Brooklyn College Grad Breaks into Chess’s Elite Ranks

December 18, 2007 | Brooklyn College

Brooklyn College alumnus Gata Kamsky, Class of 1999, won the prestigious 2007 Chess World Cup held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, in a spectacular comeback victory over Alexei Shirov, catapulting the Russian-born Kamsky into the ranks of game’s international elite.

The 34-year-old Kamsky’s victory earned him $120,000 in prize money and the right to challenge World Chess Champion Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria for the title in a match scheduled to be held in 2009.

The former Brooklyn College student suffered no losses on his way to winning the World Cup. Enroute, Kamsky beat Ahmed Adly, Boris Avrukh and Kiril Georgiev in his first three matches. Then he drew his two-game mini-match against the Russian Peter Svidler before going on to defeat Ruslan Ponomariov and Magnus Carlsen in the quarterfinals and semi-finals, respectively.

In the closely fought four-game World Cup final, Kamsky and Shirov drew the first game. Kamsky won the second game. The third was a draw and so was the fourth, which ended after thirty-four moves.
Kamsky retired from chess in 1996, after losing to Anatoly Karpov in the World Chess Championship 20-match contest fought in Elista, Kalmykia.

In 1999 he returned again, playing in the Knockout World Championship in Las Vegas, but again lost, this time to Alexander Khalifman. Five years later he finished in a tie for first place in the New York Masters.

After graduating from Brooklyn College, Kamsky entered medical school but dropped out after a year to enter law school from which he was graduated.