Garry Kasparov made his first trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, back in mid November 2009, in order to speak at the Youth Engagement Summit (YES) 2009. I had the opportunity to catch up with the best player in chess history, ever, over a “Bisik-Bisik” session for ChessBase at the Putrajaya Convention Center. Our candid 40-minute chat covered a variety of topics. In the first part of the Bisik-Bisik session, Garry talked about his recent speaking engagements across Asia, his fascination with Malaysia, growing up years and most importantly, his collaboration with Magnus Carlsen. In part 2 he took a walk down memory lane to talk about the preparations made for his very first match against Karpov and the recent K-K anniversary exhibition match.
In this third part Kasparov answered questions about “making a comeback”, his family, politics and a new variant of Fischer Random chess.
We have seen in recent times how retired sportsmen have made professional comebacks. Look at Lance Armstrong, for instance. Now, what about you? Alexander Morozevich is convinced of your capability to get back to your former level of competitiveness. Have you ever thought of making a come back?
I am very, very grateful to him and very pleased. But, no, I don’t have any plans to make a comeback. I think that he is both right and wrong at the same time. I think that my chess strength is still okay. If I could spend three or four months on extensive chess playing, cutting everything else, I think I could make a comeback at least in rapid chess. I am not sure about classical chess, but in rapid, I am sure I can face Kramnik or Anand.
The problem is that this is not feasible. I have a different life. I have already passed the point of no return, because I cannot stop what I am doing in Russia, and I cannot stop giving my lectures. I have now a very different life. It was my conscious choice, and I am very happy with that choice, as you can’t do the same thing for the whole of your life. But, technically, if you can create the vacuum for me and just put me into a three or four month period of just playing chess, I can definitely make a comeback. It’s just that at the same time, there are so many other things in my mind. Although you might say that I am making some form of a return by working with Magnus [Carlsen] and following the games and feeling nervous and all. I remembered once when we were in Moscow, waiting for our flight to Singapore. I had time to look at the beginning of his game against Ponomariov and I went “Ahh!” and I didn’t like what he did. If my wife and I had taken off on time, I would be flying in the next ten or eleven hours thinking about the position and thinking what happened. But, because of the flight delay, at the time when we took off, I had already got the remaining moves in the plane on my mobile phone from my cousin. Magnus had played Qb3 when the stewardess told us to switch off our phones. And, I told my wife, don’t worry, next move, he will sacrifice on e6 and he will crush Ponomariov. So, that is good news. The delay was excellent.
Carlsen,M (2801) - Ponomariov,R (2739) [B80]
17.Qb3! White has a clear advantage since an upcoming sacrifice on e6 is now unavoidable. 17...d5 18.exd5 Bd6 19.Nfxe6 fxe6 20.dxe6 Be7 21.Qd3 0-0. Black will get mated in three more moves. 1-0. [Click to replay]
And, also in the last game, we went to the restaurant, we missed the opening with Leko, which was not very good. And, then, when we actually switched on the computer and Leko played Rd7 and Magnus went with Rg4, I told my wife that I think Magnus is now turning the table and he is going to win the game. And, he won the game.
Leko,P (2752) - Carlsen,M (2801) [B90]
32...Rg4! White's g-pawn is doomed. Once it is removed, Black will have a very useful passed h-pawn. 33.Bb8 Rxg2 34.Rxe7 Kg6 35.Bg3 h5 36.Kd1? Bf6 37.Re6 Kf7 38.Re3 h4 39.Bc7 Rxf2 40.b3 Rf1+ 41.Ke2 Rc1 42.c4 bxc4 43.bxc4 Rxc4 44.Bb8 Rc2+ 45.Kf1 Kg6 46.Re2 Rc8 47.Bd6 Rc6 48.Be7 Bxe7! 49.Rxe7 Rc2! 50.Re3 Kg5 51.Kg1 Kg4 52.Ra3 f4 53.Ra8 Rd2 54.Ra7 Kg3 55.Rg7+ Kf3 56.Ra7 Rd1+ 57.Kh2 Ke2 58.Kh3 f3 59.Ra2+ Rd2 0-1. [Click to replay]
What about returning to the board to take on a machine in a match?
No, no. I have no interest whatsoever to return to any kind of professional, competitive chess. I could play an exhibition, but not against a top player, because, you know, my life is set in a different path.
Got it. Your life is now set in a very different path, with different priorities. And, I am sure, family is one of your priorities, too. How do you spread your time between your work schedule and your family?
Family? We are always traveling. Well, yeah, it’s complicated, but we have 24 hours a day, and if we spend it wisely, we are okay. You have to plan well. It is extensive traveling, of course. We spend time in Moscow and when we travel outside, we do spend time in New York, but it’s okay. You have to be passionate about everything you do, and then things will be under control.
