Quest on Kasparov – catch it if you can

by ChessBase
9/24/2006 – In a program called "Quest for Genius" CNN presenter Richard Quest takes a journey into the human mind, exploring the concept of genius. "When it comes to cerebral challenges," he says, "few can match the majesty of chess. And when it comes to grandmasters, nobody is more regal than Russia's Garry Kimovich Kasparov." Catch it on CNN.

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Richard Quest, 44, is a British born presenter who works for CNN International, anchoring "Business International" from London and two monthly programs, "Business Traveller" and "Quest".

On September 23/24 (Saturday 06:00, 14:00, 19:00 and Sunday 06:00, 19:00 GMT) the man with the inimitable exuberant style, takes a look at the "complex gray matter that distinguishes us from the rest of life on Earth." In the program, Quest interviews chess player Garry Kasparov, Dr. James Watson of DNA fame, Kim Peek (AKA the Rain Man), and Tony Buzan, the "mind-mapping" expert.

CNN writes: "When it comes to challenges of a cerebral kind, few can match the majesty of chess. And when it comes to grandmasters, nobody is more regal than Russia’s Garry Kimovich Kasparov. Having retired from professional chess tournaments in 2005, he now devotes much of his time to avoiding checkmate in Russia’s political arena and is an outspoken critic of President Putin. In a meeting in New York, Quest sets out to discover Kasparov’s political ambitions and how strategies perfected on the chessboard can relate to the rest of life."

We caught the first airing of the program last night – it is definitely a show to watch. There are musings on chess with the ubiquitous scenes from Washington Square Park, and a long interview with Garry Kasparov, who is his usual eloquent self, discussing chess and how playing the game can improve performance in everyday life.

The segment on James Watson is also quite fascinating. At 78 the biologist and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA displays a great deal of positive enthusiasm for modern scientific development. You will enjoy his wry sense of humour. The section on Tony Buzan's mind-mapping is mainly about mnemonic techniques to remember random lists.

CNN anchor Richard Quest

Somewhat frustrating is the sections on Kim Peek, the savant who inspired the lead character played by Dustin Hoffman in the Oscar-winning film Rain Man. Unlike Raymond Babbit in the movie, Peek, now in his 50s, is clearly not autistic. He suffers from Asperger's syndrome and is gifted with an eidetic memory that enables him to perform stupendous feats of recall. Unfortunately Quest for Genius, like most other documentaries on Kim Peek, only asks Peek to do some calendar computations and name a few historical facts and dates. As usual it is Fran Peek, Kim's father, who describes in vivid detail what his son is capable of. We would give anything to see Kim Peek read and memorise eight pages of text in a minute, simultaneously reading the left page of a book with his left eye and the right page with his right eye, as Fran claims. Kim obviously enjoys showing off his skills, and it would have been so much more impressive for once to see him commit the text to memory in such a short time and then recite it with 95% accuracy. Maybe next time you can show him actually doing it, Richard.

But we digress. It is Richard Quest's interview with Garry Kasparov that is our concern here. Check your local CNN programming and tune in if you get a chance!

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