Garry Kasparov[ edit ]

Garry Kimovich Kasparov (Га́рри Ки́мович Каспа́ров, pronounced with stress falling on the second syllable: kas-PA-rov) (born April 13, 1963) is a chess grandmaster and one of the strongest chess players in history. In the July 1999 FIDE rating list, his 2851 ELO was the highest rating ever achieved, the only one that has come close to it was Vladimir Kramnik who achieved 2811 in the January and April 2002 FIDE rating list. As of April 2005, Kasparovs 2812 ELO rating places him highest on the FIDE listing. Ranked first in the world for nearly all of the 20 years from 1985 to 2005, Kasparov was the last undisputed World Chess Champion from 1985 until 1993; and continued to be "classical" World Chess Champion (of the PCA and WCA) until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000.

Kasparov announced his retirement from professional chess on March 10 2005, instead devoting time to politics and to do "everything in my power to resist Vladimir Putins dictatorship." He is a leading member of the Committee 2008: Free Choice, a group of liberal opposition leaders.

Garry Kasparov was born as Gari Weinstein in Baku, Azerbaijan (at that time republic of Soviet Union) to Armenian-Jewish parentage. He first began the serious study of chess after he came across a chess problem set up by his parents and proposed a solution to it. When he was 7, his father died, and he adopted his mothers surname as soon as was legally possible, at the age of 12. His mother Klara is an Armenian woman whose surname is "Kasparian", and "Kasparov" is the Russianised version of this name.

Early career

Kasparov trained at Mikhail Botvinniks chess school. He won the Soviet Junior Championship at Tbilisi in 1976, scoring 7 points out of 9, at the age of 13. He repeated the feat the following year, winning with a score of 8.5/9.

In 1978 Kasparov participated in the Sokolsky Memorial tournament at Minsk. He had been invited as an exception but took the first place and became a master. Kasparov has repeatedly said that this event was a turning point in his life, and that it convinced him to choose chess as his career. "I will remember the Sokolsky Memorial as long as I live", he wrote. He has also said that after the victory, he thought he had a very good shot at the World Championship.

Kasparov rose quickly through the FIDE rankings. Starting with an oversight by the Russian Chess Federation, Garry Kasparov participated in a Grandmaster tournament in Banja Luka while still unrated (the federation thought it was a junior tournament). He emerged from this top-class encounter with a provisional rating of 2595, enough to catapult him into the top group of chess players.

The next year, 1980, he won the World Junior Chess Championship in Dortmund, West Germany.

Kasparov sought to challenge world champion Anatoly Karpov — a firm favourite of the Russian Chess Federation. But first Kasparov had to pass the test of the Candidates Tournament to qualify.

His first Candidates match was against Alexander Beliavsky, from which Kasparov emerged surprisingly victorious (Beliavsky was an exceptionally tough opponent). Politics threatened Kasparovs next match against Viktor Korchnoi, which was scheduled to be played in Pasadena, California. Korchnoi defected from Russia in the late 1970s, and was at that time the strongest non-Soviet player. Various political manoeuvres prevented Kasparov from playing Korchnoi, and he forfeited the match.

This was resolved by Korchnois allowing the match to be replayed in London. Kasparov won.

Kasparovs final Candidates match was against the resurgent Vassily Smyslov (who was randomly selected to advance after a 7-7 tie against Huebner by the spin of a roulette wheel). Smyslov was the seventh world champion in 1957, but later years saw his willingness to fight for wins greatly diminished. Kasparov won.

1984 World Championship

The 1984 World Championship match between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov had its fair share of ups and downs, as well as the most controversial finish to a competitive match ever. Karpov started off in very good form, and within a dozen games Kasparov found himself 4-0 down in a "first to six wins" match. Fellow players predicted a 6-0 whitewash of Kasparov within 18 games.

For Karpov, the result so far would go some way toward exorcising the ghost of Bobby Fischers Candidates results in 1970, and would further cement Karpov as a true World Champion.

Kasparov dug in, with inspiration from a Russian poet before each game, and battled with Karpov into seventeen successive draws. Karpov duly won the next decisive game before Kasparov fought back with another series of draws until game 32, Kasparovs first win against the World Champion.

At this point Karpov, twelve years older than Kasparov, was close to exhaustion, and not looking like the player who started this match. A few games later Kasparov won another two games to bring the scores to 5-3 in Karpovs favour. Then the match was ended without result by Florencio Campomanes, the President of FIDE, and a new match was announced to start a few months later.

