"The future of chess lies in the hands
of this young man."
-- former World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik
How could Mikhail Botvinnik have known? After all, when he made the above
statement, Garry Kasparov was only 11 years old! But if there's a common
theme that has characterized Kasparov's career to this point, it is his
ability to live up to even the highest of expectations. The USSR Junior
Champion at age 13, an International Grandmaster at 17, and the second
strongest player in the world while still a teenager (19), Kasparov has
consistently exhibited a genius for chess that belies his age. In November
1985, at age 22, he became the youngest World Champion in history by
defeating Anatoly Karpov, a title he still holds today. Now, at age 34, Garry Kasparov is still going strong.
Garry Kasparov was born in Baku, the capital of the Russian republic
Azerbaidzhan. His early success at the chessboard earned him an invitation to
study under the tutelage of Botvinnik, the World Champion in 1948-1957,
1958-1960, and 1961-1963 and at the time considered to be the USSR's greatest
player (Karpov was another of Botvinnik's pupils).
At age 13 he began entering international competitions, sharing third place
in his first match outside the USSR - the 3rd World Cup for Cadets held in
Wattignes, France. It marked the first time that someone as young as 13 had
represented the Soviet Union in an international sporting competition held in
World championship contender
By the time Garry was 16, his reputation in the Soviet Union and the east had
grown to the point that he could no longer expect to enter tournaments
unnoticed. Young "Garik," as he was known in Russia, was now seen as a
formidable competitor by older and more experienced players, both inside the
USSR and internationally.
In 1979, at the age of 16, he was given an opportunity to play in a Yugoslav
event that included fourteen strong international grandmasters. Although he
had yet to even receive an FIDE rating, Garry won
the match by a comfortable margin (111/2 to 91/2 for second place), and
firmly establish himself as a serious contender for a future World
The first world title
At the age of 21, Garry played for his first world title against the
legendary Soviet player Anatoly Karpov. Both men played brilliant chess
throughout the event, but the five-month, forty-eight-game marathon ended
inconclusively. Citing exhaustion on the part of both players, World Chess
Federation President Florencio Campomanes suddenly cancelled the remainder of
the match without crowning a winner.
The next year the match was replayed, and Kasparov beat Karpov to win his
first World Championship, a title he has held for 12 consecutive years.
The greatest in history
From 1984 to 1990, Kasparov played Karpov four times for the world title.
After the cancelled first match that allowed Karpov to retain his World
Championship crown, Kasparov won three in a row. Garry successfully defended
his crown in 1993 against Englishman Nigel Short, and again in 1995 by
defeating the rising young Indian star Viswanathan Anand.
At age 34, he is widely considered the greatest player in the history of
Like the legendary Cuban player Jose Raul Capablanca, Kasparov is known for
his uncanny intuitive play and lightning-fast vision of the board. He is
notorious for switching strategies mid-game, a tactic he used to his
advantage in defeating Deep Blue during last year's match.
Kasparov has written four books and has gained international recognition as a
prominent spokesman for political, educational and social reforms in Eastern
Europe. He is also active in charity and has created the Kasparov Foundation
in Moscow (the first private Foundation since the Revolution) to handle this
side of his activities.
Kasparov is active in promoting the use of chess in schools as an educational
subject and has set up the Kasparov International Chess Academy.
Widely recognized as an expert on Russian affairs, he is the youngest-ever
contributing editor for the Wall Street Journal. In 1993, Kasparov and Short
helped form the Professional Chess Association (PCA) to create "a new era for
professional chess and to make our sport a household game."
He is a regular guest speaker at international conferences such as the World
Economic Forum at Davos and the Cursos de Verano in Madrid.