Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov is coming out of retirement to play in a US tournament next month, organisers have said.
Kasparov, who dominated chess for more than 15 years, will compete against nine top players in St Louis, Missouri.
“Ready to see if I remember how to move the pieces! Will I be able to announce my re-retirement afterwards if not?!,” Kasparov tweeted sardonically.
Kasparov left chess in 2005 for politics and founded an opposition movement called The Other Russia that accused President Vladimir Putin of returning the country to its dictatorial past. He became a powerful political voice and and even tried to run against Putin in the 2008 Russian presidential election, leaving the country in 2013 and taking Croatian citizenship.
At 54, Kasparov will be the oldest player competing for the Sinquefield Cup. “Looks like I’m going to raise the average age of the field and lower the average rating!” he added.
Born Garry Weinstein in Azerbaijan to an Armenian mother and Jewish father, Kasparov has been described as “a monster with 100 eyes, who sees all”.
He quickly understood the interest in combining computers with chess and in 1996 agreed to play against IBM’s “Deep Blue” supercomputer. Kasparov won that match but lost a second a year later.
Sharp-worded criticism, such as likening Putin to Hitler, made him a target and he risked arrest after being accused of biting a police officer’s hand at a protest in 2012. The opposition news website he founded, Kasparov.ru, has been blocked in Russia since 2014.
In another battle, Kasparov attempted in 2014 to dethrone the eccentric head of the World Chess Federation, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, but lost after securing only 61 federation delegates votes out of 175.
Kasparov was given a wild card entry to the tournament. The current world No 1, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, will also play, as will Hikaru Nakamura, world No 2.
While he will not face Carlsen, Kasparov, who is in the Rapid and Blitz competition, may go against number two Hikaru Nakamura or the up-and-coming 26-year-old Russian Sergey Karyakin.