Garry Kasparov: The Best Chess Player

From opening to endgame, in tactics and strategy, Garry Kasparov became a hero, a role model for all chess players and students in the world.

Do you ever see yourself becoming World Number One on any FIDE list for a total of 255 months?

Only one man had managed to get that record and it was not on just any FIDE list, it was the main FIDE Classical rankings. This man is Garry Kasparov ☺

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Birth and Beginning of an Era

Garry Kimovich Kasparov was born under the Soviet Union to a Jewish father and an Armenian mother.

It is not clear as to when exactly Kasparov started to take chess seriously, but it was between the age of six and sevenmaking him a prodigy.

At the age of ten, he joined Mikhail Botvinnik’s chess schoolwhere players learn to master different playing styles and also learn consistency.

Three years later, at the age of thirteen, Kasparov won the Soviet Junior Championshipand he also repeated the same feat the following year.

This was a clear sign that Garry Kasparov had massive potential and could possibly become a top chess player in the future with the performance he was showing.

He kept on consistently performing well when it comes to sub-elite tournaments, and in 1980he officially took his title as a Grandmaster.

The majority of the players who reach the title of Grandmaster change their goals to either getting a higher FIDE rating or winning Championships.

This was no exception when it came to Garry Kasparov and his target was to become a World Champion.

Candidates

In 1982he qualified for the Candidates Tournament at the age of 19making him the second youngest candidate behind Bobby Fischer.

A Candidates tournament is a tournament where the outright winner qualifies to play against the current World Champion.

On the FIDE rankings list, Kasparov was already ranked number two in the World, making him the favorite to win the Candidates Tournament.

The following year, 1984, was one of the best years in Kasparov’s career as he made a lot of history.

He became world number one, passing then the current World Champion, Anatoly Karpov, and he also won the Candidates Tournament.

In the video lesson below, our guest coach IM Asaf Givon will explain to you the typical ideas for both White and Black in this opening:

Controversial World Championship Match

This meant that he had the opportunity to challenge Anatoly Karpov and potentially become the New World Champion.

later in the year, Garry Kasparov challenge Anatoly Karpov for the World Title. The format for the Championship stated that the World Champion would be the first player to reach six wins.

The match was later abandoned because 48 games were played and there were still no results.

Although Anatoly Karpov was bleeding 5-3, Garry Kasparov did not like the idea of ​​the match being abandoned as he was on a two-game winning streak.

Finally World Champion

In 1985, a new format was implicated. The winner of the title would be the first player to win 12½ points.

In the event that 24 games are completed and the score is still 12-12then the title would remain in Karpov’s hands.

Going into game 24, Garry Kasparov was leading by just a single pointmeaning that he needed a draw in order to win the title.

For Anatoly Karpovon the other hand, he had no option but to win the game in order to retain his World Championship title.

The Sicilian Defense, Scheveningen Variation was good for them both, and Kasparov knew that he just had to play solid.

Going into such matches, it is very clear that Anatoly Karpov had to be aggressive from the get-go, which also meant that there was a high chance he would make mistakes.

The position was rather silent from the opening for the majority of the middle game, with Anatoly Karpov having a slight positional advantage.

The first sign of mistakes came after 36…Rxd6. It’s a move that totally misplaced the majority of Karpov’s pieces, leaving his queen on b6 overloaded.

The best continuation would have been 37.Rb7 Qxa6 38.Nb4. In this position, we could have seen an automatic resignation from Karpov as there was no way to save his rook from getting captured.

This continuation was missed and, even though Anatoly Karpov had another opportunity to draw the game, he did not spot it, and ultimately lost the game.

At just the tender age of 22, Garry Kasparov officially became the World Chess Champion. He became the youngest holder of the title in history at the time.

Defense of the Title

Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov had two more encounters for the title, including the rematch. On both occasions, Garry Kasparov came out on top.

The two players set the record of the most consecutive World Championship encounters, with a total of four consecutive encounters.

After achieving the title and defending it multiple times, Garry Kasparov set out for a new challenge.

