In the beginning

Gary Kimovich KASPAROV was born on April 13, 1963 in Baku, where he still lives.

Gary's father, Kim Moiseyevich Wainshtein, an engineer by training, was a cultured and versatile man. He was particularly fond of music and enjoyed playing the violin. It's understandable that he dabbled in chess: it is more of a surprise that his wife was also interested.

When Gary had just turned six the family reached a decision to teach him music. It is interesting to ponder what he would have contributed to music had the decision been carried through. Would the vacuum in chess have been filled by another genius?






Baku - capital of Azerbaidzhán -one of the Soviet republics, lies 1700 km. (more than 1000 miles) south-east of Moscow, beyond the Caucasus Mountains. With its population more than a million, Baku is a port on the shores of the Caspian Sea noted as one of the most important oil extracting and refining centres in the world; its history goes back to the 8th century. It has one of the mildest climates in the Soviet Union - above 0°C in January and between 25-30° in July.



That same evening of decision Gary's parents set up a position from the local newspaper column run by the old chess master, Suryen Abramian. Their little one, Garik (familiar form of Gary), did not raise his eyes from the board; after awaking next morning — at breakfast — Gary suggested a move to solve the position. This amazed the family; no one had taught him the game. His father, curious, tested him on the notation for the different squares!

Such skill only called for a partial raising of the eyebrows. After all, Garik had learnt to read and to add up when very young.

Wainshtein to Kasparov

Gary's father, of Jewish background, died before he had reached forty when Gary was seven. Gary then lived together with his mother, Clara Shagenovna, and with her parents, who were of Armenian extraction. His mother, his maternal grandfather and grandmother were all called Kasparian. It was a natural sequel that Gary should adopt the Russian version of this surname when he legally could at the age of 12.

When Gary was seven, Rostik Korsunsky, a boy in the seventh grade from a neighbouring apartment, took Gary to the chess circle of the Young Pioneers movement. (Korsunsky has since became one of Baku's chess masters.)

Chess in Azerbaidzhan territory perhaps dates hack to the 6th century A.I).. Clear links between chess and poetry are there in the 12th century. Modern chess took root in about the mid-19th century. The Makogonov brothers, Vladimir and Mikhail, both masters, connected with Baku were well-known throughout Soviet chess in the 1920's and 1930 Nowadays the republic can boast of 15 chess schools and a special twice-monthly 8 page Russian languageyow/T/tf/^Shakmaty" (started March 1981).

The Baku Young Pioneers chess circle. started in 1937, has produced about 300 first category players and 25 candidate masters (c. Elo 2200). Suren Abramian (b. 1910) was their earliest leading trainer and developer while their best known graduates before Kasparov were grandmaster Vladimirov Bagirov (USSR championship competitor many times) and Tatiana Zatulovskaya (women s world championship candidate).

The Baku Young Pioneers

At the Young Pioneers, Gary's first trainer was Oleg I. Privorotsky, who already after just a few lessons was remarking "I do not know whether other cities have similar beginners; there certainly is no one like him in Baku."

Garik played, according to trainer Privorotsky, rather weakly, but by his exceptional memory differed from other novices. He learnt by heart the data (moves, results, scores) of world championship matches. And when the instructors began to dissect positions and studies the boy became cut off from his surroundings and totally involved in the unravelling of the complexities.

Impressive finishes interested Garik; it was not long before he came under the spell of the dynamic games of Alexander Alekhine (World Champion 1927-35, 1937-45) which were to have a long lasting influence on him.

Young Gary rapidly climbed the ladder of chess performances, from fourth category (c.1450 rating), to third category (c.1600), to second category (c.1800). It was thought worthy of a paragraph in both local and Ail-Union newspapers when as 9 year old and a first category player (c.2000 rating) Garik reached the final of the Baku lightning championship.

At the end of 1973 a Scheveningen system tournament was held in Baku of DYuS chess trainers versus first category players. Gary fulfilled the norm for a USSR candidate master (c.2150). And the specialists were beginning to size up Gary. Amongst the trainers' team was A. Shakharov who would become one of Gary's instructors in Botvinnik's school.

