Kasparov became the youngest ever World Chess Champion in 1985. He held the official FIDE world title until 1993, when a dispute with FIDE led him to set up a rival organization, the Professional Chess Association. He continued to hold the "Classical" World Chess Championship until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000. He is also widely known for being the first world chess champion to lose a match to a computer, when he lost to Deep Blue in 1997.
Kasparov's ratings achievements include being rated world #1 according to Elo rating almost continuously from 1986 until his retirement in 2005 and holding the all-time highest rating of 2851. He also holds records for consecutive tournament victories and Chess Oscars.
Kasparov announced his retirement from professional chess on March 10, 2005, to devote his time to politics and writing. He formed the United Civil Front movement, and joined as a member of The Other Russia, a coalition opposing the administration of Vladimir Putin. He was a candidate for the 2008 Russian presidential race, but later withdrew. Widely regarded in the West as a symbol of opposition to Putin, Kasparov's support in Russia is low.
Garry Kasparov was born Garry Weinstein (Russian: Гарри Вайнштейн) in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR to an Armenian mother and Jewish father. He first began the serious study of chess after he came across a chess problem set up by his parents and proposed a solution. His father died of leukemia when he was seven years old. At the age of twelve, he adopted his mother's Armenian surname, Kasparyan, modifying it to a more Russified version, Kasparov.
From age 7, Kasparov attended the Young Pioneer Palace and, at 10 began training at Mikhail Botvinnik's chess school under noted coach Vladimir Makogonov. Makogonov helped develop Kasparov's positional skills and taught him to play the Caro-Kann Defence and the Tartakower System of the Queen's Gambit Declined. Kasparov won the Soviet Junior Championship in Tbilisi in 1976, scoring 7 points of 9, at age 13. He repeated the feat the following year, winning with a score of 8½ of 9. He was being trained by Alexander Sakharov during this time.
In 1978, Kasparov participated in the Sokolsky Memorial tournament in Minsk. He had been invited as an exception but took first place and became a chess 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.
He first qualified for the Soviet Chess Championship at age 15 in 1978, the youngest ever player at that level. He won the 64-player Swiss system tournament at Daugavpils over tiebreak from Igor V. Ivanov, to capture the sole qualifying place.
Kasparov rose quickly through the FIDE (World Chess Federation) rankings. Starting with an oversight by the Russian Chess Federation, he participated in a Grandmaster tournament in Banja Luka, Yugoslavia, in 1979 while still unrated (the federation thought it was a junior tournament). He won this high-class tournament, emerging with a provisional rating of 2595, enough to catapult him to the top group of chess players (at the time, number 3 in the World, ex-champion Boris Spassky had 2630, while World Champion Anatoly Karpov 2690–2700). The next year, 1980, he won the World Junior Chess Championship in Dortmund, West Germany. Later that year, he made his debut as second reserve for the Soviet Union at the Chess Olympiad at La Valletta, Malta, and became a Grandmaster.
Kasparov's first (quarter-final) Candidates match was against Alexander Beliavsky, whom Kasparov defeated 6–3 (four wins, one loss). Politics threatened Kasparov's semi-final against Viktor Korchnoi, which was scheduled to be played in Pasadena, California. Korchnoi had defected from the Soviet Union in 1976, and was at that time the strongest active non-Soviet player. Various political maneuvers prevented Kasparov from playing Korchnoi, and Kasparov forfeited the match. This was resolved by Korchnoi allowing the match to be replayed in London, along with the previously scheduled match between Vasily Smyslov and Zoltan Ribli. The Kasparov-Korchnoi match was put together on short notice by Raymond Keene. Kasparov lost the first game but won the match 7–4 (four wins, one loss).
In 1984, he won the Candidates' final 8½–4½ (four wins, no losses) against the resurgent former world champion Vasily Smyslov, at Vilnius, thus qualifying to play Anatoly Karpov for the World Championship. That year he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), as a member of which he was elected to the Central Committee of Komsomol in 1987.
The World Chess Championship 1984 match between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov had many ups and downs, and a very controversial finish. Karpov started in very good form, and after nine games Kasparov was down 4–0 in a "first to six wins" match. Fellow players predicted he would be whitewashed 6–0 within 18 games.
But Kasparov dug in and battled Karpov to 17 successive draws. He lost game 27, then fought back with another series of draws until game 32, his first-ever win against the World Champion. Another 15 successive draws followed, through game 46; the previous record length for a world title match had been 34 games, the match of Jose Capablanca vs. Alexander Alekhine in 1927.
