Izvetsia, Kalmykia 15 June, 1996
Interview of Rustam Kamsky

by Nadejda Kymenova


Title of the story:
" We arrived in Elista not only to fight but also to find a future wife for our son. " (R. Kamsky)

Q: How do you feel yourself in America and do you feel support in this country?
A: We represent ourselves here at the best degree. The first days of our arrival in USA, we never felt any support from American side. After our arrival, there only bad information about ourselves in the air. For example, newspapers said that I was " a criminal and paranoid ". That's the way we were presented to American audience. The last 3 years there was any photo or any interview of us in the mass media.
There is a great influence of sionism in the chess business and in mass media. They say that we are Muslims and it's terrible; we felt it specially during the Gulf War. They said that Gata was a pawn of Saddam. Can you imagine such a thing? It's just terrible.

Q: Do you believe in God?
A: Yes, we believe in Allah. And we pray before every game. But we do not need anybody between Allah and ourselves. I promised that if Gata is the winner 50,000 dollars from the prize fund will be given to the building of a Mosque in Elista.

Q: You've got a nice name. But it sounds like a pseudonym.
A: My father was a very famous film director of Tatar Drama Theater. His name was Sabirov Gatualla Abdulovich. Then he got married and travelled along the country because of his performances. With his wife (Fariha Abdrachitavana Arlova), they both decided a name that sounds good because they were artists.
They choose Kamsky. Because of the name, some people think that we are Jews. But it's not true, we are Tatar. As you know we have the common mongolian roots.

Q: And what about the name of Gata?
A: Gata is the short version of Gataulla, my father's first name.

Q: When did you notice your son's skill to chess?
A: We came to chess not at once. After my divorce, I brought my son up from a very early age. Since then, I always took care of Gata. My forces were concentrated on my son. When Gata was one year and a half he could go by bicycle with the two wheels of course. When he was 2, he could read. At 3, he could count from 1 to 10. At 5, he learned the tables of multiplication. At 6, he got musical education and he could play.
I decided to develop my son's brain; that's why I thought him chess. At 9, Gata became candidate master.

Q: These facts show us that Gata is a wunderkind.
A: No, Gata is just a normal boy. All his successes are the results of hard work. Any child may be attain the same successes if he works in such a way. The system of chess classes was simple. I invited masters and candidate masters to play against and I put 25 or 50 roubles on the table and said: " If you are the winner, you'll take all the cash ". At the beginning of such classes, they won all the games. But then, Gata started to win. And masters did'nt like. They started to ask money for a draw. I did not have a lot of money at that time, nevertheless I accepted it. At that time, I was a free lance photographer

By the time, we were living in Leningrad and Gata only played in Juniors's competition tournaments organised in this region by the famous trainer Vladimir Zak. Step by step, Gata reached the finals. He was 8 years old. But at this tournament, there were children from 10 or 12 years old, all candidate master. Without title, Gata reached the middle of the field. It hurted our feelings. At 9, he beat a 18 year old boy: it was Epishin, now trainer of Karpov's team. And then we did not have masters tournament. For example in Minsk, Kichinov, Sverdolsk we arrived to the tournament and they called from Moscow saing that Gata was not allowed to play.

Q: But why?
A: Somebody at the top of the pyramid was afraid of the strong talent. But it is not talent, it's only our strong work. I tried to struggle with such forces. Dynamo club paid me to be my son's trainer and they gave Gata scolarship. But still, Gata was not allowed to play masters tournament. Such limitations was put on him when he was only 12. That was too young for him. Before defecting for USA, I talked to the Dynamo's director, an important general and said him that we were limited. May be he felt our feelings and understood that we were about to defect.

Q: At 20, Gata became candidate for the World championship. Were you proud of the result of your hard work?
A: I had never dreamed about it. There was no such aim in my life. Only here in Elista, wonderful conditions were created for this match. We are so greatful to Kirsan Iliumjinov, everybody is so kind to us. We feel the support of the people and many of them are fans of us. I hope God should help us. But if he does not help, we won't be very sad. The only thing we want is to earn more money. We need it for the studies of my son.
Frankly speaking, I want my son to win but not that much. Even if he wins, we will leave chess far from glory, noise and so on. I am dreaming that my son should be a normal person with a good profession, interesting work, family, children, a house with a garden and a dog.

Q: And what about World championship at the end of the year? If Gata wins in Elista, he will play against Kasparov ?
A: We completly support the idea of Kirsan Iliumjinov. If the conditions are fair, with a good prize fund we will play with pleasure, why not? Gata is going to study 6-8 years to become one of the best 10 pro in the field he will choose. This field will be medecine.

