Kasparov came to Greece for three days invited by a company of consulting and
business strategy services and on the occasion of the release of the 1st Volume
of the series "My Great Predecessors" in Greek by KEDROS Publications, gave a
press-conference at Hotel Intercontinental in Athens on May 14th 2006.
Kasparov made a brief presentation of his work "My Great Predecessors" and his
overall writing activity, answered to questions of a group of Greek chess
journalists, and signed his books for a great number of admirers and chess fans
who gathered to see the former World Champion.
The press conference
Kosmas Kefalos (Newspaper "TA NEA")
1. After your withdrawal from the world chess scene, what has world chess
lost and what has it probably won?
I don't want to think of my retirement in terms of losing and winning. That was
my own decision which obviously had an impact on world chess. I would say that
some of my colleagues were winners because of this decision and many chess fans
weren't happy because they would be no longer able to folllow my games. But in
the end this moment had to come.
The chess world and chess players have to deal with their problems without the
intervention of the player who was there for 20 years. In my opinion it helped
them clear the horizon. It is as if you had a big rock that prevented them from
seeing the perspectives. So they are now responsible for the world of chess and
hopefully many difficulties that we met in the past will be resolved. I'm still
following things but only as an interested outsider.
2. Has your decision to resign from competitive chess been justified?
Yes, I think that I did the right thing for myself, my future, and other
projects where everything that I learnt and gained from chess can be directed to
now. I have a full life but I can assure you that under no circumstances I'll
cut my connections with chess completely. It's impossible because I'm writing my
books, a column in News in Chess, I follow the games, I renew my chess database.
I still have the passion for the game but I have no intention to play
3. What is your opinion about Greek chess?
Well, I guess we can see some progress regarding the results of the Greek team
in the Chess Olympiads. Yet so far Greece hasn't taken any leading positions in
4. Would you propose a recipe of success for a country like Greece?
I don 't think there is a recipe of success for a country. First of all, success
is related to the willingness of young players to dedicate their energy and time
to the game of chess. The one thing that can be done by a country is to create
better conditions for chess but unless you have a very strong support from the
state, as it was in the Soviet Union for instance, I don't think that any
government's intervention in youth chess could guarantee professional success.
For example, chess is very popular in many regions in Spain which are actively
involved in promoting the game, but the Spanish national team isn't the best in
the world. Also, chess is very popular in American schools, but as you can see
there is still no immediate impact on the national team.
So that's why I think that it depends very much on the combined efforts of state
institutions, sponsors and federations to create conditions that could attract
young players to continue playing chess.
5. Are you interested in participating in a chess event held in Greece and
what could be such an event?
I'm not participating in any competitive chess event, and that's it! I could
play an exhibition or simultaneous match but under no circumstances I plan to
return to my professional chess activities, neither in Greece nor anywhere else
in the world!
Dimitrios Skirianoglou (Chess Magazine "Skaki gia Olous")
1. You said that you won't play competitive chess anymore. Yet don't you miss
the tension of the game?
I always feel such the shortage of time and do things of such intense schedule
that I really have no time to miss my playing competitive chess! I do a lot of
lectures, traveling from place to place, I continue writing books, I have
another big one, non-chess book, about decision making which should be released
some time next year, and of course my being actively involved in Russian
politics also consumes a great deal of my time.
2. What do you think of the Topalov - Kramnik match? Do you believe that it
will take place eventually?
When you are dealing with promises made by Kirsan Iliyumzinov* you should always
be aware that after the elections they might not be materialized! Although I
think that this match probably will take place... I don't have the precise
information but as far as I can understand, this match was the condition on
which the Russian Federation agreed to support Iliyumzinov's candidates.
In my opinion, the Topalov - Kramnik match is actually irrelevant for deciding
the future of the World Championship because for me the World Championship match
has always been the match between No 1 and No 2! And that's why I invited
Vladimir Kramnik to play against me in 2000 because he was clearly No 2 at that
time and for me this was a real challenge.
Topalov, who I wouldn't say he is clearly No 1 because he and Anand are about
equal, playing against No 10 doesn't lead anywhere, doesn't resolve the crisis.
When Topalov won in San Luis, that was a resolution of the crisis because he was
the best player at that time, he played better than others. The only result
Kramnik can post is his victory in 2000, so he cannot rely six years on one
result to support his claim.
|* Editor's Note:
We also requested the opinion of FIDE Deputy President Mr.
Makropoulos concerning the above statement of Gary Kasparov.
Mr Makropoulos briefly commented that "Kirsan is not like Kok
to disappear after the elections if he loses. The FIDE President has
fulfilled all his personal promises concerning the World Championships,
unlike Mr Kok who promised in Prague 1,5 million USD for the Kasparov -
Ponomariov match but from the next day he disappeared and left Kirsan to
pay the bill!"
3. Whom do you see as your successor, the player who could rightfully claim
I'm not very happy with FIDE's decision to eliminate the World Championship
matches. I still think that in the end No 1 should play No 2. You can have
tournaments, qualifications, but in the end chess has always been about No 1
playing No 2! The two best players compete. That was the greatest flavour of the
title that had been created in the 19th century.
Without this match I think that any tournament lacks its climax, so it's not
that exciting. But this is FIDE's decision and so far players haven't seriously
objected to it.
for instance, I would prefer to see a match between Topalov and Anand if I had
to make my choice. Nevertheless I think that FIDE's qualification system, based
on this strange mixture of knock-out and short matches, isn't very sophisticated
and current leader Topalov isn't very stable, so it has to be seen whether he
can remain on top of his form for a certain period of time, because his
performance is rather far from being impressive.
