lo was just another Moscow diplomat. Today the first secretary at the Australian Embassy is a national hero, a giant-killer and a standard-bearer for his countrymen.


On Monday, Lo accomplished, on Australia's behalf, what only one other diplomat in Moscow could: He escaped an exhibition with former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov with a draw.


"It was unbelievable. I'll never forget it," Lo said Tuesday. "The reaction here at the embassy was great. I was really worried about being the first to lose and coming home with my tail between my legs."


Lo and Yan Lundin of Sweden were the lone survivors in Monday's bloody simultaneous exhibition between Karpov and 16 Moscow diplomats at the House of Journalists. Included among the bodies littering the playing floor by the end of the match were representatives from China, India, Ecuador, Israel, Great Britain, and the United States, all of whom took their defeat gracefully.


"It was like the first Rocky movie," said Ed Brauchli, one of two U.S. participants. "Most of the people here at the embassy just wanted me to go the distance."


Brauchli lasted 30 moves against Karpov and even held a material advantage at one point in the game, having gained a rook through a knight fork early in the match. For a moment, he said, he tasted triumph.


"While Karpov was walking around playing the other 15 players, I was sitting there having my own little private victory," he said. "But then he came back and put an end to all that pretty quickly."


While Brauchli and company used the exhibition to dust off their rusty chess skills, Karpov, the former undisputed world chess champion and current champion of the International Chess Federation, or FIDE, used the opportunity to practice a little diplomacy.


Karpov's upcoming June FIDE championship match against American Gata Kamsky has already sparked controversy in the diplomatic community because of its venue -- in Baghdad, under the patronage of Saddam Hussein. But on Monday, Karpov showed diplomats a good time and was especially gracious in commending Lo and Lundin.


"Australia and Sweden fought longer than the others," he said. "And it was pleasant for me to play to a draw with those two players in particular. After all, I began my career in international chess in Sweden 30 years ago, and in my efforts to organize international chess organizations I have always had the closest and kindest relationship with Australia."


Despite the rare opportunity to combine opening strategy and patriotism, Rick Lindsley of Britain did not play the English opening, nor did either of the Hispanic diplomats play the Ruy Lopez, or Spanish opening. Lo, who used the French opening, owed his success more to family fealty than to fealty to flag.


"My mother was French," he said. "So there is a connection."


Lundin, for his part, said his draw was a great moment in his life, but added that the timing of his performance was unfortunate. "I thought about asking for an increase in wages, but the ambassador is away," he said. "Maybe I'll ask him when he comes back."