Garry Kasparov was being touted as a future world champion before he was a teen. It is safe to say that he more than lived up to expectations. Here we present some background on the greatest chessplayer ever.

The early years

Garry Kimovich Kasparov was born to in Baku, Azerbaijan on April 13, 1963. (The number 13 would turn out to have special significance for him.) Born "Garry Weinstein" he took his mother's surname when his father passed away.

He learned the game at five and by the age of seven, Garry was a chess prodigy. At nine, he had already won a semifinal of the 'blitz' championship for adults in Baku. In 1976, aged only 12, he achieved his first great victory thanks to his relentless work and won the Soviet Junior Championship. He became the youngest player in the history of the competition to win the title.

In 1979 he celebrated his 16th birthday and for the first time, entered a foreign adult tournament (Banja Luka, Yugoslavia). Young Garry finished first ahead of fourteen Grandmasters. In 1980, he won the World Junior Championship far ahead of the competition.

Reaching the summit

At 21, Garry Kasparov was the youngest player in chess history to compete in a World Championship final match. On November 9, 1985 Garry became the youngest ever World Chess Champion when he defeated Anatoly Karpov. This made him the 13th World Champion in a line going back to 1886 and he had already become the number one ranked player in the world.

From December 1981 to February 1991, Kasparov made chess history by not losing a single event for nearly ten years. This was the period in which he created the reputation of invincibility.

Staying on top

In January of 1990, Kasparov created two milestones in chess history. He moved past Bobby Fischer's best ever rating of 2785 and then broke the magical 2800 barrier. He was the first player in chess history to do so. At that time, it was the chess equivalent of breaking the four-minute mile. (Even to this date only one other player has done it, Vladimir Kramnik, who has since fallen back under 2800.)

In 1999, after winning the three major events of the year, he created a new milestone by topping the 2850 ELO ratings mark, the highest rating in history.

At this time, Kasparov has held the #1 ranking for an incredible 18 years. Lest you think that this achievement is less impressive in chess than in tennis or golf, few previous chess champions were able retain the top spot for more than a few years and the previous modern record was 10 years.

New challenges

Kasparov has always looked for exciting new ways to promote the game of chess. He embraced the challenge of computer chess and his matches against the top machines have brought unprecedented publicity to the game. His matches against the IBM computer Deep Blue and his internet battle against thousands of players around the world in a Microsoft event opened new frontiers.

Kasparov also works away from the board with the Kasparov Chess Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to bringing the benefits of chess to children around the world. He makes regular appearances for various charitable causes, giving exhibitions and lectures.

Kasparov giving a simultaneous exhibition for charity at
a cancer hospital in Brno, Czech Republic, in 2002.

Apart from chess Kasparov writes and speaks on a variety of geopolitical topics. He is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and his commentary has appeared on CNN and Forbes.

He recently released the first volume of a landmark series of books about the greatest chessplayers in history and their games. "Garry Kasparov on My Great Predecessors, Part I" has been hailed as an instant classic and is already on its second printing.

His book signings have drawn huge crowds and the book is already available in half a dozen languages.


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