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Shuffle Off

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Sorry to keep changing the story but there are new developments and I feel obliged to keep up instead of waiting for all the smoke to clear. Apparently the Zurich exhibition event with Kasparov, Polgar, Karpov, and Korchnoi will be straight rapids after all. (15+10 most likely.) Kasparov is disappointed and annoyed because he was taken by surprise (apparently a message was sent to Moscow but he was in NY and London).

This turns out to be a problem for him for another reason: it's immediately been used against him in the Russian press. Several stories have already appeared saying he's "running" back to chess, going back on his word to retire, etc. Of course the Putin regime is doing anything it can to discredit Kasparov's political activities. Having the games be shuffle chess would have helped his case that it's just a casual exhibition. State-controlled news sources that have assiduously ignored him are already proving quick to plaster this "big return" all over the place, saying it shows he's not a serious politician, etc. Since his political opponents will shout whenever he gets near a chessboard, I'm hoping he won't let them pressure him into staying away from exhibitions like this one. Next he wouldn't be able to give charity simuls with kids. It's been a year and a half since he went into politics full time, but apparently it will never be enough.

So, good news bad news. Bad for fans of shuffle chess, good for fans of chess chess, but with the potential for very bad news if Kasparov feels obliged to back out to preserve the political standing he's worked so hard to achieve since March 2005. But if he can't play three rapid games in the middle of a plaza in Zurich 16 months after he retired, when would he play? I've encouraged him to play with this argument, but of course it's up to him and his political guys in Russia to evaluate the damage. Really annoying. (Kommersant even interviewed Garry's old trainer Nikitin and the whole thing makes it sound like there's a big comeback going. There's not.)


I've got it!! Make it a chessboxing event! I bet Korchnoi would clean up!

Posted by: Globular at July 26, 2006 12:44

Just three games? At such a short time control you'd think
they could at least squeeze in a double round-robin to even
out the white/black issue.
Posted by: RS at July 26, 2006 12:44

Didnt the original report say it was double round robin?

And now we see why the Founding Fathers had such insight when making our 1st and 2nd amendments... Prevents a Putin from even happening.
Posted by: Michael Parsons at July 26, 2006 14:08

Would Korchnoi, Karpov, Kasparov, and Judit agree to fly to Zurich without a contract in place?

Wouldn't the contract have specified the type of chess to be played?

Why would Kasparov feel in any way "forced" to participate in an event which he'd never signed onto?

Doesn't Kasparov check his voice-mail?

Who changed the format? And why?

Can't blame Kirsan this time.
Posted by: greg koster at July 26, 2006 15:19

My understanding is that the contract was to appear and play and that anything about shuffle chess was verbal. But we'd talked about this long ago and it was always shuffle chess. Not sure why they changed their minds. Perhaps the other players didn't like it, but no idea yet. He initially believed it was just an omission by the origanizers which is why I went with the "correction" on the 23rd. Then they told him about the letter (or whatever) to Moscow.

It's not like this is against Topalov and Kramnik. I doubt he'd care much at all if it weren't for all the political garbage.
Posted by: Mig at July 26, 2006 15:30

"But if he can't play three rapid games in the middle of a plaza in Zurich 16 months after he retired, when would he play?"

But of course its more than that:
--Kasparov has been working on the "Great Predecessors" books.
--He's been working on the chess-and-business book.
--Monday he appeared at the London Chess Centre.
--We're continually made aware of his thoughts about particular chess events and chess players.
--We've read that he'd offered to train Magnus.

Is it really so odd for Kasparov's political opponents (or anyone else, for that matter), to question whether his political activities are a mere sideline from what evidently continues to be the ruling interest of his life?
Posted by: greg koster at July 26, 2006 15:43

Oh Please! What Kremlin is doing is just dirty politics. To act like we don't have dirty politics in US is bit hypocritical. Case and point "Swift Boat Veterans For Truth"(www.swiftvets.com). Kasparov will come out of this with out a problem, after all he did not become a world champion with out knowing how to deal with minor issues, and this is as minor as they come.
Posted by: LAT at July 26, 2006 16:10

You'll have to ask them. They haven't run to the media (well, usually it's the same people so no running required) about the books and signings and charity appearances. Playing is the thing, apparently. The other stuff is more obviously the sort of thing you would expect a retired chessplayer to do. But the moment he pushes a pawn against a strong opponent it's WW III.

Nobody expected Kasparov to instantly disappear from the chess world. He also writes a column for New In Chess. It's a transition, and there's certainly no reason to expect or believe he'll ever disappear from chess entirely. Even elected politicians with celebrity backgrounds usually continue to dabble, if only because that was probably what got them elected in the first place. (Even Schwarzenegger, famous for being a mostly mute destroyer, frequently invokes his Hollywood career.)

