The Minister and the chess champion

4/3/2004 – During his five-day stay in Dresden Garry Kasparov had an important meeting. It was with a number of FIDE vice-presidents, the Lord Major of Dresden and the German Minister of the Interior. The reason for this illustrious get-together: Dresden is bidding for the 2008 Chess Olympiad. Here's a pictorial report.

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Saxony (German "Sachsen") is the tenth largest in area among Germany's sixteen federal states, but sixth in population (4.6 million). Created upon Germany's reunification in 1990, it occupies the approximate area of the former kingdom (1806-1918) of the same name. The capital is Dresden, other large towns are Leipzig, Chemnitz and Zwickau.


Click on the map above to explore

Recently the state has become known as "Silicon Saxony", with high-tech companies like Infineon and ZMD building state-of-the-art chip manufacturing facilities here. The state is growing fast, and in a mood of economic optimism the city of Leipzig has bid to become the host city for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games

No to be outdone the city of Dresden, which is one of the major chess centers of Germany, has decided to bid for the Chess Olympiad in 2008. When you count the number of teams participating this is the second largest sporting event in the world, after the Summer Games. The meeting in Dresden last week was to support the Dresden bid.


The German Minister of the Interior Otto Schily, 71, is the most senior member of the German cabinet, and is respected for his stalwart self-confidence and brilliant rhetorics. Schily is a certified chess fan who will turn up at different events. He is also a friend of Garry Kasparov, against whom he played an exhibition game at the 1999 CeBit computer trade fair (with Michael Jackson present at the stand).

In Dresden Otto Schily first visited the European Women's Championship. In the above picture you can spot him on the left (arrow) trying to follow the game between WGM Olga Alexandrova (2437 UKR) and local girl WGM Elisabeth Pähtz (2399 GER). The Minister stood in the crowd, stretching his neck, until the game was over. It ended in a disappointing draw for Elisabeth.

After the game Schily sat down to analyse the endgame with tournament director Dr Dirk Jordan. The minister was convinced that he had seen a win for Elisabeth Pähtz.

Alexandrova,O (2437) - Paehtz,E (2399) [D13]

Position after 75.Kb1-a1. Here Elli Pähtz played 75...Qc3+ and the game was drawn after 76.Ka2 Qb2+ 77.Qxb2 axb2 78.Kxb2 Kxh4 79.Kc3 Kg4 80.Kd4 Kf3 81.Ke5 Kxe3 82.Kxf5 ½-½. Schily looked extensively at the move 75...a2!? and decided that this would lead to a win for Black.

Nobody could refute Schily's analysis on the fly. Later Elli Pähtz (and Fritz) showed us how the game is drawn even after this imaginative try. Kasparov, on hearing about this, commented: "I wonder how many top politicians in the world would spend time analysing a chess endgame."

Afterwards Schily visited the Radio ChessBase studio in the press centre, with André Schulz of ChessBase interviewing him for a live multimedia transmission on the Playchess.com server.

Schily was impressed by some statistics: on the day before his visit there had been 110,000 games played on the server, by visitors from 173 nations (Schily jokingly: "You've got to go after the other 18 countries!" – there are 191 members in the UN). About 40 million games are currently being played on the server per year.

Otto Schily during the live interview on Playchess.com

You can see the interview with Schily by going to the Radio ChessBase room "Dresden Euro 2004" and selecting the game entry "EuroDresden00 Video Interview with Otto Schily". There are over 50 video interviews there, mainly with the women from the tournament.

After he had seen enough at the European Championship the Minister of the Interior went to the Town Hall for the bidding ceremony. Above is the interior entrance leading to the parliament hall.

Here the Minister met up with Garry Kasparov, who was there to support the Dresden bid to hold the 2008 Chess Olympiad

First the Minister had to sign his name in the Golden Book of the city

Then the bid by the city of Dresden was submitted to the FIDE Vice Presidents who were present (originally FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was scheduled to attend, but had to cancel at the last moment).

The Secretary of Sport of the City of Dresden, the President of the German Chess Federation Alfred Schlya and the President of the European Chess Union Boris Kutin during the signing

Schily and Kasparov discussing chess as a potential curriculum subject in German schools (and probably the endgame Elli Pähtz had drawn)


The young, dynamic Lord Mayor of Dresden

Kasparov speaks to the participants, assuring them his support for the Chess Olympiad to be staged in one of his favourite towns. "If the bid succeeds I will be here to play for my team," said the top Russian board.

Dr Dirk Jordan, who is behind almost all the chess activities in Saxony, together with Thilo von Selchow, the head of the chip manufacturer ZMD, which together with Infineon has done more for chess than any other company in Germany. Between them in the background is Kasparov's manager Owen Williams.

Frederic Friedel, who was charged with looking after Julia Kasparova during her brief stay in Dresden. But that will be the subject of a separate report.

After the signing ceremony the audience wanted to see a match between Kasparov and Schily. The minister insisted on doing the drawing of colours in the traditional way.

The game begins. Would you have thought that Otto Schily is a e4-player?

There was not enough time for an entire game, but Schily was not completely busted when the two agreed to proceed to the next stage of the ceremonies.

It's cocktails for the Secretary of Sports, Dirk Jordan, Thilo von Selchow, the Lord Mayor of Dresden, Otto Schily, Garry Kasparov and all the guests at the signing ceremony

The organisers had set up a big plasma screen where the guests could watch video interviews from the European Women's Championship on the Playchess.com server.

After the signing there was a formal dinner hosted in the Eckberg Castle in Dresden.

Later that evening we see Garry in animated conversation with Claus Peter Forster, the Chairman of the Board of the German General Motors subsidiary Opel and of the ZMD chip manufacturer. We can look forward to car and chip factories being build in Russia after Kasparov's verbal barrage.

After dinner in the cigar room Kasparov played a mini-simul against three FIDE dignitaries: P.T. Ummer Koya, FIDE Vice President from India, Continental President for Europe Boris Kutin, German Chess Federation president Alfred Schlya. Kasparov won the simul with his habitual score. Standing on the left is FIDE Vice President Zurab Azmaiparashvili who, in view of a long-standing friendship, allowed us to call him simply "Excellency" and drop the formal "Your".

Group photo of the guests at the dinner party.

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