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Greatest Individual Rivalries

Greatest Individual Rivalries

Individual sportsman tend to develop some pretty intense rivalries in their discipline. There are chances for both to really let it continue out of the sport, but the rivalry formed, is part of the legacy that will be remembered. So here are the greatest individual rivalries!!

Note: Players who never played against directly during their professional career are not included



11. Vladimir Kramnik vs Veselin Topalov – Chess

The rivalry between the two is one of the most famous rivalries between Chess Grand-masters, but unlike others it is a bitter one, with both giving the cold shoulder to each other since it began back in 2006.

It started during the 2006 World Championships, after the fourth game of the match. The dispute was over bathroom arrangements, and Kramnik would forfeit the 5th match. Topalov’s manager had complained that, the bathroom’s are the only place without any audio or video surveillance and said, the frequency of Krammnik’s breaks to the bathroom are “strange, if not suspicious” and said his client would be abandoning the match if concerns were not addressed. Krammnik’s manager countered that the original conditions of the match have to be adhered to, and his client likes to walk and also consumes a lot of water which is why he needs to go to the bathroom, which is anyway small.

Topalov vs Kremnik
Topalov vs Kremnik

Topalov however said there were “clear indications of cheating”, through the way Kramnik went to the bathroom and came out and played instantly. His team realized a “coincidence statistics” that a lot of Kramnik’s moves after a break were recommended by Fritz, a chess playing software in the same position, which led to cheating allegations. A procedural error from Kramnik’s team led to the 5th game being forfeited. Topalov received the point, but Kramnik however said, if Topalov was given the point after the unplayed game, he would not recognize him as the champion and would take legal action, which would never come to as Kramnik won the championship on a tie break.

But the most alluring factor of this rivalry is the intense animosity between the players. After allegations of cheating, threats were issued. In 2009, Kramnik commented that “for me, he (Topalov) doesn’t exist as a human being.”. Matches between the two are hard fought and seem to draw a lot of importance. October 2015, they faced in the European Club Cup with Kramnik winning. The matches are noted for use of psychological tools to get the better of the other, with Kramnik normally using an extra lamp on his table, but Topalov had refused this time.

Kramnik would reply “That’s ok, I’m even better in blindfold”.

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