In his review of Kasparov’s Child of Change in the 8/1987 New in Chess, Tim Krabbé questioned whether Kasparov was wronged by the termination of his first match since he was trailing 3-5 against Karpov. This reasoning, originally voiced by hardly anyone except the American writer Hugh Myers, is now gaining ground. Two other critics of Kasparov’s latest autobiography who have echoed Krabbé’s doubts are Leonard Barden and Nigel Short. The former wrote on page xviii of the Financial Times of 21 November 1987:
‘Central to Kasparov’s thesis is the “day of shame” when Campomanes abandoned the 1984-85 world title match just after the youthful hero had recovered from 1-5 down to 3-5. Karpov still needed only one win to complete the six required for the match. Kasparov’s account of this episode repeats his earlier public statements and seems to have it both ways. In one paragraph he says, “I wanted no part in any deals behind closed doors”. In the next, “the FIDE proposal to stop now and start afresh ... wasn’t so bad for me ... to start play again at nil-nil was better than 5-3 against”. It is a strange plot which, by its victim’s own assessment, doubled his chances of victory.’
Under the title ‘Grandmaster of Self-Delusion’, Short asked on page 43 of The Spectator of 17 October 1987:
‘... what sort of conspiracy gives Kasparov a chance to start afresh the match, at 0-0, when he is 5-3 down against one of the greatest chess geniuses ever? Whereas, if the match was continued his chances of winning were, by his own admission, a mere 25-30%.’
There seems to be a distinct move away from how the termination decision was interpreted at the time; in 1985 it was widely condemned as Campomanes’ response to panic-stricken pleas that he save the title of his worn-out friend Karpov. That was the message in Kasparov’s fulminations against Campomanes, Karpov, Sevastianov, Gligorić, Kinzel, etc. in a series of press conferences and interviews. Journalists believed him and were unreceptive to other points of view.
Now, some three years after ‘The Day of Shame’, as Kasparov terms it, Child of Change provides an opportunity to analyse the affair more soberly. In investigating the reliability of the claims made by Kasparov and his supporters, we may reduce the issues to five basic questions.
1) Was Karpov exhausted towards the end of the match?
Karpov has always strongly denied it, so let us examine what Kasparov has said. On page 125 of Child of Change he claims that Karpov ‘had exhausted his strength’ and says on page 130 that ‘the blunt reason they called a halt was because Karpov was in no state to go on without the serious risk of defeat’. Unfortunately, on pages 124-125 he contradicts himself:
‘Some people – Karpov’s supporters, of course – have claimed that the quality of the chess at the end was very poor, showing that the champion must have been sick and that my victories were a fluke. This is not borne out by close analysis. Grandmasters have picked out the following games for “outstanding technical expertise, brilliant ideas or sheer sporting excitement”: numbers six, nine, twenty-seven, thirty-two, thirty-six and crucially – game forty-eight, the very last one. [In fact this anonymous quote is not by ‘grandmasters’ but by Raymond Keene, taken from page 140 of The Moscow Challenge.] The people around Karpov couldn’t understand what was happening. Because he had beaten me so easily in the early games, they assumed he must be unwell to be losing at the end. But Karpov himself knew better. He knew that in the last game, a good game of chess, I caught him out in one mistake. His people couldn’t see this. To them if Karpov is losing he must be sick, so we must protect him – and, incidentally, of course, ourselves.’
Kasparov reiterates this on page 143:
‘The people around him attributed my late victories to the fact that he was so exhausted, but Karpov knew better. He knew it was my chess that was beating him.’
2) Was Kasparov in good physical and mental shape at the end of the match?
Here is a quote from page 130 of Child of Change, referring to game 48:
‘Of course, it was very embarrassing for them that I won this game – and even more embarrassing that I won it with such good play. For this invalidated their argument that both of us were too exhausted to play good chess. As John Nunn has pointed out, forty-eight games is not at all an unusual number for grandmasters to play over a period of five months, and a number of the forty draws played in Moscow were short. I was certainly feeling in better shape than I had in September, as I kept pointing out to every official I came across.’
