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The "management, leadership, and career advice for executives" magazine Fast Company has an article by Garry Kasparov. He's been writing on politics since the early 90's, although it's only in the past year or two that he has branched out from Russia-centric items. Now Kasparov is hitting the lucrative business circuit for lectures on strategic thinking and decision-making. (Not to mention life-coach-style instruction in an upcoming book.) No matter how these new endeavors go it's a shame he couldn't give another four or five years purely to playing chess. (Not counting writing about it.) The debate about whether or not he is past his prime is beside the point since he started putting so many irons in so many fires.

"Smart executives, correspondingly, must understand that their competitors are at least as smart as they are. Only the most arrogant fail to acknowledge that they do not have a monopoly on brainpower, ideas, or will. In chess, I know that my rival sees everything I see. Even if I do the unthinkable -- a bold, unprecedented move calculated to leave him gasping -- I must assume he has anticipated it and will have an equally daring answer. Call it the courage to accept humility."



You say that "[t]he debate about whether or not [Kasparov] is past his prime is beside the point since he started putting so many irons in so many fires." Depending on what you mean by this, I either disagree with you strongly or agree with you completely.

I disagree with you to the extent you are suggesting that Kasparov is somehow immunized from questions about his present strength by his many "extracurricular" activities. As long as he sits on the highest rating in the world and gets treated differently (read "better") than other players because of his alleged chess strength, his actual strength is very relevant. It is neither reasonable nor fair to claim privileges based on a theoretical strength which you cannot or will not prove because you are too busy with other things.

However, I agree with you to the extent you are suggesting that Kasparov's recent disappointing results are probably not indicative of a significant decay in his chess ability so much as the fact that he is currently spending a great deal of his mental energy on other things. I suspect that if Kasparov can regain the hunger for victory that has characterized much of his career, he is still capable of going "mano a mano" with anyone in the world (including Kramnik, Leko, Anand, and the underestimated Kazim) and beating them. Whether or not, at his age and with his history of accomplishments, he is willing to commit to the necessary level of focus and self-discipline is another question, and one which I suppose only Kasparov himself can answer. But I personally believe that if he wants it bad enough, he can do it, because I also believe that his chess abilities, when fully engaged, are of a higher caliber than those of Kramnik, Anand or Leko (or anyone else for that matter). (Kramnik may be close, but probably is not that close, in my opinion.)

I would love to see Kasparov make a serious, focused attempt to win the title of Unified World Champion, because at his best he plays the most exciting chess of any top player, period. However, the flip side of this coin is I don't want to see a "lame duck" Kasparov who claims to the best in the world based on a stagnant but declining rating and mediocre results. If he's gonna talk the talk (and I'm not just talking about talking here), he needs to start walking the walk. I personally would be quite happy if he starts walking the walk again, like he used to.

Just my opinion.

- Geof Strayer

I mean simply what I said. People can talk endlessly about his strength, and will. Discussions of a player's decline are usually about age, which Kasparov has largely preempted by spending so much time on other things.

While Kasparov no doubt enjoys some benefits from his #1 rating, the privileges of which you speak come from his fame and reputation, which won't decline for many years. Not as long as he's the biggest name in chess, certainly.

Results speak for themselves. It would be nice if the rating list were more dynamic, of course. Karpov stayed in the top 10 for years beyond his results by playing so infrequently, but it's hardly worth a scandal.


That is very well put. I agree that it is hypocritical for Garry and his supporters to claim special privileges (such as direct seeding into finals or rematches) based on the FIDE World No 1 rating, which by his own admission is too static and does not punish inactivity.

I would however disagree on Kasparov's confidence. I feel one reason he has cut down on his chess is to minimize the impact on his rating and ensure he retains the #1 rank that helps him with better bargaining. Garry senses that time is running out and hence his demands for a rematch and later a direct match with FIDE WC.

Some would argue that he's playing badly because of rust. I am not so sure as he has not shown any noticeable performance degradation in the past due to inactivity. It might actually keep him rested and fresh. Let's also not forget that Karpov's decline had started at a lower age.


