Kasparov Takes Manhattan

7/17/2003 – From the length of the line you would have thought someone was giving out free food or theater tickets. But the commotion was caused Garry Kasparov signing copies of his new book at a Manhattan Barnes & Noble. Hundreds of fans turned out to buy the book and hear Kasparov talk about his great predecessors. Now if only they had had more books... Report and pics here.

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Kasparov signing packs New York Barnes & Noble


The 82nd St. and Broadway Barnes & Noble.

A half-hour before Garry Kasparov's scheduled appearance at the huge 82nd Street Barnes & Noble bookstore in Manhattan, notes were taped over all the posters announcing "signing and discussion" with the world's number one chessplayer.

Too many people had come and the store didn't have enough room for a discussion with several hundred people, so it was hastily changed to "signing only." But when the crowd thinned at the end there was a Q&A with Kasparov when all the books, and we do mean ALL the books, had been signed.

By seven o'clock the line from the table where Kasparov would be signing ran past the History section, into the Religion shelves and out through Language, Spirituality, Travel, and Biography to the escalator. And New Yorkers HATE to wait on line (as they say here instead of "in line" or "in queue.")

 
It's not a roller-coaster at the start of this line, it's the 13th World Chess Champion.

When Kasparov arrived he was hustled into a back room where he sat and signed a few hundred copies that had been pre-purchased online and in the store. A conveyor belt system of handing him the books and stacking them on the side was employed to expedite the process.


The luxurious back room.

Various chess VIPs and FOGs (Friends of Garry) were on the scene, including another member of the exclusive Champions Club, Susan Polgar. The media was also out in force, with writers, photographers, and TV crews from the NY Times and local Russian stations on the scene.


The Champions Club: Garry Kasparov and Susan Polgar

Then Kasparov got down to work. He gave a few opening remarks about the book and then the signing began. Many people were buying multiple copies of "My Great Predecessors, Part I" and Kasparov dutifully signed them all, including personalizing them.

Kasparov was also called upon to sign many things other than his new book. Mostly these were older books of his such as "The Test of Time" or photos. We saw an original Baku first Russian edition of "The Test of Time" go by.

The photo on the left shows what was probably the most eclectic of the items brought forward, a wooden rook!

On the right you can see a real treasure. Susan Grumer spent a few hours on the train to come up from Philadelphia for the signing. In addition to a few books she asked Kasparov to sign this program from the 1972 Skopje Olympiad, where she was a player. On it were the signatures of every World Champion from Euwe to Karpov!

Now she has added Kasparov to the collection; you can see the fresh ink of his autograph on the lower-left corner. (Does it surprise anyone that Fischer squeezed his name in on top of Petrosian's?) When asked about getting Kramnik's signature for her trophy, Ms. Grumer replied that she wasn't interested, "to me it stops with Garry."

The last person in line didn't have a book and asked Kasparov to sign his copy of "The FIDE Laws of Chess." And why didn't he have a book, you might ask? Because only 15 minutes into the signing there were no more books to be had! Every box had been emptied and the entire table was cleared of the over 300 advance copies the publisher had specially shipped over for this event. (The book won't be widely available in US stores until August.)

This caused a little friction and embarrassment because it turns out there had been an additional 80 books that they had sent back to the warehouse that morning. Oops. At $35 per that's an expensive blunder!

Kasparov took questions on the book for around 20 minutes after the last book was signed. Most of the content will be familiar to you if you attended his Playchess.com chat last week or read the transcript, but we will present it to you here in full tomorrow as it contained several interesting comments.


The author, met.

 


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