However, let us compare that with what Kasparov said in an interview in the 7/1985 New in Chess (page 7):
‘Exhaustion did exist anyway ... The most difficult to cope with was the psychological exhaustion, which increased even when a game was not so intense, because the match lasted a long time, and the responsibility was great. Regardless of whether a game was short or long, and even when one did not find oneself in extremely taxing circumstances, one could not relax, and had to think about the match all the time. One’s brain was working, and the nervous tension did not stop, not even for a moment.’
3) In what circumstances did Campomanes return to Moscow shortly before terminating the match?
In studying this question, Kasparov’s words on page 125 of his book should be borne in mind: ‘The final truth about this match, I believe, is as Grandmaster Keene reported it.’ Kasparov and Keene are close friends who have collaborated on literary and political projects; Keene’s writings are frequently quoted with approval in Child of Change.
Now, this is what Raymond Keene wrote on page 8 of The Spectator of 23 February 1985:
‘On the evening of Saturday 9th February, Campomanes was telephoned urgently from Moscow, with the stunning message from the world champion’s camp that Karpov, having lost two games in a row, was unable to continue and Campomanes should fly at once to Moscow to bail him out.’
It should, however, be noted that:
Raymond Keene himself (see May 1986 BCM, page 206) no longer defends his quoted words from The Spectator; nor has he retracted them.
Finally on this episode, one may note what Donald Schultz of the United States Chess Federation said on page 34 of the January 1988 Chess Life:
‘The recent campaign [Keene/Lucena v Campomanes] was one of the dirtiest I’ve ever seen. It was based on unproven innuendo. For example, the phone call that Campo received during the first Karpov-Kasparov match. They stated that it was from Karpov and that Campo was supposed to go to Moscow. I was there, in the room, when Campo received the call; it was from Svetozar Gligorić, and it asked that Campo go to Lucerne, to meet with Alfred Kinzel.’
4) Was Kasparov disadvantaged by the termination decision?
Firstly here, we may recall what Barden quoted: Kasparov’s words on page 133 of Child of Change about a new match starting at 0-0:
‘In a way this wasn’t so bad for me. I was sure I would win the second match. I had become much wiser than at the beginning of this one. And to start playing again at nil-nil was better than five-three against.’
Reviewing the book on page 37 of the Sunday Telegraph of 18 October 1987, Raymond Keene wrote:
‘Kasparov claims that Campomanes halted the first Kasparov-Karpov match “without result” just as the former was on the verge of victory.’
In fact, Kasparov stated (see page 141 of Child of Change) that his chances of winning the match were ‘about 25 or 30%’. It is not clear how Keene interprets 25 or 30% chances as meaning ‘on the verge of victory’.
[As noted below, in the 4/1988 New in Chess Raymond Keene replied to our accusation of misrepresentation on this matter by simply writing, ‘I have a right to my own opinion’. That naturally disregards the fact that in the Sunday Telegraph he had been professing to report Kasparov’s claim – non-existent in reality – of being on the verge of victory. In any case, is it even Keene’s opinion? On page 51 of his 1990 book How to Beat Gary Kasparov he wrote that ‘at the end his [Kasparov’s] chances may have been superior’ (emphasis added).]
5) Was the termination decision defensible as a matter of principle?
Firstly, it should be recalled that nobody appears to have suggested outright termination of the match until Kasparov himself did so to Kinzel at the very beginning of February 1985. (Kasparov and Kinzel subsequently gave conflicting accounts of the circumstances and context in which Kasparov proposed that the match should be terminated.)
Kasparov nonetheless writes on page 155 of Child of Change:
‘... as Ray Keene pointed out when Campomanes visited London: “He proceeds from the arguable premise that a ‘decision’ was needed at all. In fact, no decision was necessary, since the match was proceeding according to regulations and these should have been allowed to run their course”. Precisely.’
The principle that ‘no decision was necessary’, which Raymond Keene expounded on page 42 of The Spectator of 4 May 1985 and repeated on page 20 of Manoeuvres in Moscow, is further illustrated by his words on page 204 of the May 1986 BCM:
‘... a vast amount of the criticism aroused by the K-K match termination is not because that termination damaged the specific rights or chances of either player. Rather it is because outside intervention from a third party violates the very nature of chess.’
(One notes in passing that the argument that Karpov had to be ‘bailed out’ has been dropped.)
However, on page 21 of Manoeuvres in Moscow Keene wrote:
‘Ironically, had Campomanes kept silent after game 48 and only stepped in to stop the match if there had been a further series of draws, his action would probably have met with widespread approval.’
