What is Garry up to?

by Macauley Peterson
1/24/2018 – Kasparov has been making the media rounds as he does, but lately he's been fielding questions on chess rather than the subjects that are more often in his sights: Russia, politics, and AI. He's recently been featured in a serious conversation with conservative commentator Bill Kristol, a not-so-serious Q&A session with Twitter users published by Wired Magazine, and a wonderful mini-history lesson for The New Yorker magazine. | Photo: WIRED YouTube

Master Class Vol.7: Garry Kasparov Master Class Vol.7: Garry Kasparov

On this DVD a team of experts gets to the bottom of Kasparov's play. In over 8 hours of video running time the authors Rogozenko, Marin, Reeh and Müller cast light on four important aspects of Kasparov's play: opening, strategy, tactics and endgame.


Rollicking reminisces and adroit answers

Garry Kasparov has been actively promoting his new book Deep Thinking, as well as a video series for MasterClass (not to be confused with ChessBase's own Master Class Volume 7 which predates it). He has recently taken part in several videos for WIRED Magazine, The New Yorker, and "Conversations with Bill Kristol" that are quite varied, funny, and informative. You can watch the full videos below, with a few highlights transcribed.

WIRED "Tech Support"

"Garry Kasparov Answers Chess Questions From Twitter"

"Chess Support" in this case — the video below is part of a larger series of Twitter question and answer sessions from guests ranging from football legend Jerry Rice to astronomer and science populariser Neil deGrasse Tyson. The questions in this piece ran the gamut from interesting to inane, but Kasparov was notably good humored about it all. He even indulged questions from total beginners, which in almost any other context he would scoff at. But for WIRED, it was all part of the fun.

Kasparov consternation

Kasparov consternated a bit by this one...

Some of the more interesting moments for chess fans:

  •  The bishop is more valuable than the knight, and he agrees with Fischer's estimation that it's worth about 3.25 pawns, borne out by millions of games of chess engines, "since in many more cases it was a more useful piece"
  • Kasparov loved the Evans gambit for white and the Volga gambit "or the Benko gambit, as it's known in the free world" for black
  • Don't hold your breath waiting for Carlsen or top players to play the King's Gambit or the Evans, however, he fondly remembers an important game against Anand in Riga, 1995, where Kasparov surprised Anand with an Evans

Kasparov answers questions from Wired readers on Twitter | Running time: 7 minutes | YouTube

Evans Gambit for the new generation

The Evans Gambit is an attempt to destroy Black in gambit fashion straight out of the opening. Featuring games of old, and numerous new and exciting ideas, this DVD will give you a genuine and more exciting way of playing the Giuoco Piano.

Master Remakes: Chess

"Grandmaster Garry Kasparov Replays His Four Most Memorable Game"

Kasparov was asked by The New Yorker magazine to relate four memories from his storied career. The result is a beautiful montage of historical photos mixed with contempory footage, including nice graphic overlays of a real chess board to illustrate key aspects of the positions discussed (although the overhead "birds eye view" shots of the chess board are rather pointless).

Here's what Garry chose (replay all games in their entirety below the video):

"Must win"

1) Garry Kasparov vs. Anatoly Karpov: World Championship Match, 1987, Sevilla, Spain 

Kasparov was trailing in the match by one point and with white in the final game 24, the players adjourned in this position:


"I still don't know whether it's winning for white or its a draw. I would say it's 50/50. Whitie has an extra pawn but all pawns are on the same side and a limited number of pieces so it's very difficult to actually find a winning plan for white. The next day when I showed up on the stage, I was a couple of minutes early. I have to say that with my coaches we had been analysing this but we couldn't find any decisive ideas. And then I saw Karpov entering the stage. That was the crucial moment because I could look at his eyes, I could look at his body, and he looked doomed. I could immediately understand that he didn't believe he could defend this position. And that's everything — it's about your confidence that you can either win or defend, and that can make all the difference for the outcome of the game."

"A memory scar"

2) Garry Kasparov vs. Viswanathan Anand, PCA-GP Credit Suisse Rapid Final Blitz Playoff, 1996

"I played with black and totally outplayed him. As you can look at the position, black has two pawns — let me emphasise — two extra pawns, and total domination in the center. So, I don't know which move is not winning. If you don't make a move you're still winning. But I wanted to just exchange queens..."

Then this happened:


Black is winning six ways from Sunday, and exchanging queens via 33...Nxe3 would have worked out fine, but Kasparov instead took with the queen, 33...Qxe3 ? allowing 34.Qxg4! hitting the c8-rook. Watch:

Original footage by ChessBase emeritus Editor-in-Chief, Frederic Friedel, which has been copied countless times since!

A blue day for humanity

3) Deep Blue vs Kasparov, 1997, game 6 

The last game of the match, with the score all tied. "Maybe it's the most famous game in the history of chess," Kasparov says. He played the Caro-Kann as a surprise weapon, and reached this now-infamous position:


Kasparov says he played 7...h6 knowing that it could "provoke white to sacrifice a piece, which is very strong...

"But machines don't sacrifice a piece for a pawn without having a concrete outcome in sight, so I expected that the computer would go back on e4 because this move was not in the special database prepared by a grandmaster team that worked with Deep Blue. And to my horror Deep Blue immediately took on e6, which means that the move was already put in."

"Now, of course, the free chess app on your mobile phone is stronger than Deep Blue."

November 9th, 1985

4) Garry Kasparov vs. Anatoly Karpov: World Championship Match 1985, game 24 

"This is arguably the most important game of my life...I was leading 12 : 11 before the last game and Karpov needed to win to retain his title...Here I found one of the most difficult moves in my life, and at first sight it's a paradox..."


Watch below or replay the game to find out why he's so proud of 23...Re7

Kasparov for The New Yorker | Running time: 9 minutes


Click or tap a game from the list to switch

Conversations with Bill Kristol

"On Artificial Intelligence, Technology and Politics, and AlphaZero Chess"

The thirteenth World Champion discusses AlphaZero and machine learning, noting that chess being a "closed system" is a small stepping stone to more general AI, and therefore nothing to fear in the short term, although he says new technology always risks becoming "weaponized" as an early application.

Chess will never be "solved", he says, because it is practically "a mathematically infinite game" with a quattuordecillion positions (1045 or 1 followed by 45 zeroes). "It's not about solving, it's about winning, and humans are poised to make mistakes."

"No machine will ever reach the 100% perfection. There will be always the gap that will require human assistance. Psychologically it's very challenging for humans to recognize the fact that we belong to the last few decimal places, but there's nothing wrong about it." 

Kasparov in converation with Bill Kristol | Running time: 52 minutes | YouTube

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Macauley served as the Editor in Chief of ChessBase News from July 2017 to March 2020. He is the producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast, and was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.


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