I love this quote in the box, "Smart executives [etc etc]... Call it the courage to accept humility." As a weak chess player, I'm almost always beat by strong players, so I have a sort of cheap brand of humility forced upon me and continuously reinforced by circumstances. I think the author of this insightful paragraph has achieved a much more courageous degree of humility since he can acknowledge the idea that lots of poeple are better chess players than him even though he is the best. True inspiration; I'm considering taking the rest of the day off just to think about it. I might even claim that one could present this material to a top executive and use their reaction as a sort of intelligence test.

In your quick Chessbase.com notes to Leko's win in Game 8 you say: "The interesting question to me is how Kramnik's preparation missed this when Fritz finds it in 20 seconds. Very strange and maybe even suspicious." Mig, of what are you suspicious?

"Results speak for themselves." Yes, as Rublevsky well knows.

Kasparov is a good writer, I must say. I would say though that "intelligence without audaciousness is not enough" that perhaps "intelligence without audacity" is better. Perhaps Kasparov would like to let you copy-edit his English language works before he submits them? The excerpt you quote reminds me very much of Emanuel Lasker's view of chess as struggle and the mutual creation of two intelligences, with the need for each player to respect the opponent's ideas.

RE: What Greg Koster said.

Hiarcs 9 on my machine shows white with a clear advantage initially and after exactly 20 seconds wants to play 25...Qd3. It takes it until after the 2 minute mark to register an eval change giving black a decisive advantage of more than two pawns.

Perhaps they didn't let it run for long enough...

I should make it clear that Hiarcs 9 thinks whote has a clear (though diminished) advantage until after the 2 minute mark.

A chess comment, since Garry's new carreer as motivational speaker doesn't get me all excited.
Anybody noticed his handling of a rook ending in the Rublevsky game? Ra5??, instead Ra1 Rd5 Rd1 is a fairly routine draw

Kramnik missed one move in his home prep - what a joke! No responsible GM would rely on Fritz's chirping and stop the analysis after ba6, when Black has a dangerous move in Qd3. The rest is just routine calculating work - no computer needed.
While Leko was agonizing on every move Vlad had plenty of time to come up with that queen sac. The temptation was too big and he decided to bluff Leko by playing fast.
The truth is, every time in this match (Games 1, 5 and 8) a game extends beyond Move 20, they simply play bad chess.
So, don't blame them for short draws, it may be the only thing they're good at.
In the meantime, our next generation of champions is being slaughtered by comps in Bilbao.
What's going on?

A correction to a post two lines above.
The line goes like this:
Ra1 (instead of Ra5??) Rxd5 Re1+ Kf4 (Kf2 Rd1 or Kd4 Re2) e3! de3 Rc1, and draws.
Any comments?

So after 34...Ra1 35.Rxd5 Re1+ 36.Kf2 Rd1 37.Rd4 Kf6 38.Rxe4 Rxd2+ 39.Kf1 Rc2 40.Rxc4 does White have no winning chances? I know his king is very passive at the moment, but can't he try h2-h3 and Kf1-g1-h2-g3 to activate the king and some advance of the c-pawn...Or possibly some combination of Kf3, g4 and then moving the king over to support the c-pawn? Or is the position after 40.Rxc4 clearly drawn with proper defense? I don't know enough about rook endings to tell.

In any event, 34...Ral does look like a much better defensive try than 34...Ra5 in the game.


Am I the only one dreading this new Kasparov book? Please someone verify that it won't be a book full of chess analogies and platitudes.

Its great to get some comments from a GM on Leko Kramnik.(One who is not hired to comement and hype the match)

Yermo do you really think *both* players start playing poorly after move 20?

In game one it was impossible for me to see what Leko was doing playing on and it seemed only black had any type of clear plan for a win. (of course I'm a patzer so that doesn't mean anything) But do you think Kramnik played poorly after move twenty in game one?

What about the play in game 4?

