Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Kasparov, Obama, Karpov

| Permalink | 25 comments

It's been a wild week or two here on the Russian front, even if I'm still in Brooklyn. US president Barack Obama is in Russia -- if you noticed amid all the gnashing and wailing over the death of Michael Jackson. Today Obama gave a speech in Moscow and early in the evening he met with a group of opposition figures, including my boss Garry Kasparov. Here is the statement Garry made at the meeting and a brief post-meeting interview on his impressions.

In short, Garry was pretty impressed with the guy, and this wasn't a speech at a football stadium. Obama was clearly worn out from a long day but he was still engaged and active in the wide-ranging discussion. You can tell most of the rest from the interview above, as far as Garry's impressions about what Obama actually said and didn't say.

But you come here for the dirt, so here's one amusing exchange that isn't going to make the press. When there was a little informal talk after the statements and discussion, Obama chatted briefly with Garry and former reform parliamentarian Vladimir Ryzhkov. Obama says to Garry, "it's not often you get to meet someone who is the best in the world." "Well I was," Garry replied, "for 20 years, but that's the past." Obama: "Oh, so we're talking like Federer or Tiger Woods." Ryzhkov jumps in, "No, even more!"

Yah, because who'd want to be compared to those losers Federer and Woods? Okay, not a riveting story, but it's all I got.

So how about some chess? I wasn't sure when the Spanish press was going to run it so I didn't tip it here first, but Kasparov is going to play a short exhibition match against none other than his great predecessor Anatoly Karpov in Valencia, Spain, September 21-24. The four rapid games and eight blitz games commemorate the 25th anniversary of their first world championship match. It's also part of a set of events the Spanish city is organizing around a "Valencia, birthplace of modern chess" program. This refers to the fairly recent discovery that the newly empowered queen was first documented there in the 15th century.

Before trying to pump up the old rivalry, recall that Kasparov was very much touched by Karpov's attempt to visit him in jail in 2007, when Garry was arrested for leading a pro-democracy march in Moscow. I'm not saying they're going to film "The Bucket List 2" together, but I'd expect more nostalgia and mutual respect than trash-talk this time around. Of course the competitive juices will still get flowing, no doubt. As for the quality, who knows? Garry hasn't played more than some online blitz and a few simuls in years while Karpov is 12 years older, so it might be tight.

But we'd watch these two play checkers or have a pillow fight. Anyone old enough to remember their epic five world championship matches knows how relatively pale the chess world seems today without a white-hot rivalry like theirs. More top players now, and more big events, but still not the same. Wow, two unrelated Karpov items in a row and Karpov makes the cloud!


Mig, I think if they're tied after the 8 blitz games, they DO have a pillow fight...but then again the match regulations are in Spanish...

Yeah those matches were something else.... The good old days

Great news! I'm really looking forward to this Karpov-Kasparov match!

Is this really going to happen, or is this someone's version of April Fools' Day? It really sounds like a hoax or prank. Mig seems to confirm it, but not so loudly? If it is real, this is a very big event, and Mig you're not sounding very convinced yourself. Even if it is for real, I recall the last time these two were scheduled to play (with Kramnik) in honor of Botvinnik, but it didn't happen. We can hope, I guess. Something about counting chickens before they hatch?

It could be because the last time Kasparov played a major exhibition event (in Zurich) he was criticised for being a part timer in politics in the Russian press. Kasparov probably is going to play it down a bit because it really does seem that he is gone for good from playing major chess events and doesn't want to damage his political career. That's sort of my guess.

When he retired I really thought Kasparov would get bored with politics and return, but I no longer believe that, it would take too much effort for Kasparov to get back with absolutely no certainty of success. Not that I think opposing Putin has much future in it, but probably someone should try.

WOW! I'm getting myself tickets to Spain.
I have to see this f2f.
I idolize Kasparov. And getting a chance to see something like this live is something I can't miss.
Mig do you know when / where tickets would be for sale?

Nobody take the picture with Obama? :(

That was a great speech by Kasparov and the Q&A even better. Sensible, rational, reasonable, practical and very powerful arguments - none of the qualities one would associate with Kasparov's chess politics.

It is easy to see Mig's hand in this and other speeches. Probably he has had a role to play in Kasparov's evolution as a politician and human being.


There is still no official event page, right?

Kasparov?, big deal! Tell me about Anand, the current champion, Topalov, Carlsen.

The K-K in Valencia is definitely on. Not saying something can't go wrong, but it's all signed to my knowledge. I'll try to let you know about attendance and scheduling and such asap. I'd like to be there myself.

