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Chess has new champion after 15 years

Vladimir Kramnik
Vladimir Kramnik: Ended his former teacher's 15-year reign at the top of chess  

LONDON, England -- Garry Kasparov's 15-year reign over world chess has been ended by his former pupil Vladimir Kramnik in the world chess championships.

Cradling his head in his hands after drawing the 15th game of the 16-match tournament, Kasparov -- who failed to win a single game -- looked exhausted and bewildered.

Kramnik, 25, won by a two game margin, with the pair drawing 13 games.

Kasparov, 37, had earlier acknowledged he would probably lose his title as he needed to win the final two games of the championships to secure a draw and win by default.

Azerbaijan-born Kasparov entered Thursday's match needing a miracle against his Russian opponent.

He had to win both of the final two games of the tournament to hold Kramnik to a draw and win by default.

The soft-spoken Kramnik attended Kasparov's chess school in Moscow and was chosen as the master's second in his title defence against India's Viswanathan Anand in 1995.

He visibly outwitted his former mentor throughout the competition with little-known game strategies and solid defensive play.

Kasparov, dubbed the world's most feared chess player for his often-inspired tactics and aggressive demeanour, accepted his defeat with grace.

"I was not outplayed at the board but was completely outprepared," Kasparov said.

Kasparov: 'I can improve'

He said he wanted a return match with Kramnik when the new champion was ready.

"I feel that my chess strengths are still here," Kasparov said soon after the match. "I believe I can still improve."

Kramnik's new world title, like the crown previously held by Kasparov, is not officially sanctioned by the game's governing body, The World Chess Federation (FIDE) because of a split in the ranks of the game.

Garry Kasparov
The dethroned king of chess Garry Kasparov  

Most chess observers, however, regarded the contest as the ultimate showdown.

"We have a new, real world champion here today," Kasparov said.

The two players are obliged to go ahead with the 16th and final game of the tournament on Saturday when they will split the $2 million prize depending on the score. The gruelling tournament has taken its toll on Kasparov, who has said he is "tired and depressed" and blamed unspecified "personal reasons" for his lacklustre play.

While he promised to reveal all after Saturday's match, his excuses will fall on deaf ears.

Kasparov's dismal performance against Kramnik has shocked chess experts, who say he was outplayed, outprepared and "lost the fire in his belly."

The big question now is what Kasparov will do next, with commentators looking to the example of former U.S. chess champion Bobby Fischer who became a recluse after being stripped of his world title in 1975.

Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Early setback for chess champ Kasparov
October 11, 2000
IBM touts Deep Blue's star power
August 28, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Brain Games Network
The Week in Chess
Kasparovchess.com
FIDE - World Chess Federation

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