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The Five Kasparov-Karpov Matches For The World Chess Championship: A Battle of Legends

Jese Leos
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Published in The Longest Game: The Five Kasparov/Karpov Matches For The World Chess Championship
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Chess has always been a game of intense strategy and intellectual combat. Over the years, many legendary players have made their mark on the chessboard, but few rivalries have come close to that of Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. The five matches between these two titans for the coveted World Chess Championship are remembered as some of the most thrilling duels in the history of the game.

1. The Dawn of a Rivalry

In 1984, the first Kasparov-Karpov match was set to take place. This much-anticipated battle was not just a contest for the World Chess Championship; it was a clash of generations. Anatoly Karpov, the reigning champion since 1975, was renowned for his positional mastery and strategic play. On the other hand, Garry Kasparov was a young and ambitious challenger willing to push the boundaries of chess with his daring and aggressive style.

The Longest Game: The Five Kasparov/Karpov Matches for the World Chess Championship
The Longest Game: The Five Kasparov/Karpov Matches for the World Chess Championship
by Jan Timman(Kindle Edition)

4.6 out of 5

Language : English
File size : 14407 KB
Text-to-Speech : Enabled
Screen Reader : Supported
Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
Print length : 729 pages

2. The Epic Battle of 1984

The first match lasted for a grueling five months, with neither player able to secure the necessary six victories to claim the title. In a historic decision, the match was ultimately abandoned due to concerns over player exhaustion. Many chess enthusiasts were left at the edge of their seats, eagerly awaiting the continuation of this fierce contest.

3. The Rematch of 1985

The following year, the second Kasparov-Karpov match began. This time, the match was limited to 24 games, with the champion retaining his title if the score ended in a tie. The players displayed their enduring skills, fighting tooth and nail for each victory. The contest eventually ended in Karpov's favor as he secured three wins and 11 draws, leading him to once again retain his championship title.

4. The Thrilling 1986 Match

In 1986, the third battle for the World Chess Championship took place. With the previous matches ending inconclusively, tensions were high. Kasparov's aggressive style seemed to gain momentum, leading him to secure multiple victories. However, Karpov's defensive prowess and mental strength were not to be underestimated. The match ended in a tie, with Karpov retaining his title.

5. The in 1990

After a six-year hiatus, the fourth Kasparov-Karpov match finally took place in 1990. This time, the format changed once again, with the first player to win six games claiming the championship. Many believed this would be the final showdown between these two chess giants. The battle was fierce, but Kasparov emerged victorious with four wins, five draws, and zero losses, reclaiming the title that had eluded him.

6. The Last and Most Controversial Encounter

1993 marked the fifth and final match between Kasparov and Karpov. The World Chess Championship format underwent another transformation, now allowing unlimited games until one player reached six victories. This match is remembered not only for the intense gameplay but also for the backstage politics surrounding it. Ultimately, Kasparov retained his title with six wins, five draws, and two losses, thus concluding the legendary rivalry between these two grandmasters.

, the Kasparov-Karpov matches for the World Chess Championship were a true testament to the intellectual depth and strategic brilliance of both players. These battles captivated audiences worldwide and solidified the legacy of both grandmasters. Each match brought its own unique twists and turns, leaving fans eagerly awaiting the outcome. The rivalry between Kasparov and Karpov will forever be etched in the annals of chess history as one of the greatest battles ever fought on the board.

The Longest Game: The Five Kasparov/Karpov Matches for the World Chess Championship
The Longest Game: The Five Kasparov/Karpov Matches for the World Chess Championship
by Jan Timman(Kindle Edition)

4.6 out of 5

Language : English
File size : 14407 KB
Text-to-Speech : Enabled
Screen Reader : Supported
Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
Print length : 729 pages

On September 10, 1984, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov appeared on the stage of the Hall of Columns in Moscow for the first game of their match for the World Chess Championship. The clash between the reigning champion and his brazen young challenger was highly anticipated, but no one could have foreseen what was in store. In the next six years they would play five matches for the highest title and create one of the fiercest rivalries in sports history. The matches lasted a staggering total of 14 months, and the ‘two K’s’ played 5540 moves in 144 games.


The first match became front page news worldwide when after five months FIDE President Florencio Campomanes stepped in to stop the match citing exhaustion of both participants. A new match was staged and having learned valuable lessons, 22-year-old Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion in history.


His win was not only hailed as a triumph of imaginative attacking chess, but also as a political victory. The representative of ‘perestroika’ had beaten the old champion, a symbol of Soviet stagnation. Kasparov defended his title in three more matches, all of them full of drama. Karpov remained a formidable opponent and the overall score was only 73-71 in Kasparov’s favour.


In The Longest Game Jan Timman returns to the Kasparov-Karpov matches. He chronicles the many twists and turns of this fascinating saga, including his behind-the scenes impressions, and takes a fresh look at the games.

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