Garry gets HAMMERED in the Russian press (aka the Kremlin press) every time he gets near a chessboard. They attack him for being a dilettante as it is, and big "Kasparov Returns to Chess" headlines don't help at all. So he keeps to occasional simuls and faces pros only very rarely and mostly on special occasions, usually for old friends such as the guys in Zurich.

@Kapalik: Thanks, and I'd like to think I've helped. But the simple fact is that a lack of power makes you circumspect if you're to be effective and even just survive. Garry could often advance his causes in the chess world by brute force because he had authority. In Russian politics he has no such authority and in fact is the target of those with all the power. So he's learned to attack from the flanks, as it were. On the other hand, seeing him up in front of a crowd or browbeating some bureaucrat makes it clear his old energy is still there and still has a purpose in his new career.

@Carlos: Carlsen is leading Dortmund and I'm writing daily reports and covering his games live on ICC Chess.FM. If Anand and Topalov do anything newsworthy please let us know! Be a good lad and go find out if they're playing in Nanjing.

Kasparov's statement at the meeting is horrible, embarrassing. Mig, do you have anything to do with it? I can explain if you ask nicely.

I'm quite sure you'll explain anyway; people who say things like that always do! Go melt some hydrogen :-)

Perhaps I'd have left out that part about Russia and USA sharing common challenges "from China and radical Islam".


Mig, actually I was hoping you would give me an excuse not to do it (that's why the "nicely" comment). I already have my hands full editing my students' papers :)

But still curious- did you have anything to do with the statement? The style resembles that of an Eastern European, plus I did not notice you bragging about it...

P.S. You might have noticed that I don't do the melting.

No photos that I know of. Will see, but probably not, or maybe just some personal ones they usually allow. Ilya Ponomarev was sending out tweets during the meeting though, hilarious.

@sab: The statements are Garry's. I'm a speechwriter, among other things, and my job in that role is not to make Garry sound like anyone else. It's to put his 'voice' in English. Even in the more sophisticated editorials we work on for newspapers and magazines it's essential to keep his voice. Otherwise it's a parody. That statement, for example, would be very different were I writing it in my name even if all the thoughts were the same.

Also keep in mind the difference between speeches and material written to be read. 'Heavy' phrases and repetition are needed in speeches but often look odd when you're just reading it. Lastly, the audience wasn't only Obama, but the home crowd as well, which gets tricky. For example, you can't just bash the USSR when you have some Communists in the room. (Zyuganov not included, of course.)

Lastly, that wasn't written as a speech in the first place. It started as a series of bullet points that Garry could choose from depending on how much time he had and depending on what Obama and others had discussed previously. It was quickly cleaned up into a statement for release afterward.

I assume by "bragging" you mean any mention of what I do for a living. Sorry about that.

Back to chess for a moment, there may end up being more than one Kasparov-Karpov 25th anniversary event, but only Valencia confirmed. I think Karpov is trying to shame the Russian federation into doing something as well between the dates of the first match. So they have till Feb. 15 of next year!

Time controls in Valencia will be 25'+5" and 5'+2". They both give simuls on the first day, then two days of two rapid games, then the eight blitz on the fourth day.

Heh, Garry: "Of course we played a big match in Spain, so it's a natural location. But I also owe a lot to Valencia. I would never have beaten Karpov without the modern queen!"

Too true, that. It would be like an entire lifetime of Berlin Defenses.

Good point. Life would be dull without the modern queen.

About radical islam and China, I think, Garry is spot-on!
China's economy is growing and terrorist and west bashing isn't a thing to embrace.
Down with radical islam! Another facist movement surely is not needed...

Lets keep it simple , down with war!
Because ,you know , ¨radical¨ can be also used to describe droping nukes on civilians and many other activities that some civilized countries have done over the years.
Down with violence ! would be another good one , although until this day pretty impossible.

I know it is a joke, but it is still is a startling admission by Kasparov to imply he didn't stand a chance against Karpov is simple positions/endgames.

Ok, Karpov has seemingly announced a team at http://www.chessdom.com/news-2009/karpov-kasparov-2009-seconds , can Mig bring us details on the team of Kasparov?

I visited this page first time to get info on people search and found it Very Good Job of acknowledgment and a marvelous source of info......... Thanks Admin! http://www.reverse-phone-look-up.net

Twitter Updates

    Follow me on Twitter



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 7, 2009 10:26 PM.

    San Sebastián 09 Begins was the previous entry in this blog.

    Dortmund 09 r6: Who's Got the Pillow Concession? is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.