So the argument now is that what was wrong was Campomanes’ timing, not the principle of termination (or ‘outside intervention from a third party’).
Raymond Keene’s protests about Campomanes’ decision need to be viewed in the context of the following telex, which was sent on 15 February 1985 from London to Lucerne and Moscow:
‘Please convey urgently to FIDE President Florencio Campomanes
Raymond Keene offers a compromised [sic] solution to end the current problems in Moscow. In view of the current difficulties and in respect to the splendid fighting spirit there has prevailed in the world championship, Raymond Keene proposes that the current match be declared drawn with the players sharing the world title. This tie can then be broken in a match of fixed duration to be held late in the year and offers [sic] to find sponsorship that will allow the return fixture to be held in London.
If this solution is acceptable London Docklands Development Corporation would be delighted to act as host to this prestigious event.
Raymond Keene has provided two contradictory claims as to when the telex was despatched. On page 139 of The Moscow Challenge he indicated that it was sent after the final announcement by Campomanes that Karpov ‘accepted’ the termination decision and Kasparov ‘would abide by it’. However, on page 411 of the September 1986 BCM he stated that the telex was sent in the morning, in reaction to an (inaccurate) announcement on the radio that the match had already been terminated.
It is only considerations of space that prevent further contradictions and inconsistencies from being given here. Let’s finish with one final puzzle, a brief quote from page 135 of Child of Change, where Kasparov describes the scene in Moscow immediately after – yes, after – Campomanes’ press conference announcement that the match was being terminated, with a new one to start at 0-0 the following September:
‘There was a great deal of shuffling and noise in the audience at this news. The video tape shows my trainers and myself talking and laughing among ourselves.’
The obvious question here is: why were Kasparov and his trainers laughing?
The above article was published on pages 53-56 of the 2/1988 New in Chess. In the correspondence section of the 4/1988 issue Raymond Keene submitted a long response (on pages 4-6) which we are not entitled to reproduce here but which should on no account be missed or forgotten. He was on notably duplicitous form, but fell flat on his faces. Below is the reply contributed by us in the same issue of New in Chess (pages 6-8):
By providing exact page numbers for all quotes, my article permitted readers to make an independent check of the source material, and my only difficulty lay in selecting a small sample of inconsistencies and contradictions from the available heap. I pointed out many others in a very detailed (2,500 words) review of Child of Change in the September-October 1987 issue of Chess Notes, and nobody has disputed a single one of them.
1. Campomanes’s return to Moscow
By means of a lengthy but largely irrelevant account of a conversation with Campomanes, Mr Keene skates over my list of five observations on his Spectator column. He still fails, for instance, to corroborate or withdraw his claim that the telephone message was ‘from Karpov’s camp’ or that Campomanes was told he ‘should fly at once to Moscow to bail him out’. That frenzied version of events has been contradicted by all parties, and the fact that Gligorić made the telephone call is now accepted even by Kasparov (see page 131 of Child of Change).
Mr Keene summarily rejects the testimony of Donald Schultz (who, unlike him, was present in Dubai during the telephone call) on the grounds that he has ‘found him on the key issues to be a faithful adherent to the FIDE line’. Such logic can easily be turned against Mr Keene: his virulent anti-FIDE stance automatically means that he is an unreliable witness on all matters concerning Campomanes. Indeed, his eagerness to ridicule the FIDE President has involved him over the years in many errors, such as his over-hasty conclusion that Kasparov was forced to take a time-out on 11 February 1985, whereas Kasparov himself has stated (Child of Change, page 131) that it was his own free decision.
2. The Principle of Termination
Nobody who reads page 21 of Manoeuvres in Moscow will take seriously Mr Keene’s explanation of his remark about ‘had Campomanes kept silent ...’ There is no indication whatsoever in the text that he disagreed with the view that subsequent termination of the match would have merited ‘widespread approval’.
His convoluted defence of the telex fails to deal with the clear-cut contradiction pointed out by my article (page 56): in the BCM he stated clearly that the telex was sent before the press conference started, but in The Moscow Challenge he stated equally clearly that it was sent after the press conference ended (which means more than 90 minutes (!) after Campomanes first took the floor). If that is not a contradiction then the word has no meaning.