Garry Kasparov's wife Daria
Earlier on, you mentioned that your son does not play chess, what about your daughter?
She is three – Aida is three. We think she might be playing chess because she has so far showed a lot of curiosity for the things that I am involved in.
On politics, you had once defined yourself to be someone who is economically conservative, yet socially liberal with a stand for lowering taxes. Which political figure who has influenced your thinking?
I don’t think that just using ideological clichés will work. Yes, I am a social liberal. Yes, I am pro choice. But, I also believe that solving problems requires you to be flexible. In Russia, for instance, you have to be some kind of a left leaning person in terms of offering potential solutions for the country. I admire people in history who could make the difference, like Winston Churchill, and those who could see the changes coming and could stand up against the dominant public opinion to defend their points of view. Today, the problem of modern politics is such that people rely on convenience rather than on breakthrough innovations or on long-term strategical decisions. It’s not a lack of vision. It is that they may have a vision, if they try, but it is dangerous because if they have a vision, they have to stand firm and defend it. And, that’s what politicians don’t like. They are swayed by the public opinion. And, I think that what is required today is not to follow, but to lead.
Let’s wrap up this “Bisik-Bisik” session with one last question: What do you think about the future of Fischer Random, Seirawan Chess or any other types of chess variant?
I have always liked the idea of choosing a few decent positions. And, I don’t think you need more than 15 to 20, out of the 960 possible random chess positions, many of which violate our sense for normal chess geometry. Any change of the position is a challenge, but 10 to 15 to 20 positions can be chosen, and I believe that in the future, every year, we should start with a new position. Again, it should just be one position. I feel an insult if players should start with something that is totally ridiculous, and you have three minutes to prepare… No, I mean, come on, chess is also about some research. You don’t want to have the same extensive thing, fine. But, you have one year of playing one position, which means that players can actually get adjusted and they could do a little bit of research. So at least you have five, six opening moves that are theory now and then you go on to another position. But, if you just want to eliminate everything and call it purity – no, it is not purity, it’s nonsense. So, again, there is some sense in it, but you have to be reasonable.
We will inform you more thoroughly on Kasparov's ideas on Fischer Random in a later article.
© Edwin Lam Choong Wai 2009
Bisik-Bisik with Garry Kasparov – Part 1
||Bisik-Bisik with Garry Kasparov – Part 2
25.01.2010 – At the end of last year Garry Kasparov sat down for an indepth interview with our Malaysian correspondent Edwin Lam Choong Wai. In part one he spoke about his early years and his collaboration with Magnus Carlsen. In the current session he talks about the first Karpov-Kasparov match, the anniversary exhibition in 2009, and his strength in simultaneous play. With a very nice example.
||Viktor Bologan and the Chebanenko Slav
18.02.2009 – Recently we found a book entitled The Chebanenko Slav according to Bologan. The author is Moldavia GM Viktor Bologan, who looks back on a two decade long career, which includes a 2003 Dortmund triumph ahead of Anand and Kramnik. That came, incidentally, after a ten-day training session with Garry Kasparov. Read all about it in this Bisik-Bisik session with Edwin Lam.
||Bisik-Bisik with GM Nigel Short
03.10.2008 – Mention GM Nigel Short and we think grandmaster, world championship challenger, coach, author and journalist. Some of us will also associate him with the French Defence, an opening that he used to play regularly many years ago. But away from the chess board, this man is also very well known for his witty reports and articles on chess. Edwin Lam interviews the chess writer.
||Bisik-Bisik with GM Alexander Khalifman|
20.08.2008 – Bisik-Bisik is a word from the Malay Archipelago, and means whispering from one person to another. In a series Edwin Lam seeks to “whisper” to our readers out there the previously unknown other side of his interview partners. Today he talks with GM Alexander Khalifman, who in 1999 became the FIDE world champion in Las Vegas. Today "El Khalif" runs a training web site and publishes books. Bisik-bisik.
||Ni hao, GM Zhang Zhong and WGM Li Ruofan
10.01.2008 – Ni hao, pronounced second tone-third tone, is Chinese for Hello or Hi ("Ni hao ma?" means "how are you" and "Wo hun hao" means "I'm doing great"). After this short lesson in Chinese first encounters we bring you a portrait of the Chinese dream couple: GM Zhang Zhong, Elo 2634, and his wife WGM Li Ruofan, rated 2417. Bisik-Bisik (Malay for "whisperings") by Edwin Lam.
||Bisik-Bisik with Viktor Moskalenko|
15.12.2007 – Bisik-Bisik is a word from the Malay Archipelago, and means the act of “whispering” from one person to another. Starting with this inaugural article Edwin Lam will seek to “whisper” to all our readers out there the previously unknown other side of his interview partners. He kicks off with a conversation between Edwin and Ukrainian Viktor Moskalenko, grandmaster, teacher and chess author.