Chess: Kasparov suffers first loss in comeback event

St. Louis (AFP) –


Chess legend Garry Kasparov on Tuesday suffered the first loss of his brief but highly anticipated comeback to the game, succumbing to fellow Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi after racking up four draws.

After three draws on Monday, the 54-year-old former world champion -- who dominated the game from 1985 to 2000 -- had hoped to play "more aggressive" chess on day two of the Rapid and Blitz tournament in St Louis.

But after drawing his first game Tuesday with Armenian world number four Levon Aronian, a contest that featured some gutsy moves from Kasparov and a few trademark death stares, he could not hold on against Nepomniachtchi.

His fans, all hoping to see the brilliance that characterized his long career, said they were disappointed but still hopeful.

"It had to happen. But he is doing pretty well for a comeback against these new players," said one fan, 42-year-old American Tracy Stewart. "He hasn't been offensive enough."

Kasparov, who left the game in order to pursue a career in politics, will need some wins if he wants to move up in the tournament rankings -- he started Tuesday in 7th position out of 10.

He was yet to play his last match of the day -- against 47-year-old Viswanathan Anand, who became India's first chess grandmaster in 1988.

Victories would give his comeback some symbolic power -- Kasparov would be seen as passing the torch to a new generation, albeit a generation still spellbound by his talent.

American grandmaster Robert Hess predicted that with white pieces, and thus the first move of the game, Kasparov could "play more ambitiously."

"Now that he has shaken off some of the rust, he will feel more comfortable and confident," Hess told AFP.

The five-day event in St Louis has a purse of $150,000.