Home BEYOND THE LIMITS Garry Kasparov- A muti-faceted chess champion whose life has witnessed unforeseen ups...

Garry Kasparov- A muti-faceted chess champion whose life has witnessed unforeseen ups and downs


This month, in the series ‘Champion Born On This Date’, I am extremely delighted to present the readers the story of a muti-faceted former World Chess Champion, who has made his way to the top not only over the chessboard but also in other spheres of life. Yes, you guessed it right- it is none other than Garry Kasparov.

Born on 13th April, 1963 at Baku in Azerbaijan, Soviet Union as Garik Kimovic Weinstein to Christian mother and Jewish father, Garry Kasparov has been living an extraordinary life from a very young age — a life with unexpected turns and unforeseen ups and downs.

Garry Kasparov- The Making of the Champion

Kasparov joined the Young Pioneer Palace, Baku, at the age of 7 and quickly learnt to play better Chess than others. In fact, he became so famous for his skills at Chess that he was chosen to join the coveted Botvinnik Chess School at the tender age of 10. With the five times World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik as his mentor, Kasparov never looked back in his Chess career. Botvinnik had always been revising his training methods as per the development of Chess strategy and he used all his knowledge to train his most talented pupil. At the age of 13, not only Kasparov had studied the famous My Sixty Memorable Games of Chess by Bobby Fischer, but had also found out 37 tactical inaccuracies in it.

At the age of 12, Garik Weinstein changed his name to Garry Kasparov and became a ‘self-appointed Christian’ in his own words. In 1980, Kasparov won the World Junior Chess Championship with a record score of 10.5 points from 13 games, 1.5 point more than his nearest rival, Nigel Short of England. In another 5 years, he became the youngest ever World Chess Champion, a record he still holds.

The Player with the Highest ELO Rating

Garry Kasparov was not only the most feared opponent for over two decades, but he also holds the record of being the highest rated Chess player for over two decades, i.e., from 1984 to 2005. In 1990, Kasparov reached ELO rating of 2805 points, breaking Bobby Fischer’s record of 2785 points in 1972.

However, when being considered ‘invincible’, Kasparov suffered an unexpected defeat at hands of his own pupil Vladimir Kramnik in the Braingames World Championship Match. Yet, till his retirement in 2005, he always remained the highest rated player in the World, ahead of champions of both FIDE World Champion Cycle and ‘Classical World Championship cycle’ organised by the breakaway faction.

Garry Kasparov- The Russian

In 1990, Garry Kasparov permanently moved to Moscow from Baku and declared himself a ‘Russian‘. Naturally, after the cessation of USSR, he chose to play for Russia. Kasparov was highly influenced by the modern policies of Mikhail Gorbachev and always wanted to see a ‘free and democratic’ Russia. In his autobiography ‘Child of change’, Kasparov has expressed his desire to change Russia into a truly democratic state.

Garry Kasparov- The Rebel

In 1993, Kasparov developed serious differences with the World Chess Federation FIDE and chose to form Professional Chess Association, a private body run by a few top Chess players. However, with his charisma and popularity, Kasparov was able to start (and successfully run) regular World Championship Cycles for PCA, with a prize money higher than that of the ‘official’ FIDE World Championship cycles.

Garry Kasparov- The Promoter of Chess

Though he had severe differences with FIDE, Kasparov did help the Russian Chess Federation and FIDE to organise the Chess Olympiads (Open and Women’s) successfully at Moscow in 1994, for the cause of promotion and propagation of Chess. The 1994 Olympiad is the only Chess Olympiad which was graced by  the President of International Olympic Committee- Juan Antonio Samaranch y Torelló, 1st Marquess of Samaranch- and this could happen only due to Kasparov’s initiative and efforts.

Garry Kasparov- The Social Activist

On retirement from Chess, Kasparov decided to become a social activist and a politician. Kasparov often thought of unique ways to improve conditions of common citizens, although one could not be certain of correctness of his views and intended methods. Though very active in politics for 15 years, Kasparov has not been very successful at it. In 2013, he fled to the USA for the fear of ‘persecution by Vladimir Putin’. Next year, in 2014, he was given Citizenship by Croatia. The same year, he contested election for the post of President of FIDE only to be defeated by the then sitting President. In 2015, Kasparov wrote a book named “Winter is Coming- Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of Free World must be Stopped”.

Currently Kasparov is the Chairperson of USA based ‘Human Rights Foundation’. As of now, Kasparov is not successful in politics and social life. Therefore, his life will continue to be that of struggle and uncertainty. However, one must say that Kasparov is a Chess player with an unlimited source of energy and one keen on using it. Unlike other retired Chess players, Kasparov’s future life will indeed be very interesting and colourful.

Analysis of one of Kasparov’s matches

Today we will see an unknown game today by young Garry Kasparov against several times world championship candidate Lev Polugaevsky who was considered to be the greatest theoretician of Sicilian Defence. In fact, he even invented a method of play for Black in Sicilian Naidorf- which became known as the Polugaevsky variation. This game indeed created waves of curiosity & surprise in the Western world. The game reflects on the Kasparov in the teens- bold, dynamic, energetic, fearless and logical. In a few days from this game, Kasparov got his initial FIDE ELO rating of 2550 points!]

