LOUIS, Missouri (Guardian) — The 2022 Champions Showdown 9LX (Fischer Random) in St. Louis proved a horror show for Garry Kasparov, who in his prime as world champion from 1985 to 2000 won 15 consecutive tournaments. The 60-year-old, who rivals Magnus Carlsen and Bobby Fischer as the No 1 of all time, managed only a single solitary draw in nine games, and blamed it on the demands of his political work.
Back again last week for another try, Kasparov had a brilliant start with 3/4, leading the 10-player elite field headed by the world Nos 2 and 3, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, unbeaten after impressive wins against Wesley So and Ray Robson and draws with Nakamura and Levon Aronian.
Round five against Jeffery Xiong proved the turning point. Kasparov created a strong pawn centre at e4 and f4, then failed to strike. When the opportunity arrived for e5, f5 and fxg6 opening up the black king he missed it, soon lost on time, then lost his final four games to end up in eighth place with 3/9.
The main culprit was his poor clock handling. He often used more than half his 20 minutes time on the opening, and had to play with only the 10 seconds per move increment for the final part of the game.
Kasparov may yet return for the St Louis Rapid and Blitz in November. One of his predecessors, Emanuel Lasker, who held the world crown for a record 27 years from 1894 to 1921, also competed sparingly in his later years, yet achieved one of his best career performances when aged 67 at Moscow 1935, finishing third just half a point behind Mikhail Botvinnik and Salo Flohr, who were then world top 10 players and 40 years or more his junior.
Kasparov enjoyed his brief day in the sun at the start of the Champions Showdown. When Magnus Carlsen sent him congratulations on his performance, he was able to thank him: “From one ex world champion to another.”