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  WCC Overview
Karpov vs Kasparov, 1984-85
The Aborted Match

From the age of 12, the chess genius from Azerbaijan Garry Kasparov was setting new standards. After becoming the youngest player to win the USSR Junior Championship he went on to win the World Junior Championship at age 16. His style was aggressive and dynamic. On his seventeenth birthday he achieved the grandmaster title.

After defeating Beliavsky, Korchnoi, and Smyslov in the candidates matches, Kasparov earned the right to challenge Anatoly Karpov for the title. The match was held in Moscow. Once again, the format was the first to 6 wins, draws not counting.

 Karpov vs Kasparov
 Karpov and Kasparov, 1984
Karpov secured quick lead in the match, winning games 3, 6, 7, and 9 to establish a dominating score of 4-0. However, due an incredible series of draws, it wasn't until game 27 when Karpov claimed his 5th point. With the score 5-0, Karpov's victory appeared imminent, but this marathon struggle was outlasting everybody's expectations. Finally, on the 32nd game, Kasparov beat Karpov for the first time. After another long series of draws, Kasparov won game 47 and game 48, making the score 5 to 3.

At this stage, FIDE President Florencio Campomanes made a most unexpected and controversial decision: he called the match off.

At the press conference at which he announced his decision, Campomanes cited the health of the two players, which had been put under strain by the length of the match, despite that both Karpov and Kasparov stated that they would prefer the match to continue. Karpov had lost 10kg (22lb) over the course of the match. Kasparov, however, was in excellent health and extremely resentful of Campomanes' decision, asking him why he was abandoning the match if both players wanted to continue. It would appear that Kasparov, who had won the last two games before the suspension, felt the same way as some commentators: that he was now the favorite to win the match despite his 5-3 deficit. He appeared to be physically stronger than his opponent, and in the later games seemed to have been playing the better chess.[1]

The match lasted from September 10, 1984 to February 8, 1985. It was aborted after 48 games, making Karpov the de facto winner. A new match was scheduled to take place later in 1985.

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314151617181920

click on a game number to replay game 2122232425262728293031323334353637383940

click on a game number to replay game 4142434445464748

FINAL SCORE:  Karpov 5;  Kasparov 3 (40 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Karpov-Kasparov 1984/5]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #9     Karpov vs Kasparov, 1984     1-0
    · Game #6     Kasparov vs Karpov, 1984     0-1
    · Game #27     Karpov vs Kasparov, 1984     1-0


  1. Garry Kasparov from

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 48  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½361984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchB81 Sicilian, Scheveningen, Keres Attack
2. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½471984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE17 Queen's Indian
3. Karpov vs Kasparov 1-0311984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchB44 Sicilian
4. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½441984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE15 Queen's Indian
5. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½211984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchB83 Sicilian
6. Kasparov vs Karpov 0-1701984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE15 Queen's Indian
7. Karpov vs Kasparov 1-0441984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
8. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½201984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3
9. Karpov vs Kasparov 1-0701984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
10. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½151984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE12 Queen's Indian
11. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½411984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchA15 English
12. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½211984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
13. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½331984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchA15 English
14. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½161984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE15 Queen's Indian
15. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½931984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE15 Queen's Indian
16. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½371984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE15 Queen's Indian
17. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½231984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
18. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½251984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE15 Queen's Indian
19. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½511984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
20. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½191984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchA15 English
21. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½341984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½251984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchE06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3
23. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½221984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
24. Kasparov vs Karpov ½-½171984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchA33 English, Symmetrical
25. Karpov vs Kasparov ½-½221984Karpov - Kasparov World Championship MatchD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 48  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 29 OF 29 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jim Bartle: The rule was first to six wins, conrad.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Conrad> is still learning....
Oct-18-13  devere: I've never seen it discussed, but what happened to the purse for this match? Did the K & K boys play 48 grueling games for no pay?
Aug-07-14  tzar: The whole 1984 WC match was a mess. Again Fischer's ghost was present with his stupid demands that affected the next WC match cycle which should have been to 24 games.

IMO Karpov showed complete superiority over any conceivable reasonable match lenght and Kasparov's strategy of making draws to prolong the fight led to a senseless endless match that became just a resistence test. Karpov had already lost 10 Kg. and the officials were worried about his health.

Campomanes tried to end the mess that was a ruin economically and could have lasted 20 or 25 games more putting the players health at risk.

His decision was controversial and open to criticism but it does not make him a "criminal".

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Timing is everything. If Campomanes had stopped the match after Game 46, few would have blamed him. Stopping it when he did looked like exactly what it was: An attempt to save Karpov's bacon. (Nobody called him a criminal, even though you put that word in quotes for some reason).

Mind you, I personally think Karpov would have won the match had it continued. That doesn't mean Campomanes thought so. He toyed with the idea of stopping the 1978 match the same way.

Likewise, if both players had agreed to the stoppage, few would have blamed Campo. But neither did.

I don't think the Unlimited Match was a bad idea. It was a reasonable attempt to put more fight into the matches. A lot of people predicted that this kind of thing might happen, given two players with the wrong kinds of styles, and the wrong circumstances. But just as many poo-pooed the idea. The only way to settle the question was to test the format and find out. We tested it, it failed. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have tested.