His letter contains further proof of his unreliability on matters of timing, for he suggests that the Tass report was anterior to the British radio announcement. Yet on page 411 of the September 1986 BCM the same Mr Keene stated the exact opposite, claiming that the Tass report came over an hour later. He also admitted there, contrary to the impression he gives above, that he himself did not actually hear the BBC’s (inaccurate) news report but was merely told about it by an unnamed third party.
There is no secret as to how I acquired Mr Keene’s embarrassing telex. Having noted by Autumn 1985 that published references to it were inconsistent, I wrote an enquiry to the FIDE Headquarters. Incidentally, upon receiving a photocopy I was able to note a further untrue remark by Mr Keene: on page 139 of The Moscow Challenge he stated that his termination proposal in the telex was made ‘in my capacity as president of the Commonwealth Chess Association’. In fact, the CCA was not mentioned anywhere in the message. With Mr Keene things are rarely straightforward.
His position would be consistent and comprehensible only if he had sent a telex to Campomanes arguing for the match to be continued. He did not do so.
3. Was Kasparov disadvantaged?
By referring to the ‘right to my own opinion’ Mr Keene indulges in an astounding piece of prevarication. This section of my article presented two incontrovertible facts: A) Kasparov stated that his winning chances were 25/30%, and B) in the Sunday Telegraph Mr Keene falsely wrote that Kasparov has claimed (in Child of Change) that he had been ‘on the verge of victory’. Mr Keene’s ‘right to my own opinion’ does not include the right to distort Kasparov’s position by putting that opinion into the world champion’s mouth.
Passing over his curious speculation about Kasparov’s laughter, we come to his even more curious (and gratuitous) final paragraph. Given his track record of inaccuracy (the telephone call episode is just one example) Mr Keene is a poor advertisement for the profession of roving reporter. Moreover, his suggestion that I should refrain from analyzing the Termination as I was not present in Moscow at the time is breathtaking for the simple reason that he was not there either. Although both of us are without ‘first hand knowledge of the occurrences’, the difference between us is that Mr Keene rejects outright the testimony of virtually all personalities who were there (Campomanes, Karpov, Sevastianov, Gligorić, Kinzel, etc.), just as his letter peremptorily dismisses Donald Schultz’s eye-witness report from Dubai.
The independent writer who sifts the available documentation without fear or favour has a considerable advantage over Mr Keene, who has far too many vested interests. On the Termination issue, as on many others, he has regularly misused his journalistic position with The Times, The Spectator and B.T. Batsford Ltd. in furtherance of his political campaign to oust Campomanes. His weapons have been the very kind of ‘twisting or turning’ and ‘selective quotation’ which he unjustifiably attributes to me. Readers of Chess Notes have seen countless (unrefuted) examples.
Mr Keene further distorts the truth by claiming I consider myself ‘a great expert’ on the Termination affair, whereas I have repeatedly stated in Chess Notes and elsewhere that I am a ‘Don’t Know’. I have never argued that the deficiencies of the Kasparov/Keene version automatically mean that Campomanes was right to stop the match. Unlike Mr Keene, I am convinced that much more research is required; the results of the subsequent Kasparov-Karpov matches are irrelevant to the issues of principle raised by Campomanes’s controversial decision.
Our original New in Chess article was reproduced on pages 172-179 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves, together with a further example discussed by us on page 392 of the 8/1986 issue of the Swedish magazine Schacknytt:
Another startling case of serial invention by a journalist writing about the Termination of the 1984-85 Karpov v Kasparov match is given in the present item. Firstly, let us examine the message which the President of the USSR Chess Federation sent to Campomanes shortly before the match was terminated:
‘To the President of FIDE, Mr F. Campomanes
Taking into account the unprecedented duration of the world title match between A. Karpov and G. Kasparov, which is still in progress after more than five months, and in which 48 games have already been played (that is two full matches under the old rules), the USSR Chess Federation, expressing concern about the health of the participants, requests a three-month suspension of the match.
As is known, there was envisaged in the agreement of the unlimited match Fischer-Karpov (1976 – sic) a break after four months’ play. This provision was included on the basis of advice of medical specialists. Yet the Karpov-Kasparov match, as already pointed out, has exceeded this length and is still in progress.
