Kasparov and kids take Manhattan

6/9/2005 – The best junior players in the United States came together in New York last weekend for a master class with Garry Kasparov. He went over their games, gave out plenty of advice, and surprised at least a few of the kids and parents by not living up to his "Ogre of Baku" reputation. We sat in and bring you a great pictorial report.

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Looking for the next Kasparov?

These days it takes some explaining when you say you want to find the next Bobby Fischer. Last weekend was the latest proof that the cold war is long over, as a former Soviet champion came in from Moscow to give lessons to the best young chessplayers in the United States!


Getting some help deciphering a scoresheet.


Following along as Kasparov goes over the games on ChessBase 9.

Garry Kasparov's non-profit foundation is tackling the issue of why there are so few strong young players in the US today. By way of rating lists, tournament results, professional coach recommendations, and internal tournaments, the Kasparov Chess Foundation and its director, Michael Khodarkovsky, selected 33 young stars to come to New York City for a class with Garry Kasparov.


Eve Litvak doesn't seem at all intimidated!

On Saturday it was kids as young as eight years old crowding into the corporate boardroom of Duquesne Capital Management, who are kind enough to lend their beautiful midtown offices to chess on the weekends for the KCF tournaments and events. On Sunday it was the higher-rated crowd coming in, some of them with IM and GM norms already under their belts. They came from as far away as Chicago and Florida, although most were from the New Jersey - New York area.


Eric Liao and Andrew Ng watch the action.

Each player had brought two annotated games, sometimes more, for Kasparov to analyze with them in front of the class. This was a nerve-wracking experience for a few of the kids, like having Michael Jordan criticize your jump shot. Several, shy to begin with, were struck mute during their entire session next to Kasparov. "Why did you play that?" was the most common question, closely followed by "Why didn't you play this?" Too often the juniors were left with only "I don't know," as the answer, no way to play chess! To Michael Thaler upon seeing his scoresheet: "Your handwriting is as bad as Tal's. I hope the games are as good!"


The day one group. Watch out world, here comes the 2016 Olympiad team!

But anyone expecting Kasparov to come armed with a long stick – handed down by Botvinnik of course – was disappointed. He was all smiles and jokes, chiding the youngsters for the frequent "I was getting tired" responses and for how they would excitedly shout out moves. "That's a nice idea, but it's Black's move here and we can't break the rules even for such a nice idea!" One excuse for poor play, a headache, was immediately shot down with "Then take Tylenol!"


While this bunch might be ready by 2010.

When we interviewed the kids later we were impressed with how most of them planned to obtain the GM title. These aren't just youthful dreams, these are serious players with coaches and, in most cases, national and international age and grade-level titles. It seems like half of them are going to Belfort, France for the upcoming world junior tournament.


Two bright teen hopes: Alex Lenderman and Daniel Ludwig.
(Daniel's coach in Orlando is the first Master Garry Kasparov ever faced in Baku!)

Looking at the average age of the current US Men's Olympiad team, closer to 40 than 30, the KCF has set the ambitious goal to get that down to 20 with an infusion of new talent to follow in Hikaru Nakamura's footsteps.


Marc Arnold's turn in the hot seat.


He played what!?!

A longer report with interviews and more is planned for the US print magazine Chess Life. Those interested in specific photographs from the weekend can contact Mig Greengard.

 


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