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World Chess Championship
1986 Kasparov - Karpov Title Match

Negotiations for the return match

Early in December 1985, Karpov specified that the return match should take place between 10 February and 21 April. Campomanes agreed that the return match would be held three months after the end of 1985 match, instead of waiting the customary twelve months. This was perceived as a ploy to maintain his power, in the hope that Karpov would defeat Kasparov.

During a six game match with Timman, Kasparov gave a press conference on 23 December at Amsterdam. Kasparov refused the return match on Campomanes's terms. Kasparov stated that the return much was too great a privilege for the incumbent world champion -- retaining the title in case of a drawn match was sufficient. In addition, the return match had not been part of the agreement reached between the first and second matches -- it had only been presented as a condition shortly before the second match began.

During the press conference, Kasparov endorsed L.Lucena for president and R.Keene for general secretary in the upcoming FIDE elections, thereby opposing Campomanes. Kasparov won the match against Timman +3-1=2.

On 30 December, Campomanes gave an interview to the Associated Press in Geneva. Kasparov would have until midnight 7 January 1986 to accept a return match starting 10 February 1986. If Kasparov did not accept, Karpov would be declared world champion.

Campomanes later withdrew his ultimatum. According to FIDE rules, the players had two weeks after the announcement of the playing site to confirm their participation. Bids had been received from London and Leningrad. London was interested in using the occasion to mark the 100th anniversary of the first official title match between Steinitz and Zukertort. As an alternative, London offered to host the first twelve games of the match, leaving the last half to Leningrad.

On 7 January, Campomanes met Kasparov in Moscow, but neither man changed his position on the return match. On 18 January, Kasparov announced that he would not participate in the return match so soon after the first match had ended.

To break the deadlock, the Soviet chess federation met on 21 January and decided that the match would take place in July or August. Kasparov and Karpov signed an agreement on the following day without consulting FIDE:-

A week later both players then flew together to FIDE headquarters in Lucerne to meet Campomanes, to present their plans to FIDE, and to finish the arrangements. On 29 January, Campomanes gave a press conference, announcing the terms of the match.

The match begins

The match marked the first time in chess history that games between two Soviet players for the world title would be played outside Soviet Union.

At the time of the match, Kasparov was 23 years old and rated 2740. Karpov was 35 years old and rated 2705.

The London portion of the prize fund was donated by both players to the victims of Chernobyl, although Campomanes decided that FIDE would keep its own share. Prior to this match, the standard prize fund for a match in the Soviet Union between two Soviet players was 72.000 rubles, with 5/8 for the winner and 3/8 for the loser.

Kasparov's seconds were GM G.Timoschenko and IM E.Vladimirov. They were replaced during the match by IM M.Gurevich and IM E.Magerramov

GM Lothar Schmid was the chief match arbiter. GM Ray Keene was the chief match organizer for the London leg.

Games 1-12; London

The London portion of the match began with a press conference on 25 July, followed by an opening ceremony and gala dinner on 27 July. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher conducted the color selection. Karpov won the right to play White in the first game, which was played on 28 July. The tickets for the first game were sold out.

Game 1 - Gruenfeld Defense

The first game saw an opening not seen in the two previous matches. Neither player achieved any advantage in the opening. The queens were exchanged on the 12th move and the game was agreed drawn on the 21st move.

Game 2 - Nimzo Indian Defense

Kasparov chose 4.Nf3, which had been seen six times in the 1985 match. Karpov varied from game 17 with his sixth move. By the 13th move, the game had already entered an endgame. Neither player castled. Kasparov obtained an advantage, then missed a forced win just before the first time control.

Game 2 : Kasparov - Karpov
after 39.Nc4-e3?
(39.Rc7 wins)

Karpov sealed his 41st move. The game was agreed drawn after 52 moves.

Game 3 - Gruenfeld Defense

The game followed a different variation than had been seen in the first game. Neither player managed to gain an advantage, the queens were exchanged before the 20th move, and the game was drawn on the 35th move.

Game 4 - English Opening

The game started as a Nimzo Indian, but transposed into an English when Karpov played 5...cxd4. Around the 12th move, Karpov started to play passively and Kasparov obtained pressure with two bishops controlling the Q-side. One bishop was exchanged to gain control of the d-file, which Kasparov used to penetrate Black's position and win the a-pawn.

