Garry Kasparov - The happiest day of his life

by Albert Silver
11/10/2015 – 30 years ago, to this day, the victor's laurels were placed on Garry Kasparov, celebrating him as the new and 13th World Chess Champion, the youngest in history. It was not without controversy, much less challenges, but in the end the young challenger surmounted all the obstacles. We take a look at the final stages that led to his world title, and the world commemorating.

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It was the beginning of a new era and a new world champion. Seven months earlier, in what was easily one of the most scandalous and controversial moments in world championship history, FIDE president Florencio Campomanes had stepped in to stop the first match between reigning world champion Anatoly Karpov and challenger Garry Kasparov on the ground that it was boring everyone to tears after 48 games and no end. Had he done this after game 46, most likely little would have been written about it, and even Kasparov might not have objected overly much to a reboot, especially as he had been losing badly by that point. The problem was that games 47 and 48 had both been won by Kasparov, and despite being down still, the momentum was clearly swinging.

The longest world championship match in history

It bears comparing with recent title matches, not out of disrespect to the current champions, but as a contrast to times of yore. The 1984/1985 match started on September 9, 1984, and was called to a halt on... February 8, 1985, a full five months later. It was unquestionably tough to stay fascinated, and you can imagine their initial opening preparation had long been used up, but the tedium had certainly broken after games 47 and 48. Exhaustion no longer applied to either of the players, and sufficiently strong synonyms have yet to be added to the dictionary. Nevertheless, should readers wish to read up on this topic in more detail, we strongly recommend the excellent, and deeply referenced article by renowned chess historian, Edward Winter, titled "Termination".

As far as books are concerned, Garry Kasparov remains the most prolific
chess author of all world champions. Chess fans can find his detailed
chronicles and commented games of the matches in Kasparov vs Karpov,
1975-1985 (including the 1st and 2nd matches)

Before taking up the rematch scheduled for September that very same year, Kasparov stayed in shape by playing two six-game matches against top players of the time: Ulf Andersson and Robert Huebner. Both were also noted positional players, extremely solid, but Garry once more left no doubts that the only true challenger for the title was him as he steamrolled Andersson by 4-2 and then Huebner by 4.5-1.5.

It was tempting to share one of the games against Huebner, commented in detail by the German
grandmaster, and found in Mega Database, but the notes were so incredibly detailed (note the image
showing variation B1b2112) readers would spend the day scrolling down to read the rest of the article.
Nevertheless, it is a testimony to the treasure trove found hidden in the unique database.

Top grandmasters were not the only ones to suffer Garry's wrath as he took on a unique, well publicized simul against all the top chess computers of the day. This was organized by ChessBase's very own Frederic Friedel and Der Spiegel magazine. Friedel wrote up a detailed illustrated article well worth reading.

Garry vs Mephisto: on the left with the desktop computer is programmer Richard Lang
(Mephisto, Chess Genius), behind Kasparov in the middle is Ed Schroeder (Rebel)

Finally, the grand match the entire world had been waiting for was ready to start. This time the conditions had been changed, and instead of the first player to reach six wins, it was a classic 24-game match with the draw odds going to the incumbent champion. It was a great match, and after 23 games, the score stood at 12-11 for Kasparov, with Karpov needing a win at all costs in order to secure his title.

Anatoly Karpov - Garry Kasparov (November 9, 1985 - Game 24)

