Kasparov: “Sochi has been a dictator’s Games”
Considered the greatest chess player ever, alongside Bobby Fischer, Soviet-born Garry Kasparov now lives in New York, where he is committed to taking the game to schools. He is also running for president of the World Chess Federation.
Q. You draw a distinction between chess for education and chess at school.
A. Chess at school can be confused with playing chess as a sport – like football or basketball – whereas I see it as an important pedagogical tool that teaches children to think and nurtures values. In other words, it is a subject unto itself or a teaching aid for other subjects like maths and history.
Q. At what age should kids start playing?
A. Where the educational effect is concerned – because it’s never too late to learn to play – before the age of 9. Results from different tests concur that our decision-making capacity begins to develop before this age. Introducing chess in primary education means stimulating this capacity; after that, the brain becomes less flexible.
Q. Why are you running for president of the World Chess Federation?
A. We are at a historic juncture. Whatever we do now, if we do it well, will shape the future. Chess has been jostling for position for a long time now. People ask me why chess is no longer covered in the media as much as it was in the 70s, when there was that historic contest between Fischer and Spassky during the Cold War and my five matches against Karpov, which were so highly charged in terms of their political symbolism. In actual fact, a lot more people play now than did back then.