We also point out that the proposal to have a break does not run contrary to the FIDE Constitution, nor to the match regulations, and, we feel, would be met with satisfaction by the public opinion of the chess world.
Your positive decision would be helpful and in the interests of the development of chess creativity.
Respectfully yours, V.I. Sevastyanov
13 February 1985.’
Now, compare that with how B.H. Wood summarized the letter in the February 1985 CHESS (page 283):
‘… Vitaly Sevastianov, the ex-astronaut president of the Soviet Chess Federation, wrote Campomanes a letter on 14 February, again admitting that Anatoly could not go on and begging for a stop to the match, with Karpov retaining his title and Kasparov “permitted” a rematch later in the year.’
One may note that:
At the time of the Termination Affair the BCM (then owned by the British Chess Federation, of which Raymond Keene was an official) gave Keene a comfortable ride, and it was not until 1993 (page 228 of the May issue – an article by Murray Chandler and Bernard Cafferty) that an epiphany occurred, as the BCM belatedly (and euphemistically) referred to Keene’s practice of ‘reinterpreting history in The Times’. The following specifics were offered on that same page of the BCM:
‘Repeatedly attacking FIDE President Campomanes for halting the 1985 title match against Karpov “when Kasparov had won several games in a row”. Kasparov himself assessed his chances at only 30% at that point. The final score (5-3 to Karpov) was never mentioned, nor the fact that the re-match started with level scores.’
As noted on page 271 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves, Keene also wrote, in The Times of 27 February 1993, page 5, that ‘Kasparov revived and began to win game after game’, and there was more of the same on page 49 of Man v Machine by R. Keene and B. Jacobs with T. Buzan (Brighton, 1996); that book asserted that the 1984-85 match was stopped ‘just as Kasparov had started to win a series of games’.
When there is such a premeditated and deliberate plan to deceive about, even, the basic score of the match, what chance exists of sorting out the complexities of the Termination itself? Back in 1985 (in C.N. 1020) John Nunn wrote to us:
‘... I doubt whether the full truth will ever be revealed. ... I have given up trying to reconcile the many conflicting statements about the events in Moscow. My own view is that it isn’t necessary to evoke any conspiracy theories; muddleheadedness, lack of communication and incompetence are enough to explain the whole bizarre story.’
But should chess writers and researchers throw up their hands and admit defeat? Is there really no longer any chance of determining the truth? In whose interests would it be for matters to be left unresolved? Below is a follow-up item we wrote in June 2004 (C.N. 3328).
The 20th anniversary of one of the most controversial happenings in chess history will come on 15 February 2005: the Termination of the first world championship match between Karpov and Kasparov. In C.N. 1990 (see CHESS, November 1993, page 50) we called it a topic ‘which chess literature (books and articles) has yet to settle authoritatively’, and it may be wondered whether any fresh details have emerged since then. Investigative journalism being virtually non-existent in the chess world, there is every reason for truth-seekers to fear (and for others to hope) that the 20th anniversary will come and go without new, accurate information being brought to light or old, inaccurate information being laid to rest.
Kasparov, for his part, has stated (on page 127 of his book Child of Change) that ‘the full story may never be known’, although he has often set forth what he calls his ‘theories’. And what about Karpov? His book Karpov on Karpov (New York, 1991) had the subtitle ‘Memoirs of a chess world champion’, but the Termination Affair was (remarkably and, indeed, shockingly) ignored. Are none of those involved in the controversy willing and able to state now, plainly and factually, what they do and do not know, so that chess historians are offered at least a sporting chance of piecing together the truth?
Our own attempts date back to 1985-86. On 1 January 1986 the then General Secretary of FIDE (the late Lim Kok Ann of Singapore, who was, in our experience, a gentleman of great integrity) informed us:
‘Mr Campomanes agrees to give you a written interview, an exclusive, though he has answered sundry questions on the Termination. Mr Campomanes is prepared to face any question you care to ask.’
As reported in C.N. 1098 [i.e. the March-April 1986 issue of our magazine], the planned interview did not work out:
‘Our questions (26 in number) may certainly have amounted to quite a grilling, but they were, if we may say so, fair and objective questions that Campomanes will surely be obliged to answer sooner or later somewhere or other.’
