On September 9, 1984, a battle for the title of chess world champion began between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov. The match had a very controversial finish and set a record as the longest-running game in the history of chess.
At the time of the match, Karpov was the world champion at 33 years old, and his challenger Kasparov was only 21, but already a chess Grandmaster. The first player to win six games would win the championship, with no limit to the number of games. Karpov took the lead quickly, establishing a score of 4:0 on game nine, and claiming his fifth point on game 27. Just a single win separated him from defending his title, but on game 32, Kasparov beat Karpov for the first time. Another long series of draws followed and Kasparov won games 47 and 48, making the score 5:3. What happened next was the most unexpected turn.
On 15 February 1985, 160 days into the match, FIDE President Florencio Campomanes arrived in Moscow and called the match off, citing concerns about the health of the two players. During a press conference, Campomanes announced “I declare that the match is ended without decision. There will be a new match, which will start from scratch with the score at 0:0, on 1 September 1985.”
Both Karpov and Kasparov protested against the termination, claiming they were in position to continue with the game, however Campomanes refused to reverse his decision. From this point on the “no limit games” system was abolished and replaced with matches lasting a maximum 24 games. In the event of a 12:12 tie after 24 games, the reigning champion would retain his title.
Many saw political overtones in the match’s outcome. According to the common version, the Soviet government decided to save their favorite Karpov from defeat by pressuring the World Chess Federation to terminate the match. Considering that Karpov had lost 10 kilograms during the match, whereas Kasparov was in good health, some allege his physical condition might have prevented him from playing at his highest level and he was bound to be defeated in the end.
The match marked the first world championship out of five between the two Soviet players. The second match for the FIDE title between Karpov and Kasparov took place in 1985 in Moscow. Kasparov won by a score of 13:11 and took the title the following three matches.
Garry Kasparov eventually engaged in politics and continued to surround himself with scandals. He has headed several opposition groups, however today his support in Russia is low. His opponent Anatoly Karpov has involved himself in humanitarian causes, and in 2006 was appointed as the chairman of the Ecological Safety and Environmental Protection Commission. He is also one of the best-known philatelists in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).