But this is mostly irrelevant. The powers that be were just waiting for their best chance to attack and obviously this is it.
Posted by: Mig at July 26, 2006 16:27

LAT LAT LAT... Is that the best you have? To attack the honor of many hundreds of men who served with Kerry in his unit? Please, the reason why SwiftVet's was effective was not in that it was some brilliant political ploy, but it got the word out of men who served with John Kerry (and by the way if you're so concerned about this, shall we even mention forged documents?) and opposed his presidency based on his own words before congress and his own actions in Vietnam.

Kerry made the claim that his Vietnam experience qualified him to be commander in Chief, the vast majority of people who served in his unit disagreed. Deal with it.
Posted by: Michael Parsons at July 26, 2006 17:09

Susan Polgar also mentions in her blog that it is a Fischer random event. I would have thought that she would have got accurate information from her sister.
Posted by: peach at July 26, 2006 17:17

Nobody but his political enemies would care what Kasparov does in his "retirement". I think he will come out relatively unscathed politically if he chooses to play.

MP: The SBV campaign was nothing but a pack of lies put out by people who had an axe to grind with Kerry. They were angry that he "crossed the line" when he gave an unexpurgated commentary about his experiences in Vietnam. There WERE atrocities and crimes commited by US troops in Vietnam. This is undisputable. This being said I do know that the vast majority of our troops acted honorably but I am able to hear the truth about those who did not and not flip out and call the messenger a traiter for telling the truth.
Posted by: Mendrys at July 26, 2006 17:30

Today there were many articles in Russia, reporting that Kasparov quits politics (because he achieved nothing) and return to chess. What a bastards. Kasparov's site (www.kasparov.ru) published a refutation.
Posted by: gmi at July 26, 2006 17:36

I doubt Putin cares about Kasparov. As a political figure he is as relevant as I am as a chess player. All Putin has to do to make the Russian people stay away from Kasparov is to have the latter speak about his political ideas. Done.
Posted by: acirce at July 26, 2006 18:49

Says the Stalinist about political ideas. And I'm glad you did well in your last big international tournament. If Putin's buddies didn't care, Kasparov wouldn't be getting the royal slander treatment.
Posted by: Mig at July 26, 2006 19:04

If Kasparov was such an unmitigated failure as a politician then why bother publishing such lies? If he were irrelevant then they wouldn't bother.

I've never seen Kasparov as being a political leader of Russia like Putin. But he has the cojones to make a big difference to the political landscape. He's fighting a slide towards totalitarianism in Russia and hats off to him for that.

He should play where and when he wants. Reshevsky was an accountant who also competed for the world title. Kasparov should be a politician who wants to play some chess every now and again. In the grand scheme of things no-one can make this any more than it is, a one day exhibition, against two veterans and a top ten player whose taken the last few months out to have a baby.

Hopefully fun for Kasparov, and for us. He should stay cool and say I'll do what I like in my spare time.
Posted by: Mark Crowther at July 26, 2006 19:08

Garry is NOT a serious politician. This is a fact.

Garry is a typical chess player. Their egos are so big they feel that everything they do will turn to gold. Look at Pandolfini's book 'every move should have a purpose' where he says that skill on the chessboard translates into skill in business. Yeah, and people in business wear the same clothes every day like you see chess players do at the world open, right? (end sarcasm).

It reminds me of people who believe the fact that they were in the military makes them automatically fit for management positions in a company. This is definitely not true as a quick google and over 100,000 web sites will prove.

Posted by: Buddy at July 26, 2006 19:08

Just visit chessbase.de and read the headline "Kasparov kehrt zurueck" (Kasparov comes back). I guess Chessbase GmbH is secretly part of the Putin-regime and is doing anything it can to discredit Kasparov's political activities.
Posted by: Kramnik-Fan at July 26, 2006 19:09

Mark, I said *Putin* doesn't care. I am not aware that Putin speaks a lot about Kasparov. Of course media writes about him, and of course they are going to misunderstand as they always do in any country. (Kasparov plays again? Okay, must be a comeback. Hardly the worst thing I've ever seen them misunderstand when it's about chess.)

But fact is Kasparov shouldn't speak too loud about "totalitarianism" when HE is the one holding conferences with Nazis (and "Stalinists") just because they are also against Putin.

