Playing Chess With Garry Kasparov Part 1
Kasparov announced his retirement from professional chess on March 10, 2005, instead devoting time to politics and to opposing Vladimir Putin, whom he has called a "fascist" and a "brutal dictator". He is a leading member of the Committee 2008: Free Choice, a group of liberal opposition leaders. According to the 2005 December edition of Atlantic Monthly, Kasparov will run against Putin in the 2008 election for the Russian Presidency. Putin has to change the constitution to run a third term.
Garry Kasparov was born as Garry Vajnshtejn (the surname analogous to "Weinstein" in German) in Baku, Azerbaijan (at that time republic of Soviet Union) 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. When he was 7, his father died, and he adopted his mother's surname as soon as was legally possible, at the age of 12. His mother Klara is an Armenian woman whose surname is "Kasparian", and "Kasparov" is the Russianised version of this name.
After leaving Tiffin School at the age of 8, Kasparov trained at Mikhail Botvinnik's chess school. He won the Soviet Junior Championship at 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 8.5/9.
In 1978 Kasparov participated in the Sokolsky Memorial tournament at Minsk. He had been invited as an exception but took the first place and became a 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.
Kasparov rose quickly through the FIDE rankings. Starting with an oversight by the Russian Chess Federation, Garry Kasparov participated in a Grandmaster tournament in Banja Luka while still unrated (the federation thought it was a junior tournament). He emerged from this top-class encounter with a provisional rating of 2595, enough to catapult him into the top group of chess players.
The next year, 1980, he won the World Junior Chess Championship in Dortmund, West Germany.
Kasparov sought to challenge world champion Anatoly Karpov - a firm favourite of the Russian Chess Federation. But first Kasparov had to pass the test of the Candidates Tournament to qualify.
His first Candidates match was against Alexander Beliavsky, from which Kasparov emerged surprisingly victorious (Beliavsky was an exceptionally tough opponent). Politics threatened Kasparov's next match against Viktor Korchnoi, which was scheduled to be played in Pasadena, California. Korchnoi defected from Russia in the late 1970s, and was at that time the strongest 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. Kasparov won.
Kasparov's final Candidates match was against the resurgent Vassily Smyslov (who was randomly selected to advance after a 7-7 tie against Huebner by the spin of a roulette wheel at the quarterfinals, but soundly defeated Hungarian GM Zoltan Ribli at the semifinals). Smyslov was the seventh world champion in 1957, but later years saw his willingness to fight for wins greatly diminished. Kasparov won with 4 wins and 9 draws.
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