Garry Kasparov turns fifty

4/13/2013 – He is widely considered the greatest chess player of all time – the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion. Garry Kimovich Kasparov dominated chess for twenty years, until his retirement in 2005. Since then he has devoted his time to politics and writing. Today Garry turns fifty, and we wish him a very happy birthday with a nostalgic look at the past 25 years.

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Garry Kasparov turns fifty

For those who some unfathomable reason do not know: Garry Kimovich Kasparov, born Garik Kimovich Weinstein, is certainly one of the most famous personalities in chess and widely considered the greatest chess player of all time. He became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at the age of 22 by defeating then-champion Anatoly Karpov. Garry 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 was the first world champion to lose a match to a computer under standard time controls, when he lost to Deep Blue in 1997.

Kasparov announced his retirement from professional chess on 10 March 2005, in Linares, Jaén, and from then on devoted his time to politics and writing. He formed the United Civil Front movement, and joined as a member of The Other Russia, a coalition opposing the administration and policies of Vladimir Putin. He was considered to become a candidate for the 2008 Russian presidential race, but later withdrew. Although he is widely regarded in the West as a symbol of opposition to Putin, support for him as a candidate was low (he has zero media time on Russian TV or newspapers). He is currently on the board of directors for the Human Rights Foundation.

We have known Garry since his first visit to Hamburg in 1985, where he initiated the creation of the world's first professional chess database. The story of that fateful visit is told here.

The first meeting: Kasparov with Frederic Friedel (right) and a team of journalists from the German news magazine Der Spiegel. Friedel went on to found ChessBase together with...

... physicist and programmer Matthias Wüllenweber, who created the programs that today all chess professionals (and amateurs) use.

There are so many stories to be told about Garry Kasparov that we will not even try to narrate them here. Use our search mask above right to retrieve about 220 articles we published about him in the last eleven years. Or go to this Wikipedia page for a comprehensive biography. We have decided to restrict ourselves, today on his 50th birthday, to two items.

Kasparov over the years

In our story commemorating his 40th birthday we extracted twelve pictures from the ChessBase Players' Encyclopedia to create a montage of the various stages of his life. This we extend today with four new pictures.

Kasparov recording a new DVD at ChessBase in Hamburg in September last year

Dominating the world of chess

Kasparov's ratings achievements include being rated world No. 1 almost continuously from 1986 until his retirement in 2005. He achieved a peak rating of 2851 which was the highest recorded until 2013. He was the world No. 1 ranked player for 255 months, nearly three times as long as his closest rival, Anatoly Karpov. Kasparov also holds records for consecutive tournament victories and Chess Oscars. Here are some of the rating charts we prepared over the years:

FIDE rating list October 2001

FIDE Rating list – April 10, 2002

FIDE ratings April 2003

FIDE ratings July 1st 2003

FIDE ratings January 2004

FIDE ratings July 2004

At the time we wrote: Until recently a Super-GM used to be player who had reached 2600 rating points or higher. Back in 1983 there was an article in a German magazine about the concept of Super Grandmasters, of which there had at the time been 30 in the history of the game.

The number was thirteen (German: "dreizehn") Super-GMs, and for the first time since Fischer left the scene, there was an American amongst them, the young Yasser Seirawan.

Note: this was written in the above article. The author ignores the fact that Czech-born Lubomir Kavalek, who moved to the US in 1970, was rated number ten in the world in 1974 with a 2625 rating. That was the highest rating for an American player (not counting Fischer) and it was only surpassed by Seirawan in 1990.

Karpov was on top of the list in 1983, the only player higher than the magic 2700 mark. "But the rise of 20-year-old Garry Kasparov seems unstoppable," the author wrote. "He has put no less than 45 points between himself and the rest of the field, and is just 20 points behind world champion Karpov.

The July 2005 FIDE Ratings

FIDE Ratings April 2005

These are the final ratings with Kasparov after he retired from competitive chess in March 2005

Five Garry Kasparov DVDs available in the ChessBase Shop


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