At one point we did receive from FIDE a Dictaphone cassette and transcript, but Campomanes’ answers (to only four questions) were so discursive and disjointed that turning them into a printable item was beyond our ability. We hope that, even now, an enterprising writer will be able to pull off the feat of obtaining from Campomanes his ‘definitive’ version of the events in Moscow. More generally, it would be most welcome to see a reliable journalistic write-up of the entire Termination Affair which is devoid of speculation. The matter is simply too important to be touched by the ‘I-think-I-read-somewhere’ and ‘My-guess-would-be’ brigade.
Sorting out fact from fiction is a time-consuming task, not least because certain ‘chess writers’ more pro-Kasparov than pro-truth have repeatedly warped the facts of the case; for innumerable examples see pages 221-225 and 269-270 of Chess Explorations and pages 172-179 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves. At least for now, it seems unnecessary to cite any such instances here, but we may do so later on.
In C.N. 1491 our own standpoint was summarized as follows:
‘On Termination Day, however, few knew that all these discussions [involving the officials and players] had been going on for over two weeks. In particular, hardly anyone was aware of the Kinzel-Kasparov negotiations. This prompted the widespread impression that Campomanes’ decision was “arbitrary”, and the FIDE President did little to help quell suspicions. Neither the question of whether Campomanes was right or wrong to stop the match (our own agnosticism has never been firmer) nor the repeated falsehoods written by his opponents in their press monopoly outlets can alter the fact that Termination Day in Moscow was a shambles for which Campomanes must take full blame.’
In conclusion for now, we add that our files include a personal letter from Lim Kok Ann dated 13 January 1986 which contains the following paragraph:
‘Campomanes states that at first (in December) only the suspension of K-K [1984-85] was considered, as a solution to the impasse – the players objected to change of playing hall “against regulations”; the organizing committee’s lease on the Hall of Columns had long lapsed, and the hall was required for funerals, inter alia (how do you like my use of the Latin?). Apparently Kasparov remarked that instead of a suspension he would prefer the match be terminated. This rash remark first put the idea to Campo that termination could be a solution, but “suspension” was as much against the regs as termination was, and suspension would have favoured Karpov very much. As for continuation, we should ask where and how.’
As matters stand, in 2005, is any consensus possible about the Termination, despite all the claims and counter-claims? We believe that few readers will disagree with the following summation:
The following comment by Yasser Seirawan at ChessBase in October 2006 is to be noted:
‘Campomanes, as we know, aborted the 1984/85 World Championship match. I make no judgment as to the rights and wrongs of that exceptionally complicated case; after all, it threw up so much contradictory evidence that the only fair-minded conclusion is agnosticism on whether or not Campomanes was correct to terminate the match.’
Addition on 11 January 2008. At chessgames.com on 10 January 2008 Raymond Keene wrote the following (quoted here in full):
‘<sitzkrieg> you are in violation of the guidelines and your comments shd be taken down-however i cant resist pointing out a couple of things-
1 i have never knowingly purveyed any kind of falsehood in anything i have written
2 in the extract you quote winter seems to be unable to reconcile the facts that i sent off a telex message in the morning while elsewhere i refer to my message reaching moscow later that day-what he has forgotten -presumably because he does not get out and about much-is that moscow is three hours later in time than the uk, so it was perfectly possible to send a telex in uk morning time, while at the same time it was much later in the afternoon in moscow! that rather obviously explains why it was possible for me to know about events happening in moscow in their afternoon time while it was still morning time in london. this is so blazingly obvious i have never bothered to point it out before.
on top of that-in spite of winters desperate rearguard actions to defend the now defunct corrupt commie state- history has served its verdict on that disgraceful episode-if any umpire or arbiter in any other sport had halted the contest at the point campomanes did he wd have been lynched!’
Mr Keene mentions only one specific matter, and it is untrue. We have never overlooked the obvious existence of a three-hour time-difference between the United Kingdom and Moscow. Indeed, we drew attention to it in C.N. 1222 at the time the Keene/Tisdall telex came to light: ‘the identical text was also sent direct to Moscow, at 10:13:52 GMT (Moscow time minus three)’.
Yet another example of Raymond Keene’s ineradicable mendacity ...
Whether pretending to know what he does not know or not to know what he does know, Raymond Keene oscillates between bluster and silence. Although he is guileful to the gills, the guile is fortunately transparent, and he fools fewer people with every fresh aberration.
