Checkmate for Kasparov as the king of chess loses crown to the young pretender

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The Independent Online

The king has fallen. After dominating the world of chess for 15 years, Garry Kasparov last night surrendered his title to Vladimir Kramnik at the Braingames World Chess Championship at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, west London.

The king has fallen. After dominating the world of chess for 15 years, Garry Kasparov last night surrendered his title to Vladimir Kramnik at the Braingames World Chess Championship at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, west London.

Needing to win the final two games, Kasparov, 37, could only draw with his former pupil and fellow Russian, who is 12 years his junior. When Kasparov held out his hand to his opponent to offer a draw after nearly four hours of play, the normally reserved Kramnik punched the air with both hands. He will receive two-thirds of the $2m (£1.4m) purse.

Kasparov started the tournament as a strong favourite but appeared a shadow of his former self. The so-called "Beast of Baku" is known as a bullish, aggressive player accustomed to treating opponents with contempt. But for much of the championship he was hesitant and unfocused.

There had been speculation that his performance was due to personal problems. He said he was "tired and depressed". Last night he would only say he had been out-prepared by Kramnik, but hinted he would have more to say at a press conference on Sunday. "I was not outplayed at the board but was completely outprepared," Kasparov said.

Kramnik outfoxed the champion at every turn. Although he was universally acknowledged as the world's No2, his performance has surprised experts. "We knew he was good, but not that good," said Jimmy Adams, editor of Chess Magazine.

Kramnik established an early lead by winning the second game in the series of 16 and never looked back. His second win came in the 10th game, when he annihilated Kasparov in a humiliating 24 moves.

Kasparov said he was looking forward to a return match as soon as the sponsors could arrange it.

It marks the end of an era for a player whose nickname was earned through his original ruthless form. But from the start of the match it was clear he was not his usual formidable self.

In the 13th game last Sunday he hinted that his difficulties might be related to matters outside the hall at the Riverside Studios.

He offered a draw after just over an hour, 14 moves into the game. When asked later what was wrong, he replied: "It is a long story and I will tell all when the match is over. But obviously there are reasons which prevented me from playing well." It has been said that Kasparov's custody battle with his first wife over their seven-year-old daughter may have been weighing on his mind.

The fact that his second wife, the mother of his four-year-old son, flew unexpectedly from Moscow to London to be at his side for the game fuelled suspicions that personal problems were affecting his concentration.

As well as being the one of the all-time masters of the chess, Kasparov has helped reshape the game. In 1993 he and Britain's Nigel Short, against whom Kasparov defended his world title for the fourth time in the same year, split from FIDE, the world chess federation. The move set Kasparov against the chess establishment.

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