Game 4 : Kasparov - Karpov
after 28.Nd4-b5

Karpov resigned as soon as the time control was reached. Kasparov led 2.5-1.5

Game 5 - Gruenfeld Defense

The first few moves saw yet another variation than had been seen in games 1 and 3. Both players played the opening quickly, showing that it had been well prepared by both.

Kasparov played a novelty on his 15th move, but Karpov countered by closing in White's dark squared bishop. Karpov's 20th move began a long range plan to win a pawn, against which there was nothing Kasparov could do.

Game 5 : Karpov - Kasparov
after 20.Ng1-h3

Kasparov resigned on his 32nd move and the match was again level at 2.5 points each.

Kasparov took a timeout before game 6.

Game 6 - Petrov's Defense

The opening followed game 15 of the previous match until Kasparov varied on his 11th move, sacrificing a pawn. Kasparov had analyzed the move in his book on the second match, but dismissed it as 'not convincing'. He followed his published analysis to the end, then began to harass Karpov's queen.

In his book on this third match, he remarked 'in later analysis I was able to discover some interesting ways to develop the initiative'. He sacrificed a second pawn on his 17th move, which Karpov declined to accept.

Game 6 : Kasparov - Karpov
after 17.b2-b4

After thinking for over one hour on his 20th move, Kasparov found a sharp line which recovered the pawn, but left him with a shattered pawn structure and an inferior endgame. Karpov was unable to convert his advantage into a win and the game was agreed drawn at adjournment.

Game 7 - Queen's Gambit Declined

The opening, an Exchange Variation, followed game 21 of the previous match, where Kasparov had White. Karpov varied from Kasparov's continuation on his 6th move and emerged from the opening with an advantage. Neither player castled normally as both kings walked into their respective kingside corners.

With both players in some time pressure around move 25, the game entered a tactical phase which culminated in Kasparov's exchange sacrifice on his 35th move. The sacrifice was enough for a draw, which was agreed when the time control was reached.

Game 8 - Queen's Gambit Declined

The opening followed game 22 of the previous match until Karpov varied on his 7th move. The game sharpened on the 12th move, and Kasparov gained a K-side attack in exchange for his a-pawn. After his 21st move, Karpov had less than 15 minutes to reach the time control.

Kasparov refused to recover the sacrificed material and instead continued the attack. With one minute left on his clock at the 29th move, Karpov blundered. His flag fell two moves later in a very complicated position with only the heavy pieces on the board and both kings exposed to checks. Kasparov later analyzed the final position to a win for himself.

Game 8 : Kasparov - Karpov
after 31.Qg5-e5(xN) 1-0 (time)

After this stunning performance, Kasparov led 4.5-3.5.

Karpov took a timeout.

Game 9 - Gruenfeld Defense

After the nerve wracking tactics in the previous game, both players continued calmly. The game was drawn on the 20th move after a triple repetition.

Game 10 - Queen's Gambit Declined

Kasparov avoided the Exchange Variation and the opening followed game 23 of the previous match. Karpov varied on his 13th move. Karpov sought exchanges and the game settled into a bishop vs. knight endgame where both players had abfgh pawns. Kasparov had some advantage with a more active king.

After 40 moves had been played, either player could have requested an adjournment, but both preferred to continue. Kasparov claimed that he missed winning chances in the following position.

Game 10 : Kasparov - Karpov
after 43.b2-b4
(43.a3! - Kasparov)

Kasparov sealed his 44th move, but the game was agreed drawn before the second session started.

Game 11 - Gruenfeld Defense

The opening followed game 9, until Kasparov varied with his 13th move. Karpov sacrificed an exchange on his 15th move, which Kasparov declined. The game entered a phase of hand-to-hand combat, with both players attacking and defending on each move, punctuated with various sacrifices.

Game 11 : Karpov - Kasparov
after 23.Ne7-g6(xP)+

The game was agreed drawn in a R+P endgame just after the time control was reached.

This game won a brilliancy prize of 10.000 pounds sterling, which was split between the two players.

