Kasparov

1987

In 1987, the candidates cycle format was changed for the first time since 1965. A Candidates Tournament was played involving twelve qualifiers from three interzonals, plus four seeds. The top four qualifiers from this tournament advanced to a series of candidates matches. The winner of this 4-man knockout played a match against Anatoly Karpov who was seeded directly into the candidates finals (!) for the privilege of playing a World Championship match against Kasparov in 1987.[1]

After Karpov handily defeated Andrei Sokolov 7½-3½ in the candidates finals, the stage was set for the fourth confrontation between Karpov and Kasparov, this time to be held in Seville, Spain.

The match took place from October 12 to December 18, 1987. The match was tied going into the 23rd game, when Karpov achieved a fine victory from the English Opening, making the match score 12-11 in Karpov’s favor. Kasparov, needing a win in the final round to retain his title, managed to do exactly that in 24th game, a feat which had not been accomplished since Lasker vs Schlechter in 1910.

In Kasparov’s own words:

After another ten moves of steady squeezing, I began to feel the win was in the bag. Karpov’s pieces were pinned up against the wall, and a little more maneuvering would lead to decisive material gain. Later I heard that FIDE President Florencio Campomanes was busy calling a special meeting in another room to decide how to handle the closing ceremony, which was scheduled to be held on the same day. But it still looked as if this game could last forever; what was to be done? Two crises were averted at once when someone ran into the meeting room to announce, “Karpov resigned!” It was without question the loudest and longest standing ovation I had ever received outside my native country. The theater thundered as Spanish television cut from futbol to broadcast the conclusion of the match. I had done what Karpov had failed to do in 1985: won the final game and drawn the match to retain my title. This time I would have a good, long time to enjoy it.

— Garry Kasparov, excerpt from “How Life Imitates Chess”, 2007, Bloomsbury Publishing USA, ISBN: 1596913878.

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