Anatoly Karpov of Russia, still a great player at age 45, easily defeated 22-year-old American Gata Kamsky for the World Chess Federation (FIDE) title in 1996. Karpov scored 10½-7½, winning games 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 14 and losing only three games of the best-of-20-games match played in the Russian republic of Kalmykia, in June and July. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov planned a 1997 world unification match between the FIDE titleholder, Karpov, and the Professional Chess Association titleholder, Russian Gary Kasparov. Kasparov has played five title matches with Karpov, which ended in three Kasparov victories, a tie, and a standoff due to exhaustion. Kasparov would again be the favorite because he is 12 years younger and has a more aggressive style.
Meanwhile, the younger generation was catching up. Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, who turned 21 in June, finished ahead of Kasparov in at least two major tournaments in 1996. Veselin Topalov, of Bulgaria, another rising young star, gave Kasparov his comeuppance in a smashing performance in the first round in Amsterdam. However, in a match with the computer Deep Blue, Kasparov won, 4-2, after losing the first game.
Hungarian Zsuzsa Polgar wrested the women’s world championship from Xie Jun of China, 8½-4½; both women were in their mid-20s. Polgar’s youngest sister, Judit, became the first woman to be ranked among the top ten players in the world.
Major tournament results included the following: Dos Hermanos, Spain, Kramnik and Topalov (tie), ahead of Kasparov; Dortmund, Germany, Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand (India) (tie); Fifth Amber, Monaco, Kramnik; Kremlin Stars, Moscow, Kramnik; Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands, Vasily Ivanchuk, (Ukraine); Amsterdam, Topalov, Kasparov (tie); New York Open, Loek van Wely (Netherlands). The 1996 Olympiad, held in Yerevan, Armenia, saw Russia score 38½ (out of a possible 56) points to capture the gold medal; Ukraine won the silver with 35 points, and the United States tied with England at 34 points but was awarded the bronze on tie break.