Russian chess legends Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov renewed their rivalry in a showdown in Valencia in September 2011, where they played a 12-game match with four rapid games and eight blitz games.
The two men first played each other 25 years ago in a game that was dominated by political rather tha sporting rivalry. However, the Spain event may have been their last encounter, as Karpov has all but retired from tournaments, and Kasparov has officially quit chess to focus on politics and writing books such as ‘How Life Imitates Chess’.
The result of their first encounter, a five-month world championship epic struggle in 1984, was terminated by chess authorities due to the large number of draws. Their second meeting took place a year later in Moscow with a 23-year-old Kasparov defeating Karpov 13-11 to become the youngest world champion.
Valencia can claim to be the home of modern chess, as it was here that the present version of the game was first played.
In the year 1000, two hundred years after Arab conquerors brought chess to southern Europe, the queen first appeared on the board. Initially she was the weakest piece, moving only one square at a time on the diagonal, yet by 1497, during the reign of Isabella of Castile, the queen had become the most powerful player, perhaps as a sop to ‘Her Majesty’.
The queen replaced the Vizier, who represented the king’s counsellor in Arabic chess. From Spain, the game moved to the South of France, where Eleanor of Aquitaine gave the queen her first real-life model, epitomizing “the trappings of queen-ship that worked their way into the symbolic system on the chessboard.”
The match between Kasparov and Karpov is in honor of the Queen as a chess piece, which emerged from the region of Valencia in the XV century
The organizer of the match was Don Basilio Lopez, with the support of the Chess Federation of Valencia.
Karpov has been in Valencia many times, playing various games at Manises and the Palace of Music. Karpov is also an ambassador of the “Fundación Valencia Cuna del Ajedrez Moderno”, which was involved in the organization of the 2011 encounter. Kasparov had been in the region only once, in 1986, when he played a game in Alcoy near Valencia.
Valencia beat London and Vienna to orgnise the event, largely because of its historic importance as the founding city of modern chess.
It was in Spain that they played the 4th match for the World Championship title in 1987. The last game of that match was televised by TVE (Spanish national TV) and was followed live by 13 million people.