Kasparov in Delhi – Reading an opponent's mind

by Priyadarshan Banjan
2/25/2016 – Last Friday Garry Kasparov was in the Indian capital and delivered an interactive talk to entrepreneurs at the Regional Interaction Event, Zinda Dilli 2016. The legendary World Champion discussed a wide range of topics like chess politics, his approach to chess, the future of the game and his invaluable insights to chess and life. You don't want to know what he said about US Presidential Candidate Trump. From ChessBase India.

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Garry Kasparov in Delhi!

By Priyadarshan Banjan

Grandmaster, World Champion, author of monumental chess books, activist, politician and an ignited mind – this is how we always knew Garry. At the Regional Integration Event of Entrepreneurs' Organization that is being held in New Delhi, Garry threw light on various issues surrounding chess and politics that was covered in depth by the general media.

Entrepreneurs' Organization is a global peer-to-peer network meant exclusively for entrepreneurs. This event, titled Zinda Dilli 2016, was a networking platform for entrepreneurs from around the globe and some six hundred enterprising minds attended the talk that was delivered by Garry Kasparov on 19th February 2016. The event ran for a couple more days, with talks by such doyens as Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar, Yoga practitioner Baba Ramdev, film Director Anurag Kashyap, business tycoon Malvinder Singh, former White House intern and controversial figure Monica Lewinsky to name a few.

Garry's interactive talk was titled "Checkmate: Reading an Opponent’s Mind. How life imitates chess" and he delivered a memorable performance where he talked about various issues, interspersed with anecdotes and typical "Garry humour".

Garry Kasparov talking at Entrepreneurs' Organization [Photo: Ramesh Sharma]

People often tend to associate politics with chess, with news channels often displaying sub-standard animations of chessboard and pieces during election-time, fittingly associating them with the various (below-par) political candidates. Kasparov promulgated to all and sundry that chess is different from politics because, in our sport, the moves are fixed! "In chess we have fixed moves and unpredictable results. In Putin's Russia, it's exactly the opposite."

Since his retirement, Kasparov has been participating in activism and politics, often ripping into men of Putin's stature. Donald Trump, who is "winning hearts" in USA, has nothing to impress Garry. Trump was at the receiving end of Kasparov's criticism: "Donald Trump is a cotton candy candidate. At first sweet. But no nutrition value and makes you sick at the end!"

The future of chess

Garry expressed happiness over the fact that chess is spreading rapidly across the younger generation, with an upward trend being witnessed in scholastic chess. He said he is already seeing a dramatic increase in the role chess is playing in modern society.

However, he warned that world chess does not have a competent leadership machinery at the top that can capitalise on the ever increasing popularity of the game. Garry is known to be outspoken, but he is right because had the leadership been chess-friendly, we would never see a hungry chessplayer who suffers due to the lack of funding.

Thirteen-year-old Saurabh Anand (2060), who recently beat his first grandmaster, and fifteen-year-old Kumar Gaurav (2232), who scored an IM-norm in Chennai, share one such story. They continue to prosper despite heavy financial constraints, and for their achievements, all they have been showered with is umpteen empty promises of financial rewards. Read the Indian Express report here.

What can we learn from Garry's remarks?

We often see the state, national and the world bodies taking all the credits for producing champion players. In a case of Stockholm-Syndrome-like behaviour, we ourselves end up giving credit to these apex bodies for producing champion players.

The reality is that the leadership comes to the fore only after the player becomes a champion. Until that point, it is always the sweat and blood of the players themselves, along with their coaches and well-wishers, that fuels the growth of chess. The controlling bodies should recognise this basic fact and start doling out credits where they are due, not by mere words but by channelising corporate and government funding to these talented chessplayers. The focus should also be on the juniors at the same time. Developing chess at the grassroots level is a sure shot way forward.

Kasparov on Indian chess

"The sky is the limit" – that is how Kasparov summarised his opinion about chess in India. He admitted that his knowledge about the Indian chess scene is limited to what he reads, but he has noticed that India has a vibrant chess community and things will only get better.

Garry's chess philosophy

Hard Work
"It annoys me when people say someone doesn't have talent, he just works hard. Hard work is also a talent!" Kasparov is considered the epitome of hard work in chess. That drive and zing to always stay a step ahead of his competitors is what made him the genius we all know him to be.

Take Risks!
He went on to say how the fear of making mistakes pulls you back. Kasparov firmly believes that one has to take risks and explore. "The way chess is played is often a reflection of society and current cultural trends. I see chess being played with machine knowledge in a risk-reducing way just the way people are conducting education and business."

Intuition and decision-making
Garry believes that the difference lies in a player's decision-making style. The first step towards designing your own decision-making process is to know who you are and create an environment of good decision-making. Insightfully, Garry added that in most cases, important decisions will be made under time pressure. He derided the modern fad of collecting data of all sorts, only to be confused by it. It is important that we control data and not get swamped by it. In this aspect, her firmly believes in the role played by intuition in chess as well as life. "At one point you have to stop collecting data and start make decisions."

There is nothing wrong if a player is overly defensive, nor in being extremely aggressive. Take cricket for example. Some batsmen attack, come what may; some stay put and defend as if their life is at stake. Sportsmen tend to have their own unique styles. One has to recognise his/her dominant qualities and strive to bring positions (on the board and off it too) that are favourable to one's innate qualities and intuition, which we must trust all the time. "Some people are naturally aggressive. Others defensive. You should use your dominant qualities to create favourable situations."

"On a big screen, football wins. You move to this screen [points to his smart phone] and I am not sure you enjoy watching tennis or football. But you can watch and play chess."

Garry with Matthias Wullenweber, the co-founder of ChessBase. Garry Kasparov was the first chessplayer to use the ChessBase software. You can read the whole story of how ChessBase came into existence written by Garry himself, here.

Check out the ChessBase India website at www.chessbase.in – a responsive news page that runs on notebooks, tablets, smartphones, practically everything. Cou can also visit and "like" the ChessBase India Facebook page

Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.


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