Kasparov runs in Pamplona

9/23/2004 – When Garry Kasparov stopped in the Spanish province he was received like royalty. For three days the world #1 was front page news. He was honored by the mayor, met a local sports star, and of course there was some chess. And we know you're just dying to know how many times he adjusted his tie during a simul.

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Kasparov takes Pamplona

Garry Kasparov was talking about his Great Predecessors, but it was clear the province of Navarra and its capital of Pamplona are bigger fans of the 13th world champion. The local paper, Diario de Navarra, dedicated two or three pages to each of the three days of Kasparov's visit. We bring you some scans and clips from their excellent coverage.

The mayor of Pamplona presented Kasparov with the traditional red kerchief of the famous bull runners of the San Fermin festival. When asked, Kasparov said he wasn't tempted to run himself, but said he'd like to see it some day. "Everyone goes crazy in their own way," is how he summed it up.

Kasparov came into the mayor's office and was met by a woman in a bright yellow outfit. For a moment he thought she was going to introduce him to the mayor, but she turned to BE the mayor! Yolanda Barcina took office last year at the age of 43.

Kasparov also had a chance to meet Navarra's most famous son and one of Spain's greatest sports heroes, cyclist Miguel Indurain, a five-time Tour de France winner. They dined together and the papers were eager to ask about impressions. Kasparov described Indurain as "charming, even after so many years of competition he has remained warm and friendly. Many professional sportsmen become rigid." Here they are on together on the front page.

Kasparov was interviewed several times and the paper was interested in just about anything other than chess! Even Kasparov's favorite hobby of politics was left aside in favor of his passion for football (soccer). He pleased the interviewer by remembering local team Osasuna's victory over powerhouse Real Madrid and he cautiously takes Maradona over Pele. (Now that he's safely out of Brazil!) Of his visit to Pamplona, Kasparov was more categorical: "Everywhere I've been I've found both positive and negative things. Here in Pamplona it's been all positive. It's allowed me to recharge my batteries."

Then came the chess, a 20-board simultaneous exhibition. The Oberena sports society organizes the powerful annual Pamplona tournament and has previously hosted Kramnik and Morozevich, among other leading lights. Kasparov quickly realized that apart from the masters and experts on the top boards, the supposed amateurs on the lower boards were also good club players. After 30 minutes Kasparov was sure he would give up at least a few draws, but two hours and twenty minutes later he had scored 20-0.

In the paper, Kasparov also talked about his drive to get chess introduced into more schools around the world. The neighboring Basque province recently tried to exclude chess as an official sport to cut its funding and Kasparov condemned the effort. "Sport doesn't have to have physical contact. What about golf? It's less strenuous than chess. I'd be able to outdo a golfer in the gym." Tiger Woods, are you listening?!

Diaro de Navarra really pulled out the investigative stops when it came time to report on Kasparov's simultaneous exhibition. Their report included not only a list of the players and the score, but how long it took him to make each move (a second per move on the first lap, plus another second to shake hands with each opponent), how long it took for one of his pieces to be captured (one minute), the first time he looked up from the board at an opponent (three minutes, ten seconds), how many times he put his hands on the table (1800 times) and adjusted his tie (900 times).

They judged that their local players were putting up a good fight by how many times Kasparov hunkered down with his elbows on the table, 35 times. His longest think of the event was four minutes, twenty seconds against Txema Gonzalez. There were over 200 spectators for the event.

 


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