Split from FIDE

Over the years, it had been clear that he was not always happy with the way FIDE ran and organized events.

As such, he parted ways with FIDE having his title, and he started his own Chess Organization named Professional Chess Association (PCA).

The main role of this organization was mainly to market and organize the World Championship match between Nigel Short and Garry Kasparov.

The organization did its job and managed to get sponsors. The match took part in 1993 and Garry Kasparov retained his title with a score of 12½–7½.

It was pretty clear that the Professional Chess Association would be a great rival for FIDE, and this led to FIDE starting their own championship.

This ultimately meant that there were two World Chess Champions during that period. This has made a lot of confusion for the Chess World.

End of the World Champion Era

In the next title defense for Garry Kasparovhe saw himself taking on a young and talented Vladimir Kramnik.

Both players had a great relationship as Vladimir Kramnik was Kasparov’s student at the Botvinnik School of Chess.

Vladimir Kramnik had also served as Kasparov’s second in a previous match that took part against Viswanathan Anand.

Besides age as a factor, Vladimir Kramnik know how Garry Kasparov operated his gameplay, and this ultimately gave him huge advantages.

In round ten, we saw both players going into the Nimzo-Indian Defense. What was about to happen in the game shocked the Chess World.

There had been a sequence of seven draws prior to this round. Probably, this made Garry Kasparov come into the match with the mentality that it will be another draw.

19…Qxb2. Kasparov forgot that he might have back rank problems. The ultimate nightmare came through for Kasparov as Kramnik managed to manipulate the blunder.

Six moves later, on move 25, we saw Kasparov resigning the game. Making this game his quickest loss in a World Championship Match.

The Championship ended with Vladimir Kramnik winning 8½–6½ dethroning Gary Kasparov as the World Chess Champion.

This was also the first time that Kasparov had gone out of a World Chess Championship without winning even a single match.

Aftermath and Retirement

Garry Kasparov continued to play and win in the majority of the elite tournaments that he played. He also still stayed as World Number one despite players like Vladimir Kramnik being the World Champion.

In 2005 Kasparov, retired from all chess competitions. He had reached the pinnacle of the game and did not have any other interest or the passion to continue.

Even on his retirement, he was still ranked number one. He had achieved a lot of achievements, including the highest ever FIDE ratingwho stood at 2851 in 1999.

After retiring, his main focus was on writing chess books and also on the Kasparov Chess Foundation.

The foundation started in March 2012and it focuses on growing chess and exposing young and upcoming players to the game.

This is to make chess an educational tool and social development. This was because of the love Garry Kasparov has from people who like his work or style of play.

His foundation gets supported by charitable donations from individuals or corporate sponsors.

He did try to run for president at some point, but was ultimately defeated. It was discovered that he had been trying to rig the results in his favor.

Short Time Control Return

Chess will always call players back to playing even when they have decided to retire, and it is what happened in Kasparov’s case. The former Champion has made multiple returns to the game.

In most cases, he will be participating in elite blitz, chess960, and rapid events namely:

  1. 2017 St. Louis Rapid and Blitz
  2. 2020 9LX tournament
  3. 2021 Grand Chess Tour Zagreb, Croatia

While his performances were sub-standard, considering the living icon he is, he has managed to score a win against Fabiano Caruana.

He even managed to get a draw against the current World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen. This shows how much a legend will always remain a legend even when he has decided to be off as a player.

Conclusion

During his time, Garry Kasparov revolutionized the game. He managed to make his own records that, until this day, will take some time to get broken or replaced by anyone else.

His play style still inspires a lot of upcoming young players. His books are still relevant in terms of the theory they contain.

The foundation that he owns”Kasparov Chess Foundation” is probably the biggest chess foundation and is among the best in Africa.

And it finds future champions getting the exposure they require in order to make it in chess.

When it comes to the topic of Greatest Chess Player of All-timehe will always be part of the topic alongside Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen.

We are safe to include him as part of the chess legends that took the game-high. Even in their retirement, he still carried out projects that help in the growth of the chess game.

All chess players in the world have too much to learn from Garry Kasparov ☺

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