4. How do you see the future of chess not only at top professional levels but
also at lower ones?
I think that now we are facing two different trends. One trend is that chess is
gaining popularity among kids. That's what I saw in America, for instance, where
more and more schools are adopting chess, both private and public, as part of
their program. Also, chess is gaining popularity on the Internet.
It's rising quite dramatically according to the numbers since more and more
people play chess on the Internet. However at the same time we are facing the
ongoing crisis with professional chess in favor of which very little if any
commercial sponsorship is available.
So I think that these two trends should go towards each other and not towards
the opposite direction, but you need a strong leadership which can understand
how to convert the public interest into the commercial advertising procedure. I
don't think that the current leadership of FIDE and of the most federations does
understand how to work with commercial sponsors.
5. Is there anything to hope from the forthcoming FIDE elections, either from
Iliyumzinov or Kok?
The only good thing about these elections is that for the first time, probably
since 1982, we have a sort of genuine fight. Although I have my doubts whether
the elections will be held with fair and clear standards.
6. Computers in chess. What to expect?
It is absolutely clear that computers are gaining more and more ground in the
world of chess. We have recently faced the intervention of the new generation of
chess software which has made a giant step forward surpassing the leading
traditional chess programs like Fritz.
Chess programs have been improving and from one side they are very helpful for
chess players because they are able to study openings, analyze games more
sufficiently, but at the same time this is a sort of a threat because these
machines are pretty strong, not to mention Hydra which is based on a multiple
processors hardware and is extremely powerful.
In my opinion, if the best human player beats the best computer on his best day,
this means that we are still dominant over machines. So if a human player plays
a six or eight games match against a machine and wins one, he has done quite
In the end, I would consider such experiments as an important demonstration of
our capability to win at the peak of our performance. Machines are always
stable, so we have to find out whether the peak of human performance is
sufficient to prevail.
Argiris Kotsis (Chess.GR)
Could you state the positions of your political party?
We are not dealing with the normal democratic terms today in Russia. So
political parties in Russia can be registered only upon the concessions of the
Kremlin and so far they have a very short list of those who totally satisfy
Putin's regime. And I can assure you that neither me nor my colleagues are on
We are on a different list; the list of those who are banned from television and
all main stream media because in Russia today technically there is no longer
democracy but a police state where every element of public life is under the
strict control of the government.
We are not fighting in Russia for winning the elections but for having
elections. And that's the big difference. We are not dealing here with parties
but with public movements, and our major goal is to organize all spread
opposition forces and create a broad coalition which could fight for restoring
democratic process and bringing back normal elections.
2. What will be your first move if your party wins the elections in Russia?
Will it be an e4 or a d4?
If you are a professional player, you have to look at the tasks that you can
achieve. In Russia, as I've already said, we have to make sure first that we
have an election and in order to put pressure on the government, we have to come
up with a very broad coalition and in this coalition any ambitions of a single
person or a group could be very distractive.
3. How do you see the relations between Russia and Europe in the future?
The relations between Russia and Europe and the rest of the world entirely
depend on who runs the country. If the country is still run by Putin and his
colleagues, the relations will be tense because Putin doesn't hide his
intentions to use energy resources of our country to gain certain advantages for
himself and for East people who make themselves rich by taking control of
Russian oil and gas industries.
I sincerely hope that if we change the political situation of the country, then
Russia could change substantially its relations with the rest of the world and
be a reliable partner rather than a potential enemy.
What do you think about the political world chess board now that the balance of
forces has changed?
I think that in the global chess board there is a clear lack of strategy from
the leading democracies because after the end of the Cold War there was no new
plan to address a new balance of forces. And as we had the League of Nations
after World War 1 which collapsed and couldn't prevent World War 2, then the
United Nations after World War 2 which succeeded in preventing a nuclear clash
between the U.S. and Soviet Union, but in the end of the Cold War the United
Nations which was designed for different purposes no longer looks reliable for
resolving the current crisis. So we are still behind; no fresh ideas, no long
term strategic plans by leading politicians.
In my opinion, declaring ambiguous war of terror, for example, isn't going to
solve any problem because if you declare a war then you have to nominate your
enemy with name and address! Just having a war on the concept doesn't 't help. I
really have a lot of ideas that I'd like to promote. I believe that it is time
to come up with a comprehensive plan based on the current political and
economical changes that have occurred in the world.
5. Are there similarities between politics and chess?
Technically chess can be used as a tool to analyze politics, business, military
history because in chess you learn about strategy, tactics, learning from your
mistakes! So I'm very happy to use chess at my lectures when I talk about
strategy, competition, innovations.
Chess can be a universal element in many areas of human activities. In politics
rules are obviously not as clear as in chess! And of course in Russian politics
rules don't exist except for one rule, that the Kremlin makes rules when it
So that's why our strategy in Russia is more a matter of survival, surviving as
an organization to make sure that we can continue our fight. I wouldn't insist
though on my chess knowledge being so much helpful, but at the same time I've
learnt from chess how to fight, how to be objective in analyzing a situation,
and this objectivity helps me not to be overwhelmed by situations changing very
In the photos: Photos 1, 2 & 3 Kasparov speaking about
his book "My Great Predecessors". Photo 4 Kasparov signs the book for Argiris
Kotsis (Chess.GR). Photo 5 Kasparov with Mr. Papathanasopoulos (Kedros