Kasparov visits Singapore and Thailand

by ChessBase
12/26/2013 – Garry Kasparov, currently the only candidate for FIDE presidency on the campaign trail, recently visited countries of the Far East, where it would seem he is being vigorously supported by the federations. In Singapore the former World Champion stressed the need for sponsorship, education and technology, while in Thailand he received instructions from the Deputy Prime Minister in the rules of Makruk or Thai chess. Big pictorial report.

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Garry Kasparov on the campaign trail

In August at a spectacular launch event, hosted in the ballroom of the Swissôtel in the center of Tallinn, Estonia, Garry Kasparov announced his candidacy for the presidency of the International Chess Federation FIDE. The plan is to unseat the 18-year incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in the election that takes place in August 2014. Kasparov has become one of the most prominent opposition voices in Russia and he is the current chairman of the NY-based Human Rights Foundation. His Kasparov Chess Foundation promotes chess in education, a mission that is a centerpiece of Kasparov’s FIDE campaign.

East of India, south of Sahara, north of Greece – this could be regarded as the motto of the Kasparov campaign. In July the former World Champion and his wife Dasha completed a trip across seven African nations to meet with chess and education officials as well as chess players and kids. He is ever present in many European countries, and in recent weeks he travelled to the Far East to meet leaders and the chess communities there. The first stop was Indonesia (we reported on the launch here) , then came Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Macau, and Hong Kong, where Kasparov collected some remarkable souvenirs along with endorsements.

Sponsorship, education and technology
the focus for Kasparov in Singapore

Report by Peter Long

The legendary former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov was the guest of honour at the Singapore Chess Federation Awards Night. Kasparov, a candidate to become the president of FIDE (World Chess Federation), was on his second stop on his first tour of Asian countries that have pledged their support to the charismatic Russian, who is based in New York, USA. The grandmaster was a major draw, helping raise funds via the auction of his acclaimed book series “My Great Predecessors” and game collection “Garry Kasparov on Garry Kasparov”.

At his keynote address, Kasparov articulated a vision of chess that would bring Education up to the level of Sport in the focus of the World Chess Federation while at the same time ensuring that chess would duplicate the efforts of other sports in the adoption of interactive mobile technology that can fully engage and viewers and unite them into a global social network.

He was not only the big attraction but also proved to again be a major fundraiser. Garry impressed all present with his ability to articulate a well thought-out vision that is completely doable while also game-changing for world chess.

For Garry, teaching kids critical thinking skills is the greatest challenge facing governments, parents, and employers, and chess is a great tool to help educators in this mission. In the FIDE he hopes to lead, education will be one of the key strategic thrusts. It is not merely about chess in schools as a defined and formal program but chess as a means of contributing to child development and helping him or her reach their fullest potential.

A second focus will be proving that chess can indeed compete for eyeballs and be attractive to the media. The answer is using interactive mobile technology displayed on the now-ubiquitous devices that provide a user engagement equal to if not better than what another sports experience on a larger screen.

Ultimately Garry believes that the third and final component of this vision will be achieved by developing chess into a social network connecting the hundreds of millions of chessplayers globally.

The dinner was also the occasion for the launch of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific in Singapore, the fourth such center following the Kasparov Chess Foundation USA in New York, Kasparov Chess Foundation Europe in Brussels, and Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa in Johannesburg. By the end of the dinner, a total of almost US $100,000 was raised for the Singapore Chess Federation’s budget for the next financial year from 1 April 2014.

Kasparov sees chess of all kinds in Thailand

By Panupand Vijjuprabha

FIDE Presidential Candidate Garry Kasparov and running mate Ignatius Leong arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, and were immediately whisked off to the Ministry of Finance. There they made a call on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Kittiratt Na-Ranong, who is also President of the Thailand Chess Federation.

Kasparov presents his book to Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt, with Panupand
Vijjuprabha (left) and Ignatius Leong (right) flanking them

Kasparov and the Deputy Prime Minister shared their views on chess in Thailand, the region and the world. Mr Kittiratt agreed with Kasparov on how and why chess could play major roles in education and social networking. Mr Kittiratt endorsed the TCA's support for the candidacy of Kasparov for FIDE President.

The one-hour meeting concluded when Mr Kittiratt presented Kasparov with a
Thai Chess Set and briefly explained the rules of the game

Makruk or Thai chess

This is a board game descended from the sixth century Indian game of chaturanga or a close relative thereof, and therefore related to chess. It is regarded as the most similar living game to this common ancestor of all chess variants. There are around two million Thais who can play makruk, while 5000 can play chess.

In starting position, pawns are placed on the third and sixth ranks. Queens are placed at the right side of kings. Pawns promote and move like queens when they reach the sixth rank. There is no castling. When neither side has any pawns, the game must be completed within a certain number of moves or it is declared a draw. More about Thai chess in this Wiki article. Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik got interested in the game and said "It is more strategic than international chess. You have to plan your operations with total care since Makruk Thai can be compared to an anticipated endgame of International Chess" [see Kramnik plays Makruk Thai]

Kasparov was taught the rules for ASEAN Chess and Myanmar Traditional Chess. He learnt that ASEAN Chess is a hybrid of Chess, Thai Chess and Myanmar Chess and was first introduced into the SEA Games in 2011.

Kasparov learning Myanmar Chess

Kasparov watches as the players played a ASEAN Chess Blitz game
(played with a standard western chess set, as many variants are)

After watching a blitz game Kasparov was able to join
the players in analysing an endgame position

Kasparov: “I’m delighted to have the chance to learn about these different forms of chess, and also to see how popular they are. I can definitely see the potential of embracing different forms of the game to bring more players into the FIDE family. Top players of western chess play Fischerandom tournaments, after all.”

Kasparov with the top men players in Thailand...

... and with the top women players

At the dinner hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Kasparov was introduced to Board members of the TCA, who paid intensive interest in Kasparov’s plan to implement reform on the policies of the future of FIDE as well as on the roles of how key national federations in various regions could play to support the global activities in FIDE and the Chess in Education programs. Kasparov received resounding applause when Mr Kittiratt re-assured the support of Thailand for Kasparov for the FIDE Elections next year.

– Coming soon: Kasparov in Macau and Hong Kong –

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