In Game 5 Jusupov seemed convinced Kramnik should have drawn the game by gettign his bishop on the long diagonal. I think Kramnik admitted as much. But what about Leko's play? Did Leko play badly after move 20 in Game five. Did Kramnik play so bad that it woudl be hard for Leko to *not* win?

Of course game 8 was some sort of screw up by Kramnik but what about Leko's Play? Do you think he was playing his home prep and just slow because he couldn't believe Kramnik was handing him the game?

Game 10, I think the only other game that went much past the 20 moves - were there allot of mistakes there? 16...h6 seemed to be questionsed by a few.

I have parrotted back many of the things I have heard from others about mistakes of both players. Do you think these mistakes in and of themselves show the play is below world championship level or do you see other mistakes? I am curious about good players opinions on whether the match has lived up to thier expectations. Many have said the play has been boring but your the first I have heard who flat out says it has been low quality.

Thank you for taking interest in the chess part - most of the visitors here don't seem to care at all.
Here's my point by point answers.
Game 1.
Leko's c4? gave Kramnik an easy position to play for a draw. When Black suddenly got winning chances thanks to White's passive play (Qc2? especially stands out) Kramnik immediately threw it away by playing Rcd8? which allowed Leko to give up the rook for Black's powerful B+P duo. The draw seemed inevitable, until Leko allowed the g5-h6 build-up. SImple pawn exchange on g6 would be enough to draw.
Game 4. Don't remember a thing about it. Was a short draw in Anti-Marshall Ruy?
Game 5. The whole line is well-known to theory. Not too many would want to be Black there, but Kramnik thought he can draw down a pawn. The Bf3 exchange was plain wrong. Leko played well until he gots low on time. He already found the winning plan with the bishop on the long diagonal and doscovered check e6 coming, just couldn't execute. Bb2 instead of Kc5 would require some calcualtion, but what he did instead allowed Black to sac the exchange with a clear draw in sight.
Game 8. Kramnik's inability to see through after his superficial queen sac practically forced Leko to play a winning move Qd3. I don't know about the quality of their preparation for the Marshall - that was not a topical line.
Game 10 was the best game of the match. Yes, h6? looks suspicious (Rd8 instead). Actually, the best line for Black seems the pawn sac Be6! (instead of Qd4) Be6 Qd4 Bf7 Kf7 cd4 c5! with good compensation. Kramnik's handling of a clearly superior position failed to impress( he missed the a5, Ba4 idea early, then went d5 too soon, never looked at the Bd1-g4 re-deployment etc.)
Don't forget that I have no stake in this match. I don't analyze the games deeply, so I may be wrong.
It's hard to judge the present level of play as "world-championship" material. The players could have helped their case by playing all the games to the end instead of just a few.
In my opinion,

Just as an FYI, I intentionally don't post analysis items here. I save that stuff for chessbase.com and the newsletters and try not to conflict. So I keep this to polemics, politics, and gossip. Of course it's great if anyone wants to post analysis, especially a GM like Yermo. There is also a decent amount of analysis that goes on in the message boards for those who are interested.


Send me a bill - I'm sure my wife will happily pay it :)
But really thank you very much for the insights into these games. I really haven't found much as far as people trying to pinpoint where specific mistakes were made.

I haven't gone through all of your ideas yet. I think Jusupov was recomending your Bd1 idea in game 10 and went over that with Joel Lautier in the post game of game 11. Game 11 appearently didn't give them much to talk about so they went back to game 10. I think they agreed that bringing the bishop back would have given better chances to Kramnik.

In Game five I was wondering if anyone else thought it would have been better to keep the two bishops instead of trying to damage the pawn structure by Bxf3. Jusupov - who I was listening to comment on the game - thought that Bxf3 idea was best. Later you say after the exchange sac it is still a draw? Was ...f5 the losing move?
BTW I love watching these games with Jusupov comentating. When you have a GM telling you what you should be looking for it makes this game seem so simple.

Geof, you might remember me from a long time ago. Actually, we once played an interesting tournament game, probably in Pasadena.


Andy Sacks

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 7, 2004 11:56 PM.

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