Anatoly Karpov wins X3D Rapid Match

12/21/2002 – The four-game rapid chess match between the two ex world champions in New York ended with a surprise victory for 51-year-old Anatoly Karpov over the world's top-ranked player Garry Kasparov. On the second day Karpov won the first game and drew the the second to take the match. Here's John Fernandez' richly illustrated report from New York.

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X3D World Chess Match 2002
Kasparov vs. Karpov, Day 2.

By John Fernandez and GM Roland Schmaltz

After Kasparov's shocking collapse in Game 2, the question on everyone's mind was: "What Garry will show up today?" Half of the crowd seemed to think we were going to see the guns blazing Kasparov which is liable to annihilate anything in its path. The other half remembered the last game Kasparov played in New York, a huge flameout against Deep Blue. Either way, we knew things would be very interesting.


Some of the best views of the match were from out in the street in New York's Times Square!

However, one essential requirement of a chess match is the presence of two players! As the 5 o'clock hour approached, there was no Karpov. Had he been kidnapped? Maybe he was stuck on the line to visit Santa Claus in Macy's? No, no, no… Karpov had just been napping, and someone forgot to wake him up! Remembering an old anecdote, it is generally best to let sleeping World Champions lie. As soon as Karpov showed up the two were at the board getting ready to play, and Garry would soon wish that Karpov was happily snoozing in bed.

Game 3

Another one of these Gruenfelds appeared in the match, and again Garry ducked out of main theory very early on. Kasparov's idea of c5 and Nbd7 had just never been seen before in this position. Things didn't seem to turn out too badly for him, as he seemed to only have a slight disadvantage after the first ten moves or so. However, he soon played a very poor move in 14...Nd7? Kasparov was highly critical of this move in the post-match news conference, as Karpov accurately ruined Kasparov's queenside pawn structure after exchanging the dark squared bishops and playing 16.Nd5! Note that 17.Nxe7 is impossible due to 17...Kf6, but the doubled b pawns are enough to give a maestro like Karpov weaknesses to play with.


Karpov's endgame technique was up to the task in Game 3

One of the shocking features of Friday's play was the complete reversal in the two players in the realm of clock management. The first two games were marked by Kasparov moving quite quickly while Karpov ended up getting deeper and deeper in time pressure, while Game 3 was a complete turnaround, with Kasparov getting into some difficult time pressure. One of Karpov's fantastic skills is in converting these advantages, and with the extra time on his clock, and some fantastic coordination with his King, Rook and Knight, Karpov fantastically put the game away after Kasparov's last ditch effort to bail into Rook and Knight versus Rook.


Garry Kasparov is stunned after losing Game 3

So Karpov had built up a 2 to 1 lead with only one game to go, a far cry from 24 hours prior to that when Kasparov was up 1 to nil, and seemed to be getting ready to coast to victory in the match. Would Kasparov be able to win the last game to level the score? As there would be no tiebreak, the best Garry could hope for would be a tied match, but this would be an important result for him. On the other hand, Karpov most certainly wanted to beat Kasparov in a match, even if it wasn't for the World Championship.


Garry Kasparov hoping to mount a comeback in the fourth and final match game

Game 4

Once again, the players repeated the Petroff variation seen in Game 2, which went fantastically well in the opening for Kasparov, despite the end result.


Kasparov attempting to dissect Karpov's Petroff once again, but coming out with only a half point out of two games with the White pieces.

Karpov deviated with a novelty in 15...Bd6, which seems to make some sense, despite the bishop's possible vulnerability on the d6 square to c5 shots. Kasparov spent loads of time attempting to find a good way to get an advantage after Karpov's very strong move 21.Qd5!, getting a strong grip on the d5 square to play against the backward d-pawn, and also to get the queen out of any potential danger on the e-file. Perhaps Kasparov could have tried things like 22.Bxe8!?, but the planned attempt to make something out of the precarious situation on the e-file simply did not work. Kasparov almost blundered, attempting to play 27.Re5-e7? which would have lost simply to 27...Rxe8! 28.Rxe7?! (28. Bxe7 Re8 is better than fine for Black) 28...Qxd6! when Black is simply a piece up. As it was, after the exchange of the rooks on the e-file, Kasparov offered a draw, which was immediately accepted by Karpov.

So what happened? In the press conference, a visibly dejected yet lucid Kasparov spoke of many issues.


A picture is worth a thousand words- Kasparov visibly disappointed in the match result as X3D's Elliot Klein introduces the winner, Anatoly Karpov

First of all, the upcoming match with Deep Junior has been a source of some strife for him. Repeated postponements and venue changes have made things quite difficult for Kasparov, a man who is quite used to having his schedule worked out as far in advance as human possible, and sometimes even farther! First, the situation in Israel and other factors forced postponement, then there was talk of a match in Jerusalem followed by games in Jacksonville, Florida, USA, but now it seems that over the past few days work has been done on a match in Jerusalem and in New York! These plans take quite a bit of energy to put into, especially for someone as involved and concerned about detail as Garry.

It should be noted, however, that in no way was Kasparov making excuses. His play was quite poor, and he opined that he had made quite a bad mistake in every game of the match, and that clearly bothered him quite a bit. In response to a question about how long he expects to stay at the top of the rating lists, his response was simple: "Not long if I keep playing like this!"


Garry Kasparov was not making any excuses for his loss in this match


X3D World Chess Match Champion Anatoly Karpov answers media questions as Garry Kasparov looks on

But what about the winner? Karpov has been playing second fiddle to Kasparov for quite some time now, and it must have been oh so sweet to finally win a match from his bitter rival after decades and 177 (oopsie… 178, thanks Mig!) games.


A smile that Karpov has been holding back for decades – Garry Kasparov, finally beaten in a match

While until very recently it seemed appropriate to label Karpov as a has been, washed up and old, Karpov seems to be enjoying some sort of renaissance, having enjoyed some very good play in the recent rapid events in Dubai, Prague and Moscow.

What will 2003 bring? Who knows? For Kasparov, a match with Deep Junior, then hopefully Ponomariov, and then hopefully the winner of Kramnik – Leko. However, we all know the general uncertainty there. What about Karpov? Will he go back to collecting stamps and return to somewhat of an ambassador's role? Only time will tell, and in only 11 days, the ball will drop on 2002 and usher in 2003 right where these two titans slugged it out these past four games.

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