Sunday, November 9, 2008

Anniversary: World Chess Champion

On this day in 1985, Russian Garry Kasparov became the youngest World Chess Champion at age 22. He was recognized as world champion until 2000 when he lost to Vladimir Kramnik, though a dispute with chess's governing body formally split the title in 1993.

Kasparov has played a series of hugely publicized, much scrutinized chess games with computers of increasing complexity. He finally lost a controversial 1997 series to IBM computer Deep Blue in what was a landmark moment in information technology.

Kasparov retired from competitive chess in 2005 and is widely considered the greatest chess player ever. Current World Champion Vishy Anand considers Kasparov the best, with American Bobby Fischer just behind.

Kasparov has long been active in politics and has emerged as a high profile critic of Vladimir Putin in Russia. He helped organize the opposition party The Other Russia and ran for Russian President in 2007 under its banner. His candidacy ended under strange circumstances, with Kasparov claiming government intimidation. He made this memorable appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher last year.

He is also involved in one of the strangest YouTube clips of all time. I'll let you find it, just type his name into YouTube.

(image credit: Kasparov is shown after winning the World Championship in 1985, looking just as you imagined he might, (C) 2007, Owen Williams, The Kasparov Agency)