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NEARLY 12 years have passed since I started writing this column. In 1986, Kasparov had recently wrested the world title from Karpov and the chess world was in complete disarray. The president of Fide, Florencio Campomanes, was heavily criticised for his autocratic style and faced challenges to his leadership as well as threats of a players rebellion.

Meanwhile, the English team, led by Nigel Short, were looking forward to mounting a challenge to Soviet supremacy.

Twelve years on, little has changed. Kasparov and Karpov are now both champions of rival organisations, Fide has a new president, Kirsan Ilyumjinov, just as autocratic and criticised as his predecessor, and Nigel Short has just won the British championship again.

All that has changed is that the dominance of the USSR has been bequeathed to Russia. For me, however, the time has come to move on to other things. From tomorrow, the chess column in this paper will be written by Jon Speelman, grandmaster and world championship semi-finalist. I hope the task gives him as much pleasure as it has given me.