Considering all we hear about Putin I would have thought it was he who would be conspiring with Nazis to fight Kasparov instead!
Posted by: acirce at July 26, 2006 19:21

Kramnik-Fan, LOL!
Posted by: acirce at July 26, 2006 19:22

Garry seems to have liked your text, Mark, btw. He'll probably put out a brief statement on Friday to emphasize the mountain out of a molehill this is. He has a longstanding friendship with William Wirth of Credit Suisse and they, and Mr. Wirth personally, have done a lot for chess. There won't be any mention of shuffle chess. That's between him and the organizers. I think a typically tactful "shove it" will be the message to the Russian press. He's never been one much for defense anyway.

acirce, I would also defend the right of a someone I fundamentally disagree with to participate in an free and fair election. Calling them Nazis is just a deflection tactic. As the saying goes, it's not about the beliefs it's the right to have them (and speak them). The ACLU in the US goes to court to protect the right of assembly and free speech of people who actually ARE Nazis. A little sick, but the equal rule of law matters.

Thanks, K-F. I think the chessbase.de guys were enjoying their little play on words with "Zurich," but they should be rapped on the knuckles a bit. But everyone wants a big story and "KASPAROV RETURNS!" is big, however disappointing it is when you read on.

Well, if "Buddy" says it's a fact it must be one despite all the evidence to the contrary. Much easier than thinking.
Posted by: Mig at July 26, 2006 19:32

Garry is NOT a serious politician. This is a fact.

Garry is a typical chess player. Their egos are so big they feel that everything they do will turn to gold. Look at Pandolfini's book 'every move should have a purpose' where he says that skill on the chessboard translates into skill in business. Yeah, and people in business wear the same clothes every day like you see chess players do at the world open, right? (end sarcasm).

It reminds me of people who believe the fact that they were in the military makes them automatically fit for management positions in a company. This is definitely not true as a quick google and over 100,000 web sites will prove.

Posted by: Buddy at July 26, 2006 19:33

Kasparov is disturbing Putin's regime very much. He is very active - while they can not put him in jail too easily. This is the point. Most of the other Putin's opponents were forced to shut up.
Posted by: gmi at July 26, 2006 19:45

Oh, if you don't want to call Limonov and his movement Nazi, they are definitely close enough to make any democrat not want to have to do with them. It's reasonable to defend their freedom of speech - perhaps - but actually inviting them to your conferences to make them part of your movement against Putin? If you think it's OK I guess you just do.

http://eng.nbp-info.com/cat19/index.html is their charming political programme. (Note their flag.) Their activists have been involved in hooliganism and stuff like racist attacks on Jewish centers. And they were represented on Kasparov's "Other Russia" conference -- by among others Limonov himself.

Not to take this TOO far, but "The Other Russia" was in fact the title of Limonov's famous manifesto http://eng.nbp-info.com/cat30/index.html - I will assume this is a mere coincidence of course...
Posted by: acirce at July 26, 2006 20:06

Like most sane people I think Limonov and his ilk are nuts who would be dangerous in power. That doesn't mean I would remove his right to run for office or that anyone should have the power to do so. The people at the Other Russia conference came together to call for free and fair elections, not to embrace one another's political platforms. If you wish to play the old game of guilt by association (however remote or irrelevant) it's up to you.

The title of the conference is translated in various ways. It came about too quickly and reached the non-Russian press too fast for a standard translation to get into place. Even some of the people who addressed the conference called it "a Different Russia" or "Another Russia." It was quite annoying, actually.
Posted by: Mig at July 26, 2006 21:31

I think this publicity is good for Gary! Most Russians love Chess. They will be interested in his exhibition. Cant help but feel that attacking him for playing in what can only conceivably be called a fun exhibition smacks of idiocy. Anyway I have learnt to be thankful for small mercies; it may be rapid, and it aint Topalov or Anand, but its Chess!
Posted by: d at July 27, 2006 03:41

I am reminded of the time I went to see George Carlin's stage show at the Grand Biloxi Casino Theater. (Destroyed in hurricane Katrina)
He said, " You have the executive, the judicial, the legislative, and the media. Yes! The media is the fourth branch of government!"
Once, the USA was a truthful, upright nation, but, is now more like the russia of today.
Lies all around, and its people set up like bowling pins!
Posted by: Morrowind at July 27, 2006 06:39

Just read the Limonov program on the link given. They ARE Nazis, no mistake. It's not simply a throwing-around of an easily abused term, but is rather the obvious essence of their program -- at a root, DNA sort of level.

Their program doesn't even mention Jews, although there are one or two terms that might be taken as oblique references. But what defines Limonov's "National Bolshevik Party" as Nazis is not direct anti-Semitism but the nature of their program, which is, in short, global supremacy of ethnic Russians, and redrawing national and global borders on the basis of that.

