The chess legend Garry Kasparov admitted that he loved playing with Anand and that he helped Kasparov during his comeback. Kasparov made it clear that this was his last run as a chess player.
In the game of Kings, Queens, Bishops, Knights and Pawns, Garry Kasparov is the GOAT – greatest of all times. He had said that himself once when an interviewer asked him about the greatest in chess. “An unfair question to the world champion,” was his brusque reply.
Garry Kasparov has been in the headlines of late for his comeback to competitive chess (in the St Louis Rapid and Blitz tournament), 12 years after he last played a game in Linares (Spain). Chess has justifiably changed in these years, during which time our very own Viswanathan Anand has gone from being a five-time world champion to a former champ.
So what does the future hold for the game and Anand? And is this comeback one-off or is there temptation to stay on? Mirror tried to find out all this and more from Garry Kasparov himself.
Excerpts from an interview…
How has the comeback experience been?
From a chess perspective and a sporting perspective, very difficult. I knew it would be hard, but it’s still painful to miss so many opportunities. The chess goddess Caissa is a jealous goddess, and she punished me for abandoning her for 12 years! But overall, my goal of promoting chess and drawing attention to the Grand Chess Tour and what is happening in St Louis was a success.
What made you come back for this?
This is the key question, because it was never about “Garry Kasparov wants to play chess again” or me having a good result. I’m an ambassador for chess, and I’ve dedicated much of my life to advocating for the game and its benefits. Playing in St Louis was a great way to do that. The Grand Chess Tour and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St Louis deserve full support and my participation at the board was a means to that end. Rex Sinquefield (an American businessman based in Missouri) and his family have been incredible supporters of chess for years, how could I do less?
You have said it is a one-off appearance. But will it actually be so? For a legend like you the temptation to come back will always be there. Muhammad Ali, for instance, staged a few comebacks. Didn’t he?
I might agree if suspending my retirement came from my own desire to compete, but that is not the case. I’m quite happy and very busy with my life of writing, speaking, and my family. Ihave no plans to play in such a serious event again, and have no plans to make such plans. There’s no reason to make dramatic statements or to tease people. I am not a statue! I will live my life and do what I think is best for me, for my family, and for chess.
What about Vishy Anand your old friend, and a foe across the board?
It was great to see Vishy, of course, and to play him again. It helped to have him there, really, so I did not feel like such an alien, or an antique, among the rest of the field. It’s a little ironic that I finished ahead of my old rival (he was 8th and Anand was 9th in a field of 10), since he has shown quite regularly over the past few years that he can still play at a super-elite level – including just last week at the Sinquefield Cup main event (Anand finished joint-2nd there). Consistency is the first casualty of age for a sportsman.
Has he, his game, his style of play, approach or preparation changed anyway?
That is a question for Vishy, but he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the new generation if he weren’t also keeping his preparation and approach up to date. It’s clear that chess has moved on in the 12 years since I retired; that was clear even while I was preparing for this event. I’m sure that Anand, like nearly every veteran before him, has learned to manage his resources, to conserve his energy in order to better maintain his results.
How long can he play and is there a chance for him to regain the world title?
Obviously his odds get worse with every passing year, but he was an underdog to qualify already in 2014, when he won the Candidates, and he was only a point behind Karjakin just last year, so it would be a mistake to underestimate his experience even if he isn’t the favorite.
He can and should play as long as he likes, no more and no less. Sportsmen, even world champions, don’t owe anyone their unhappiness. As I said, we aren’t statues, we are human beings. He should do what makes him happy.
How is the current world chess scene and where could it be heading?
I see many positive trends that I am much optimistic about, in education – especially in the developing world – and with pro events like the Grand Chess Tour. I’ve always advocated this “bottom and top” approach, to build the base with grassroots and education and also support the top players and provide a path to real sponsorship and commercial success. It would be ideal if the political side were also on this course, but chess can continue to thrive despite chess politicians, even if it won’t do so because of them.
Finally, will you be fighting for the FIDE position again?
No. Read my lips: I’m not running and I will not run. I want to promote chess in every way and FIDE is not the way to do that. It’s the opposite, in fact. It would be a waste of resources and time that is much better invested, and is being much better invested right now, I’m happy to say.
He (Vishy Anand) wouldn’t be able to keep up with the new generation if he weren’t also keeping his preparation and approach up to date …I’m sure that Anand, like nearly every veteran before him, has learned to manage his resources, to conserve his energy in order to better maintain his results
THE K FACTORS
– A prodemocracy leader in Russia, a staunch critic of Vladimir Putin; is famously called Tsar’s Opponent
– Lives in New York after moving from Moscow in 2012 fearing arrest by Putin; has been a global human-rights activist since
– Now a professional business speaker and commentator, had come to India in 2013 for that purpose
– Published over a dozen books, including How Life Imitates Chess; the latest book is Deep Thinking which is all about man and machine
– Born in Baku in 1963, became youngest and 13th world champion at 22 in 1985; defended the title five times
– Was No. 1from 1986 until retirement in 2005, with a peak Elo rating 2851
– Broke away from FIDE in 1993 only to admit later it was a mistake; unsuccessfully contested for FIDE presidency in 2014; now regrets the move too