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Boston Churchgoing

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A quick note from Boston as we pack up and head to Washington DC. My banana-pecan pancakes have just arrived. I don't usually eat breakfast but room service is hard to resist for someone who does all the cooking at home. The Kasparov Book March is underway! Last night was a "reading" and signing at the famous Harvard Book Store, an event held at the First Parish Church. When we got there we came in the back and the place looked empty. As we walked back to a little office to wait for the 7pm start time, we passed a smallish, very empty room where a woman was setting out folding chairs. None of us (Garry's wife is on the road too) said anything at the time but we admitted later that we all privately thought, "holy crap, it's empty!" Then Mike Campbell, the organizer, said, "it's a sold-out event, around 600 people." Wrong room! Whew.

Garry's got a cold and had to do his speaking with a good size frog in his throat but muddled through. He'd never heard of people going out and just reading their books to audiences! I go to readings all the time in NY and it never occurred to me that this might just sound boring and lame to someone who doesn't. So all the excerpts I'd prepared were left in a stack and he mostly ad libbed through remarks on the book and his transition to a political career, though he did include a few anecdotes from the book. It went pretty well but we'll be better prepared for DC tonight. He asked me to go out and give a few introductory remarks on my involvement and the history of the book project. That was fun and a little nerve-wracking. Being a natural loudmouth I don't have the standard fear of public speaking, but it still went by in a blur. I introduced myself as "the "with" on the title page." I said I'd been working with Garry since back in the days when all he had to worry about was Karpov, Anand, and Kramnik and now it's also the KGB and everyone else with a book on the "new non-fiction" table. I introduced Garry as "the Bill Belichick of chess," for the New England locals who know how the Patriots coach is always being called a master strategist and the "Garry Kasparov of football." Garry opened by thanking everyone for missing the Red Sox game, which started at the same time. (Not as bad as his game with Deep Junior in 2003 being scheduled for Super Bowl Sunday.)

The signing was amazing. The line went all the way around the church and out the back. Of course only half of the things Garry signed were new copies How Life Imitates Chess. People showed up with everything from battered old chessboards to Russian copies of My Great Predecessors to dusty copies of Garry's original English game collection The Test of Time (This means you, Goldowsky!) But despite those cheapskates fans, the Harvard Book Store people said we probably broke the record for book sales at these events, with around a quarter of the attendees buying the book (usually it's around 10%). The Q&A was less chess than politics, which is notable. Only one Deep Blue question! I recorded the whole thing and will try to get it out when we get back to NY tomorrow, along with some pics. Photogs who were there with good gear, please send me a few good shots.

Thanks to all the Dirt readers who came up and said hello to me. Good to see former colleague Rob Huntington, who used to to chess for AP. Good to meet Mark Donlan of Chess Horizons as well. Natasha Christiansen came by and kindly suggested Garry come back to her and Larry's house for some tea to soothe his sore throat. (It was 10pm when we finally got out of there and we went just went back to the hotel and crashed.) A few people even asked me to sign the book too, which I did while warning them that it was destroying its Ebay value. (Of course I signed "with Mig Greengard" under Garry's signature.)

Heading to the airport in a few minutes. Garry's on NPR today at 12:45pm -- WAMU FM "Kojo Nnamdi Show (DC). Then the next speaking/signing event: 7pm, Wash DC. Politics & Prose Bookstore @ Round House Theatre. 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda.


Hey! I bought the UK edition at Amazon.co.uk when it came out in August. After taking the exchange rate and international shipping costs into account, I think it was fair to ask for one signiture...the Harvard bookstore gets plenty of my business. It's also cool to have Garry's signature on Test of Time, that old and somewhat rare classic -- perfect for making a fortune at Ebay! (Not that I would ever sell it, of course.)

Kudos to Mig for getting the crowd into hysterics, and to Kasparov who made an inspiring and funny talk, even if it was "off the cuff." The crowd seemed to be a nice mix of Harvard students, Russian emmigrants, and local chess players and activists.

I've been to a lot of book readings, and when an author just reads from the book, no matter how good the book and how charismatic the author, it tends to get boring. I hope Mig and Kasparov continue their "shtick" elsewhere, because not only was their talk informative and inspiring, it was quite entertaining.

(Thanks, Mig, for the Amazon link to my book. For those interested, John Watson's interview with me about my book came out today: http://www.chessclub.com/chessfm/.)

Howard Goldowsky

off topic but Vishy has offered kasparov a match!

"Yes, if Kasparov is interested. It will be very interesting. For me it will be a nice challenge. There is a match waiting for him if he wants" at http://www.rediff.com/sports/2007/oct/16anand.htm

Good stuff, Mig. One thing, though: the Leningrad Dutch may not be the St. Petersburg Dutch, but the KGB is now the FSB. That's two totally new letters!

Thanks Anand Nair. I wonder if it is something that got misinterpreted by the journalists, though. And just when does Anand want to play Kasparov - before his match versus Kramnik or after? It doesn't seem like there is time before the Kramnik match and if he dreams about doing it after, I am afraid this potential Anand-Kasparov match will follow the way of Topalov-Radjabov World championship match. I have to say, if Anand, the only world champ (even though he is not recognized as the classical champ by many, including myself) offers Kasparov a match, I can't think of a more enticing thing to motivate Kasparov to return to chess. With the kind of dominance that he had throughout his career against Anand, I won't be surprised if he thinks he can beat Anand even now.

"Anand said beating Kasparov was even more satisfying than winning the recent World Championships title." - Well, since Kasparov is retired, Anand can do the next best thing and settle for beating the guy who beat Kasparov in a match.

