Garri Kasparov was born on April 13, 1963 in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, then part of the USSR. Kasparov started playing chess at five and by the age of seven, he was a child chess prodigy. At nine, he had already won a semifinal of a ´blitz´ championship for adults in Baku. He became the youngest player in history to win the Soviet Junior Championship (under 18), first when he was 12 years of age in Jan 1976 and then again aged 13 in 1977.
In 1979 he celebrated his 16th birthday and for the first time, entered a foreign adult tournament. Garri finished first ahead of fourteen Grandmasters.Garri Kasparov achieved Grandmaster status at age 17 (1980).
In August 1980 aged 17, he won the World Junior Championship.
In 1984 aged 21, Garri Kasparov was the youngest player in chess history to compete in a World Championship final match.At 22, on November 9, 1985 Garri became the youngest ever World Chess Champion when he beat Anatoli Karpov. This made him the 13th World Champion and he had already become the number one ranked player in the world.In January of 1990, Kasparov created two milestones in chess history. First, he moved past Bobby Fischer´s best ever point rating of 2785 and then in November 1989 in Belgrade, he broke the magical 2800 ELO ratings point sound barrier. He was the first player in Chess history to do so. It was the chess equivalent of breaking the four-minute mile.
In Nov 1999, after winning the three major events of that year, he created a new milestone by achieving an ELO rating of 2851, the only player in the history of chess to pass the 2850 level. From December 1981 to February 1991, Kasparov made chess history by not losing a single official event for ten years. This was the period in which he created the reputation of invincibility. Kasparov and Karpov battled each other five times in seven years for the world championship title. (Compare this to Kramnik who beat Kasparov in 2000 and then took four years before he played Leko, a hand-picked opponent for the title - ironically at the time Kramnik was ranked #3 in the world and Leko #6.). The 1984 the world championship match which was in progress was called off by the FIDE President Florencio Campomanes.
In 1985 Kasparov beat Karpov to become the youngest player ever to win the World Chess Championship. Kasparov (the champion) and Karpov (the challenger) played again in 1986, 1987 and in 1990. These were the golden years of the World Championship matches and the match in Sevilla in 1987 was the most widely televised chess match in the world. Then followed title defenses against Nigel Short in London in 1993, against Vishy Anand in New York City in 1995 where they played on the 106th Floor of the World Trade Center and Mayor Rudolf Giuliani made the first move on of all days, "September eleventh".
In 2000 after 15 years, Kasparov´s reign as World Champion came to end with a loss to Kramnik in London. Garri Kasparov achieved the #1 ELO rating for the first time in the summer of 1984 at age 21. Then followed the legendary 1984 World Chess Championship resulting in a notorious decision by Florencio Campomanes (FIDE President) to call off the match because of players fatigue. Although widely favored to win the world title if they had continued, Garri Kasparov lost 10 points and Anatoly Karpov gained 10 points, thus winning back the #1 spot he had just surrendered to Kasparov. Karpov´s #1 position was short-lived. On Nov. 9th, 1985 Garri Kasparov defeated Anatoly Karpov for the world title and coincidentally by January of 1986 he had regained the #1 spot. He has made the #1 rating his own for most of the past 20 years, although for a brief period in January of 1996, Vladimir Kramnik joined him as co #1, each of them had a 2775 ELO points rating. Kasparov soon however opened the gap between himself and Kramnik who eventually fell to the #3 behind Vishy Anand. As of January 1st, 2005, Garri Kasparov retains his #1 rating, Vishy Anand is second and Vladmir Kramnik has since fallen behind Topalov to #4.Kasparov first was rated #1 in 1984 and except for the short period mentioned above, he has been the top rated player in the world for over 20 years (1984 - 2005).
In February 1996 in Philadelphia, he played IBM´s Deep Blue computer. His opponent was able to analyze 50 billion moves in three minutes. In NYC in May 1997, Kasparov again played the monster computer. The series stands at one match each and the
World Champion, backed by the world´s estimated 200 million Chess players, challenged IBM to a tie-breaking third match. IBM cashed in its silicon chips and sailed off into the sunset, satisfied with a tied series. These two matches created two incredible statistics. Chess received the greatest exposure the game has ever known and IBM´s PR unit was quoted as saying that the company received over one billion dollars in quantifiable publicity and 72 million hits on their Internet site.
