Garry Kasparov chats with Brazilian icon Jô Soares

9/8/2011 – While visiting Brazil, Garry Kasparov was interviewed by the Brazilian talk show host and icon, Jô Soares. Soares, a well-known polyglot, conducted the entire interview in English, and had come very well-prepared as he started the discussion with the champion's retirement in 2005, talking about the inauguration of the Kasparov Chess Foundation in São Paulo, and more. An excellent interview.

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On Friday, September 2nd, while promoting the inauguration of the Kasparov Chess Foundation in Brazil, Garry Kasparov was interviewed by the famous Brazilian talk show host, Jô Soares, who had a very interesting chat with the champion.

In Brazil, Soares is the national equivalent of David Letterman, whose format he clearly admires and emulates. , as he is amicably called, is a lifelong icon of Brazilian TV having started his career over fifty years ago, when he was just twenty years old, after studying in Switzerland and the United States. He is known for his great wit, starring in several stand-up shows of his authorship, and for his culture, speaking English, Spanish, Italian and French. Needless to say, he conducted his interview with the champion in English, and it was gratifying to see he had come well-prepared.

His very first question made this very clear.

Jô Soares: Why did you stop playing professionally in 2005?

Garry Kasparov: You reach your limits. It happens. For me it was not just about winning or losing, mainly winning of course, but it was about making a difference.

JS: I see.

GK: Look, I was 41 and I had reached all the limits. I had conquered all the mountain peaks, I had accomplished more than I had thought of, and you always have to improve yourself, and look for other things, and I decided I would have to go.

Later, Jô asked Garry about his current trip to Brazil.

GK: There are certain things that are happening. Chess is expanding and there is a lot of support from top officials here for chess in the education system, and that is my top priority now. And hopefuly, early next year I'll be able to open the Kasparov Chess Foundation here in São Paulo.

JS: That's fantastic. And to put all kids learning to play chess.

GK: It's not about learning chess to become great professionals. Its about learning chess to improve educational skills. It's already proven beyond any doubt that chess in the education system helps kids, and I think it's a very cost-effective system to improve education.

JS: Can you give us an example?

GK: I'll give you one example: there was an experience run in Germany by one of the German universities. They had classes, two classes. One had extra hours of mathematics. Another class, the same class, parallel, had extra hours in chess. At the end of the year, they compared the results in... mathematics! The class with chess won. But moreover it's about social integration, because it helps kids to gain some self-esteem, it boosts their attitude, sense of logic...

JS: ...confidence...

GK: ...Confidence, you know, and discipline. Plus now it is related with computers. So you know, it could be a part of the computer learning. I think there are so many great things, and at the end of the day: it's cost-effective, because you don't have to build a stadium, a swimming pool, a tennis court. It's there.

The debated the issue of chess as a sport and then Soares asked Kasparov about training.

JS: If you get a great pianist, he has to rehearse about... eight hours a day. I once spoke with Oscar Peterson and I asked, "Why do you rehearse eight hours a day?"

GK: To not lose the sense.

The ever expressive Kasparov gesticulates with his fingers to explain his point

JS: No, he said, "If I only do it seven hours, the next day there is someone playing better than me."

Garry Kasparov's face says he understands this all too well

JS: How do you rehearse? Do you play against yourself?

GK: No, I don't do it now, but when I used to... it's a great point. It's what I call the gravity of past success, because you can get complacent.

Caught up in a subject he obviously feels strongly about

JS: Sure...

GK: If I did it yesterday, if I won yesterday. I could do the same story and I'll win. It happens in chess, in music, in football... anywhere. The moment you stop making progress, there are others catching up, because people are learning from you. You cannot rely on the same technique to win, so you always have to be creative. I was always trying to improve things, looking for the options with computers with my coaches. I was not just preparing for a specific game, but conceptually, how to move the game forward.

Click here to see the full video of the interview (in English)

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