Who Is The Most Influential Chess Player Ever?
Garry Kasparov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova /

Who Is The Most Influential Chess Player Ever?

| 156 | Amazing Games

Chess aficionados love to debate about the best chess player of all time. 

As I mentioned in my old article, this is the question that has no answer. Indeed, it is very difficult to guess who would have won the world championship match Fischer-Karpov in 1975, let alone a completely hypothetical encounter like Capablanca-Carlsen.

From the other side, it is much easier to name the most influential chess player of all time.

Granted, it is as subjective as naming the most influential composer. Is it Bach, Mozart, Beethoven or somebody else? In my opinion, Garry Kasparov is the player who made the biggest impact on modern chess.

I am ready to admit that I am very biased here since I was a student of the famous Botvinnik-Kasparov school. Had I had an opportunity to discuss chess with Bobby Fischer, my choice of the most influential chess player might have been different. But I can tell you that whenever I do any chess activity, one way or another I always remember Kasparov!

Here is one of the most recent examples.

Just like everyone else, I immensely enjoyed the last-round game Aronian-Grischuk from the recently concluded Sinquefield Cup. Let me show you the way I saw this game when I followed it live.


Levon Aronian at the 2018 Sinquefield Cup. | Photo: Mike Klein/

I got very excited after the first few moves of the game.

The memories of my youth came back to me. I was 17,  just received the master title and qualified to play in the First League of the Soviet Championship. My opponents are very strong grandmasters whose pictures I saw in chess magazines.

In the very first round I have to play GM Timoschenko. He was Garry Kasparov's second in the series of world championship matches vs. Anatoly Karpov!

How am I supposed to avoid the famous opening preparation from Kasparov's camp? Here is what I played:

I was very happy to survive the crazy complications that I started myself early in the opening. While I was enjoying the memories from the tournament I had played over 30 years ago, the game Aronian-Grischuk continued.

Hmm, Grischuk allowed White to put his knight on a very dangerous f5 square. Kasparov frequently told us in the school that the Nf5 is a harbinger of a future attack. Here is his own game:

Meanwhile, the Sinquefield game has reached a very sharp middlegame. 

More memories from my youth! This time it is July 1988, and I am serving in the Soviet Army. Surprisingly, the summer is hot even in Siberia! The biggest tournament of my life, the World Junior Championship, starts in about two months and I am looking for any chess game or just a position to analyze. (I wrote about my army experience in this article.)

Somehow I managed to get the latest issue of the "Soviet Sport" newspaper where they gave daily reports from the super-strong Soviet chess championship. Here is the position that I saw there. Do you see that it really resembles the game Aronian-Grischuk?

Try to guess Kasparov's moves. He finished the game very energetically.

Meanwhile, Aronian boldly sacrificed a rook, started an attack against black king and just like Kasparov played g3-g4!

Now can you finish the game like Levon Aronian?

Aronian's star move was 29. Ke3!!

A move with the king in a middle of an attack is really Kasparov's trademark, as he played it on many occasions. Here is the most famous one:

Here is what Kasparov says about his move 31. Kh2!!: "This is the last prophylaxis. It is necessary to move the king out of the weak first rank. After that White is ready to start his attack."

As you could see, while Levon Aronian was creating his masterpiece, I couldn't help but think about Kasparov's chess heritage. Now you can understand why I consider Garry Kasparov the most influential chess player of all time!

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