Alexander Nikitin, the principal coach of the world chess champion Garry Kasparov from the time Mr. Kasparov was 10 till years after he had change into the titleholder, died on June 5 in Moscow. He was 87.
The International Chess Federation, the sport’s governing physique, introduced his dying on its web site. No trigger was given.
Mr. Nikitin, a global grasp, met Mr. Kasparov considerably by probability in 1973. As Mr. Nikitin recalled in an interview revealed this 12 months on the Russian Chess Federation’s website, one other coach, Anatoly Bykhovsky, was speculated to work with the younger gamers at a youth event in Vilnius, Lithuania. But Mr. Bykhovsky was leaving for a global event and requested Mr. Nikitin, who was already a longtime coach, to go to Vilnius in his place.
Mr. Nikitin instantly seen Mr. Kasparov, partly as a result of he was solely 10 and everybody else on his staff was six or seven years older.
Mr. Nikitin took Mr. Kasparov on as a scholar, which was not straightforward; Mr. Kasparov was dwelling in Baku, Azerbaijan, the place he had been born, and Mr. Nikitin was in Moscow. Mr. Nikitin despatched letters and analysis materials for Mr. Kasparov to check, and someway the collaboration labored. (Mr. Kasparov finally moved.)
Mr. Kasparov’s ascent was speedy. He gained the Soviet Junior Championship when he was 12; gained a main worldwide event in Yugoslavia when he was 15, catapulting him into the world’s Top 20; and gained the World Junior Championship in 1980. By age 17, he was a grandmaster.
Mr. Kasparov certified for the cycle of the world championship in 1982. By now, he and Mr. Nikitin have been coaching full time. (*87*) would go for runs collectively to strengthen Mr. Kasparov’s stamina, a follow that quickly had a sensible payoff.
In September 1984, Mr. Kasparov confronted Anatoly Karpov, the reigning champion, in a match for the title. The winner can be the primary participant to attain six wins.
The match turned out to be a grueling one, stretching for 5 months and 48 video games — the longest in historical past. It began out disastrously for Mr. Kasparov, who, partly due to inexperience, misplaced 4 of the primary 9 video games. But he settled down and commenced to grind out attracts.
After falling behind by 5-0, he got here again to win Game 32 after which Games 47 and 48. At that time, in February 1985, Florencio Campomanes, the president of the International Chess Federation, suspended the match, saying he was frightened in regards to the gamers’ well being.
A brand new match was organized for later in 1985. It can be restricted to 24 video games. Mr. Kasparov gained it by a rating of 13-11.
He then confronted Mr. Karpov in a return match in 1986, once more eking out a win, this time by the rating of 12.5-11.5. The two confronted one another but once more in 1987, with the match ending in a tie, 12-12 — permitting Mr. Kasparov to retain the crown, as a result of ties went to the reigning champion.
Throughout all these matches, Mr. Nikitin was Mr. Kasparov’s major coach. In a 2020 Chess News Russia interview with Mr. Nikitin and Mr. Kasparov, Mr. Kasparov stated they have been “close friends.” But the stress of the matches took its toll.
Mr. Nikitin defined: “All those world championship matches, from first to the last, aren’t just a fierce struggle between two players. The internal debates between coaches and their player are equally fierce. We tried to prove that our opinion was right, the player tried to prove his opinion. We were always tense, and we burned out gradually.”
Mr. Nikitin and Mr. Kasparov continued to work collectively by way of 1989. But by the point of Mr. Kasparov’s fifth and remaining match with Mr. Karpov for the world championship, in 1990, that they had parted methods.
Mr. Nikitin was born on Jan. 27, 1935, in Moscow. Little is thought about his fast household, and there was no phrase about survivors. He had been married and divorced earlier than he met Mr. Kasparov, and he by no means remarried.
Mr. Nikitin found chess when he was 7 and got here throughout a e book by Emanuel Lasker, a earlier world champion, in his uncle’s research. He was instantly entranced and browse the e book cowl to cowl.
He grew to become probably the greatest younger gamers within the Soviet Union, together with future world champions together with Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian (with whom he would later educate) and Boris Spassky.
Despite his clear expertise, he was unsure that he needed to change into a skilled chess participant — a viable profession within the Soviet Union — so he continued his common training. He studied engineering in school and later labored for 15 years as a radio engineer.
In 1959, Mr. Nikitin certified for the primary and solely time to play within the Soviet Union’s championship, which was then thought-about one of many strongest tournaments on this planet. Though he was typically proud of the standard of his play, he completed final. He realized that he couldn’t be a full-time engineer and a skilled participant, so he closed the door on that risk.
By the early Seventies, Mr. Nikitin had grown bored with engineering and yearned for chess. Fortunately, there have been openings for chess coaches, and he had already established that he had some aptitude for that. Soon after he started teaching full time, he met Mr. Kasparov.
After working with Mr. Kasparov, Mr. Nikitin continued to teach at a excessive degree. He coached Étienne Bacrot, a French prodigy who rose to No. 9 on this planet, and Dmitry Jakovenko, a Russian who peaked at No. 5 on this planet.
Mr. Nikitin additionally wrote a two-volume historical past of his years with Mr. Kasparov, “Coaching Kasparov, Year by Year and Move by Move.”
In 1993, although he was not a participant, Mr. Nikitin was awarded the sport’s second-highest title, worldwide grasp, by the International Chess Federation.
Mr. Nikitin and Mr. Kasparov remained pleasant even after their skilled relationship ended. As Mr. Kasparov stated within the 2020 interview, “We have lived a whole chess life together.”