- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 22, 2009

VALENCIA, Spain (Agence France-Presse) | Chess legends Garry Kasparov and Anatoli Karpov said Monday they hope the rematch of their epic 1984 world championship battle this week in Spain will renew interest in the game.

“We are here to recover, if not a golden age, at least a silver age, for chess,” Mr. Karpov, 58, told a joint news conference with his old foe, Mr. Kasparov, in Valencia in eastern Spain on the eve of the start of their clash.

Mr. Kasparov, 46, who has been active in the political opposition to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin since withdrawing from competitive chess in 2005 and setting up his own political party, said the World Chess Federation “had let the game die.”

“The chess that is played today is more technical, more aggressive, with younger players, but it has lost its glamour,” he added.

“The duel will put chess in the spotlight once again, as it did 25 years ago,” he said in an interview published in the Spanish daily El Pais on Monday.

That epic encounter in Moscow lasted five months before the World Chess Federation, in a controversial move, stopped the duel without a clear winner, purportedly on health grounds, though both players said they wanted to continue.

Mr. Karpov, who was 33 at the time, had won five of the matches. Mr. Kasparov, who was only 21, won three, and 40 more were draws.

In their 1985 rematch, Mr. Kasparov beat Mr. Karpov narrowly, becoming the youngest world champion, and defended his title the following year.

The last time he played Mr. Karpov was in 1990, when he narrowly won.

Their new duel will have only 12 games - four semi-rapid and eight rapid - with the two men facing off under the watch of Dutch chess arbiter Geurt Gijssen in Valencia, known as the birthplace of modern chess.

The tournament officially got under way Monday with both players facing local personalities, but the real action begins Tuesday when Mr. Kasparov and Mr. Karpov play their first match of the series. It ends on Friday.

Mr. Kasparov acknowledged that the match will not carry the same suspense as the 1984 Moscow showdown, when he was challenging the then-world champion Mr. Karpov.

“Don’t expect a match with the same quality as 25 years ago,” he said.

Mr. Kasparov, who earlier said it would be more a “ceremonial tournament,” has been training in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, with 18-year-old chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen.

Mr. Karpov, the undisputed world chess champion from 1975 to 1985 and FIDE world chess champion from 1993 to 1999, has been sparring with a computer and a group of grandmasters, including Moldavia’s Viktor Bologan, from a base on the Spanish coast.

Both men are considered among the greatest chess players ever.

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