It is, of course, a great pity that such an amazing talent as Kasparov should have retired from competitive chess and that he won't be playing in Canberra, but his mere presence will be inspiration enough for many. The only time I've previously seen Kasparov was at the 1986 London World Championship match which I visited. The aura in the playing hall was amazing. Grandmasters were in the audience along with patzers like myself, watching the two great players battle it out. I left the playing hall desperate to work at the game, and get to the highest level I could manage.
Well, a week before his trip to Canberra, it is Kasparov's 51st birthday today. Kasparov has played many memorable games, and produced many great contributions to chess opening and endgame theory as well as his magnificent attacks and combinations. The game that I vividly remember seeing and thinking, "my God, how good was that!" was his win in 1982 at the Olympiad against the USA team. He was playing on board 1 against Soviet emigre, Lev Alburt, when the following position occurred:
I was only about 16 when I first saw this game, and things like positional queen sacrifices were mysteries that only the greatest of players could hope to achieve. I was aware of Kasparov's tactical flare, but this game seemed to be something bigger, grander and more than just a display of tactical fireworks. Perhaps it isn't Kasparov's most perfect game, but it shows his ability to change a game situation, his tenacity, and both his positional and tactical awareness, albeit at prototype level!
Happy Birthday, Garry Kasparov.