Chess Masters

Gary Kasparov

Born in Azerbaidzhan on April 13, 1963, Gary Kasparov began playing chess at the age of five.  Kasparov was first taught chess by his father, who died when he was seven years old.  In 1973, Mikhail Botvinnik, a former world champion, invited Kasparov to join his very exclusive chess school.  It was Botvinnik who said the now famous quote, “The future of chess lies in the hands of this young man.”  Kasparov attended Botvinnik's School and by age 12, he won the Azerbaijan championship and the USSR junior championship.  In Daugavpils in 1978, Kasparov qualified for the finals of the Soviet Championship, making him the youngest person ever to do so.  Kasparov finished 9th out of the 18 participants.

In 1980, Kasparov won the Junior World Championship and became a grandmaster.  Only one year later, Kasparov won the U.S.S.R. Championship at the young age of 18.  Having won several high profile tournaments, Kasparov was making quite a name for himself.  He qualified to play against world champion Anatoly Karpov after beating Beliavsky, Korchnoi, and Smyslov in the Candidates tournament.

Kasparov and Karpov squared off in 1984 for the world championship.  The match would last 48 games over 4 months before it was cancelled by then FIDE president Campomanes.  The rematch took place the next year and was a dead heat until the end, when Kasparov was able to secure a victory and his place in chess history as being the youngest person ever to become world champion at the age of 22.  Kasparov would defend his title three more times against Karpov until 1993.

Kasparov would play 3 highly publicized matches against a chess computer from IBM known as “Deep Blue.”  The first match came in 1996 when Kasparov beat Deep Blue with a score of 3 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss in a 6 game match.  Kasparov faced a new and improved version of Deep Blue the following year.  Deep Blue beat Kasparov 3.5 to 2.5.  This marked the first time that a computer had ever beaten a world champion chess player. Kasparov and Deep Junior (Deep Blue's “son”) faced off in 2003 ending in a 3-3 tie. <br><br>

Anatoly Evgenievich Karpov

Born in Zlatoust, Russia in 1951, Anatoly Karpov was first taught to play chess at the age of four years old.  At 12 years old, Karpov was accepted into Mikhail Botvinnik's prestigious chess school.  Botvinnik was quoted as saying, “The boy doesn't have a clue about chess and there's no future at all for him in this profession.”  Karpov would go on to prove him wrong.  By the age of 15, Karpov became one of the youngest Soviet chess players ever to gain the title of National Master and went on to win his first international tournament a few months later.  Karpov was declared world champion in 1975 when the champion of the time, Bobby Fischer, refused to defend his title.  Being just days before his 24th birthday, this puts Karpov among the youngest players ever to be crowned world champion.  Unsatisfied with acquiring the title in this manner, Karpov went on to play in many high profile tournaments in an effort to show that he deserved the title.

Playing in every FIDE world championship match from 1978 to 1998, and racking up over 140 first place finishes in tournament play, Karpov went on to become the most successful tournament chess player of all time.  Karpov retained his world champion title until losing to Gary Kasparov in 1985.

Robert James Fischer

Born in Chicago, IL in 1943, Bobby Fischer was raised in Brooklyn.  At the age of 6, Fischer taught himself how to play chess using the instruction booklet of a chess set.  He started out practicing with his sister, but proved to be far too strong of a player for her almost immediately.  At age 7, Fischer joined the Brooklyn Chess Club to be taught by Carmine Nigro, the club's president.

A teacher of several top chess players including Robert Byrne and William Lombardy, John Collins was asked by Fischer's mother if he would be Fischer's chess teacher.  When Fischer was 13, Collins accepted Fischer as his student.  Fischer spent much of his time with Collins, and it has been said that Collins became a kind of father figure for Fischer.  Also at the age of 13, Fischer won the US Junior Championship.  One year later, at age 14, Fischer won the US Championship.  At age 15, Fischer became, what was at the time, the youngest ever grandmaster.

In 1972, Fischer challenged Boris Spassky for the world championship in Reykjavik, Iceland.  The match was highly publicized, billed as “The Match Of The Century,” though it almost didn't take place due to a UN embargo.  Fischer chose to ignore this and is to this day wanted in America for having broken UN sanctions prohibiting economic activities with Yugoslavia.  Despite all of this, the match did take place.  Although he got off to a shaky start, with a loss in the first game and defaulting the second, Fischer went on to dominate Spassky and won the match.

After winning the “Match Of The Century” in 1972, Fischer disappeared, not playing publicly for nearly 20 years.  He was stripped of his title of world champion when he refused to defend his title against Anatoly Karpov.  He and Karpov played a rematch after some 20 years of non-competition and Fischer once again beat Karpov.

After his rematch with Karpov, Fischer once again disappeared from the public eye.  In more recent years, Fischer has been known more and more for his radical anti-Semitic and anti-American views.  In 1999, Fischer gave a call-in interview to a Hungarian radio station.  Though the interview began with a question and answer session with station listeners, it quickly degenerated into an incoherent rant in which Fischer proclaimed himself as being the victim of an international Jewish conspiracy.  A similar rant took place on a Philippine radio station a few years later, in which Fischer went into an expletive laden rant in support of the acts of September 11, 2001.

Having renounced his US citizenship, Fischer was detained in Japan in 2004 for using a revoked US passport.  Now deported from Japan, Fischer currently is seeking refuge from US charges of tax evasion in Iceland.