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General Dec 26, 2020 | 9:59 AMby Colin McGourty

RIP Klara Kasparova, Garry Kasparov’s mother and confidant

Klara Shagenovna Kasparova (1937-2020) passed away yesterday at the age of 83. Klara, who was a successful engineer before she devoted herself full-time to her son’s career, accompanied Garry Kasparov to almost all his major chess tournaments. The 13th World Chess Champion described her as, “my role model, my greatest champion, my wise counsel, and the strongest person I will ever know”.

Garry Kasparov shared the sad news that his mother had passed away on December 25th.

Garry later added the following tribute:

In an interview in 2000 Klara talked about how one spring Sunday she was discussing a chess problem at breakfast with her husband Kim when 5-year-old Garry suddenly explained to them that they needed to promote a pawn to a knight and not a queen. “You know chess?” asked Kim in surprise, since they hadn’t taught their son chess at all. Within a month Garry was able to beat his mother, and chess would soon provide solace, since Garry’s father Kim died of leukaemia when the future World Champion was just 7 years old.

Garry was left alone with his mother, whose surname Kasparov he would later adopt. 

Although Klara had built a successful career as an engineer and research scientist she gave it up in 1981 when it became clear that the teenage Garry Kasparov had the potential to reach the very top of the chess world. From that moment onwards Klara was an inseparable part of Garry’s career, accompanying him to all his major events. 

Garry commented:

The main thing is that I can be frank with her as with no-one else. At critical moments you hear a voice which you’ve got used to trusting over long years. Each of us needs someone we can trust, tell everything to without holding back, calling things by their proper names. And then, more often than not, you understand yourself how you should act. My mother jokes that she absorbs my stress.

Klara lived her last years in Moscow, with her son’s political exile meaning they were unable to meet as often as before. She still took part in Russian chess life.

On the 29th January 2020, Klara Kasparova gave a speech in the Central Chess Club in Moscow on behalf of Garry for the 85th birthday of his coach Alexander Nikitin | photo: Maria Manakova/Mikhail Klopov-Grafsky, Russian Chess Federation 

Everyone at chess24 would like to express our deep condolences to Garry Kasparov and all Klara’s friends and family. May she rest in peace.

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