The Soviet Union's leading young player and his father have requested political asylum in the United States. The announcement was made last Friday to The Associated Press by Lev Alburt, a former United States champion who defected from the Soviet Union in 1981.
The 14-year-old chess player, Gata Kamsky, and his father, Rustam Kamsky, spoke with an official from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and were staying in the New York area.Joseph Valiquette, a spokesman for the FBI office in New York, declined to comment on the reported defection and referred all inquiries on the matter to the State Department.
Spokesmen for both the State Department and the Justice Department declined to comment.
Gata Kamsky was the youngest player participating in the New York International Open Chess Tournament at the Penta Hotel.
After speaking with the FBI official, Gata, who tied for first place in the Lenigrad championship two years ago, defeated Patrick Wolff, an American international master, in the final round.
John Fedorowicz won the tournament with a score of 7-2. For finishing in first place in the nine-round, Swiss-system event in which 90 players took part, the 30-year-old New York grandmaster received $18,000.
In the critical last-round game, Fedorowicz defeated Mikhail Gurevich of the Soviet Union in 42 moves.
For two of the Polgar sisters from Hungary, the tournament fell short of success. Susan, 19, and Sofi, 14, both scored four points.
Twelve-year-old Judith, who a year ago became the youngest player to achieve the rank of international master, made a respectable score of 51/2. But she was disappointed in not getting the half-point more that would have meant a grandmaster norm.
Since Gata Kamsky defected, he came out of seclusion earlier this week and has said that he had been discriminated against by the Soviet chess authorities.
He and his father, Rustam Kamsky, told James C. McKinley Jr., of the New York Times that the "chess mafia" in Moscow kept Gata from competing for more than three years.
"I decided to leave the Soviet Union because I can't play in chess tournaments and so I can't grow in chess. Here I can play all the tournaments every year."
Since defecting, they have been living at the Princeton, N.J., home of James Sherwin, president of the American Chess Foundation, which is supporting them financially.
The State Department has officially granted the father and son asylum. Gata's asylum was granted on the grounds that he had been discriminated against in the Soviet Union because he is a Tatar, a member of a Muslim ethnic group.
Rustam Kamsky, a former boxer and photographer who is his son's coach, said officials of the Soviet Chess Federation and the Government sports ministry had excluded his son from several tournaments because he is a Crimean Tatar.
The youth arrived in America a celebrity, having already been booked for major chess tournaments and television talk shows.
Gata, a wiry, bespectacled teenager, said his sole ambition is to play chess and eventually become the world champion.
The father said their defection was planned for months. The Kamskys were able to attend the New York tournament because of liberalized travel rules under perestroika.
Robert Byrne, chess editor of the Times, said this week that the young defector "must adapt to a system of big expenses, small prizes, and fierce girls."
"It's a cold, cruel world over here in the West. That's what even such a bright prospect as Gata is going to find out."
Back home, his excellent training was state-supplied, but in the United States the equivalent in private lessons with a top teacher will run $100 an hour.
There is a bright spot in his outlook, however; the American Chess Foundation has provided scholarships for promising young chess players around the country, and Gata should easily meet - indeed, far exceed, the eligibility requirements.
"And there is one other thing: Unlike the Soviet Chess Federation, which segregates the sexes in competitions, one may well encounter girls here - really strong ones. Gata already found that out in the eighth round of the tournament, when he was given a drubbing at the hands of Judith Polgar, the 12-year-old Hungarian whiz."