Kasparov on India’s Importance to Chess
Wall Street Journal - Nov 18, 2013
Viswanathan Anand, the Indian World Chess Champion and Magnus Carlsen, the current World Number One chess player, are battling it out at the World Chess Championships in Chennai southern India.
The score in games stands at 4-2 in favor of Carlsen, who won the two most recent confrontations.
The first four games of the championship were drawn. There are six more games to go — including Monday’s game — and the first player to reach 6.5 points will be crowned the new World Chess Champion.
Carlsen was once trained by former World Chess Champion, Russian Garry Kasparov.
Kasparov, who is now a Russian pro-democracy leader and global human-rights activist, is regarded as one of the greatest players chess has ever seen.
He was World Chess Champion for 15 years between 1985 and 2000 in the classical format and retired from the game in March 2005 as the world’s highest rated chess player.
He holds the record for the longest time as the Number One rated player in the world, a title he held between 1986 and 2005.
Beyond the chess world, he is a political activist in Russia, ran as a candidate in the last Russian Presidential elections, and is a board member of the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and chairman of its international council.
He is running to become president of FIDE, the world governing chess body, in 2014 and was in India for part of this year’s championship.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he spoke about the championships, the growth of chess in India, the country’s democratic history and the legacy of Viswanathan Anand.
WSJ: What do you think about the World Chess Championship? Is it the most anticipated since the Fischer Spassky game in 1972?
Gary Kasparov : This is a great match and as you mentioned one of the most anticipated games in the Google-Facebook era. My match with Karpov was also one of the great ones since the Fischer match. This match could be the turning point for the game and bring it back into the spotlight. Magnus is a great talent and I hope he wins since I have trained him some years ago. However, Vishy is too experienced and motivated for this match, so it is going to be a challenge.
WSJ: What are your views on rise of chess in India especially in the city of Chennai?
Kasparov: I don’t have much experience in India and this is probably my third visit to the country. Chennai is my first chess experience in India and I am not surprised at the growth of chess here. Having a role model like Anand who is the World Champion is bound to get people more interested in the game. Besides that, from social media, I see that there is decent infrastructure to support the growth.
WSJ: What do you think about how the World Championship has been organized this time?
Kasparov: It seems to be more than decent and I hope to see more of it today. I hope these standards are replicated in future World Championships so as to have great events in the future.
WSJ: You have been an advocate of democracy in Russia. How do you feel being in the world’s largest democracy?
Kasparov: I do understand the diversity of issues in such a large democracy such as India. Considering the diverse challenges the country has faced, the country has been doing great in its progress. I hope that Indian democracy and India move forward in the years to come.
WSJ: You also have plans to run for FIDE president next year. How do you see India and Indian chess fitting into your campaign?
Kasparov: I am concentrating on my campaign and I hope by the end of next summer I become the FIDE president. I will be obligated to visit India much more since I see India as an integral part of my plans to promote chess globally. My goal is to make chess mainstream and make it part of education. The idea is to create a nexus between education, technology, social media and chess so as to promote chess globally, this would be my idea to transform FIDE.
WSJ: Lastly, do you think Anand is one of the legends of the game?
Kasparov: He has been a five-time World Champion and that record speaks for itself. I don’t need to speak anything about it, the records do.
This article can also be viewed at http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/11/18/kasparov-on-indias-importance-to-chess/