In The Times of 22 November 2008 (book section, page 18) Raymond Keene asserted:
‘The first match between Kasparov and Karpov for the world crown was stopped prematurely in early 1985 by FIDE – the World Chess Federation – acting in concert with the KGB.’
Below is a contribution sent by Hugh Myers to a Symposium on the Karpov era in Chess Life in 1986:
The item was published on pages 32-33 of the March 1986 Chess Life with a number of unauthorized editorial amendments.
We reproduce the first issue of FIDE Facts (July 1986), which discussed the Termination in the context of that year’s FIDE Presidential election:
For the complete set of the ten FIDE Facts sheets, see our feature article The 1986 FIDE Presidential Election.
Illustrated with 25 “plates” with rather babyish captions, Garry Kasparov’s New World Chess Champion has annotations to all 24 games of the second K-K match. There is a regrettably, but predictably, slanted Forward on the termination of the earlier contest. Can he really be unaware of all the new evidence which has emerged since the Anything Goes Period (roughly February 1985-mid January 1986) when he and his myrmidons had the argument all their own way?
See also our review of Child of Change.
Below is a contribution by Hugh Myers published in the July-August 1985 issue of Chess Notes (C.N. 1007):
‘My attitude regarding the Karpov-Kasparov termination has been formed by what seem to be the facts of the matter, based on available documentation, and by a negative reaction to fanatical outbursts by people who clearly didn’t yet have enough information to be able to form a sensible opinion. What has been deplorable is that while it has been assumed that everything Kasparov said was true, it has been taken for granted that Karpov was not truthful when he said he wanted the match to go on.
Kasparov is praised for what is considered to be his calculated method of winning the match by wearing out Karpov physically. If someone loses a match because he can’t continue, so be it. But why should anyone want a world champion who plays dull chess and who wins on the basis of physical condition, not an ability to play brilliant chess?
In all the discussion of the controversy, hardly anybody seems to have pointed out that the statement of the West German FIDE official Alfred Kinzel makes it clear that the first request for, or even mention of, immediate termination of the match came from the Kasparov camp. The following chronological survey summarizes what I believe happened:
Late January: Campomanes decided that he wanted the match to end after a set number of additional games. This was not because Karpov seemed to be in danger of losing the match, nor was it requested by the USSR Federation. Campomanes may have used health reasons as an excuse, but it seems clear that the most important reasons were financial, plus bad publicity for chess caused by too many short and boring draws.
30 January: Kasparov won game 47, making the score 5-2.
2 February, 1.30 a.m.: Campomanes met with Karpov and Mamedov (Kasparov’s representative). Campomanes proposed eight more games (after no. 47) and if the match was not decided by then, they would restart in September at 0-0 (24-game match). Karpov accepted. Mamedov refused.
2 February, 7.00 a.m.: Campomanes left the USSR. Kinzel continued to discuss the situation with Mamedov, who said he would talk about it with Kasparov. Kasparov then contacted Kinzel, refusing Campomanes’ s offer, except that he would play the September match at 0-0 only if the match were to be stopped immediately.
1-5 February: “Technical” time-out for negotiations. Kasparov protested, but he had not yet won two in a row.
6-7 February: Karpov took time-out. The BCM calls this an “illness break”. Each player was allowed six such breaks in the match. This was Karpov’s sixth regular time-out. During this time he persisted in rejecting Kasparov’s request that the match be called off.
8-9 February: Kasparov won game 48.
11 February: Campomanes returned to Moscow.
11-12 February: This is when game 49 should have been played, but Kasparov, who had apparently decided to use this time to convince Campomanes to accept his request to stop the match (or maybe to persuade him to let him withdraw that request...), took his sixth regular time-out.
13-14 February: “Technical” time-out – for negotiations, but it is said both players made demands that haven’t been disclosed.
15 February: The USSR Federation asked Campomanes to postpone play in the match for three months. That could very well have been a pro-Karpov move, but it does not go along with the allegations that the termination of the match was a pro-Karpov move that was wanted by either Karpov or the USSR Federation. The USSR proposal was not for a new match, but for a later continuation of the same match.
The press conference. Karpov persisted, as he did later, in saying that he wanted to continue the match. Now Kasparov said so too. But after a private meeting with Campomanes, they agreed not to contest the termination, and to resume in September.
