Portrait of a World Champion

Garry Kasparov (13 April 1963)

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov was born on 13th April 1963 in Baku, Azerbaijan in the former Soviet Union. His original name is Garri Weinstein.

Kasparov's father was Jewish and his mother Armenian. He started chess at the age of 6, and, by 13 he was already the Soviet Youth Champion. Aged 16 in 1979, he won his first international tournament. The following year he became an international grandmaster. From 1973 to 1978 he trained under the eye of former World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik.

He challenged the then reigning World Champion Anatoly Karpov in a 1984/5 match after having prevailed in the FIDE series of elimination matches. From the first nine games in his 1984 match with Karpov, Kasparov lost four. He later adopted a cunning defensive technique, where he drew an extraordinary number of consecutive games. Eventually Kasparov closed in on his arch-rival, having won three games from the exhausted Karpov. FIDE terminated the match after 48 games, a decision which led to much controversy, and also protested by Kasparov himself. In their rematch in 1985, Kasparov narrowly beat Karpov in the 24-game series. He thus became the youngest official champion at the time.

In 1993 Kasparov and the English grandmaster Nigel Short left FIDE and formed the rival Professional Chess Association (PCA). FIDE's response was to strip Kasparov form his title, though Kasparov beat Short later that year to become the PCA World Champion. In 1995 he successfully defeated Viswanathan Anand to keep his PCA title.

In 1996 Kasparov defeated a powerful IBM machine known as Deep Blue. The match attracted global media attention. Kasparov and the Deep Blue team agreed to have a rematch in 1997. In this rematch, the machine won. Kasparov resigned the last game of their six-game match after a mere 19 moves, thus granting victory to Deep Blue. In 2000 Kasparov lost his World Title in a 16-game match against Russian Vladimir Kramnik.

Kasparov retired from competitive play in 2005, though he is still active in his involvement in chess. Particularly, Kasparov wrote the widely acclaimed series of chess books My Great Predecessors that covered all the World Chess Champions from Wilhelm Steinitz through to Karpov, as well as several other strong players. He also started a political organisation, the United Civil Front, aimed at opposing the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kasparov is nowadays active in Russian politics. He is regarded by many as the greatest chess player of all time.

Back to index