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Sunday, 8 October, 2000, 23:23 GMT 00:23 UK
Kasparov fights for his title
Kasparov (right) shaking hands with his challenger Kramnik
Kasparov (r) says Kramnik is a "dangerous adversary"
World chess champion Gary Kasparov has drawn the first game in a 16-game tournament against his former pupil Vladimir Kramnik, which he has described as the greatest challenge to his crown.


He is a dangerous adversary, and much stronger than the public thinks. He is the hardest player to beat in the world

Gary Kasparov
Kramnik is the world's number two player and was first taught by Kasparov at the age of 11.

Correspondents say the contest resembles that in 1985 when Kasparov - then in his early 20s, like Kramnik now - snatched the world chess title from Russia's Anatoly Karpov.

The victor in the contest, being held in London, stands to win $2m - though Kramnik said the title was more important to him than any prize money.

Pressure

In his 15-year reign, Kasparov has seen off five challengers, most recently from Indian Viswanathan Anand in 1995.

Kasparov
The only time Kasparov has lost in 15 years was to a computer
The only time he has lost was to the computer Deep Blue in 1997.

The 37-year-old champion has been under growing pressure to stand against another challenger, and he told Le Monde newspaper that he regarded Kramnik, a fellow Russian 11 years his junior, as the only credible contender.

"He is a dangerous adversary, and much stronger than the public thinks. He is the hardest player to beat in the world," said Kasparov.

US master John Curdo spoke for many when he said: "I'd like to see Kramnik win, but don't think he will."

Internet sponsorship

Kasparov and Kramnik have played together 23 times in serious tournament play, with three victories each and 17 draws.

A new internet company, braingames.net, is sponsoring the contest, enabling chess fans around the world to watch the contest live.

The games begin at 1400 GMT on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays until 4 November.

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See also:

08 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Fury at computer's next move
26 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chess brawl leaves two facing ban
23 Jun 99 | Sci/Tech
Over to you, Kasparov
23 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
Kasparov outplays the planet
08 Dec 99 | Sci/Tech
IBM to build protein supercomputer
27 Sep 98 | Europe
Calls to boycott Chess City
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