1) Karpov was always willing to continue the match, with or without a set number of additional games.
2) Kasparov was willing to continue only with an unlimited number of additional games. Termination was his idea, and his preference – at least between games 47 and 48.
3) Campomanes wanted to get the match finished fairly soon. Calling it off immediately was not his idea, but Kasparov put it into his head. There is no good reason (no evidence) to believe that immediate termination was for Karpov’s benefit, nor was it requested by Karpov or the USSR Federation. It is nonsense to allege that the termination was caused by Kasparov’s winning of two games in a row. Kasparov had requested it before he won game 48. It may well be that he regretted, after winning game 48, that he had talked about termination, but Campomanes had no doubt come to like the idea, wanting to finish the match for plenty of reasons other than a very debatable benefit for Karpov.
The reports of Gligorić and Kinzel make it clear that the question of the match’s immediate termination might never have occurred if Kasparov had not originated the idea. I don’t say that Campomanes’s suggestion of eight more games after game 47 was something that Kasparov should have accepted, and it is easy to sympathize with Kasparov’s preference to start again in September at 0-0. But that suggestion, made between 1.30 a.m. and 7.00 a.m. on 2 February was only a suggestion. When Kasparov (on 4 February probably, though possibly 2 February) set the condition of immediate termination if he were to start over in September, Kasparov assumed responsibility for the eventual termination at least equally with Campomanes. (Kasparov set the condition when Campomanes was no longer in Moscow, with Kinzel, who had been delegated authority to negotiate on the FIDE President’s behalf.)
The pro-Kasparov propaganda (much of it by a group known to be pro-Kasparov and anti-Campomanes) has been shameful. Inevitably, my own analysis invites accusations of pro-Campomanes and pro-Karpov prejudice. However, in the past I have been at best neutral about Campomanes, while I have written very negatively about Karpov (the Myers Openings Bulletin, issue 21 says that his name is “stained on the pages of chess history”). I am simply pro-truth.’
On page 208 of the May 1986 BCM Raymond Keene wrote regarding the ‘FIDE Controversy’:
‘I have therefore no desire at the moment to commence personal polemics, but I do feel it necessary to parry direct attacks.’
In a letter to the Editor of the BCM dated 8 May 1986 (published in part on page 257 of the June BCM and in full in C.N. 1222) we commented:
‘It is impossible to take this seriously. In the past 15 months or so Raymond Keene has used his Spectator column on countless occasions to launch violent personal attacks on Campomanes. For instance, in his five columns dated 4 January to 1 February 1986 he criticized FIDE in every single one.’
Regarding the Termination of the 1984-85 world championship match, the new book ‘Garry Kasparov on Modern Chess Part Two Kasparov vs Karpov 1975-1985 including the 1st and 2nd matches’ (London, 2008) required Kasparov to choose (irrespective of the overall conclusions he wished to present) between two approaches:
It is Option B all the way.
Some chess chroniclers are obliged to attempt, nolens volens, to sum up in a paragraph or two the complexities and uncertainties of the Termination of the first Karpov v Kasparov match (1984-85). We wonder whether readers can quote a better summary than the one on page 84 of the revised edition of Leonard Barden’s book Play Better Chess (London, 1987):
‘... Karpov began to sit on his lead, just waiting for Kasparov to make a fatal slip. But the match was now into its fourth and fifth month, and Karpov’s strength was ebbing. Kasparov got back to 5-1, then Karpov suddenly lost two games in a row for 5-3 after 48 games. The match was becoming an embarrassment to the Soviet authorities, and play was transferred from the grand Hall of Columns to the Hotel Sport in the suburbs.
After 48 games Florencio Campomanes, President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), took his controversial and unprecedented decision to annul the match. He made his announcement at a chaotic Moscow press conference where both Karpov and Kasparov declared they wanted to continue to play. Campomanes then led the grandmasters backstage for private discussions after which he confirmed his decision. K and K blamed each other, the chess world was aghast at what was seen as an arbitrary and false conclusion which many thought was made to rescue a tottering Karpov. Objectively, however, it was still much more likely that Karpov would win one game before Kasparov won three, and the defending champion played under a psychological burden in the next K v K series in 1985.’
The text of C.N. 1990, as published on page 50 of CHESS, November 1993:
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