Chess talents of the soviet union (3): the rebellious chess king

“My move gave Karpov a clever defense and suddenly he was one move from reclaiming his title. But his hurried response also proved second best, although our mutual exchange of errors would not be discovered until well after the game,” Garry Kasparov recollected. This was the last round of the fourth match he played against Karpov, and only if he won this game, he would successfully defend his World Champion title and retain it for three years.

Kasparov should play 33. Qb5 and directly win a piece. But he played 33.Qd1, giving Karpov the chance to achieve an equal position. But Karpov did not see the best move 33…Nc5! but instead played 33…Ne7, which gave Kasparov the chance to regain his advantage.

In 1984, Kasparov had his first World Championship match against Karpov. This was not only a match between a World Champion and a young genius, but also the clash between two opposing playing styles, political thoughts, and personalities. Karpov was an obedient communist of the Soviet Union, and he was polite and talked cautiously. While born in Baku, Azerbaijan, a state annexed by the Soviet Union against its will, Kasparov spoke against the Soviet communist government, and longed for a liberal and democratic society. In fact, this was always Kasparov’s style. When he was at school, he was the smartest student and often behaved offensively against teachers; and later he even broke up with FIDE and created his own organization called the Professional Chess Association.

Kasparov at age 11

Young, talented and energetic, Kasparov was confident in winning the World Champion title. But the reality dealt a blow to his expectation. In the first nine games, he lost four and drew five. It seems to be obvious that Kasparov was not mature enough to confront Karpov, and Karpov would soon win the match (if he won six games). But Kasparov gradually learned from his failure. He steadied himself and drew 17 consecutive games. He lost the following game, and continued to make draws. He finally began to win in the 32nd, 47th and 48th games.

Karpov vs. Kasparov

At that moment, the match was forced to stop by FIDE, as the health of the players had been severely harmed by the length of the match. A World Championship match with new regulations was going to be held in the following year. Kasparov was despaired, for he felt for the first time during the lengthy match that he had the hope to win the match. He argued with the president of FIDE furiously, but FIDE still insisted on its decision. Kasparov’s relations with FIDE were greatly strained after his protest, which triggered Kasparov’s completely break-away from FIDE.

After this match, Kasparov became more mature, and his chess style became more comprehensive. In 1985, he won the World Championship match against Karpov and became the youngest World Champion ever. Karpov was granted the right to rematch in 1986 by FIDE, and still Kasparov won the rematch. In 1987, Karpov appeared in the World Championship match again, as he had qualified as the official challenger through the Candidates’ tournament. Kasparov had already been sick of playing against this stubborn opponent, and he even openly showed his defiance of Karpov, not only because of chess, but also because of their opposing political ideas.

Old rivals

This match was not easy for Kasparov. Before the last game, Kasparov was one point behind Karpov, and he had to win the last game to retain his World Champion title. Now it comes to the scenery we have talked about in the beginning, where Kasparov was contemplating for a wining plan in front of the chessboard. This was the most memorable game for Kasparov. He rested well before the game, and he chose a wise strategy as white. He constantly exerted pressure on Karpov, and finally Karpov made some mistakes. Kasparov seized the chance and won the game, leading him to his dominance of the World Champion.

The position where Karpov resigned. Black cannot stop white’s plan of Bf3-e4-g6.

On the chessboard, Kasparov was a chess king with sharp attacking style; outside the chessboard, he is a genius with a strong personality. He is a rebellious politician who actively fights for democracy, individual rights and freedom. In 1990, he took part in creating the Democratic Party of Russia, a liberal anti-Soviet communist party. He also helped set up the Other Russia, an organization which opposes Putin’s government. He portrayed Putin as a dictator, who severely hindered the democratic process in Russia. The Russian government was furious about Kasparov’s scathing words and defiant behaviors and arrested him for several times.

Kasparov in the political movement

Nevertheless, no matter how scathingly Kasparov talks and how defiantly he behaves, he is always against violence and possesses the spirit of humanism. In January 1990, the pogroms against Armenians in Baku broke out, and thousands of Armenians fled from Azerbaijan. As an Armenian by his mother’s side, Kasparov was threatened, and he fled from Baku to Moscow on a chartered plane with his family. Later, Kasparov sold his world champion’s gold crown to support Armenian refugees from Baku. In 2017, he condemned that the Spanish police utilized violence against the independence referendum in Catalonia, and he hoped that the European Union would help find a peaceful solution to the Catalonia independence issue and avoid more violence.


Kasparov, G. 2007. How Life Imitates Chess.

admina. “Гарри Каспаров продал корону, чтобы деньги передать армянским беженцам | Aniarc”

“Kasparov arrested at Moscow rally”. BBC News. London. 17 April 2007.

Kasparov, Garry (6 February 2013). “Fascism in Our Own Backyard”. The Official Website of Garry Kasparov.

“El mensaje de Kasparov a la Unión Europea tras las elecciones en Cataluña”. The Huffington Post (in Spanish).



Young and active tournament player with excellent results including a 1st place at the BSSZ Aranytiz International Master, 1st place at the Chinese Youth Chess Championship G16, and part of the top 10 contenders in two World Chess Championships for girls G16 and G18.

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