Game 12 - Queen's Gambit Declined

The opening followed game 10 until Karpov varied on his 11th move. Kasparov obtained the more active rooks in an endgame with opposite color bishops, but was unable to penetrate Black's position. The game was drawn on the 34th move.

The final London game was played 27 August. At the end of 12 games Kasparov led with 6.5-5.5. The London portion of the match ended on 30 August with a closing ceremony by former British Prime Minister James Callaghan.

Games 13-24; Leningrad

Leningrad, formerly known as St.Petersburg, has been the site of many great chess competitions. The Leningrad leg was played at the Hotel Leningrad. The Soviet technology supporting the match and the press center was nowhere near as impressive as the British technology had been.

The match was due to start 3 September, but Karpov used a timeout, so the first game was played 5 September. G.Timoschenko left Kasparov's team due to fatigue.

Game 13 - Gruenfeld Defense

The opening followed game 3, until Karpov varied with his 10th move. The game continued quietly as the players maneuvered until Kasparov advanced a pawn in search of complications.

Game 13 : Karpov - Kasparov
after 23...g6-g5

Kasparov missed a chance to gain a significant advantage when he captured with the wrong pawn on his 33rd move. Karpov immediately gave up a pawn to prevent Kasparov's queen from penetrating to the second rank. The game was agreed drawn in a R+B of opposite colors ending when the first time control was reached.

Game 14 - Ruy Lopez

This was the first Spanish game of the match. The opening followed game 9 of the previous match until Karpov varied with his 13th move.

Karpov sacrificed a pawn on his 19th move, which Kasparov declined. A few moves later, Kasparov exchanged his B for a N, leaving him with 2Ns vs. 2Bs plus Q+R each, but also with a strong passed protected d-pawn against a weak isolated b-pawn.

In mutual time pressure Karpov defended inaccurately, lost the b-pawn, and resigned in a hopeless endgame when the time control was reached. The match score was now 8-6 in Kasparov's favor.

Kasparov took a timeout.

Game 15 - Gruenfeld Defense

Karpov chose 5.Qb3, which had been popular in the 1950's and 60s. The game followed a classic hypermodern pattern when White advanced the center pawns and Black attacked them. Neither side was able to obtain an advantage and the game was agreed drawn after 29 moves.

Game 16 - Ruy Lopez

The opening followed game 14 until Kasparov varied on his 18th move. After a few more moves Karpov sacrificed a pawn to gain the d3 square for his knights. Both players undoubtedly remembered the 16th game of the previous match where Kasparov had used a similar strategy to tie his opponent's pieces to the back ranks.

The game became extremely complicated and Karpov spent more than an hour on his 25th move, when he planted a knight on d3. Kasparov believes that it was the wrong knight. Kasparov abandoned the Q-side, left a knight stranded on a3, and went all out for an attack against Karpov's castled king.

Game 16 : Kasparov - Karpov
after 29.Qd1-f3

Karpov was faced with multiple captures on his 32nd move and spent another half hour on the clock, leaving him with only a few minutes to reach the time control. Karpov finally grabbed the knight on a3, but succumbed to Kasparov's overwhelming attack. He was lost when the time control was reached. With the score 9.5-6.5 in Kasparov's favor, all observers considered the match to be decided.

Game 17 - Gruenfeld Defense

The opening followed game 15 until Karpov improved on his 14th move.

Game 17 : Karpov - Kasparov
after 14.h2-h3

After this Karpov had an advantage, which was increased when his opponent chose a poor plan on the 18th move. One of Karpov's rooks quickly penetrated to the 7th rank and won a pawn. Kasparov resigned on his 31st move The score was 9.5-7.5.

Game 18 - Queen's Indian Defense

The first few moves followed an opening seen in the first match until Karpov varied with 4...Bb4. After Kasparov played to prevent Karpov castling Q-side, neither player castled.

On his 18th move, Kasparov sacrificed a pawn to open lines for his bishops and whipped up an attack against his opponent's king. With less than ten minutes remaining on his clock, he spurned a chance to force a draw by repetition on the 28th move.

Just before the time control, Kasparov missed wins on two consecutive moves and was forced to seal in a position where Karpov stood better. Kasparov blundered on his 58th move and resigned after Karpov's reply.

