- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The experts are convinced: It is only a matter of time until Gary Kasparov, 22, will rule as the youngest king ever in the world of chess. In a melodramatic victory in Moscow, the popular, cocky Kasparov all but guaranteed the demise of his fellow Soviet, Anatoly Karpov, 34, who for 10 years has ruled as world champion as well as the pampered star of the U.S.S.R. chess establishment.
Kasparov's breathtaking triumph occurred in the 19th game of the match, which began Sept. 3, and it gave him a lead in points of 10� to 8�. Because there is a 24-game limit, Karpov must win two of the last four games in order to tie—a wildly improbable feat for a man who has not won since Sept. 15 and whose performance has been increasingly desultory.
Game 19 will long be remembered as the beginning of what could be a long and lively reign by King Kasparov. The night began like any other in the championship, with a cheering crowd of 200 gathered in front of Moscow's columned Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. As usual, Kasparov arrived first, bluff and glowing with good health, riding in a black Volga with curtained windows. When he strode briskly to his seat at the chessboard, applause resounded from the 1,000 people seated in the hall.
A few minutes later, Karpov arrived in his curtained Volga. He showed the strain of the weeks of tension. It was said he had lost close to 10 pounds; his face was pale and his cheekbones were sharp. Lately he had taken to pondering long over his moves, sometimes putting himself in the dangerous position of having little time left for crucial moves at the end of a match.
As usual, Karpov got to the chessboard a little after the scheduled hour to start. As usual, the audience in the hall greeted him with tepid applause. The champion was in relatively desperate straits even before the 19th game began. He had played powerfully enough back in September, winning both the fourth and fifth games after Kasparov had produced a startlingly easy win in the first game. With those back-to-back victories, Karpov held a one-point edge through a series of draws, and he appeared to be in control. Then came the 11th game of the match, on Oct. 2.
Karpov had arrived more than three minutes late. This was a calculated affront by the rules of chess etiquette and was obviously intended to upset Kasparov. The opposite occurred: After 21 moves, Karpov misread the board and moved a rook—the worst mistake he has ever made in world title contests. Within minutes, Kasparov had won the game. The crowd rose, chanting "Gary! Gary!" The ovation lasted four minutes.
After that, the two played draws, good for half a point apiece, until Kasparov won Game 16 on Oct. 15 to go ahead 8� to 7�. This lead was by no means conclusive. If Karpov won once more before the 24th game, he could tie Kasparov 12-12. Under existing rules, a tie allows Karpov to retain his title.
Playing the black pieces in Game 19, Karpov was clearly trying for a breakthrough victory. He began with a defense that was as aggressive as it was unorthodox. It was obviously intended to lure Kasparov into compromising positions. The young contender refused to bite, but he was having increasing difficulty as the game went on. Soon he was vacillating, taking dangerously long minutes to choose each move. (According to the rules, the players must complete 40 moves within five hours.)
Kasparov's time troubles worsened as the game progressed, but eventually Karpov dallied enough so that he was facing clock problems, too. Soon the ticking seconds had become as important to the outcome as the tactics of the players. At last, with forfeiture flags about to drop, Kasparov found a stunning route toward Karpov's king. It was a brilliant and surprising attack, and Karpov had only seconds to think of a way to head it off. He made a move—the 41st of the game. Then, because five hours of play were up, the game was adjourned until the next day.
Stiff with tension, Karpov rushed off the stage. But Kasparov did not. In a cocksure gesture, unprecedented in world chess play, he played his next move—using his queen to check Karpov's king—after it had been sealed in an envelope. Ordinarily, that move would have been revealed only when it was time for the game to resume. The crowd was in an uproar. It was clear to everyone that Kasparov's 42nd move left Karpov reeling. One fan bellowed, "Why play, Karpov, resign!" The fan was ejected from the auditorium. The spectators continued to stamp and clap long after the stage had emptied. The next morning Karpov resigned the game.