Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion and writer

Born: April 13, 1963

Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion and
writer whom many consider the greatest chess player of all time.

© Guarant-InfoCentre, 2004-2009

Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess
Champion and writer whom many consider the greatest chess player of all
time. 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. But
let’s start from the beginning.

Garry Kasparov (born Garry Kimovich Weinstein) was born in Baku,
Azerbaijan, to an Armenian mother and Jewish father, on April 13, 1963.
He first began the 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 in Baku 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 Shakarov 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.

In 1980 Kasparov won the World Junior Chess Championship in Dortmund,
West Germany. Later that year, at age 19, he became a Grandmaster and
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

And finally, there came the day of the great battle, the World Chess
Championship 1984!

The 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.

In a strange period, there followed a series of 17 successive draws,
some relatively short, and others drawn in unsettled positions. 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 Raul Capablanca vs.
Alexander Alekhine in 1927.

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.

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 World Champion 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. On 9 November 1985, Kasparov secured the title by a score
of 13-11, winning the 24th game with Black, using a Sicilian defence. He
was 22 years old at the time, making him the youngest ever World
Champion, and breaking the record held by Mikhail Tal for over 20 years.
Kasparov’s win as Black in the 16th game has been recognized as one of
the all-time masterpieces in chess history.

Then followed the third match in 1986, hosted jointly in London and
Leningrad, the fourth one in 1987 in Seville and the fifth one held in
New York and Lyon in 1990, with each city hosting 12 games. All the
three matches’ result were close ones with Kasparov winning.

But there’s no eternal championship under the moon. 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. 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 won a series of major tournaments, 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.

Another sparkling point of Kasparov’s bio are the games against

1) Kasparov defeated the chess computer Deep Thought in both games of a
two-game match in 1989.

2) In February 1996, IBM’s chess computer Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in
one game using normal time controls, in Deep Blue – Kasparov, 1996, Game
1. But Kasparov recovered well, gaining three wins and two draws and
easily winning the match.

3) 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,
which has been viewed by Kasparov as covering up evidence of tampering
during the game.

4) Kasparov played with 3D glasses in his match against the program X3D
Fritz. 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. 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

5) In November 2003, he engaged in a four-game match against the
computer program X3D Fritz, using a virtual board, 3D glasses and a
speech recognition system. After two draws and one win apiece, the X3D
Man-Machine match ended in a 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.”

To cast the total, Garry Kasparov was the world number-one ranked player
for 255 months, holding records for consecutive tournament victories and
Chess Oscars. One of the greatest brains of the 20th century announced
his retirement from professional chess on 10 March 2005, to devote his
time to writing.

Max Yakuba

From: A. Papazian