Game 18 : Kasparov - Karpov
after 58...e4-e3 0-1

The score was 9.5-8.5.

Game 19 - Gruenfeld Defense

The opening followed game 17 until Kasparov varied with 7...Na6. Karpov uncorked a strong idea on his 14th move and Kasparov was immediately in trouble. Kasparov sacrificed an exchange on his 15th move.

Game 19 : Karpov - Kasparov
after 15...Na6-b4

After some precise play by Karpov, Kasparov was lost by move 30 in a R+B+5P vs. R+N+4P endgame. Kasparov resigned when the time control was reached. The match was tied at 9.5 points each.

Karpov had erased his three point deficit by winning three consecutive games. In the remaining five games he would still need to win one more game than Kasparov to recapture the title.

After game 19, Kasparov accused his second Vladimirov of copying the team's preparation and selling the notes to Karpov. Vladimirov was dismissed immediately. Karpov denied that any espionage had taken place, but requested a timeout.

Game 20 - Catalan Opening

Kasparov returned to an opening which he had used in games 8 and 22 of the first match, when he had been playing to draw with White. He avoided repeating the continuation from game 22 on his 8th move and then varied from game 8 on his 10th move. Karpov steered into an equal middlegame and the game was agreed drawn after 21 moves.

Game 21 - Queen's Indian Defense

Playing Black again after two consecutive losses with Black, Kasparov was faced with a difficult decision on his choice of opening. He chose a line which had been seen six times in the first match, but where Karpov had had Black in five of those encounters.

On his 9th move, Karpov varied from game 15 of the 1984-85 match, the only game where he had played White in the variation. He played instead a move which Kasparov had played in game 6 of that same match. After transposing a few moves, the players arrived at the 15th move where Kasparov varied from Karpov's earlier line.

Kasparov was left with a passed isolated c-pawn, and avoided problems by exchanging off the heavy pieces. Kasparov sealed his 41st move in an endgame of B+N+5Ps for each player.

On resumption Kasparov sacrificed a piece on his 45th move, which both players had obviously analyzed overnight, as the draw was agreed immediately. Before the draw was announced, most onlookers thought that Kasparov had blundered a piece and resigned.

Kasparov had recovered from his string of three losses. With the score tied at 10.5 points each, Karpov needed two points in the last three games to win the title.

Game 22 - Queen's Gambit Declined

The opening followed games 10 and 12 of the London leg. Karpov avoided repeating both games by returning to the variation he had used in game 23 of the previous match. He then varied from that game on his 14th move.

With his more active pieces, Kasparov maintained a slight advantage, then around move 30 started to penetrate Karpov's position. Kasparov won a pawn and then played to take advantage of the uncomfortable position of Karpov's king.

After the first time control was reached, Kasparov sealed his 41st move. Most observers expected Kasparov to steer for a rook endgame, where he would have the extra pawn, but no clear win. Instead, Kasparov found a beautiful line against which Karpov had no defense. He resigned a few moves into the second session.

Game 22 : Kasparov - Karpov
after 46.Qd6-d4 1-0

After the game, the players conducted a brief post-mortem analysis, the first time this had happened since game 47 of the first match. Now trailing 11.5-10.5 Karpov needed to win the last two games to win the match and reclaim the title he had lost in the previous match.

Game 23 - English Opening

The opening was last seen in game 20 of the first match, with Kasparov playing White. Karpov had played the variation as White in games 11 and 13 of that same match. Karpov varied from the previous games on his 6th move. Kasparov defended with a Hedgehog setup, indicating his satisfaction with a draw.

Both players continued cautiously and the game was agreed drawn on the 32nd move. With the score at 12-11, Kasparov had enough points to retain the title.

Game 24 - Queen's Indian Defense

The opening produced a variation not seen in previous games. Kasparov opened the center and the players swapped down to a R+P endgame. Karpov sealed his 41st move, but the game was agreed drawn before the second session.

The final score was 12.5-11.5 for Kasparov.

Karpov was seeded into the final candidates match for the following cycle, where he would be facing Andrei Sokolov. Most observers, including Kasparov, expected Karpov to beat Sokolov, which meant that a 4th Kasparov-Karpov would take place in 1987.

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