At this point Karpov, 12 years older than Kasparov, was close to exhaustion, and did not look like the player who started the match. Kasparov won games 47 and 48 to bring the scores to 5–3 in Karpov's favour. Then the match was ended without result by Florencio Campomanes, the President of Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE), and a new match was announced to start a few months later.
The termination was controversial, as both players stated that they preferred the match to continue. Announcing his decision at a press conference, Campomanes cited the health of the players, which had been strained by the length of the match, with Karpov having lost 10 kg (22 lb) during the match. But Kasparov was in excellent health and extremely resentful of Campomanes' decision, asking him why he was abandoning the match if both players wanted to continue. Kasparov had won the last two games before the suspension, and some observers believed that he would go on to win 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.
The match became the first, and so far only, world championship match to be abandoned without result. Kasparov's relations with Campomanes and FIDE were greatly strained, and the feud between them eventually came to a head in 1993 with Kasparov's complete break-away from FIDE.
The second Karpov-Kasparov match in 1985 was organized in Moscow as the best of 24 games where the first player to win 12.5 points would claim the title. The scores from the terminated match would not carry over. But in the event of a 12–12 draw, the title would remain with Karpov. Kasparov secured the title at age 22 by a score of 13–11, winning the 24th game with Black, a Sicilian defence, on 9 November 1985. This broke the existing record of youngest World Champion, held for over 20 years by Mikhail Tal, who was 23 when he defeated Mikhail Botvinnik in 1960. Kasparov's win as Black in the 16th game has been recognized as one of the all-time masterpieces in chess history.
At the time, the FIDE rules granted a defeated champion the right to rematch. Another match took place in 1986, hosted jointly in London and Leningrad, with each city hosting 12 games. At one point in the match, Kasparov opened a three-point lead and looked well on his way to a decisive match victory. But Karpov fought back by winning three consecutive games to level the score late in the match. At this point, Kasparov dismissed one of his seconds, Grandmaster Evgeny Vladimirov, accusing him of selling his opening preparation to the Karpov team (as described in Kasparov's autobiography Unlimited Challenge, chapter Stab in the Back). Kasparov scored one more win and kept his title by a final score of 12.5–11.5.
A fourth match for the world title took place in 1987 in Seville, as Karpov had qualified through the Candidates' Matches to again become the official challenger. This match was very close, with neither player holding more than a one-point lead at any point. Kasparov was down one point in the final game, needing a win to hold his title. A long tense game ensued in which Karpov blundered away a pawn just before the first time-control, and Kasparov eventually won a long ending. Kasparov retained his title as the match was drawn by a score of 12–12. (All this meant that Kasparov had played Karpov four times in the period 1984–1987, a statistic unprecedented in chess. Matches organised by FIDE had taken place every three years since 1948, and only Botvinnik had a right to a rematch before Karpov.)
A fifth match between Kasparov and Karpov was held in New York and Lyon in 1990, with each city hosting 12 games. Again, the result was a close one with Kasparov winning by a margin of 12.5–11.5. In their five world championship matches, Kasparov had 21 wins, 19 losses, and 104 draws in 144 games.
With the World Champion title in hand, Kasparov began fighting against FIDE — as Bobby Fischer had done 20 years earlier but this time from within FIDE. Beginning in 1986, he created the Grandmasters Association (GMA), an organization to represent professional chess players and give them more say in FIDE's activities. Kasparov assumed a leadership role. GMA's major achievement was in organizing a series of six World Cup tournaments for the world's top players. A somewhat uneasy relationship developed with FIDE, and a sort of truce was brokered by Bessel Kok, a Dutch businessman.
This stand-off lasted until 1993, by which time a new challenger had qualified through the Candidates cycle for Kasparov's next World Championship defense: Nigel Short, a British Grandmaster who had defeated Karpov in a qualifying match, and then Jan Timman in the finals held in early 1993. After a confusing and compressed bidding process produced lower financial estimates than expected , the world champion and his challenger decided to play outside FIDE's jurisdiction, under another organization created by Kasparov called the Professional Chess Association (PCA). This is where a great fracture in the lineage of World Champions began.
In an interview in 2007, Kasparov would call the break with FIDE the worst mistake of his career, as it hurt the game in the long run.
Kasparov and Short were ejected from FIDE, and played their well-sponsored match in London. Kasparov won convincingly by a score of 12.5–7.5. The match considerably raised the profile of chess in the UK, with an unprecedented level of coverage on Channel 4. Meanwhile, FIDE organized a World Championship match between Jan Timman (the defeated Candidates finalist) and former World Champion Karpov (a defeated Candidates semifinalist), which Karpov won.