Botvinnik's School

Indeed already in June 1973 Gary had played in his first serious A1J-Union event, the Youth Team Championship at Vilnius. In the final tournament the ten-year-old meeting candidate masters did not lose, despite all his opponents being older. Among the attending trainers was Aleksandr Nikitin who paid particular attention to Gary's play. The result — a month later the bov was invited to a session of Botvinnik's School.

Mikhail Botvinnik had been world champion 1948-1957, 1958-1960, 1961-1963 and was certainly the USSR's greatest player. His school, begun in 1963, had included talented pupils like Anatoly Karpov; all parts of the country were represented.

The main work of the school was conducted by correspondence. The pupils met their teacher in short sessions two or three times a year, normally during school vacations. A fresh, individually-tailored tough assignment of work would be allocated at the end of each session.

Kasparov said "In 1973 when I was still a boy who just liked playing chess Mikhail Moiseyevich (Botvinnik) invited me to join his school. There is no price I could name for the things I got from the course during the next five years. He does not . . . impose his views on his pupils.

"Botvinnik confirmed in me the view that Alekhine's chess was my sort also. When I became Soviet Junior Champion in 1977 Mikhail Moiseyevich congratulated me. Then he suggested that I go through my winning games; I was severely criticised at some points in them. But he made me happy with the remark that the quality of my play gave him great hopes for me."

Botvinnik wrote "It was clear from the beginning that he stood out among other boys because of his ability to calculate variations very skilfully and for many moves ahead. But Gary was a very excitable boy. I had to insist he think before making a move. / also used to say: ' Gary, there is a danger that you will become a new Larsen or Taimanov\ Even at a mature age these esteemed grandmasters sometimes make a move first and then think"

Baku Young Pioneers 1973-74

Baku's team of Young Pioneers (six boys, one girl) qualified for the All-Union final of the Komsomolskaya Pravda event by winning one of the zonal events at Kiev during the 1973-74 New Year break. Baku scored 27-8, ahead of Kiev 22'/:, Zaporozhye 19, Tashkent 18, Dnyepropyetrovsk 11 and Stavropol IVi- For their team both Rostik Korsunsky and Gary Wainshtein won all five games.


(Dnyepropyetrovsk) French C03

£>h6 5 e5 f6 6 &b5! Ad7 7 £xc6 &xc6 8 &b3 £>f7 9 Af4 f5 10 h4 Jiel 11 Wd2 b6 12 c3 kbl 13 Ae3 14 fccl &a6 15 Ih3 Wb5 16 £>e2 #xe2+ 17 #xe2 &xe2 18 &xe2 0-0-0 19 ¿hgS ¿hxgS 20 hg Hdf8 21 g3 g6 22 2h6 2f7 23 Hahl 2g7 24 &f3 &d7 25 g4 fg+ 26 &xg4 &e8 27 b4 a6 28 a4 <£d7

30 c4! dc 31 Hcl 2e8? 32 2xc4 £d8 33 &f4 2ee7 34 &e4 2gf7 35 2c6 Hg7 36 d5 ed+ 37 &xd5 He8

Not a badly played positional game for a 10 year old!

"Komsomolskaya Pravda" Final 1974

Ten year old Gary Wainshtein was a member of Baku's Young Pioneers' team, headed by grandmaster Bagirov, competing with young pioneer teams from Moscow, Leningrad, Cheliabinsk, Riga and Chernovtsy in Moscow at the end of March 1974 for the Komsomolskaya Pravda prize.

Each team of six boys and one girl had its grandmaster-trainer who played a clock simultaneous against each of the other teams.

Gary beat Averbakh, drew with Kuzmin and lost to Tal (a truly memorable experience) to Taimanov and to Polugayevsky.

A special report on Gary read "His basic chess failing is over-exuberance leading to his reaching over-optimistic assessments hastily. This results in mistakes which are not always sorted out due to his faulty recording. But he is still just a child; he will succeed in becoming more solid without any forcing. Gary should have an experienced chess teacher (or even better, grandmasters) who, one must hope, will carefully sort out all his games."

USSR Junior Championship 1975

Easily the youngest of the 42 competitors, which included 23 candidate masters, to participate in the USSR Junior Championship at Vilnius (Jan. 1975) was 11 year old "Garik" Wainshtein. He won his first three games, thus played most of the leaders, and finished a meritorious 7th. The winner, Evgeni Vladimirov from Alma-Ata, was 17 years old.

Top ten in the 9 rounds Swiss event:

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