The Kasparov Diary – tour in Germany

by ChessBase
3/22/2007 – For just over a week Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion, book author and now de facto leader of the Russian opposition, is touring Germany and Switzerland. After his blitz in Hamburg he proceeded to Cologne where he took part in a debate with one of Germany's top investigative journalists, on a "Literature Ship" sailing the Rhine. Big pictorial report.

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In Hamburg with Beckmann

On Friday, March 16th, Kasparov arrived from Moscow in Hamburg, going straight from the airport to the ChessBase offices to start recording his Najdorf 3 DVD. He was joined two hours later by wife Dasha, who flew in from New York. After a truly memorable dinner that night at the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, recordings at ChessBase continued the next day, Saturday, March 17th, until we were picked up at five p.m. and taken to Studio Wandsbek, where Kasparov appeared on Beckmann, a very prestigious national TV show.

Garry Kasparov vs Reinhold Beckman in a very lively talk show

Kasparov spoke about his book "How Life Imitates Chess" and
Russian politics

Ina Ruck, Russia correspondent of the national TV channel ARD joins Kasparov

Garry with Ina and Reinhold after the show

Portrait of Russia's leading opposition politician [
all pictures above copyright Morris Mac Matzen]

Garry's charming wife Dasha, who now helps him manage his life and career

After the TV recording the debate continues, with wine and dinner in the studios

Reinhold Beckmann was so impressed he invited Kasparov for a September repeat


On Sunday, March 18th Kasparov took a (rare) train ride to Cologne – exactly four hours, from city center to city center, making it easier than flying. We were put up in the amazing Hotel im Wasserturm, which ranks amongst the best designer-deluxe hotels in the world.

The 130-year-old building, which used to be the tallest water tower in Europe, has two-storied suites with circular outside walls, a welcome change from the box construction you get in regular hotels.

Porthole windows and rounded forms are the trademark of this hotel

Junior suites in two stores, with an upstairs sleeping area

On the ground-floor of the Hotel is Harry's Lounge, a meeting point for locals and guests alike. Here two journalists from the leading German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Lars Reichardt and André Behr (who also writes for the Swiss Tagesanzeiger in Zürich) were waiting to interview Kasparov.

Kasparov speaks to Lars Reichardt (left) and Andi Behr

Kasparov's bodyguard in Germany: Nico Nehez

Nico is an awe-inspiring fellow, friendly and helpful with everything we do, but definitely not someone you want to mess around with. In Europe and the US it is not really necessary to have a bodyguard – in Cologne the publishers had arranged Nico as a special courtesy. In Moscow he has to move around with two bodyguards, in the rest of Russia with four or five.

The German editor of Kasparov's latest book, Dr Klaus Stadler

Kasparov told the story of how his book, "How Life Imitates Chess", was commissioned and then rejected by a US publisher, who wanted something more folksy, when the first draft of the manuscript was delivered (a kind of "How to Take Decisions for Dummies"). Then he met with Klaus Stadler of the German Piper Verlag, incidentally immediately after the recording of his Najdorf 1 DVD in Berlin in December 2005. The two got on famously, and the German publisher was delighted with the book as it was.

The German version of How Life Imitates Chess was released last week, and sticks closest to the original manuscript. All versions of Kasparov's book – 18 different languages are currently being prepared – are tailored to each country, with stress placed on different aspects and examples taken from the national context (e.g. less Bloomberg, Clinton, Kerry and Bush in the Chinese version). The US version, now being prepared by a different publisher, will be the most hard-nosed and direct; the Russian version the most biographical and philosophically inclined.

Talkshow in lit.Cologne

Sunday, March 18th, 9 p.m. After dinner in the Wasserturm restaurant, where we got to know Rick Moody, the very successful American novelist and short story writer (The Ice Storm), and a number of other more-or-less famous people, we proceeded to the Rhine river to board the "Literature Ship" MS Rheinenergie. Over a thousand people attended the lit.Cologne debate featuring Kasparov and well-known critical journalist and anchor Klaus Bednarz.

Debate on decision making and on Russian politics on the literature ship

Kasparov with investigative reporter Klaus Bednarz (right) and translator Patricia Stöcklin

A moment of levity when Bednarz speaks about Kasparov's "dual citizenship" (Russia and US). "I think they gave you the wrong KGB file," Kasparov said. He has only one citizenship – Russian.

The session lasted two hours, the public savoured every minute of the lively debate

Outside the city of Cologne, with its famous cathedral on the right, glides by

Afterwards a few hundred visitors stayed behind to get books signed by the author

Garry meets and recognises someone he has chatted with on Playchess

...and an adoring fan who wants her book personally dedicated.

Report and pictures (unless otherwise specified) by Frederic Friedel

Kasparov's further schedule

  • On Thursday, March 22nd, there will be public talks, at 3 p.m. in Leipzig at the "Blaues Sofa" (organized by Süddeutsche Zeitung and ZDF-TV); at 4:30 p.m. in the "LVZ-Arena" ” (organized by Leipziger Volkszeitung, newspaper); and at 8:15 p.m. at Lehmanns Buchhandlung, Grimmaische Str. 10.

  • On Friday, March 23rd, there will be TV (Austrian National Television) and radio (SWR 1) interviews.

  • On Saturday, March 24th, at 4 p.m. there will be a book signing at the mega-bookshop Dussmann in Berlin.

  • On Sunday March 25th, Kasparov will appear on the Christiansen talkshow, from which he had been uninvited some months ago after pressure had been exerted on the host by the Russian ambassador. Sabine Christiansen was widely criticised for succumbing to the wishes of a foreign government and this is a bit of an contrition show.

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