The termination of the match was a matter of some controversy. At the press conference at which he announced his decision, Campomanes cited the health of the two players, which had been put under strain by the length of the match, despite that both Karpov and Kasparov stated that they would prefer the match to continue. Karpov had lost 10kg (22lb) over the course of the match and had been hospitalized several times. Kasparov, however, was in excellent health and extremely resentful of Campomanes decision, asking him why he was abandoning the match if both players wanted to continue. It would appear that Kasparov, who had won the last two games before the suspension, felt the same way as some commentators — that he was now the favourite to win the match despite his 5-3 deficit. He appeared to be physically stronger than his opponent, and in the later games seemed to have been playing the better chess.

As National Master Dan Heisman of Philadelphia humorously commented on this confusing situation: "Kasparov was losing the match to Karpov 5-3 but found it stopped by FIDE, Kasparov said he was winning because Karpov was only ahead 5-3. Karpov, from his hospital bed, protested that he felt fine and wanted to continue, but the doctors were not letting him."

The match became the first, and so far only, world championship match to be abandoned without result. Kasparovs relations with Campomanes and FIDE were greatly strained, and the feud between the two would eventually come to a head in 1993 with Kasparovs complete break-away from FIDE.

World Champion

The second Karpov-Kasparov match in 1985 was organized as the best of 24 games, where first player to 12.5 points would claim the title (in the event of a 12-12 draw, the title would go to Karpov as the reigning champion). Kasparov showed he had learned some valuable lessons in the previous match, and although the score was quite even down to the final wire, a few spectacular games involving the Sicilian defence secured the World Championship for Kasparov at the tender age of 22 by a score of 13-11. This broke the existing record of youngest winner held for over twenty years by Mikhail Tal (he was 23 when he beat Botvinnik in 1960).

Kasparov cemented his authority at the top of the international rating ladder with a series of fine tournament performances as well as defending his title three times against his arch-opponent Karpov.

With the World Champion title in his grasp, Kasparov switched to battling against FIDE — as Bobby Fischer had done twenty years earlier, but this time from within FIDE. He created an organisation to represent chess players, the GrandMasters Association (GMA) to give players more of a say in FIDEs activities.

Ejection from FIDE

This stand-off lasted until 1993, by which time a new challenger had qualified through the Candidates cycle for Kasparovs next World Championship defense. The world champion and his challenger (Nigel Short) decided to play their match outside of FIDEs jurisdiction, under another organisation created by Garry Kasparov called the Professional Chess Association (PCA). This is where the great fracture on the lineage of World Champions began.

Kasparov and Short were ejected from FIDE, and they played their well-sponsored match in London, which Kasparov won convincingly. FIDE organized a World Championship match between the loser of the Candidates final, Jan Timman, and previous World Champion Karpov, which Karpov won. (It should be noted that Nigel Short beat both of these players in the Candidates matches before facing Kasparov.) So Kasparov held the PCA World Chess Championship, and Karpov held the FIDE World Chess Championship.

Kasparov defended his title in 1995 against the Indian superstar Viswanathan Anand, before the PCA collapsed when Intel, one of the major backers, withdrew its sponsorship.

Kasparov tried to organise another World Championship match, under yet another organisation, the World Chess Association (WCA) with Linares organiser Rentero. Alexei Shirov and Vladimir Kramnik played a candidates match to decide the challenger, which Shirov won in a surprising upset. The WCA collapsed, however, when Rentero admitted that the funds required and promised had never materialised.

This left Kasparov stranded, and yet another organisation stepped in —, headed by Raymond Keene (who was also involved in bringing Kasparov to London for his replayed Candidates match against Korchnoi, half of the first Kasparov-Karpov match, and the Kasparov-Short PCA match). No match against Shirov was arranged, and talks with Anand collapsed, so a match was instead arranged against Kramnik.

This match, Kasparov-Kramnik, took place in London during the latter half of 2000. A well prepared Kramnik surprised Kasparov and won a crucial game 2 against Kasparovs supposedly invincible Grnfeld Defence. As white, Kasparov could not crack the solid but passive Berlin Defense in the Ruy Lopez, and Kramnik successfully drew all his games as black. Kramnik emerged victorious, and for the first time in sixteen years Kasparov had no world championship title.

Kasparov proved in 2001 that he was still the among the strongest tournament players in the world with his fine performance in the Corus Chess Tournament at Wijk aan Zee.

As part of the so-called "Prague Agreement", masterminded by Yasser Seirawan and intended to reunite the two World Championships, Kasparov was to play a match against the FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov in September 2003. However, this match was called off after Ponomariov refused to sign his contract for it without reservation. In its place, there were plans for a match against Rustam Kasimdzhanov, winner of the FIDE World Chess Championship, 2004, to be held in January 2005 in the United Arab Emirates. These also fell through due to lack of funding. Plans to hold the match in Turkey instead also came to nothing.