They have taken the Nazi program and simply substituted "ethnic Russian" for "Aryan." While there is plenty of room for PhD theses to debate just how central the extermination of Jews was to Hitler's program, the most basic feature seems to me to be his aim to create an Aryan-ruled empire that covered most or all of the world, and reserving the benefits of natural resources and other wealth in all regions of the world for "Aryans". This is pretty much the Limonov program given in that link above, with Russians substituted for Aryans.

Don't be fooled by the appearance of the hammer and sickle in their flag. One line in their program says all former Soviet Communist Party high officials will be permanently barred from public life. This is not a call for a return to Communism or Communist Party control, but rather a call for National Socialism in a Russian format.

And no, if you're a democrat you don't make united front with a party like this, not for any purpose.
Posted by: Jon Jacobs at July 27, 2006 08:09

Funny, that's what Churchill said about the Communists until the Nazis came along. There are people who actually have to make these decisions in real life instead of on message boards and it's not so black and white. It's politics. I'll spare the sausage analogy and "enemy of my enemy" references. Again, if I'm calling for free and fair elections instead of a one-party dictatorship and you support that cause, I'm not going to isolate myself by having everyone agree with me on everything else too. There are greater evils as well as greater goods. Nobody is endorsing their platform, but don't tell me you wouldn't grab a rope if you were off the side of a cliff and Limonov was on the other end. At least not until you're off the side of a cliff!

It was a calculated political risk, to be sure. Some people did refuse to associate with them entirely. But most only used that as an excuse later after they had already declined. It got pretty messy.
Posted by: Mig at July 27, 2006 08:50

Michael Parsons: "Kerry made the claim that his Vietnam experience qualified him to be commander in Chief, the vast majority of people who served in his unit disagreed. Deal with it."

Now I know what kind of idiot that s*** really works on - I was wondering.
Posted by: shadows at July 27, 2006 09:35

Ehh, message boards? I've been politically active and it's rather clear that you NEVER sit down with a Nazi no matter what you have in common on any one particular issue... it's painfully obvious that Kasparov and many of his fellow Russian "democrats" are gravely lacking in judgement. Do you think those protesting Israel's war are inviting Nazis to discuss what should be done? Where other than Russia are "democracy" activists siding with Nazis? They are kept out, treated like the plague, completely isolated, period, full stop. And if somewhere they aren't it's completely unacceptable.

"[Kasparov's] comments jibed neatly with a statement issued by the conference organizers, including former Kremlin economic adviser Andrei Illarionov, Lyudmila Alekseeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Vladimir Ryzhkov of the Republican Party of Russia, and Viktor Anpilov of Workers' Russia.

"We are gathering together," the statement proclaimed, "because we are united in our disagreement with the current political course of the Kremlin and united in our alarm for the present and future of our country. We are gathering together despite our disparate views on the past and future of Russia. We are gathering together although our visions differ on how our country can become free and prosperous." http://www.slate.com/id/2145702/

Oh, and I noted this from your initial post.. Kommersant is not exactly state-controlled, yet you point out that they too portray it as a "big comeback". There's nothing more to it than media misunderstanding and/or wanting big stories.
Posted by: acirce at July 27, 2006 10:10

Mig. Tell Garry not to worry. Anyone who would take a board game seriously... oh, wait a minute! :)

Posted by: Globular at July 27, 2006 12:16

Kasp's insights are always fascinating to read because there is no higher, more repected opinion.
Mig- the Kasparov web site was awesome; I still mourne its passing. It had the most GM participation of any site that I have visited, in terms of GMs playing non-titled players- and may never be equaled.
Posted by: Bradford at July 27, 2006 13:22

Google search result:

Putin = 36.500.000
Kasparov = 2.590.000

This should mean:

1) that Kasparov as chess player is less then a 10% famous than Putin as politician

2) that Kasparov as politician is 112/36.500 less important than Putin

3) that Putin as chess player is 112/2.590 less important than Putin

best regards
Posted by: marcolantini at July 28, 2006 07:44

"Nazi" is a word which is nowadays attributed to pretty much anyone who may disagree with the person using it. As for Limonov's National-Bolsheviks, you call them anything you wish to, but Nazis they are not. If it's going to appease you, I can tell you that many of their members are Jews.
Posted by: penguin_with_visor at July 28, 2006 08:28

Would it not be the heighth of irony if in defense of his continued chess activities while pursuing a political post Garry were to invoke the name of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov?!
Posted by: Zinger at July 28, 2006 10:24

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