Garry Kasparov retires from professional chess

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

"Chess is life in miniature. Chess is battles, chess is struggles." - Garry Kasparov
"Chess is life in miniature. Chess is battles, chess is struggles." - Garry Kasparov

"Chess is life in miniature. Chess is battles, chess is struggles." said the longtime world champion Garry Kasparov at the height of his career. In a surprise announcement Friday, the grandmaster said he will retire. He went public with his intentions from Linares, Spain after winning a prestigious tournament there. The news comes as Kasparov, now 41, declared an ambition to devote his energy into the politics of his native Russia.

Alternately known as brash, emotional and brilliant, the maverick Kasparov could be a formidable opponent in the realm of politics. He will partner with the Russian group known as the Committee 2008 (Komitet 2008), whose members are attempting to influence the 2008 Russian election that will replace Putin. The champion said he also wants to write books, with chess being among the subjects, but he will not play any more at the professional level.

Always mercurial in defeat, Kasparov lost his final game in tournament play in a stunning upset by Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria. The upset did not take away his victory at the tournament, but his announcement came after being bitterly stung in defeat.

At age 22, Kasparov became the youngest person ever to hold the title of world champion when he won it from fellow Russian, Anatoly Karpov, in 1985. The two players dominated the field until infighting in 1993 caused Kasparov to break away from the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) and form the Professional Chess Association (PCA). In this forum he defeated British challenger Nigel Short. For a period of time, Kasparov, of the PCA, and Karpov, who reclaimed the top spot of the FIDE, both claimed to be world champions. However, the ratings system developed by FIDE held that Kasparov was the stronger player. The PCA eventually fell apart in 1995.

In 1996, Kasparov was at the top of his game, when a team led by IBM introduced Deep Blue, the strongest of a new class of chess playing computers. In a highly publicized face-off of man vs. machine, Kasparov won the 6 game match. A year later, against an enhanced version of Deep Blue, he lost. He blamed the loss on a variety of factors, including fatigue against his tireless opponent.

While the machine found a new place in the chess world, and while a new generation of chess players favored speed chess, where the fast pace of play does not allow for deep calculation, Kasparov turned his attention to taking on the world.

The Kasparov vs. the World online chess game in June 1999 brought together chess players from around the world in a cooperative effort to beat the reigning world champion. With more than 50,000 individuals submitting move votes, Kasparov vs. the World was one of the largest interactive gaming events in history. Kasparov won this match.