Kasparov vs. Karpov has already taken its place as one of the great rivalries in chess history - matching not only two of the game's all-time geniuses, but two individuals whose disparate backgrounds, personalities, and political views turn them into antagonists away from the board as well. The younger (and defending champion) Kasparov, an outspoken advocate of Soviet reform, quickly became the darling of the West when he burst upon the scene as a potential challenger in the early 1980s. Before long he and the more establishment-minded Karpov were speaking out against each other, though their differences have undoubtedly been magnified and exaggerated by the media.
In the chess arena, meanwhile, no two world championship-caliber players in history have ever been so evenly matched over such a protracted period of time.
Karpov had held the title for nearly 10 years when Kasparov earned the right to challenge in 1984. The match was supposed to go to the first player to win six games, but after falling behind early, Kasparov settled into a war of attrition, forcing an interminable series of draws. Finally, with Karpov leading 5-3 along with an incredible 40 draws, international officials called off the match and scheduled a new one with the format changed to the current 24-game system.
Kasparov won this one 13-11 (5 wins, 3 losses, 16 draws) to capture the title. The new champion defended in another rematch in 1986, winning by the same score, and again in '87, this time retaining his title via a 12-12 tie (4 wins each and 16 draws).
All told, the rivals have faced each other a record 132 times in these matches with an amazing difference of just two games - the overall score showing 18 wins for Kasparov, 16 for Karpov, and 98 draws.