There were now two World Champions: PCA champion Kasparov, and FIDE champion Karpov. The title would remain split for 13 years.
Kasparov defended his title in 1995 in a match against Viswanathan Anand at the World Trade Center in New York City. Kasparov won the match by four wins to one, with thirteen draws. It was the last World Championship to be held under the auspices of the PCA, which collapsed when Intel, one of its major backers, withdrew its sponsorship.
Kasparov tried to organize another World Championship match, under another organization, the World Chess Association (WCA) with Linares organizer Luis Rentero. Alexei Shirov and Vladimir Kramnik played a candidates match to decide the challenger, which Shirov won in a surprising upset. But when Rentero admitted that the funds required and promised had never materialized, the WCA collapsed.
This left Kasparov stranded, and yet another organization stepped in — BrainGames.com, headed by Raymond Keene. No match against Shirov was arranged, and talks with Anand collapsed, so a match was instead arranged against Kramnik.
The Kasparov-Kramnik match took place in London during the latter half of 2000. Kramnik had been a student of Kasparov's at the legendary Botvinnik/Kasparov chess school in Russia, and had served on Kasparov's team for the 1995 match against Viswanathan Anand.
The better-prepared Kramnik won Game 2 against Kasparov's Grünfeld Defence and achieved winning positions in Games 4 and 6. Kasparov made a critical error in Game 10 with the Nimzo-Indian Defence, which Kramnik exploited to win in 25 moves. As white, Kasparov could not crack the passive but solid Berlin Defence in the Ruy Lopez, and Kramnik successfully drew all his games as black. Kramnik won the match 8.5–6.5, and for the first time in 15 years Kasparov had no world championship title. He became the first player to lose a world championship match without winning a game since Emanuel Lasker lost to Capablanca in 1921.
After losing the title, Kasparov strung together a number of major tournament victories, and remained the top rated player in the world, ahead of both Kramnik and the FIDE World Champions. In 2001 he refused an invitation to the 2002 Dortmund Candidates Tournament for the Classical title, claiming his results had earned him a rematch with Kramnik.
Kasparov and Karpov played a four game match with rapid time controls over two days in December 2002 in New York City. Karpov surprised the experts and emerged victoriously, winning two games and drawing one.
Due to Kasparov's continuing strong results, and status as world #1 in much of the public eye, he was included in 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. But 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 came too late. Kasparov announced in January 2005 that he was tired of waiting for FIDE to organize a match and so had decided to stop all efforts to regain the World Championship title.
Kasparov said he may play in some rapid chess events for fun, but intends to spend more time on his books, including both the My Great Predecessors series (see below) and a work on the links between decision-making in chess and in other areas of life, and will continue to involve himself in Russian politics, which he views as "headed down the wrong path."
Kasparov has been married three times: to Masha, with whom he had a daughter before divorcing; to Yulia, with whom he had a son before their 2005 divorce; and to Daria, with whom he also has a child.
After his retirement from chess in 2005, Kasparov turned to politics and created the United Civil Front, a social movement whose main goal is to "work to preserve electoral democracy in Russia. He has vowed to "restore democracy" to Russia by toppling the elected Russian president Vladimir Putin, of whom he is an outspoken critic.
Kasparov was instrumental in setting up The Other Russia, a coalition which oppose Putin's government. The Other Russia has been boycotted by the leaders of Russia's democratic opposition parties, Yabloko and Union of Right Forces as they are concerned about its inclusion of radical nationalist and left-wing groups such as the National Bolshevik Party and former members of the Rodina party including Viktor Gerashchenko, a potential presidential candidate. But regional branches of Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces have opted to take part in the coalition. Kasparov says that leaders of these parties are controlled by the Kremlin, despite the fact they are both strongly opposed to the president's policies.
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. Kasparov has been the subject of a number of other episodes since.
Kasparov helped organize the Saint Petersburg Dissenters' March on March 3, 2007 and The March of the Dissenters on March 24, 2007, both involving several thousand people rallying against Putin and Saint Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko's policies. On April 14, he was briefly arrested by the Moscow police while heading for a demonstration, following warnings by the prosecution office on the eve of the march, stating that anyone participating risked being detained. He was held for some 10 hours, and then fined and released.
Due to his connection to ultranationalists and hard-left groups, he was summoned by FSB for questioning as a suspect in violations of Russian anti-extremism laws. This law was previously applied for the conviction of Boris Stomakhin
Speaking about Kasparov, former KGB general Oleg Kalugin has remarked: "I do not talk in details—people who knew them are all dead now because they were vocal, they were open. I am quiet. There is only one man who is vocal, and he may be in trouble: [former] world chess champion [Garry] Kasparov. He has been very outspoken in his attacks on Putin, and I believe that he is probably next on the list.
