Garry Kasparov is a legend in chess, considered by many to be the greatest player of all times. A chess grandmaster, Kasparov was the FIDE World Champion from 1985 to 1993 before a dispute with the organization led him to create the rival Professional Chess Association. Despite his departure from the FIDE, Garry Kasparov was rated the world No. 1 (according to Elo ratings), almost continuously from 1986 until his retirement in 2005. In total, he held the world No. 1 ranking for an incredible 255 months (over two decades). He also holds the record for consecutive tournament victories (15 tournaments from 1981 to 1990) and won the Chess Oscar (for best chess player of the year) a record 11 times.
Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, USSR in 1963, Kasparov showed a gift for chess at an early age.
Garry Kasparov was actually born Garry Weinstein. With the death of his father, he eventually adopted a Russified version of his mothers Armenian surname, Kasparyan.
The young prodigy attended the Botvinnik Chess School at age 10 and in 1976 (at the age of 13), he became the youngest player to win the USSR Junior Championship. At 16 he won the World Junior Championship, and on his 17th birthday, Kasparov achieved the title of Grandmaster. The incredible list of wins and achievements at this point in his career just kept coming. In 1982, at the age of 19, young Kasparov qualified for the Candidates Tournament and by the January 1983, he was already the world No. 2 player. The only hurdle left was to win the Candidates Tournament and get his shot at World Champion Anatoly Karpov. As it turned out, he didnt have to wait long. In 1984 he gained the world No. 1 ranking and won the Candidates Tournament, setting up a showdown with Karpov in the 1984 Championship.
Kasparov vs. Karpov
The 1984 World Championship turned out to be an epic match, one that would ignite one of the greatest rivalries in the history of chess. The first player to win 6 games would be crowned the winner and early on, many predicted an easy victory for the reigning world champion. With just nine games played, and Karpov up 4-0, it looked like the predictions would come true. Game 27 saw Karpov take a commanding 5-0 lead, but then the pendulum started to shift. From games 28 to 48, Kasparov earned 3 victories of his own. With the count now at 5-3 in favor of Karpov, and with the "marathon match" already into its 5th month, FIDE president Florencio Campomanes called the game out of concern for the each player's health. Karpov retained his title, setting up a rematch the following year.
The 1985 rematch turned out to be equally dramatic (though not so grueling). To avoid a long drawn out affair like the previous year, the new format would see a 24 game limit (with a tie going to the reigning World Champion). Using a Sicilian defense to secure a win in the 24th game, Garry Kasparov defeated Karpov 13-11, earning the young Grandmaster his first World Championship title. At the time he was just 22 years old.
The two rivals played for the Championship again in 1986, 1987, and 1990. Each match came down to the wire (12.5-11.5, 12-12, and 12.5-11.5 respectively), but each time Kasparov managed to squeak out the victory. In their five world championship matches, Kasparov scored 21 wins, 19 losses, and 104 draws in 144 games.
Kasparov vs. FIDE
After winning the World Championship title consecutively, and with the world No. 1 position secured, Kasparov set his sights on a showdown with the FIDE. Garry Kasparov believed that the FIDE put its own interests ahead of those of the players. To give players more of a say in FIDE activities, he created an organization to represent the players, the GrandMaster's Association (GMA).
After his long term dispute with FIDE (the World Chess Federation), Kasparov finally set up a rival organization, the Professional Chess Association (PCA). He arranged a World Championship match in 1993 in which he beat British Grandmaster, Nigel Short. At the same time FIDE held their official Championship match between former World Champion, Anatoly Karpov, and Jan Timman. Both Karpov and Kasparov won their championship matches and both claimed the title of World Champion.
The Professional Chess Association eventually collapsed, as did its successor the World Chess Association (WCA). The failure was partly due to lack of sponsorship and partly due to lack of support amongst professional chess players. Either way, Kasparov's "divorce" from the FIDE caused a long withstanding division in the chess world. Garry Kasparov would later call the break with the FIDE the "worst mistake of my career", one that "hurt the game" in the long run. (DNA 2007)
Kasparov vs. Machine
Much credit should be given to Kasparov for his willingness to compete against the most sophisticated chess programs of the time. His list of computer matches are as follows:
- Deep Thought (1989) - developed by Carnegie Mellon University and later at IBM
- Kasparov defeated Deep Thought in both games of a two-game match.
- Deep Blue won the first game, but Kasparov recovered well gaining 3 wins and 2 draws in the remainder of the match.
- Deep Blue defeated Kasparov 3½2½ in a six-game match.
- Kasparov maintains that he noticed profound intelligence and creativity in the machine's moves, suggesting human intervention during the game (in contravention to the rules). IBM denied the allegations, refusing a rematch.
- In a six game match with classical time control, the event touted as the "Man vs. Machine World Championship" ended even with 4 draws and one win each.
- While Kasparov believes he outplayed the machine, a critical blunder in the second game cost him a crucial point. After 2 draws and one win each, the match ended in a draw.
Garry Kasparov Facts
Russian Name: Гарри Кимович Каспаров
Date of Birth: April 13, 1963
Place of Birth: Baku, Azerbaijan SSR, USSR
Titles, Championships, Awards
Peak FIDE Rating: 2851 (July 1999)