After winning the prestigious Linares tournament for the ninth time, Kasparov announced on March 10, 2005, that he would be retiring from serious competitive chess. He cited as the reason a lack of personal goals in the chess world (he commented when winning the Russian championship in 2004 that it had been the last major title he had never won outright) and expressed frustration at the failure to reunify the world championship.

Kasparov said he may play in some rapid events for fun, but intends to spend more time on his books (both the My Great Predecessors series (see below) and a book on the links between decision-making in chess and other areas of life), and will continue to involve himself in Russian politics, which he says is "headed down the wrong path." He is an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin.

On April 10, 2005, Kasparov was in Moscow at a promotional event when he was struck over the head with a chessboard he had just signed. The assailant was reported to have said "I admired you as a chess player, but you gave that up for politics," immediately before the attack.

Sample game

In this position after move 23 in the 1999 Corus tournament game between Kasparov and Topalov, Kasparov (white) appears to be in a weaker position, but a stunning rook sacrifice followed by precise endgame play secures Kasparov a victory.

The game Kasparov-Topalov, played at the Corus tournament in Wijk aan Zee in 1999, features one of his best combinations (moves given in Algebraic chess notation):

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.f3 b5 7.Nge2 Nbd7 8.Bh6 Bxh6 9.Qxh6 Bb7 10.a3 e5 11.0-0-0 Qe7 12.Kb1 a6 13.Nc1 0-0-0 14.Nb3 exd4 15.Rxd4 c5 16.Rd1 Nb6 17.g3 Kb8 18.Na5 Ba8 19.Bh3 d5 20.Qf4+ Ka7 21.Rhe1 d4 22.Nd5 Nbxd5 23.exd5 Qd6

(see diagram at right for current position)

24.Rxd4!! cxd4 25.Re7+! Kb6 [25...Qxe7 26.Qxd4+ Kb8 27.Qb6+ Bb7 28.Nc6+ Ka8 29.Qa7#] 26.Qxd4+ Kxa5 27.b4+ Ka4 28.Qc3 Qxd5 29.Ra7 Bb7 30.Rxb7 Qc4 31.Qxf6 Kxa3 32.Qxa6+ Kxb4 33.c3+! Kxc3 34.Qa1+ Kd2 35.Qb2+ Kd1 36.Bf1! Rd2 37.Rd7! Rxd7 38.Bxc4 bxc4 39.Qxh8 Rd3 40.Qa8 c3 41.Qa4+ Ke1 42.f4 f5 43.Kc1 Rd2 44.Qa7 1-0

When announcing his retirement, Kasparov commented that this was possibly the best of all his games.


Kasparov has written a number of books on chess. In 2003, the first volume of his projected five volume work Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors was published. This volume, which deals with the world chess champions Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, Jos Ral Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine, and some of their strong contemporaries, has received lavish praise from some reviewers (including Nigel Short), while attracting criticism from others for historical inaccuracies and analysis of games directly copied from unattributed sources. Despite this, the first volume won the British Chess Federations Book of the Year award in 2003. Volume two, covering Max Euwe, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vassily Smyslov and Mikhail Tal appeared later in 2003. Volume three, covering Tigran Petrosian and Boris Spassky appeared in early 2004. In December 2004, Kasparov released volume four, which covers Samuel Reshevsky, Miguel Najdorf, and Bent Larsen, but focuses primarily on Bobby Fischer.

Chess against computer

In February 1996, IBMs chess computer Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in one game using normal time controls, in Deep Blue - Kasparov, 1996, Game 1. However, Kasparov retorted with 3 wins and 2 draws, soundly winning the match.

In May 1997, an updated version of Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in a highly publicised six-game match. This was the first time a computer had ever defeated a world champion in match play. IBM keeps a web site of the event at

Kasparov has been credited with the invention of Advanced Chess in 1998, as a new form of chess in which a human and a computer join their forces.

In November 2003, he engaged in a four game match against chess playing computer program X3D Fritz (which was said to have an estimated rating of 2807), using a virtual board, 3D glasses and a speech recognition system. After two draws and two wins respectively, the X3D Man-Machine World Chess Championship match ended in draw. Kasparov received $175,000 for the result and took home the golden trophy. Kasparov continued to criticize the blunder in the second game that cost him a crucial point. He felt that he had outplayed the machine overall and played well. "I only made one mistake but unfortunately that one mistake lost the game."

See also

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