Garry Kasparov vs Lev Polugaevsky (2620) [B43]         URS-ch46 Final Tbilisi (4), 12.1978

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be2 b5 7.Bf3 Bb7 8.0–0 Nc6 9.Nxc6 dxc6

Lev Polugaevsky

Garry Kasparov


When I saw this game for the first time, I was wondering what White wanted to with the B on ‘f3’ blocked by Pawns. This move makes White’s intentions clear!                                            


 Polugaevsky always loved to accept challenges. His experience and Chess-wisdom enabled him to get a good position in the ensuing sharp battle, as the readers will find out themselves.       

11.Re1 Qc7 12.Bh5! Be7

Lev Polugaevsky

Garry Kasparov


Another sacrifice and this time it isn’t a Pawn, it is now a Bishop!

13…g6 14.Re1?!                                                         

14.Re4! was much better instead, as the Chess playing engines reveal today but it really means nothing. No human player can match Chess playing engines’ play. The game could go 14…Rd8!(14…gxh5?! is extremely dangerous due to15.Bf4 Qd7 16.Qxh5) 15.Qe2 c5 16.Bf4 Qb6 17.Bf3 Bxe4 18.Nxe4 with sharp play. 


Polugaevsky refrains of playing the risky 14…gxh5! due to 15.Ne4!, Rd8 16.Qxh5 when Black will not be able to disentangle his King side pieces but today engines prefer Black after 16…c5!

15.Qf3 c5 16.Bf4! Qb6!

Grabbing two Minor Pieces for a Rook immediately with 16…Bxf3? fails due to White’s initiative. 17.Bxc7 Bxh5 18.Bxd8 Kxd8 19.f3! f5 20.Rad1+ Kc8 21.Nd5 Bg5 22.Re8+ Kb7 23.Kf1 when Black is in a Zugzwang.                                                         

17.Qg3 gxh5 18.Bc7 Qg6 19.Bxd8 Qxg3 20.hxg3 Kxd8 21.Rad1+ Kc7

Black has won two Minor Pieces for a Rook under better circumstances. The position is roughly equal now.           

22.Nd5+ Bxd5 23.Rxd5 h6 24.Rxh5 Rh7 25.Rhe5 Kd7     

25…Bd6! was better.                                                   

26.R5e3 Rg7 27.Rd3+ Kc7 28.Ra3 Rg6 29.Rf3 Bf6  Not

29…Rf6?? due to 30.Rxe7+! winning for White.            

30.c3 Kd7?!

30…Rg7 31.Re8 Be7 would have led to unclear position.

31.Rd3+ Kc7 32.Re8 Ne7 33.Red8                                  

White has improved his Rooks to the optimum extent and Black is now facing real threats.                                                       


33…Nc8 34.R8d7+ Kc6 35.Rxf7 c4 offered better chances.]   

34.R8d7+ Kb6 35.Rxf7                                           

Threatening Rd6 paralysing Black.

35…Be7 36.Re3 Bd6 37.f4! c4 38.Kh2 Bc5 39.Re2 b4?!

Black was eager to start counterplay against White’s Queen side Pawns but it didn’t work due to accurate play by the future World Champion. Considering what happened in the game, 39…a5 was a better defence but after 40.Re4! Black runs out of decent moves.

40.Re4! bxc3 41.bxc3 Bf2 42.Rxc4 Bxg3+ 43.Kh3 Be1

Lev Polugaevsky

Garry Kasparov 



The only winning move!44.g4? would have walked into 44…Re6! with counterthreats.                                                             


A bad move followed by a terrible blunder. Relatively best was44...Rg3+ though White wins by force. 45.Kh2 Rg6                     (Not 45…Rxc3? 46.Rxc3 Bxc3 47.Rh7 when White wins easily.)    46.f5 Rd6 47.Rg7! Bd2 48.Rg6! Kc7 49.f6 Bg5 50.Rg7+ Kb6 51.f7 Be7 52.Rf4 Bf8 53.Rg8 Rd8 54.Re4! followed by Re8.

45.Rb4+ Kc5??                                                                 

[45…Kc6 was necessary but hopeless anyway. 46.Rb8! Nc4 47.Rc8+ Kd5 48.Rd7+! Rd6 49.Rdc7 Nb2                               (49…Ne3 loses a piece to 50.Re7! and if now 50…Bd2?? then 51.Re5#)                                                                      50.Rc5+ Ke6 51.Re8+ Kf6 52.Rxe1 Nd3 53.Ree5! Nxc5 54.Rxc5 etc.                                                                            


Black resigned as he loses the Knight. For example,                 

46…Kc6 47.Rxa51–0

Previous articleFIDE Candidates Tournament 2024 marks a historic occasion; 5 Indian players compete for the first time
Next articleParis Olympic 2024 torch lit in Olympia, the birthplace of Olympics
Praveen Thipsay is one of the earliest Grandmasters and the first Indian to win the Commonwealth Chess Champion. He is a FIDE Senior Trainer who has been a coach to many promising Indian Chess players.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here