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But New Chess Champion Says This ‘Takes a Toll’ : Kasparov Agreeable to Rematch

Times Staff Writer

New world chess champion Gary Kasparov on Sunday criticized a rule requiring a rematch with defeated titleholder Anatoly Karpov within six months but said he will abide by the provision if Karpov insists.

Karpov, 34, who held the title for 10 years, was not available for comment on whether he would demand a return engagement with the 22-year-old phenomenon who took his crown.

“It’s difficult for two chess players to play so long,” Kasparov said at a news conference. “We’ve already played 72 games, and it takes a toll on your physical and mental state.” Their first, 48-game match began 14 months ago but was brought to a halt by World Chess Federation President Florencio Campomanes on grounds that both players were exhausted.

At the time, Karpov was leading, 5-3, but Kasparov had won two games in a row, and he protested publicly that Campomanes’ action favored the champion.

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In a new match with a 24-game limit, Kasparov won by a score of 13 to 11 to become the youngest world chess champion in history.

Karpov, who was expected at the news conference, did not appear. The organizers said the meeting was arranged to permit questioning of the new champion.

However, Karpov later attended an awards ceremony where Kasparov was presented the victor’s garland of flowers. Karpov sat in silence throughout the ceremony. He applauded lightly as his rival accepted the award.

Kasparov paid tribute to his Soviet mentor, Mikhail Botvinnik, a former world champion, and his mother, Klara, who had pushed his chess career. Kasparov’s father, who was Jewish and an engineer, died when Kasparov was 7. At the age of 12, the new champion’s name was changed from Gary Kimovich Weinshtein to Kasparov, a Russified form of his Armenian mother’s maiden name, Kasparian.

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Asked if he would engage in officially sponsored political activities as Karpov has done, Kasparov replied, “I shall do everything that I can for my country.”

In voicing opposition to the rule requiring a rematch, Kasparov said, “It is strange that the new world champion has no right to a rematch if he loses.”

But when asked directly if he would play Karpov again for the title if the rematch were demanded, Kasparov responded: “If Karpov wants it, he’ll get it.”

Except for that lingering criticism of new match rules, apparently custom-tailored to Karpov’s wishes, the new titleholder seemed subdued rather than his usual outspoken self at the post-match session with reporters.

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Although he had harshly criticized both Campomanes and the Soviet chess establishment as being pro-Karpov in the first round of the marathon match, Kasparov on Sunday preferred to let bygones be bygones.

“Between the challenger and the champion there is a big difference,” he said, referring to his criticism of Campomanes for halting the match last February. “As a challenger, I wanted the match to continue in an honest, sportsmanlike manner. Now, being a champion, I feel a great responsibility for the development of chess. . . . While the rules exist, I must obey them.”

Asked about his allegations last summer that Soviet chess officialdom was so pro-Karpov that it seemed to be part of Karpov’s family, Kasparov was forgiving.

“Everything’s OK,” he said. “All those questions . . . are in the past.”

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Campomanes, who was described by Kasparov as Karpov’s guardian angel last February, sat next to the new champion during the press conference.

Asked what he thought about the match, Campomanes said his controversial decision had resulted in “a beautiful match, a great match . . . . The world of chess is richer for it.”

The rules for a rematch, he added, would be the same as those for the match concluded Saturday. But he declined to say when or where a rematch might be played.

For his part, Kasparov said he does not believe that world championship matches of unlimited duration--ending only when one player has won six games--will ever be played again in his lifetime.

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Responding to questions, Kasparov said his most difficult moment in the match with Karpov came after the fifth game, when he had lost two games in a row. The 16th game was his best effort, he added, although the victory in the final game, clinching the world title, gave him the most pleasure.

Chairman Vitaly Sevastyanov of the Soviet Chess Federation said Karpov will be part of the Soviet team playing at an international tournament next week in Lucerne, Switzerland.


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