14th World Champion Kramnik Retires From Classical Chess
Vladimir Kramnik. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

14th World Champion Kramnik Retires From Classical Chess

| 192 | Chess Event Coverage

Today Vladimir Kramnik announced his retirement from classical chess. A few days after finishing in a tie for last place in Wijk aan Zee, the 14th world champion revealed that it was his last serious tournament.

The announcement, published on the Tata Steel Chess tournament website, came from The Hague, the Netherlands where Kramnik will be playing the traditional simultaneous exhibition against politicians today.

"I already decided to finish my professional chess career a couple of months ago and now, after having played my last tournament, I would like to announce it publicly," Kramnik was quoted in the press release.

Vladimir Kramnik retires Vladimir Kramnik at the 2018 Paris Grand Chess Tour. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The Russian GM's last serious tournament finished only two days ago in Wijk aan Zee, where he finished on a disappointing 4.5/13.

Kramnik: "The life of a professional chess player was a great journey and I am very thankful to chess for all it has given me. It has sometimes been difficult, sometimes more successful than I could ever imagine, but in any case it has been a priceless human experience for me. I have always tried my best to give it all from my side, being fully involved in it while working and playing chess."

Several years ago Kramnik had already hinted that he would quit playing serious chess around the age of 40. He continued 2.5 more years, and even in that time added to his catalogue with impressive games in the twilight of his career.

Just last year, his win over Levon Aronian was named the #2 game of 2018 by's content team.

"I have also expressed in interviews before that I would like to try doing something else one day, and since my chess player motivation has dropped significantly in recent months, it feels like the right moment for it. I would like to concentrate on projects which I have been developing during the last months especially in the field of chess for children and education. I will soon provide more detailed information about those."

Kramnik will not be leaving the world of chess altogether. In fact, as an invitee for the 2019 Grand Chess Tour, he is likely to be a wildcard in one or two of their tournaments.

"I might still like to play a rapid or blitz chess tournament at times, or do a simultaneous like the Tata Steel Chess simultaneous in the Dutch parliament building this afternoon and will participate in various events connected with chess, popularizing this great game."

Jeroen van den Berg, director of the Tata Steel Chess Tournament, commented: "I am honored that Vladimir Kramnik has picked the Tata Steel Chess Tournament to be his last. I would have liked to see him to take leave with a better result, though. Vladimir is a great player. He is dynamic, all-round and a great fighter with a very keen insight. But above all he is a wonderful and warm person, with a great sense of humor. I will miss his presence in the top of the chess world, as will many chess aficionados all over the world. I wish him all the best with everything he is going to undertake and am sure our paths will cross again many more times."

Vladimir Kramnik retires Vladimir Kramnik at the 2018 Norway Chess tournament. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Kramnik is one of the true great champions of the game. He won just about every major tournament in his career, including Dos Hermanas, Horgen, Tilburg Tata Steel Chess, Linares, the Tal Memorial, the Melody Amber, Dortmund (10 times!) and London.

In 2000, Kramnik dethroned Garry Kasparov in their world championship match in London. Kramnik won 8.5-6.5 without losing a game.

Already up one win and with his black defense showing no holes (which had the effect of creating a resurgence in the Berlin), this win in game 10 made his lead two games and essentially salted away the match:

Kramnik then retained his title in matches with Peter Leko (2004) and Veselin Topalov (2006).

Being only an FM and just 16 years old, Kramnik was put on the Russian squad for the Manila Olympiad, getting strong support from Kasparov. Kramnik stunned the chess world when he scored 8.5/9 and a 2958 performance, good for individual gold. He would score +36 =50 -4 at Olympiads in total, winning four gold, two silver and two bronze team medals and four individual gold medals.

After that Manila Olympiad, Kramnik entered the world's top 10 for the first time in January 1993, when he was 17 years old. Except for October and November 2014, he always remained a top-10 player but due to his bad result in Wijk aan Zee this year, he will drop to #15 on the February rating list.

Here's one more game, an early rapid win over Kasparov that showed Big Vlad was the real deal:

Mike Klein contributed to this report.

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