Athletes Chess

Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik is a Russian chess grandmaster. He was the Classical World Chess Champion from 2000 to 2006, and the undisputed World Chess Champion from 2006 to 2007.

He has won three team gold medals and three individual medals at Chess Olympiads.

In 2000, Kramnik defeated Garry Kasparov and became the Classical World Chess Champion.

He defended his title in 2004 against Péter Lékó, and defeated the reigning FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov in a unification match in 2006.

As a result, Kramnik became the first undisputed World Champion, holding both the FIDE and Classical titles, since Kasparov split from FIDE in 1993.

In 2007, Kramnik lost the title to Viswanathan Anand, who won the World Chess Championship 2007 tournament ahead of Kramnik.

He challenged Anand at the World Chess Championship 2008 to regain his title, but lost. Nonetheless, he remained a top player; he reached a peak rating of 2817 in October 2016, which makes him the joint-eighth highest-rated player of all time.

Kramnik publicly announced his retirement as a professional chess player in January 2019. He stated he intends to focus on projects relating to chess for children and education.

  • Full name: Vladimir Borisovich Kramnik
  • Profession: Russian chess Grandmaster
  • Born: 25 June 1975 (age 44 years), Tuapse, Russia
  • Height: 1.95 m
  • Spouse: Marie-Laure (m. 2006)
  • World Champion: 2000–06 (Classical); 2006–07 (undisputed)
  • Books: My Path to the Top: World Championship Chess

About Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik was born in the town of Tuapse, on the shores of the Black Sea. His father’s birth name was Boris Sokolov, but he took his stepfather’s surname when his mother (Vladimir’s grandmother) remarried.

As a child, Vladimir Kramnik studied in the chess school established by Mikhail Botvinnik. His first notable result in a major tournament was his gold medal win as first reserve for the Russian team in the 1992 Chess Olympiad in Manila.

His selection for the team caused some controversy in Russia at the time, as he was only a FIDE Master. However, his selection was supported by Garry Kasparov.

He scored eight wins, one draw, and no losses, a performance of 2958, which won a gold medal for best rating performance.

The following year, Kramnik played in the very strong tournament in Linares. He finished fifth, beating the then world number three, Vassily Ivanchuk, along the way.

He followed this up with a string of good results, but had to wait until 1995 for his first major tournament win at normal time controls, when he won the strong Dortmund tournament, finishing it unbeaten.

In 1995, Kramnik served as a second for Kasparov in the Classical World Chess Championship 1995 match against challenger Viswanathan Anand. Kasparov won the match 10½–7½.

In January 1996, Kramnik became the world number-one rated player; although having the same FIDE rating as Kasparov (2775), Kramnik became number one by having played more games during the rating period in question.

This was the first time since December 1985 that Kasparov was not world number one, and Kramnik’s six month stretch (January through June 1996) as world number one would be the only time from January 1986 through March 2006 where Kasparov was not world number one.

By becoming number one, Kramnik became the youngest ever to reach world number one, breaking Kasparov’s record; this record would stand for 14 years until being broken by Magnus Carlsen in January 2010.

Kramnik continued to produce good results, including winning at Dortmund (outright or tied) ten times from 1995 to 2011. He is the second of only nine chess players to have reached a rating of 2800 (the first being Kasparov).

During his reign as world champion, Kramnik never regained the world number-one ranking, doing so only in January 2008 after he had lost the title to Viswanathan Anand; as in 1996, Kramnik had the same FIDE rating as Anand (2799) but became number one due to more games played within the rating period.

Kramnik’s 12 years between world number-one rankings is the longest since the inception of the FIDE ranking system in 1971.