ON SATURDAY, Garry Kimovich Kasparov reached the milestone age of 50. For over 20 years Kasparov strode the chess world like a colossus, and he was still clearly the No 1 player in the world rankings when he stunned everyone with the announcement of his retirement eight years ago.
After defeating Anatoly Karpov in 1985 to become the youngest-ever world champion, he went on to successfully contest some memorable duels with his arch-rival, before a controversial match against England’s Nigel Short in 1993 broke the mould by being held outside the jurisdiction of Fide. Even when he lost his title to Vladimir Kramnik in 2000 there were very few who doubted who was the game’s No 1.
In retirement, Kasparov has pursued a dangerous political path of being one of the many voices of opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin. And last week the United Nations Watch bestowed on Kasparov this year’s Morris B Abram Human Rights Award for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in Russia.
Over the years, Kasparov enthralled us with many great games. But the one I have chosen for today comes from his first tournament victory as a professional, at Banja Luka in the former Yugoslavia, where despite being unrated his raw talent and energy emerged to take first place ahead of established stars such as Petrosian, Adorjan, Smejkal and Andersson.
Happy Half Century, Garry Kimovich!
G Kasparov - M Vukic
Banja Luka, 1979
King’s Indian Defence
1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 g6 3 d4 Bg7 4 e4 d6 5 Nf3 0–0 6 Be2 Bg4 7 Be3 Nfd7 8 Ng1 Bxe2 9 Ngxe2 e5 10 0–0 a5 11 Qd2 Nc6 12 f3 exd4 13 Nxd4 Nc5 14 Rad1 Ne6 15 Ndb5 Re8 16 Qc1 Qb8 17 Bh6 Bh8 18 Nd5 Nb4 19 a3 Na6 20 f4 c6 21 f5 cxd5 22 fxe6 Rxe6 23 exd5 Re7 24 Bf4 Rd7 25 Nxd6 Qd8 26 Nb5 Nc5 27 Qe3 b6 28 b4 axb4 29 axb4 Na6 30 Bg5 Qb8 31 d6 Nxb4 32 Be7 Qb7 33 Rxf7! Kxf7 34 Rf1+ Bf6 35 Bxf6 Kg8 36 Qe6+ Rf7 37 Be7 Raf8 38 Rxf7 Rxf7 39 d7 Nc6 40 Nd6 1–0