Garri Kimovic Kasparov, born April 13 1963 as Garri Weinstein in Baku, but adopted his mother's maternal surname of Kasparov when he was 12. He first started learning to play chess after studying a chess problem set up by his parents, and proposed a solution to it.
Garry's rise up the FIDE ranking order is nothing short of phenomenal. Starting with an oversight by the Russian chess federation, Garry Kasparov participated in a Grandmaster tournament in Banja Luka whilst still an unknown (the federation thought it was a junior tournament). He emerged from this top-class encounter with a provisional rating of 2595, enough to catapault him into the top group of chess players.
It was clear from early on that Garry had the playing strength to match the then current world champion Anatoly Karpov - a firm favourite of the Russian Chess Federation. But first Garry had to pass the test of the Candidates Tournament to qualify.
His first Candidates match was against Alexander Beliavsky, which Kasparov emerged surprisingly victorious (Beliavsky was an exceptionally tough opponent). Politics threatened Kasparov's next match against Viktor Korchnoi which was scheduled to be played in Las Vegas(?). Korchnoi defected from Russia in the late 1970's, and was at that time the strongest non-Soviet player. Various political manoeuvring prevented Kasparov from playing Korchnoi.
This was resolved by Korchnoi's generous gesture of allowing the match to be replayed in London. Kasparov won.
Kasparov's Candidates final match was against the resurgent Vassily Smyslov (who won his match against Hubner by the spin of a roulette wheel!). Smyslov was the seventh world champion in 1957, but later years saw his willingness to fight for wins greatly diminished. This posed no problems for the youngster from Baku who registered a comfortable win.
The 1984 World Championship match between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov had its fair share of ups and downs, as well as the most controversial finish to a competitive match ever. Karpov started off in very good form, and within a dozen games Kasparov found himself 4-0 down in a "first to six wins" match. Fellow players predicted a 6-0 whitewash of Kasparov within 18 games.
For Karpov, the result so far would go some way in exorcising the ghost of Fischer's Candidates results in 1970, and would cement Karpov as a true World Champion.
Kasparov dug in, with inspiration from a Russian poet before each game, battled with Karpov into seventeen successive draws, Karpov duly won the next decisive game before Kasparov fought back with another series of draws until game 36. Kasparov's first win against the World Champion.
At this point Karpov was close to exhaustion, and not looking like the player that started this match. A few games later Kasparov won another to bring the scores to 4-2 in Karpov's favour.
Then the match was ended without result by Campomanes - the head of FIDE, and a new match was announced to start a few months later.
The reasons for abandoning the match aren't entirely clear. From Kasparov's viewpoint, he had the advantage even though he was 4-2 down. Karpov's medical team were probably concious of the dangers to their player's health if he continued.
The second Karpov-Kasparov match in 1985 was organised as the best of 24 games, first player to 12.5 points would claim the title (with the title going to Karpov, as reigning champion in the event of a 12-12 draw). Kasparov showed he had learnt some valuable lessons in the previous match, and although the score was quite even down to the final wire, a few spectacular games involving the Sicilian defence secured the World Championship for Kasparov at the tender age of 22. This broke the existing record of youngest winner held for over twenty years by Mikhail Tal (he was 23 when he beat Botvinnik in 1960).
Kasparov cemented his authority at the top of the rating ladder with a series of fine tournament performances as well as defending his title three times against his arch-opponent Karpov.
With the World Champion title in his grasp, Kasparov switched to battling against FIDE - as Bobby Fischer had done twenty years older, but this time from within FIDE. He created an organisation to represent chess players, the GrandMaster's Association (GMA) to give players more of a say in FIDE's activities.
This stand-off lasted until 1993, by which time a new challenger had qualified through the Candidates cycle for Kasparov's next World Championship defence. The world champion and his challenger (Nigel Short) decided to play their match outside of FIDE's jurisdiction, under another organisation created by Garry Kasparov called the Professional Chess Association (PCA). This is where the great fracture on the lineage of World Champions happened.
Kasparov and Short were ejected from FIDE, and they played their well sponsored match in London, with Kasparov winning heavily. FIDE set up their "World Championship" with the loser of the Candidates final, Jan Timman, and previous World Champion Karpov.
So Kasparov held the PCA World Chess Championship, and Karpov held the FIDE World Chess Championship.
Kasparov defended his title in 1995 against the Indian superstar Viswanathan Anand, before the PCA collapsed (Intel, one of the major backers pulled out).
In May 1997, a computer (IBM's updated Deep Blue) defeated Kasparov. This was the first time a computer had ever defeated a world champion. IBM keeps a web site of the event at http://www.chess.ibm.com.
Kasparov tried to organise another World Championship match, under yet another organisation, the World Chess Association (WCA) with Linares organister Rentero. This climaxed into a match between Vladimir Kramnik and Alexi Shirov, which Shirov won against all expectations.
This match never materialised, the WCA collapsed when Rentero admitted the funds required and promised never materialised.
This left Kasparov stranded, and yet another organisation stepped in - BrainGames.com, headed by Raymond Keene (who was also involved in bringing Kasparov to London for his replayed Candidates match against Korchnoi, half of the first Kasparov-Karpov match, and the Kasparov-Short PCA match). Kramnik was the handpicked opponent, after Shirov declined the challenge.
This match, Kasparov-Kramnik, took place in London during the latter half of 2000. A well prepared Kramnik surprised a lacklustre Kasparov and won a crucial game 2 against Kasparov's supposedly invincible Grunfeld. So Kasparov was mortal! Kramnik emerged victorious, and for the first time in sixteen years Kasparov had no world championship title.
Kasparov proved in 2001 that he is still the strongest tournament player in the world with his fine performance in the Corus Chess Tournament.