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Kasparov Radio

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National Public Radio (NPR) interviewed Garry Kasparov yesterday and the audio stream is available online. They called Kasparov at his annual training camp in Croatia for the five-minute interview. They started with Fischer, but, refreshingly, quickly moved on to talk about Kasparov's Predecessors book series and its other subjects.

Oddly, Petrosian is singled out for discussion by interviewer Scott Simon. (Who starts out the piece by calling Fischer a "genius, and also a bit of a jerk.") Kasparov does a good job of explaining Petrosian's style in layman's terms, comparing him to a baseline tennis player who never rushed the net. His relationship with Botvinnik was also mentioned. Interesting stuff, if not revelatory for those who know the basics about the champions.

Can you be too old at some point to play chess at the level you want to play it?

"Absolutely. It's a quite young game, the average age in of the top 10 now is under 30. ... For many of these kids, I look like a dinosaur who played Petrosian and Spassky and was taught by Mikhail Botvinnik. Many of them probably see me as a historical link between the very old generation and young players. I learned from players that grew up in the 30s and 40s. I played with the great players who dominated chess in the 50s, 60s and 70s and now I'm playing the kids in the 21st century."


Good for Kaspy to provide trainings, give interviews, write books, and play very few games (Even Korchnoi plays many more games). At this rate, he can be sure to retain his No. 1 ranking till at least 2010 even if the quality of his play slips further (unless Anand or Moro play extraordinarily well).


Did you copy-paste this from 1994 or 1998 or 2000, the last three times many people said Kasparov was in inevitable decline?

By the way, is the rating system Kasparov's fault? He tried to change it twice! (Thompson formula and WCR.) Do you really think he bases the number of tournaments he plays in on his rating? Then why play the Euro Team and the Olympiads, where he will always face much lower-rated players?

Mig, are there any links you can supply which list how the chessplayers rank according to these alternate rating systems?

I don't think the various WCR formula lists were ever finalized, let alone published. The Thomson/professional/PCA/WCC lists were available at KasparovChess and later the WCR site, but not sure about now. Old issues of TWIC will have the PCA lists when they were released. They usually called it the Professional World Chess Ranking.

I think Dvorkavich is still calculating the Thomson formula list, although with limited resources it isn't very useful outside of the top players. I'm not sure how often he puts it out now. Here is the July 2004 list:


By the way, is the rating system Kasparov's fault? He tried to change it twice!

The rating system isn't Kasparov's fault and nor is the scoring system Kramnik's. They are both using the respective systems to their advantage.

Do you really think he bases the number of tournaments he plays in on his rating?

I can't read his mind but the approach seems to work for him. The more games he plays at a lower level, more the drop in his rating points (Inactivity or rust hadn't had much of an impact on him historically). If he had played in Corus and Dortmund and had got results similar to Linares and Armenia vs ROW then his rating would have dropped further. I am curious as to why he didn't play at Corus or Dortmund (those appearance money issues could always be resolved).

He is not classical champion nor the FIDE champion. If he is not No. 1 player, would there be any justification in seeding him to the semis of the unification plan? What do you say?

It seems to be in his interest to keep his No 1 rating at least till the unification cycle is over. Till then, I think he will minimize his appearances. Regarding olympiad, I am not sure those results are accounted for in the ratings.


Dear Mig,

Is there a way to compare ratings among players of different eras? Say, how would Fischerīs 2780 (his highest, I suppose) compare to Kasparovīs? Is there a rating inflation and if so, is it avoidable?

Thanks in advance,


It would be almost impossible for Kasparov to lose his #1 rating in so short a time. His lead over the #2 actually INCREASED this year despite losing points because of Kramnik's poor Corus result. To lose the #1 Kasparov in less than a year he would have to have negative scores in several events, something hard to imagine.

Kasparov has feuded with the Dortmund organizers for a long time. I rather doubt he was invited. Everyone would like to see Kasparov (and the other top players) play more often. But there aren't that many events these days. Corus is the only serious invitation I can recall him declining, and I complained about that this year and last.

The rating system IS to Kasparov's advantage. Simple fact. There is no penalty for inactivity (and there should be). Talking as though he is intentionally exploiting something is bizarre.

I criticize SEC because I think it's boring and makes it harder to find sponsors. Obviously Kramnik can do whatever he wants. Do you think SEC is good for the sport?

Did anyone else notice Scott Simon called Kasparov the World Chess Champion as he signed off? I think his visibility (and that includes playing) combined with rating keeps the uninformed assuming he's champ. Why doesn't Kramnik get the recognition of his title?

Probably because he holds a disputed title and isn't as flamboyant as Kasparov. Let Kramnik be the highest rated player in the world for a couple decades, ignore the touch-move rule as necessary, and throw the occasional hissy-fit, and he could be just as well-known as Kasparov.


Probably the best work for comparing players of different eras has been done by Jeff Sonas. Here's his site:


I believe he has more current articles at the ChessBase site, and may have a more current website elsewhere, as well. It's not exactly what you want, but it is the best available metric. Anyway, it makes for fun reading.

Parsley Boy

No one seems to be commenting on the interview itself. I think Mr. Kasparov made a good point when he said that many young players probably see him as a link to the history of chess (my paraphrase). With Fischer having nothing to do with chess, the real links seem to be players like Kasparov, Karpov..maybe Spasky? These men have so much to offer the chess world. They played against former world champions that todays up and coming players never even had the chance to meet! Just think, in 30 years the world champ may give an interview and talk about how he (or she?) once played in a simul against Garry Kasparov (and the none-chess audience thinks, "Garry who??").

I thought the same thing. Kasparov not only plays great Chess, he also has the "gift of he gab"! He's quick on his feet; able to explain things quite well.

We have been discussing Kasparov's so-called "decline", but I can't help wonder why he'd be declining when he's been working on so many great games of chess in the past 100+ years, analyzing them to death, etc. That is probably the best training he could get...

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 1, 2004 11:39 PM.

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