Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chess legends Kasparov and Karpov renew chess rivalry

TWENTY five years after their historical match for the world’s champion title Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov are going to play each other again in a match from 21st to 25th September in Valencia, Spain. Both players contested five world championship matches between 1984 and 1990, which set an unprecedented record in the sports.

One of the fiercest and most politically charged rivalries in world chess resumed on Monday when former world champions Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov arrived in the Spanish city of Valencia for a rematch.

The two Russian grandmasters will play 12 games starting Tuesday. The new match will have 12 games – four semi-rapid and eight rapid – with Kasparov, 46, and Karpov, 58, facing off under the watch of Dutch chess arbiter Geurt Gijssen.

The rematch renews a battle that began in 1984 in an epic series of world title games that lasted five months and came to symbolise the competing forces then at play in the Soviet Union.

The Valencia rematch is being held on the 25th anniversary of that match, which ended in a draw because officials feared for the health of both competitors.

Kasparov, who is now 46 and a vocal opponent of the Russian prime minister and former president, Vladimir Putin, went on to beat Karpov in 1985 to become the youngest chess world champion.

At the time Karpov, now 58, was a darling of the Soviet establishment. Kasparov's youth and energy made him unpopular with the party leadership, but he did not become a dissident until after the collapse of communism.

Kasparov's eventual victory came to symbolise the triumph of youthful energy over the creaking Soviet empire.

Karpov regained his world crown between 1993 and 1999, but by then Kasparov, together with England’s Nigel Short, had broken away from the chess governing world body, FIDE, to form the rival Professional Chess Association. The Kasparov-Short breakaway from FIDE caused schism in international chess for more than a decade – a decision that Kasparov admitted was a “mistake”.

Karpov and Kasparov have played each other in a record 144 games, including 40 drawn games in their world title bout between September 1984 and February 1985. The two last played each other in 2002.

Chess legends Garry Kasparov and Anatoli Karpov said Monday they hope the re-match of their epic 1984 world championship this week in Spain will renew interest in the game.

"We are here to recover, if not a golden age at least a silver age, for chess," Karpov, 58, told a joint news conference with his old foe Kasparov in Valencia in eastern Spain on the eve of the start of their clash.

Kasparov, 46, who has been active in the political opposition to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin since withdrawing from competitive chess in 2005 and setting up his own political party, said the World Chess Federation "had let the game die".

"The chess that is played today is more technical, more aggressive, with younger players, but it has lost its glamour," he added.

"The duel will put chess in the spotlight once again, as it did 25 years ago," he said in an interview published in Spanish daily El Pais on Monday.

Karpov, who is taking seriously this match having arrived a few days early and bringing a team of assistants that includes strong grandmaster Viktor Bologan, drew White during the drawing of lots on Monday. Kasparov, on the other hand, who has not played competitively for 5 years since his retirement, only had training sessions with chess wonder grandmaster Magnus Carlsen in Oslo, Norway.

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