Aug-07-14  tzar: The decision was controversial...some people like you see it as a way of saving Karpov's bacon...others as a quite reasonable decision (considering the tactics going on in the match, financial and health reasons)...others think it only favored Kasparov.
Aug-07-14  Howard: Regarding Petrosianic's recent comment, Campomanes didn't become president of FIDE until 1982. It was actually Euwe who was FIDE president at the time of the 1978 Karpov-Korchnoi match, though he stepped down later that year.

Olafsson succeeded him, and then in 1982 it was the Campomanes regime.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: I'm aware that Campo wasn't FIDE President in 1978. But he was running the Philippine Federation, where the match was played. Of course it would have been a lot messier if one the organizers tried to pull the plug on a match without FIDE's consent. They'd probably be in breach of contract. And since it never actually happened, it's no more than rumor.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <tzar>: <others think it only favored Kasparov.>

In the end, I think it did, if you consider what would have happened had Kasparov won the 1984 match. Everyone would have said, with some justification, that Karpov was a better player but Kasparov won by outsitting him. His whole image as the gutsy rebel challenging the establishment would be destroyed. He'd have been champion, but a champion that got little respect. Even if he still won the 1985 match, his reputation would be permanently affected.

People are funny. They don't blame him for TRYING to win that way (what else could he do?). But actually succeeding at winning that way would have left a different impression.

Dec-19-14  1d410: It seems like the FIDE president was trying to bail out Karpov, but what was his motive? Why be biased one way or another?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Karpov and Campomanes were good personal friends.
Dec-19-14  Olavi: Not only did Campomanes make a decision that was very disadvantageous for Karpov, the decision was also contrary to what, C, K and K had agreed on, as Karpov's immediate reaction showed. In fact, it was exactly what Kasparov had proposed, albeit before game 48. Source: Gligoric, the arbiter.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Looking at the move-numbers of the draws with each player as white is interesting.

Karpov as white:
36 [1-0] 21 [2-0, 3-0,4-0] 41 33 93 23 51 34 22 22 [5-0] 13 35 [5-1] 20 17 15 48 71 21 36 [5-2, 5-3]

Kasparov as white:
47 [0-1] 44 [0-2, 0-3] 20 [0-4] 15 21 16 37 25 19 25 17 23 [0-5] 25 20 [1-5] 20 41 25 71 26 38 44 [2-5, 3-5]

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: So here is my brief comment on Karpov's move-numbers.

<36 [1-0] 21 [2-0, 3-0,4-0]>

Karpov has gone quickly 4-0 up.

<41 33 93 23 51 34>

He is still trying quite hard to win as white.

<22 22>

Games 23 & 25: having a rest?

<[5-0] 13>

Having gone 5-0 up Karpov "takes a break".

<35 [5-1] 20 17 15>

But now things are different. Karpov has seen his great dream of a 6-0 victory go up in a smoke. Is he readjusting to the changed circumstances?

<48 71 21 36 [5-2, 5-3]>

A last effort followed by two losses. Then - The End.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: And here is my brief comment on Kasparov's move-numbers.

<47 [0-1] 44 [0-2, 0-3] 20 [0-4]>

A shattering start.

<15 21 16 37>

Steadying the ship; but the 37-move game was a missed win for Kasparov.

<25 19 25 17 23 [0-5]>

More quick draws followed by another loss.

<25 20 [1-5]>

Finally a win after 32 games of rearguard action.


A quick draw to steady the nerves.

<41 25 71 26 38>

Now, finally, some real effort with the white pieces.

<44 [2-5, 3-5]>

...then a missed win in game 46 followed by two wins in a row.

Then - deus ex machina!

Jun-03-15  Zonszein: jesus!
Jul-04-15  Artemio: Kasparov benefitted much from this suspension....he learned so much about chess during this match and save face from losing....I think Karpov will eventually clinch the sixth win if it was not aborted...this match makes Kasparov to adjust his style of play and came to the realization that this will not work with a player of Karpov's caliber. His strategy shifts to playing in the style of his formidable opponent to prolonged the match with short draws (just to hang on until his opponent got tired); like what Alekhine did againts Capablanca but Alekine's games have more quality.
Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: It would be difficult for Karpov to get the 6th win if he dropped dead.
Jul-05-15  Artemio: But it is a tribute to the greatness of Kasparov for hanging on that tight rope for such a long time ....he didn't lose hope!!! a tribute also for the greatness of Karpov for not losing for more than two points in their succesive matches...the 1987 match is even drawn with Kasparov winning the 24th game!!!
Aug-27-15  idigVampi: I think a 24 game limit (as was set for their next encounter) is a reasonable thing. No one cared for the decision in this match.
Aug-27-15  Olavi: <No one cared for the decision in this match.>

There was a bit of a slump earlier, but at the end I was biting my nails.

Dec-13-15  Hawkman: It's silly that Kasparov fans find the termination controversial. They'd been playing 48 games for 5 months, Karpov was one win away from winning, and he wanted to play on!
Dec-13-15  Howard: Agreed ! I had always thought that Kasparov--NOT Karpov--got the better end of the deal when the match was called off. "Chess Life" wrote a ridiculously one-sided account of the termination, back in 1985, which was clearly anti-Karpov.
Jan-22-16  SpiritedReposte: Can not believe kasparov was down 5-0 and came back!! That is some resolve.
Mar-26-16  Everett: Any reasonable-length would have had Karpov staying as champ until 1987, and, just like that, the question of greatest ever is very much an open one. The tournaments and candidates in '85-'86 would have been epic.

It's funny how just a relatively small issue (match length) could change the perception of greatness, and the arc of chess history.

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