Former Chess Champion Kasparov Set For Onetime Return From Retirement
(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – August 14, 2017 – also appeared at rferl.org/a/chess-kasparov-russia-us-croatia-putin/28674990.html)
Former world chess champion and Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov is briefly coming out of retirement after 12 years.
Kasparov, who dominated professional chess from 1985 to 2000, will compete in the Rapid and Blitz competition at the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis, Missouri, after receiving a wild-card entry.
The tournament will run from August 14-19 and include some of the biggest names in chess, including Russian Sergei Karjakin.
Kasparov, 54, was born in Baku when it was part of the Soviet Union. He retired from chess in 2005 to start a political movement called The Other Russia in opposition to President Vladimir Putin.
Kasparov eventually left Russia, saying in 2013 he would never return to the country, and he received Croatian citizenship in 2014. He spends much of his time in New York.
He made clear in an August 13 statement that this will be a one-time event, saying in a Facebook posting that his entry into the tournament is “not an end to my retirement from chess, only a five-day hiatus.”
“I have no plans to play after this event,” he said. “At the age of 54, I would have as much hope of returning to my chess form of age 40 as to my hairline of age 20!”
Nevertheless, his appearance is creating a stir within the chess world.
“Everyone is talking about it,” U.S. chess grand master Alejandro Ramirez told the AFP news agency. “People are flying from India and China to see this dude play.”
“Garry Kasparov has always had a fighting spirit second to none, and he is extremely competitive,” Ramirez said. “But he is still going to be facing very stiff competition,” including “some of the best of the best of the world.”
The winner’s prize for the tournament will be $150,000. Kasparov said he would donate any winnings to promote chess in Africa.