In Jan of 2003 FIDE´s President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov decided to hold a world championship challenge match between the world´s #1 ranked player vs. the reigning world computer chess champion, an Israeli program called Deep Junior. The highly publicized and tightly contested event played in New York City saw Garri Kasparov battle the computer to a 3 - 3 draw.
Later on in 2003, Kasparov made world headlines when he played X3D´s Fritz computer program to a draw in four games. What was unusual about this contest was Kasparov´s use of darkly tinted 3-D glasses with the added handicap of speaking his moves without ever touching the board.
The restless Russian is always looking for new challenges and for the past decade has astounded the Chess world by beating some of the world´s strongest Olympic chess teams, playing four to six Grandmasters simultaneously.
Kasparov vs the World
Apart from his match against Deep Blue, Kasparov has always been at the cutting edge of innovations in chess. For four months in 1999, he battled THE WORLD on the internet in a Microsoft sponsored event which opened new frontiers for chess.
On a lighter note, he played Boris Becker "live" on CNN for one hour. Garri was in Manhattan and Boris was in Munich. Those close to Garri know his unrestrained contagious laugh, his kindness and caring and know him as a multi-faceted human being. All of his adult life the courage of his convictions has been put to the test. His matches against Anatoly Karpov (the previous champion closely connected with the Communist establishment) were widely regarded as a show of individual opposition to the authoritarian state. He had difficulties with the USSR Sports Committee, the Communist Party and even the KGB. He was in the forefront of the anti-Communist movement, resulting in real threats to his person.
The Flight from Baku
Tragic events in Baku at the end of the 1980´s marked the beginning of a whole chain of multi-national conflicts in the USSR. Kasparov showed bravery and leadership when he went into Baku, into the midst of ethnic conflicts to rescue the families of his relatives and friends in January of 1990. With great difficulty he chartered a flight to airlift his friends and family from Baku to Moscow, re-housing the entire group at his own expense and helping them start new lives. At that point Kasparov could have left the collapsing Soviet Union, but preferred to stay in Moscow and still lives there today.
1990 The Brain of the Year
The BRAIN CLUB & SYNAPSIA in London elected Garry as its first "Brain of the Year" and described him as "The World Chess Champion, athlete and humanitarian both, and a cultivated and curious man who closely follows literature, films and politics".
He has been a regular contributor to the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal since 1991.
After the spectacular success of the multiple-volume "My Great Predecessors" which follows the history of the twelve world champions who preceded Garri Kasparov, he has embarked on another even more ambitious project. "How Life Imitates Chess" will be released in a dozen languages. It will be Kasparov´s first venture into the larger general book publishing world.
Worldwide Speaking Engagements
Garri Kasparov is a new "star" on the worldwide speakers circuit. He has thrown himself into this new profession with the zeal and gusto that exemplifies the Kasparov manner of enthusiastically attacking anything worthwhile whether old or new.
In 2006 he has delivered more than twenty speeches to top companis around the world, on a wide array of topics.
Kasparov has a passion for expanding chess into the educational system in the world at large. He is passionate about the Kasparov Chess Foundation which is headquartered in the US and is promoting chess in the classroom nationwide.
On Friday, 11th March, 2005, Kasparov announced his retirement from competitive chess after twenty years as the Number One Ranked Player in the World. Kasparov is busy campaigning throughout the length and breadth of Russia and, as he explains, "We are not fighting to win elections - we are fighting for having elections. The goal is to bring all opposition groups into a broad coalition to return Russia to the path of democracy." In December 2004, Garri Kasparov was elected Co-Chairman of the ALL RUSSIA CIVIL CONGRESS and in May of 2006 he became Chairman of the UNITED CIVIL FRONT OF RUSSIA.