Saturday, November 3, 2007

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kimovich Kasparov (born April 13, 1963, in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR; now Azerbaijan) is a Russian chess grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, writer and political activist. Kasparov is a candidate for the Russian presidential race of 2008.
Kasparov became the youngest ever World Chess Champion in 1985. He held the official FIDE world title until 1993. In 1993, a dispute with FIDE led Kasparov to set up a rival organisation, the Professional Chess Association. He continued to hold the "Classical" World Chess Championship until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000.

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, choosing instead to devote his time to politics and writing. He formed the United Civil Front, and joined as a member of The Other Russia, a coalition opposing the elected government of Vladimir Putin.

On September 30, 2007, Kasparov entered the Russian Presidential race, receiving 379 out of 498 votes at a congress held in Moscow by opposition coalition, The Other Russia.

Early career

Garry Kasparov was born Garri Weinstein [1] (Russian: Гарри Вайнштейн) in Baku, Azerbaijan SSR to an Armenian mother and a 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.[2] His father died 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 the age of seven, Kasparov attended the Young Pioneer Palace and, at the age of ten, he 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.[3] Kasparov won the Soviet Junior Championship in 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 out 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.[4]

He first qualified for the Soviet 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 rankings. Starting with an oversight by the USSR Chess Federation, Garry Kasparov 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 from it with a provisional rating of 2595, enough to catapult him into the top group of chess players (at the time, no 3 in the World, ex-champion Spassky had 2630, while World Champion 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.

[edit] Towards the top

While still a teenager, Kasparov twice tied for first place in the USSR Chess Championship, in 1980-81, and 1981-82. His first win in a superclass-level international tournament was scored at Bugojno 1982. He earned a place in the 1982 Moscow Interzonal tournament, which he won, to qualify for the Candidates Tournament (, the Garry Kasparov player file). At age 19, he was the youngest Candidate since Bobby Fischer, who was 15 when he qualified in 1958. At this stage, he was already the #2-rated player in the world, trailing only World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov on the January 1983 list.

Kasparov's first (quarter-final) Candidates match was against Alexander Beliavsky, whom Kasparov defeated 6-3 (4 wins, 1 loss).[5] 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 manoeuvres prevented Kasparov from playing Korchnoi, and Kasparov forfeited the match. This was resolved by Korchnoi's allowing the match to be replayed in London, with the match (along with the match Vasily Smyslov vs. Zoltan Ribli) put together on short notice by Raymond Keene. Kasparov lost the first game, but came back to win the match 7-4 (4 wins, 1 loss). The Candidates' final was against the resurgent former world champion Vasily Smyslov. Kasparov won 8.5-5.5 (4 wins, no losses), in a match played at Vilnius, 1984, thus winning the Candidates and qualifying to play Anatoly Karpov for the World Championship. In 1984 Kasparov joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and was elected to the Central Committee of Komsomol.

[edit] 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 after nine 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.

Kasparov dug in, with inspiration from a Russian poet before each game, and battled with Karpov to seventeen successive draws. Karpov duly won the next decisive game, #27, before Kasparov fought back with another series of draws until game 32, Kasparov's first-ever win against the World Champion. Fourteen further successive draws followed, through game 46; the previous record length for a world title match had been 34 games, the Jose Capablanca vs Alexander Alekhine match from 1927.

At this point Karpov, twelve years older than Kasparov, was close to exhaustion, and not looking 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 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 the fact that both Karpov and Kasparov stated that they would prefer the match to continue. Karpov had lost 10 kg (22 lb) 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.

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 the two would eventually come to a head in 1993 with Kasparov's complete break-away from FIDE.

World Champion
The second Karpov-Kasparov match in 1985 was organized in Moscow as the best of 24 games, where the first player to 12.5 points would claim the title, with the scores from the terminated match NOT carrying over. However, in the event of a 12-12 draw, the title would remain with Karpov as the reigning champion. Kasparov secured the title at the age of 22 by a score of 13-11. This broke the existing record of youngest World Champion, held for over twenty 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 an automatic right of rematch. Another match between Kasparov and Karpov duly took place in 1986, hosted jointly in the cities of London and Leningrad, with each city hosting 12 games. At one point, Kasparov opened a three-point lead in the match, and looked to be well on his way to a decisive match victory. However, Karpov battled 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 further win in the match and kept his title by a final score of 12.5-11.5.

A fourth match for the world title took place between Kasparov and Karpov 1987 in Seville, as Karpov had qualified through the Candidates' Matches to once again become the official challenger. This match was very close, with neither player holding more than a one-point lead at any point in the match. 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 to play Karpov 4 times in a match in the period 1984-1987, a fact unprecedented in chess history. Matches organised by FIDE took place every three years since 1948, and only Botvinnik had had a right for a rematch before Karpov.)

Kasparov showed his media savvy by appearing in an interview with the American Playboy magazine, which was published in November 1989. He is the only World Chess champion with this distinction.

A fifth match between Kasparov and Karpov was held in New York and Lyon in 1990, with each city hosting 12 games. Once again, the result was a close one with Kasparov winning by a margin of 12.5-11.5.

Chess ratings achievements
* Kasparov holds the record for the longest time as the #1 rated player.
* Kasparov had the highest Elo rating in the world continuously from 1986 to 2005. The only exception is that Kramnik equaled him in the January 1996 FIDE ratings list.[33] (He was also briefly ejected from the list following his split from FIDE in 1993, but during that time he headed the rating list of the rival PCA). At the time of his retirement, he was still ranked #1 in the world, with a rating of 2812. His rating has fallen inactive since the January 2006 rating list.[34]
* According to the alternative Chessmetrics calculations, Kasparov was the highest rated player in the world continuously from February 1985 until October 2004.[35] He also holds the highest all-time average rating over a 2 (2877) to 20 (2856) year period and is second to only Bobby Fischer's (2881 vs 2879) over a one-year period.
* In January 1990 Kasparov achieved the (then) highest FIDE rating ever, passing 2800 and breaking Bobby Fischer's old record of 2785 rating. He has held the record for the highest rating ever achieved, ever since. On the July 1999 FIDE rating list Kasparov reached a 2851 Elo rating, the highest rating ever achieved.[36]