Garry Kasparov


Garry Kasparov (b. 1963) is a Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion, writer, political activist, and one of the greatest chess players of all time. Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at the age of 22. He held the official FIDE world title until 1993, when a dispute with FIDE led him to set up a rival organization, the Professional Chess Association. He continued to hold the ‘Classical’ World Chess Championship until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000. He is also widely known for being the first world chess champion to lose a match to a computer under standard time controls, when he lost to IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997. 

After his retirement from chess in 2005, Kasparov turned to politics and created the United Civil Front, a social movement whose main goal is to ‘work to preserve electoral democracy in Russia.’ He has vowed to ‘restore democracy’ to Russia by ousting Vladimir Putin, of whom he is an outspoken critic.

He showed an early gift at chess, 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. He first qualified for the Soviet Chess Championship at age 15 in 1978, the youngest ever player at that level.

With the World Champion title in hand, Kasparov began fighting against FIDE—as Bobby Fischer had done 20 years earlier but this time from within FIDE. Beginning in 1986, he created the Grandmasters Association (GMA), an organization to represent professional chess players and give them more say in FIDE’s activities. This stand-off lasted until 1993, the world champion and his challenger decided to play outside FIDE’s jurisdiction, under another organization created by Kasparov called the Professional Chess Association (PCA), causing a great fracture in the lineage of World Champions. In an interview in 2007, Kasparov would call the break with FIDE the worst mistake of his career, and said it hurt the game in the long run.

Kasparov joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1984. But in 1990 he left the party and took part in the creation of the Democratic Party of Russia. In 1993, he was involved with the creation of the ‘Choice of Russia’ bloc of parties, and in 1996, he took part in the election campaign of Boris Yeltsin. In 2001 he voiced his support for the Russian television channel NTV. Kasparov was instrumental in setting up ‘The Other Russia,’ a coalition which opposes Putin’s government. The Other Russia has been boycotted by the leaders of Russia’s mainstream opposition parties, which are concerned about its potential inclusion of radical nationalist and left-wing groups.

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