MADRID – Chess eminences Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov are dusting off their knights and pawns for an exhibition rematch marking the 25th anniversary of their first title bout — a grueling one that lasted five months and was eventually halted.
The two former champions will play 12 games of two kinds of speed chess starting Tuesday in the eastern Spanish city of Valencia. The four-day match is the highlight of a chess conference organized by the regional government, town hall and corporate sponsors.
Kasparov, 46, is considered by some to have been the best player in chess history. He retired from top-level professional play in 2005, saying among things that after a career in which he had become chess' youngest-ever champion at age 22 and dominated the game for two decades, he had little left to achieve.
He is now an active political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Karpov, now 58, was the reigning champion when Kasparov first challenged him in a match that started in September 1984 and spilled over into February 1985.
Over the course of 48 games, Karpov initially ran up a seemingly insurmountable 5-0 lead — victory was to go to the first player to win six games — only to see Kasparov come roaring back to 5-3. Karpov shed 10 kilograms (22 pounds) during the match, which was ultimately halted on health grounds with no winner declared, even though both players said they wanted to continue. Kasparov won a rematch in 1985, capturing his first world title.
Karpov remains an active player, and is ranked 146th by the World Chess Federation.
The two had waged a legendary rivalry for more than a decade. In the end, in five world championship matches, Kasparov won 21 games, Karpov 19 and they drew 104 times, according to the chess Web site www.chess.com.
At a news conference in Valencia on Monday, both said chess has lost the glamour it had back in the days when they dominated it.
Kasparov, in an interview published Monday in the newspaper El Pais, called Karpov the greatest rival of his career and "my grandmaster, the one from whom I have learned the most, both in chess and in life."