In October 2007, Kasparov announced his intention of standing for the Russian presidency as the candidate of the "Other Russia" coalition, and vowed to fight for a "democratic and just Russia". Later that month he traveled to the United States, where he appeared on several popular television programs, which were hosted by Stephen Colbert, Wolf Blitzer, Bill Maher, and Chris Matthews.
On November 24, 2007, Kasparov and other protesters were detained by police at an Other Russia rally in Moscow. This followed an attempt by about 100 protesters to break through police lines and march on the electoral commission, which had barred Other Russia candidates from parliamentary elections. He was subsequently charged with resisting arrest and organising an unauthorized protest, and given a jail sentence of five days. He was released from jail on November 29.
On December 12, 2007, Kasparov announced that he had to withdraw his presidential candidacy due to inability to rent a meeting hall where at least 500 of his supporters could assemble to endorse his candidacy, as is legally required. With the deadline expiring on that date, he claimed it was impossible for him to run. Kasparov's spokeswoman accused the government of using pressure to deter anyone from renting a hall for the gathering and said that the electoral commission had rejected a proposal that separate smaller gatherings be held at the same time instead of one large gathering at a meeting hall.
Kasparov made his international teams debut for the USSR at age 16 in the 1980 European Team Championship, and played for Russia in the 1992 edition of that championship. He won a total of five medals. His detailed Euroteams record, from, follows.
Kasparov also represented the USSR once in Youth Olympiad competition, but the detailed data is incomplete at http://www.olimpbase.org/1981k/1981in.html; the site http://www.chessmetrics.com, the Garry Kasparov player file, has his individual score from that event.
Kasparov won the Chess Oscar a record eleven times.
In 2007 he wrote How Life Imitates Chess, an examination of the parallels between decision-making in chess and in the business world. In 2008 Kasparov published a sympathetic obituary for Bobby Fischer, writing "I am often asked if I ever met or played Bobby Fischer. The answer is no, I never had that opportunity. But even though he saw me as a member of the evil chess establishment that he felt had robbed and cheated him, I am sorry I never had a chance to thank him personally for what he did for our sport.
He is the chief advisor for the book publisher Everyman Chess.
In 2003, the first volume of his five-volume work Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors was published. This volume, which deals with the world chess champions Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, José Raúl 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. Through suggestions on the book's website, most of these shortcomings were corrected in following editions and translations. Despite this, the first volume won the British Chess Federation's 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 (none of these three were World Champions), but focuses primarily on Bobby Fischer. The fifth volume, devoted to the chess careers of World Champion Anatoly Karpov and challenger Viktor Korchnoi, was published in March 2006.
His book Revolution in the 70s (published in March 2007) covers "the openings revolution of the 1970s–1980s" and is the first book in a new series called "Modern Chess Series", which intends to cover his matches with Karpov and selected games.
In May 1997, an updated version of Deep Blue defeated Kasparov 3½–2½ in a highly publicised six-game match. The match was even after five games but Kasparov was crushed in Game 6. This was the first time a computer had ever defeated a world champion in match play. A documentary film was made about this famous match-up entitled Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine.
Kasparov claimed that several factors weighed against him in this match. In particular, he was denied access to Deep Blue's recent games, in contrast to the computer's team that could study hundreds of Kasparov's.
After the loss Kasparov said that he sometimes saw deep intelligence and creativity in the machine's moves, suggesting that during the second game, human chess players, in contravention of the rules, intervened. IBM denied that it cheated, saying the only human intervention occurred between games. The rules provided for the developers to modify the program between games, an opportunity they said they used to shore up weaknesses in the computer's play revealed during the course of the match. Kasparov requested printouts of the machine's log files but IBM refused, although the company later published the logs on the Internet. Kasparov demanded a rematch, but IBM declined and retired Deep Blue.
In January 2003, he engaged in a six game classical time control match with a $1 million prize fund which was billed as the FIDE "Man vs. Machine" World Championship, against Deep Junior. The engine evaluated three million positions per second. After one win each and three draws, it was all up to the final game. The final game of the match was televised on ESPN2 and was watched by an estimated 200–300 million people. After reaching a decent position Kasparov offered a draw, which was soon accepted by the Deep Junior team. Asked why he offered the draw, Kasparov said he feared making a blunder. Originally planned as an annual event, the match was not repeated.