Sat, 12 Mar 2005


World No. 1 Kasparov calls it quits in Spain

Judith Ingram, Associated Press/Moscow

Garry Kasparov, the world's No. 1 ranked chess player since 1984, considered by some the best in the history of the game, announced that he was retiring from professional play.

The Russian grandmaster's announcement came shortly after he won the 14-match Linares tournament in Spain on Thursday, despite losing the final game.

"Before this tournament I made a conscious decision that Linares 2005 will be my last professional (tournament), and today I played my last professional game," Kasparov said at a news conference in Linares, according to a video posted on the online chess magazine

He said his last games were "very difficult for me to play under such pressure, because I knew it was the end of the career which I could be proud of".

Kasparov, 41, became the youngest world champion ever at age 22. He said part of the reason he was retiring was because he saw no real goals left to accomplish in professional chess.

Kasparov has expressed increasing exasperation over the professional chess world, which has suffered a damaging split. Earlier this year, he withdrew from a World Chess Federation championship match scheduled for this month, saying he had suffered financial and psychological damage from the match's repeated postponement.

Kasparov could be intent on concentrating more on politics in Russia. He has emerged as an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and is playing a leading role in the Committee 2008: Free Choice, a group formed by prominent liberal opposition leaders.

Born in Baku, in the then-Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, Kasparov is thought by many to be the best chess player in history. But he will be remembered in part for one of his few losses, a 1997 match against IBM supercomputer Deep Blue that was seen by some as a watershed moment in technological advancement.

In 2003, Kasparov averted a similar defeat when he agreed to a draw in the last game of his series against Deep Junior, which could process 3 million chess moves per second. The six-game series, dubbed Man vs. Machine, finished tied 3-3.

Kasparov's chess talent was apparent at an early age. Beginning in 1973, at age 10, he attended the Botvinnik Chess School. Two years later, he became the youngest ever player to win the USSR Junior Championship. At 16 he won the World Junior Championship. He achieved the title of grandmaster on his 17th birthday.

His first title match, from September 1984 to February 1985 against Anatoly Karpov, was the longest in chess history. After 48 games, the psychological and physical strain on Karpov, who was leading but appeared likely to lose, caused chess authorities to end the match inconclusively amid controversy.

Kasparov won a rematch six months later, becoming the youngest world champion ever. He defended his title against Karpov in 1986, 1987 and 1990.