Karpov returns to Baguio 45 years since iconic match vs Korchnoi

LANDMARK The Baguio Convention Center was built to serve as venue for the world championship match between Soviet grandmaster Anatoly Karpov and Soviet defector Viktor Korchnoi in 1978. —VINCENT CABREZA

BAGUIO CITY, Benguet, Philippies — Russian chess grandmaster Anatoly Karpov is scheduled to return to this city on Wednesday, 45 years after his iconic grudge match against the late grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi in the summer capital, which stunned the world.

Karpov, now a member of Russia’s State Duma, which is similar to the Philippines’ House of Representatives, was originally invited by Mayor Benjamin Magalong to visit the city on Nov. 4, 2021, but that trip did not push through.

Details about the four-hour Baguio visit of the 71-year-old Russian have yet to be released, but the city public information office said he was expected to hold an exhibition match with members of the Baguio Chess Club at the local convention hall that was built purposely for his match with Korchnoi during Martial Law.

Historic building

Before arriving here, Karpov will reportedly hold a lecture in Manila on Jan. 31 to be followed by the screening of a Russian movie depicting his 1978 battle with Korchnoi at Baguio’s convention center. Korchnoi died in 2016. (See related story in Sports, Page B4.)

Flanked by the summer courthouses of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, and the University of the Philippines Baguio, the convention center was inaugurated by the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in 1978.

Former Mayors Mauricio Domogan and Bernardo Vergara negotiated to buy the facility from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) during their respective terms between 2004 and 2010.

The GSIS, which had proprietary control over the convention center, was on the verge of liquidating its Baguio assets, and finalized its P300-million sale of the historic building to the city government in 2011.

One of the unique features of the original convention center was a central platform that could be lifted or lowered.

It was renovated under Magalong’s term and now houses spaces for art galleries, as well as the city’s command center as Baguio shifts to an automated community.

The facility has also been renamed the Baguio Convention and Cultural Center, having been classified as a creative hub.

In 2017, Baguio became the country’s first city to join the World Creative Cities Network of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.