The International Championship
The significance of the international chess champion is totally different than from any other sport. Even thought chess rules were coded just 500 years ago and the idea of the "most powerful" player in the world was created at that age, the first official match for the world championship was organized in 1886 (in chess terminology, the word “match” refers to a number of games between two opponents). Since then, the chess world has met only 14 world champions.
The most usual way of acquiring the international title is to overcome the previous champion in a direct match. In the first stage of development of the international championship, each champion could choose his opponents and the terms under which the match would be held. After the Austrian W. Steinitz (1886-1894), followed the German Em. Lasker (1894-1921), the Cuban H.Capablanca (1921-1927), the Russian - French A.Alekhine (1927-1935), the Dutch M.Euwe (1935- 1937) and once more Alekhine (1937-1946).
A. Alekhine was the only holder of the title who died while he was still a champion and therefore, a void was created that was covered two years later. Euwe, the former international champion and the only one who was still alive, granted the International Federation of Chess (Federation International des Echecs, FIDE in abbreviation) with the right of planning out a new system with which the new international champion would be selected, as well as preliminary matches that would regularly and with meritocracy elect new claimants of the title. So, FIDE arranged a tournament of multiple meetings between the most powerful players of that age, while later on managed to establish certain regulations for future competitions.
In the second stage of development of the international championship, the Soviet checkers were those who dominated almost exclusively. Holders of the title were M.Botvinnik (1946-1957), V.Smyslov (1957-1958), again Botninnik (1958-1960), M.Tal (1960-61), for the last time Botvinnik (1961-1963), T.Petrosian (1963-1969), B.Spassky (1969-1971) and the American R.Fischer (1972-1975). Fischer proposed an alteration of the regulations of the international championship. FIDE accepted the majority of his proposals except one. So, he denied participation and with an administrative decision, lost his title.
In 1975, the Soviet A.Karpov, successor of Fischer, was the only official claimant according to the results of the preliminary competitions of FIDE. Kaprov lost the title in 1985 from his compatriot the Soviet G.Kasparov after an interesting confrontation, but continued competing with him until 1990 in a series of fascinating matches, where however Kasparov was proved better.
In 1993, Kasparov and the new claimant of the title, the British N.Short disagreed with FIDE and gave birth to a new institution called Professional Chess Association (PCA). FIDE decided to organize, at the same time, its own competition for the world championship between Karpov and the Dutch J.Timman; both of them had clearly been defeated by Short.
Meanwhile, in 1992, Fischer, who had never accepted FIDE’s decision to remove his title, came out of a fighting hibernation of 20 years and played against Spassky with a total reward - record of 5.000.000 USA dollars. Moreover, he declared that in the future, he would participate in competitions with his own terms, something that he had always been doing but no one ever accepted to face him. Since then, he has never played in any official game.
In 1993, Kasparov overcame easily but in 1995, he had difficulty in winning the Indian V.Anand, who was the next claimant of PCA. The following year, Karpov won the equivalent competition of FIDE against the Russian - American G.Kamsky. However, FIDE organized new world championships according to a new system, the first of which was won in 1997-8 by Karpov, the second in 1999 by the Russian A.Khalifman and the third by Anand at the end of 2000. However, the organizational division in international chess was established.
In the meantime, PCA was practically dissolved and Kasparov tried to find new sponsors in order to continue his battle against the new generation of checkers. In 1998, a competition was organized between the Latvian - Spanish A.Shirov and the Russian V.Kramnik, in order for the official claimant of the title to be selected. Shirov won easily, but Kasparov failed in finding good sponsors and the match was not organized. In 2000, Kasparov selected in a rather arbitrarily manner Kramnik, who had lost in the preliminary match, in order to face him in London with a total reward of 2.000.000 USA dollars. Kasparov´s defeat led the international chess into a new epoch, where Kramnik was the "king" and Kasparov became, at least temporarily, another "former champion".
Then, FIDE decided to organize its own championship every two years. In 2001-2002, the winner was the eighteen year-old R.Ponomariov and the situation became even more complex. In 2003, an effort was made for the unification of the two separate circles and if it was achieved, the competitions between Kramnik- Leko and Ponomariov- Kasparov would be conducted and thereon, the winners would play with each other.