Q: Are you always making such high aims in everything?
A: It's not ambition but the wish of being protected in the life. And it is possible only with high professionnalism. By the way, Gata is able to do it. And he is ready to prove it. Here, in Kalmykia, in Russia, I would like to find a young girl friend for my son.

Q: ?
A: I am quite serious.
My plan is : we find a clever, modest, stay-at-home girl from a good family 13 or 14 years old. The nationality does not matter. We make a contact with the parents, take her with us to the USA where she, along with Gata, will study at the University. A clever child from Russia is able to study in an American University. The system of education there has got many steps.
The girl will get education at our expense. If Gata and she fall in love during these years, I will not mind. I want to avoid bad and by chance encounters for my son as long as mistakes of youth.

Q: In this case, you should take not one but at least three girls who are excellent at school in order to have the choice.
A: Even if it is funny from your point of view, we could take even three. But my wife would not agree. This is the first reason. I have to persuade her to take even one girl. The second reason, we will not be able to supply three because we will not have enough money. But one, I guarantee that when she will be 21, she will be able to be independent. But we have to work very hard with this girl during these 6/7 years.
And then, Gata and this girl will be free. I am ready to get acquainted with the parents of Gata's future girl friend to start talks with them. I wish my son will be happy and I wish I have grandchildren.

Q: Does Gata with this ?
A: It does not matter becaus I am the master in this house. It's up to me to decide. He does not have even time to think about girls.

Q: Gata trusts you, it seems to me. There will be a time where he will be able to live alone. Do you have the problem father against son conflict?
A: Gata is much clever than myself in everything. He is quite an independent minded person, so don't worry about it. We do not have conflicts in the family we are one whole with my son.

Q: How do you live in New York? Have you friends and interests?
A: We have bought a house with 6 flats and we are leaving in one of them. The 5 others are rented. We have equipped the cell with a tennis court (25 x 7 meters). We don't have a woman that makes cleaning etc. My wife Bella makes the job. She is from Russia, she is 20 years younger than I. We got acquainted in Leningrad, in the Chess School. She loves Gata as he were her younger brother. It seems to me she loves me too. Bella studies at the University and now she is in New York.
We don't communicate with people, we don't have just time. We have a rather boring atmosphere at home though we have many guests.

Q: Gata's mother came to Elista not so long ago. Does he often meet her?
A: When tournaments take place in Russia, she always comes. But I don't let any of the relatives to interfere with Gata during tournaments. But we never forget our close relatives and we try to support them if we can. But about nephews, nieces etc. I cannot support them. I don't have any right to waste my son's money because he earns this money from hard work. Not every man can do it.

Q: Does your son has any other interest apart from chess? does he like any other kind of sport?
A: He is a good gymnast, his boxing is OK, he used to train at karate but he had to leave these sports. But now, morning exercises and running are compulsory. He is fond of reading but he does not have time to read books and newspapers.

Q: What language does he prefer for reading? English or Russian?
A: It does not matter. He knows both perfectly.

Q: Does you have a particular schedule?
A: Very ordinary. We used to get up early. Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Gata runs every morning.

Q: (about if Gata runs in the street)
A: In the West, in France in particular as Fernando Arrabal informed us, they say that we , here in Elista offended and hurt somebody. This is made by intention from those journalists.

Q: Are you the boss of the Gata's team? Who are the participants by the way?
A: Trainers are not from Russia, as you know. We suggested to Russian trainers to come but they were afraid of consequences (pressed, no tournaments etc.) Two of my nieces are cooking for the team. We take products in the market and besides, the organisation commitee supplies products. The conditions in Elista compared with other countries and towns we have played in are best. In everything. We have not felt so good so far anywhere else. I convinced my son that Kirsan Nikolaevich is the best organiser for chess. Because he really takes care of his business. I am afraid that he might leave everything because of all these squarrels and scandals in the chess world. Nevertheless chess needs him. But he, can live without chess.

Q: How long do you know the president of FIDE?
A: Only since two months. The first time I saw was this year, in May, in Paris. Then, we went by plane to Elista together. I watched him working. He sleeps only 3 hours a day. Kirsan does not think about luxury, I began to respect him and to trust him. To my mind, he works for his Republik, for his people.
I have not seen such people very often.By the way, the character of his brother Vasheslav reminds me my own brother's character Renat. By organizing the World Chess Championship in Elista, your president has made a genius move. Now information about Kalmykia is all over the world, India, USA, Japon etc. It's a wonderful thing.