Chess legend Garry Kasparov back from retirement for US tournament
Moscow: Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov is coming out of retirement to play in a US tournament next month, organisers announced on Thursday.
Kasparov, who dominated chess for more than 15 years, will compete against nine top players at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri, which takes place from 14-19 August.
The former champion, who retired from professional chess in 2005, was given a wild card entry for the event’s Rapid and Blitz competition.
Current world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway will also play at the tournament, as will Hikaru Nakamura, ranked second in the world.
“Ready to see if I remember how to move the pieces! Will I be able to announce my re-retirement afterwards if not?!,” Kasparov tweeted sardonically.
At 54, Kasparov is the oldest player in the field, followed by another legend, India’s Viswanathan Anand, 47, now ranked 12th in the world.
“Looks like I’m going to raise the average age of the field and lower the average rating!” Kasparov quipped.
While he won’t be facing Carlsen, Kasparov may go against number two Hikaru Nakamura or the up-and-coming 26-year-old Russian Sergey Karyakin.
In 1985, Kasparov became the youngest world champion ever, at 22, beating Soviet grandmaster Anatoly Karpov with an impulsive, energised and attacking style that instantly gave him rock-star status in the world of chess.
Born Garry Weinstein in Azerbaijan to an Armenian mother and Jewish father, Kasparov has been described as “a monster with 100 eyes, who sees all”.
He quickly understood the interest in combining computers with chess and agreed to play against IBM’s “Deep Blue” supercomputer. Kasparov won the first match in 1996 but lost the second a year later.
In 2005, Kasparov left the career in chess to start up an opposition movement called The Other Russia against President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of returning the country to its dictatorial past.
He became a powerful political voice and even tried to run against Putin in the 2008 Russian presidential election.
But sharp-worded criticism, such as comparing Putin to Hitler, made him a target. He moved around in Russia with bodyguards and eventually in 2013 said he would not be coming back to the country fearing arrest after being accused of biting a policeman in the hand at a protest in 2012.
He received Croatian citizenship in 2014.
In December, Kasparov won, for the second time, a case against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights, which condemned one of his arrests in 2007 on his way to a protest, when he spent five days in jail.
The opposition news website he founded, Kasparov.ru, has been blocked in Russia since 2014.
In another battle, Kasparov attempted in 2014 to dethrone the eccentric head of the World Chess Federation, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, but lost after only securing 61 federation delegates votes out of 175.
Experts include Kasparov among the modern game’s top players, but he himself once said US maverick Bobby Fischer, who dominated the board in the 1970s, was “the greatest chess player of all time”.