This is why we play chess: Gata Kamsky


Grandmaster Gata Kamsky lives in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and is married to Woman Grandmaster Vera Nebolsina. Kamsky is a former World Chess Championship challenger. In this article, I look at one recent Kamsky win, which he played and commented on live on Twitch.

Gata Kamsky
Gata Kamsky, Isle of Man, 2019
Photo: John Saunders/Isle of Man Chess

In a 2019 interview, Grandmaster Gata Kamsky said that his wife, Woman Grandmaster Vera Nebolsina, was from Siberia. In 2015, Kamsky left the United States and moved to Siberia to be with his wife. He said that he “settled down where I was born once. At the end of 2018 we went to Saint Petersburg, a cultural city closer to Europe that suited us better. Since then I have been wondering if my life is repeating itself. Born in Siberia, moved to Leningrad, then to the USA.” Leningrad is now Saint Petersburg, so Kamsky is rotating among familiar locations.

During Kamsky’s years in the United States, he won the U.S. Championship five times and was a challenger for the 1996 World Chess Championship. His best games are available in two volumes. Although he has played chess tournaments in many countries, Kamsky now works from home. That’s common among grandmasters, with over-the-board tournaments mostly cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Kamsky plays chess on Twitch, which can provide a good income for chess players. While streaming on June 7, 2020, Kamsky won this game, as Black, in 3+0 Rated Blitz on 3+0 means three minutes per side, with no delay or increment. His opponent was Grandmaster David Paravyan, of Moscow, Russia, who plays under the handle GM drop_stone. What would you play as Black?

chess diagram

Technically, material is equal. Black has two rooks (5 points each, so 10 points), one knight (3 points) and two pawns (2 points), for a total of 15 points. White also has 15 points: a 9-point queen, 3-point bishop, and three pawns. Yet after Black’s move, White resigned.

The answer is 37…Rbg2! which attacks White’s queen. The only temporarily safe square for white’s queen is 38. Qf5, which falls to 38… Rg1+ 39. Bd1 Rxd1+ 40. Kxd1 Ne3+ 41. Ke1 Nxf5. Thus, White resigned.

As Kamsky said on Twitch, “this is why we play chess.” Even though no World Championship was at stake during this Blitz game, and there was no prize money on the line, Kamsky’s enthusiasm for chess is apparent in this video clip. At age 46, 30 years after becoming a grandmaster, Kamsky still loves chess. Kamsky continued, “This is like perfect game, alright. That was awesome. I liked it myself.”

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

One Response

  1. Kamil
    Kamil at

    “In 2015, Kamsky left the United States and moved to Siberia to be with his wife” – what a story…!