[Event "World Championship 32th-KK2"] [Site "Moscow"] [Date "1985.11.09"] [Round "24"] [White "Karpov, Anatoly"] [Black "Kasparov, Garry"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B85"] [WhiteElo "2720"] [BlackElo "2700"] [PlyCount "84"] [EventDate "1985.09.03"] [EventType "match"] [EventRounds "24"] [EventCountry "URS"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1999.07.01"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. f4 O-O 9. Kh1 Qc7 10. a4 Nc6 11. Be3 Re8 12. Bf3 Rb8 13. Qd2 Bd7 14. Nb3 b6 15. g4 Bc8 16. g5 Nd7 17. Qf2 Bf8 18. Bg2 Bb7 19. Rad1 g6 20. Bc1 Rbc8 21. Rd3 Nb4 22. Rh3 Bg7 23. Be3 Re7 24. Kg1 Rce8 25. Rd1 f5 26. gxf6 Nxf6 27. Rg3 Rf7 28. Bxb6 Qb8 29. Be3 Nh5 30. Rg4 Nf6 31. Rh4 {[#]} g5 $1 {Never one to miss a chance to attack, the challenger opens the lines with this shot to begin the final assault.} 32. fxg5 Ng4 33. Qd2 Nxe3 34. Qxe3 Nxc2 35. Qb6 Ba8 {The pressure of the moment and the complications in the position prove too much for the champion and he now blunders. Bear in mind that as he was down 11-12, only an outright win would save his title. The position promised nothing of the sort.} 36. Rxd6 $2 ({The 'correct' move was} 36. Qxb8 Rxb8 37. Bh3 Rxb3 38. Bxe6 {with a balanced position. the problem of course is that 'correct' would only save Karpov a few Elo points, not his title.}) 36... Rb7 37. Qxa6 Rxb3 $6 {Adrenaline, and not the most precise, but still easily winning} ({The engines are quick to point out that} 37... Nb4 $1 {would simply win the piece since the queen can no longer protect her ward on d6.} 38. Qe2 Qxd6 39. e5 Bxe5 40. Bxb7 Bxb7 {and it is game over.}) 38. Rxe6 Rxb2 $2 {This on the other hand would have thrown away the win, but again it bears remembering that in the big picture, Black only needs a draw to secure the match.} (38... Ne3 {was the correct continuation.}) 39. Qc4 Kh8 40. e5 $4 {It all ends now.} Qa7+ 41. Kh1 Bxg2+ 42. Kxg2 Nd4+ {Check! and the Re6 falls.} 0-1

Although one might bemoan the dire situation of the final game, history would put Garry Kasparov to the very same test a couple of years later, when in Seville it was he who faced a win-at-all-costs situation in game 24 of his fourth match against Anatoly Karpov. He pulled it off, and retained his title.

On November 10, 1985, 30 years to this day, Garry Kasparov was crowned
the 13th World Champion

The final result

Garry Kasparov celebrated the historic date on his personal Facebook page with the following comments and video:

"Thirty years ago today! Hard to believe, but it was that long ago when I won the World Championship against Anatoly Karpov. November 9, 1985 at the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow. Karpov resigned game 24 at 9:54pm Moscow time. The "worst times ahead" I refer to in that old voiceover was the rematch in 86 and then yet another Karpov match in 1987, when my comments were recorded. Of course there was yet another "K-K" match, the fifth and last, in 1990. I'll see about posting the full video of my ceremony and speech later. Today is a day to remember and celebrate with friends. Thank you everyone!"

Be sure to check out Garry Kasparov's post where he includes video footage

"PS: I would like to tell the story of how I was congratulated that day by the wife of former world champion Tigran Petrosian: Rona. I was expecting kinder words, but Rona said to me, "Garry, I feel sorry for you." What?! Sorry for me? Now? The day I became the youngest world champion in history? "I feel sorry for you," she went on, "because the happiest day of your life is over." Wow! I couldn't believe it. I could imagine, after all, well, maybe she is right. But her words also gave me a new challenge in my life: to prove her wrong! If you always have new challenges, the happiest day of your life is never over."

The international press did not overlook the date either, and articles appeared in all over the world,
from Germany's magazine Der Spiegel... CNN. It is worth noting that in spite of appearing on November 9, the anniversary of the
day he won the title, the article is on the political situation of Russia and Putin, and speaks
volumes on how CNN views Kasparov today.

Garry Kasparov's new book

The ascension of Vladimir Putin – a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB – to the presidency of Russia in 1999 should have been a signal that the country was headed away from democracy. Yet in the intervening years – as America and the world's other leading powers have continued to appease him – Putin has grown not only into a dictator but a global threat. With his vast resources and nuclear weapons, Putin is at the center of a worldwide assault on political liberty.

For Garry Kasparov, none of this is news. He has been a vocal critic of Putin for over a decade, even leading the pro-democracy opposition to him in the farcical 2008 Presidential election. Yet years of seeing his Cassandra-like prophecies about Putin's intentions fulfilled have left Kasparov with the realization of a darker truth: Putin's Russia, like ISIS or Al Qaeda, defines itself in opposition to the free countries of the world. He is still fighting the Cold War, even as Americans have first moved beyond it, and over time, forgotten its lessons.

Lest we be drawn into another prolonged conflict, Kasparov now urges a forceful stand – diplomatic and economic – against him. For as long as the world's powerful democracies continue to recognize and negotiate with Putin, he can maintain credibility in his home country. He faces few strong enemies within his country, so meaningful opposition must come from abroad.

Argued with the force of Kasparov's world-class intelligence, conviction, and hopes for his home country, Winter is Coming is an unmistakable call to action against a threat we've ignored for too long.

You can order Kasparov's book in hardcover for $20 at Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, or IndiBound

Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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