From Howard's description, sounds like it would be worthwhile attending one of these talks. Wish you'd come north of the border though. Last time I drove south the tattooed border goon busted my back seat (among other things) so that if I hit the brakes the seat and the passengers all move forward. The goon who busted it was too cowardly to tell me he'd busted the seat and that I should get it fixed. Good thing I found out about it before we had an accident and everyone came loose....yeah, we could have sued but I'd rather have friends and family in one piece. So if possible please come north of the border for a signing in the new year.


Why don't you put up the book: How Life Imitates Life with Kasporov's signature and your with Mig signature up for bid here on your blog. I bet we would suprise you.

I wouldn't have used the Belichick comparison, considering all the recent NFL hoopla involving his "preparation methods." At least not this soon afterwards.

>> Vishy has offered kasparov a match

If Kasparov was still playing, he'd probably say something like "Let's first see if he can beat Kramnik."


When is Garry planning to release the next book of the Predecessors/Modern Chess series?

Mig: Please convince Gary to come to Montreal. Its a great chess city (home to, ahem, North America's strongest chess tournaments, and that includes NYC).


It was a great event. Nice to meet you ( I was one of the first to get my TWO COPIES of the book you both were promoting). Thanks for talking me down on having you sign it too. I was as giddy as a school boy. I decided to not try to say much ... better to be thought of as an idot than open my mouth and remove all doubt.

-BP ( aka George)

>> Vishy has offered kasparov a match

If Kasparov was still playing, he'd probably say something like "Let's first see if he can beat Kramnik."
You're probably right: For Anand, the greater the liklihood that he would play Kasparov, the less appealing that prospect might seem.

On the other hand, a Challenge Match (even if nominally NOT for the World Champion's Title) might be a very appealing prospect for Kasparov:

1) Garry would earn buckets of money--he must be a bit concerned about the "burn rate" of his savings that is entailed by his new career as a political activist.

2) He'd get a match with the World Champion, without having to jump through any FIDE hoops. All Anand has to do is come up with financing; the match would be very marketable.

3) He'd potentially short circuit the Anand--Kramnik WC match (if he were to defeat Anand)--a delicious irony for Garry, if he still holds a grudge against Kramnik

4) He'd have better chances to prevail against Anand, than he would against Kramnik.

What's in it for Anand? Potentially, a huge payday, plus cementing his reputation in the Chess World as a true sportsman.

The Unified title of World Chess Champion is not worth as much as it used to be, if Anand (assuming that he even manages to beat Kramnik next year) has to eventually defend his title in a tournament format, when he is vying to finish ahead of 7 other rivals.

At the time of his retirement Kasparov was getting older, using more time on the clock, spending more time on outside activities, playing less, and gradually dropping back to the rest of the pack.

But if Kasparov knew people would be bothering him with rematch proposals and claims that he was "still the greatest" he wouldn't have retired for another year or two, after he'd lost his #1 ranking and maybe another match.

Dontcha jest love ole' Greg the troll

Hi Mig -

I was at the DC (well, technically Maryland) event last night and really enjoyed it. Interesting that the Boston crowd asked as much about politics as they did, which was true of the DC crowd. I'd expected that from the DC crowd, but not really anywhere else. Who knew so many Americans cared about Russian politics?

And to anyone who has the chance to see Garry speak - don't pass it up. I *almost* did because I was tired after a long day or work, but I'm really glad I came out. It was certainly worth it.

Forgot about yesterday's event in DC, booked another commitment, and came here this morning and kicked myself.

I will make the Philly event. I'm now over 30 and Garry has been my idol for a long time and I'm yet to see him in person. Makes little sense.


I was at the DC signing Tuesday night.

Kasparov is an excellent speaker. I didn't expect him to have such a good sense of humor, but he definitely has this wry Russian irony thing going on. Also, I didn't think that his political spiel would be so compelling. Sure, that giant, world-beating ego has to be part of the motive for his political work, but there also seems to be honest-to-goodness altruism at play here. When he spoke of the opposition movement in Russia, it was kind of inspiring!

I haven't had much of a chance yet to look at the book (yes, I bought a copy), but from the passages I did look at, it seems eminently readable--strong, snappy prose: the mark of Mig.

Naturally, I would have been beside myself had there been a demonstration board onstage, with Kasparov showing some Alekhine game he's had memorized since the age of nine. But I guess those days are largely gone, and now "our" Garry belongs to the larger, political world.

You definitely got the best show so far, r, and it was nice to meet you and all the others who came up and introduced themselves to me. Garry was far from his best in Boston both in health and prep, but the DC talk was one of the best ever for form and content. Good stuff. A pity they ran out of books!

I like the Guardian's review of Kasparov's book.

I, too, like it, Ashish.



Kasparov's book has all the staples of the genre. Sun Tzu makes an early appearance (page 38). There is the pointless acronym, MTQ (Material, Time, Quality), which sets up the baffling sub-chapter: 'MTQ on the home front'. There is an outrageous stretch - 'We could even make the case that [François Philidor's] memorable phrase "the pawns are the soul of the game" eerily anticipated the French Revolution.' And, my favourite, plenty of bonkers juxtapositions: 'Anticipating Nike's ad agency by two centuries, Goethe wrote, "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do."'

Proof positive that poker is superior to chess?

Poker Game Led to Pam's Latest Marriage
NEW YORK, Wed Oct 17, 04:19 PM
Pamela Anderson says she and Rick Salomon took their 17-year friendship to the next level during a poker game....

The german translation of "How life imitates chess" is quite moronic, I dare say:
queen - Königin
match - Turnier
MBA - Betriebswirtschaftsabschluß
resign - resignieren

I just hope the translations to other languages are a little better...

Chess is clearly superior to poker if it diminishes the probability of marrying Pamela Anderson.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 16, 2007 7:29 AM.

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