I heard that Kasparov called some strong player a talented amateur? Who was that? Thanks.

1 Answer 1


I will answer in the first line of the next paragraph, but there is a lot of history that happened right around the time Kasparov made this comment, so I will add in some of that too.

At the Tilburg tournament in November 1997, Kasparov was not known for holding his tongue, and he called Grandmaster Shirov, who was 2700 and 8th in the world, a "talented amateur". Shirov did not appreciate the remark. Kasparov’s comment is ironic since it was only about a year later that Shirov would upset Kramnik in a match (5.5-3.5) to win the right to play Kasparov for the PCA (Professional Chess Association) World Championship in 1998, but the match never took place because there was no sponsor since Intel, and later Linares organizer Luis Rentero, pulled out, and the money could not be secured. The PCA collapsed. Shirov was probably not without blame as it is alleged that he refused to play since his cut was too small.

My opinion is that if you are not champion, you should play, and if you win, then you have more leverage…get paid big down the line. That said, it is a big stretch to think that Shirov would have beaten Kasparov anyway as Shirov was Kasparov’s “customer”, meaning that Kasparov beat him like a drum throughout their career. The lifetime record was 16 wins, 15 draws, and zero losses for Kasparov.

After this happened, a new sponsor, BrainGames.com, was eventually secured for a Kasparov match, but unfortunately, the sponsor tried to sign Anand to play Kasparov, but this fell through too. Shirov was naturally upset that he was not signed, and called Anand a “pickpocket”, and he felt that Kasparov had to play him before he played any other matches. It turned out that since even that match never took place, Kasparov ultimately played Kramnik in 2000, and well, we know how that turned out: Kramink, a heavy underdog, used the Berlin Defense to the Ruy Lopez, and won by a score of 8 1/2–6 ½. Anand would go on to win the separate FIDE World Championship knockout event that year as Kasparov had previously broken away with the classical title in 1986.

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    What happened to Shirov is really unfortunate. Kramnik got paid for losing the match, but Shirov only got a chance to play Kasparov (with much larger payoff, but it never happened). Original prize fund for Kasparov - Shirov match was around 2 million dollars. Shirov was offered match with prize fund of $650,000, with I think $200,000 for 2nd place, which is what Kramnik got paid for losing to Shirov, iirc. Shirov rejected, but he did not realize that it was the last offer. In the end Shirov ended up with no money and no match.
    – Akavall
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 23:51
  • I thought it was called "client" not "customer".
    – Stian
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 17:16

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