The World Chess Championship: An Old Challenger has Arrived Again!

2020-04-14

Some fun Unified World Chess Championship matchup stats!

Every one of Gary Kasparov's World Chess Championship matches was against Anatoly Karpov. They played four official matches, and a fifth that ended up being canceled due to length! Kasparov won all four of the matches that completed (one by a tie goes to defender rule!). Karpov was a 10-year World Chess Champion and the #2 in the World every match against Kasparov when he was the challenger. So, it's fair to say if Kasparov hadn't come around, Karpov would have been the longest reigning modern World Chess Champion.

There have been six FIDE ELO Era World Chess Champions:

Four of these players had "repeat" World Chess Championship matches. Karpov faced Viktor Korchnoi twice, and Gary Kasparov 4 or 5 times depending on your accounting. Gary Kasparov, as noted, played exclusively against Karpov. Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen each defended their title against the other, with Carlsen winning both. Only Bobby Fischer and Vladamir Kramnik never played the same opponent twice in the Finals. Fischer likely would have played Karpov at least twice had he stayed active, but he quit competitive chess in 1972. Kramnik may have had some repeats except the World Chess Championship title was split in 1993 until 2006.

Viswanathan Anand and Veselin Topalov are the only modern players to play a World Chess Championship match against two World Chess Champions (former, in the case of Anand in his match versus Kramnik). Veselin Topalov is the only player to challenge two separate World Champions without also ever being Unified Chess Champion!

Tags: Anatoly Karpov, Bobby Fischer, Chess, Gary Kasparov, Magnus Carlsen, Veselin Topalov, Viktor Korchnoi, Viswanathan Anand, Vladamir Kramnik, World Championship

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