Former chess world champion Vladimir Kramnik announced his retirement from professional chess on Tuesday at the end of the Tata Steel Championships in Wijk Ann Zee, Netherlands.

The Russian confirmed that the Tata Steel tournament would be his last competitive tournament in a career that nearly lasted three decades. The Grand Master rose to world no 1 in 1996, becoming the youngest player to do so before current world champion Magnus Carlsen broke the record in 2010.

The 43-year-old, in 2000, dethroned compatriot Garry Kasparov to become the world champion and held the title for seven years before India’s Viswanathan Anand clinched the title in 2007. Kramnik had a disappointing Tata Steel Championships in 2019, finishing bottom after 13 rounds.

On Tuesday, Kramnik went public with his decision to retire. “I already decided to finish my professional chess career a couple of months ago and now, after having played my last tournament, I would like to announce it publicly,” he said.

“The life of a professional chess player was a great journey and I am very thankful to chess for all it has given me. It has sometimes been difficult, sometimes more successful than I could ever imagine, but in any case it has been a priceless human experience for me. I have always tried my best to give it all from my side, being fully involved in it while working and playing chess.”

Kramnik revealed that he had lost motivation in recent times, leading to his decision to step away from the game. “I have also expressed in interviews before that I would like to try doing something else one day, and since my chess player motivation has dropped significantly in recent months, it feels like the right moment for it,” Kramnik said.

“I would like to concentrate on projects which I have been developing during the last months especially in the field of chess for children and education. I will soon provide more detailed information about those. I might still like to play a rapid or blitz chess tournament at times, or do a simultaneous like the Tata Steel Chess simultaneous in the Dutch parliament building this afternoon and will participate in various events connected with chess, popularising this great game.”