Gata Kamsky

by Bill Wall


Gata Kamsky was born in Siberia to a Tartar family on June 2, 1974.


In 1981, the family moved to Leningrad and Kamsky began playing chess.


In 1986, at the age of 12, Kamsky defeated Grandmaster Mark Taimanov in a tournament game. At the time, he was the youngest player to beat a grandmaster in a tournament game.


He became a Russian National Master at age 12. His first FIDE rating was 2380.


In 1987 and 1988 he won the Soviet under-20 championship at the age of 13 and 14.


In March 1989 his family came to the United States. As Gata played in the New York Open, his father asked the FBI for political asylum. The family was allowed to stay in an apartment in Brooklyn, with financial support from the American Chess Foundation.


In July 1990 at the age of 16, he became the youngest player to be in the world’s top 10 chess player list. His Elo rating was 2650.


In 1990, he played in the Interzonal tournament. Afterwards, he was awarded the Grandmaster title.


In 1991, at the age of 17, he won the U.S. Chess Championship, held in Los Angeles.


In 1993, Kamsky played in the FIDE Interzonal (Grongingen) and the PCA Interzonal (Biel). He came in 3rd in both events.

In 1995, he defeated former world champion Vladimir Kramnik and Nigel Short, but then lost the PCA final to Anand. Kamsky was now ranked #4 in the world.


In 1996, he defeated Pal Van der Sterren, Anand, and Valery Salov, but lost the FIDE World Championship match against Anatoly Karpov.


Kamsky gave up chess from 1996 to 2004. He graduated from Brooklyn College in 1989. He attended medical school for one year. He then went to law school and graduated from Touro Law Center in New York.


In 2004, Kamsky played in the FIDE Knockout World Championship in Las Vegas, but lost to Alexander Khalifman, the eventual winner and world champion.


In April 2005, he was rated #19 in the world with a 2700 Elo rating.


In 2005, he won the 127th New York State Chess Championship.


In 2006, he won the World Open, held in Philadelphia.


In 2006, Kamsky led the US team to the bronze medal at the 2006 Chess Olympiad, held in Turin, Italy.


In 2007, he lost to Boris Gelfand, the present World Champion Challenger, in the Candidates Tournament for the 2007 World Championship.


In December 2007, he won the Chess World Cup title after defeating Peter Svidler, former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov, future world #1 player Magnus Carlsen, and Alexei Shirov.


In 2008, Kamsky played on board one for the USA in the 2008 Chess Olympiad, held in Dresden.


In 2009, he lost to Veselin Topalov for the right to challenge Anand for the World Chess Championship 2010.


In May 2010, he won the US Chess Championship and $30,000. It was the second time he was US champion. He had been US champion 19 years earlier.


In August 2010, he won the World Rapid Chess Championship.


In April 2011, he won the US Chess Championship for the 3rd time.


In May 2011, he lost to Gelfand in the semifinals of the Candidates Tournament to determine the challenger against Anand for the 2012 World Chess Championship.


In July 2011, he won the 39th World Open in Philadelphia.


He played board 1 for USA at the 2011 World Chess Team Championship, winning the bronze medal.


In 2012, Kamsky was ranked #2 in the USA with a USCF rating of 2804 (Nakamura is 2848) and #14 in the world.


He won the US championship in 2013 and 2014.


His peak Elo rating was 2763 in July 2013.  His Elo rating is 2676 as of January 2015.