What is Garry Kasparov’s Next Move?

The great chess champion brings his knowledge to the games of Sochi, global politics and computer intelligence
By Ron Rosenbaum
Smithsonian Magazine
March 2014

A vast global game of geopolitical chess seemed to be hanging in the balance the morning I met with Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess genius whom many regard as the greatest player of all time.

What’s less well known about him is that for the past decade Kasparov has become a major player in that great game of liberty versus tyranny in which the globe is the board. He was jailed and, as recently as 2012, beaten in Moscow for protesting Vladimir Putin’s regime and its crackdown on civil liberties, and he’s been driven out of his homeland. After daring a presidential election challenge to Putin in 2007, one that was disqualified under murky circumstances, and a number of what he calls “accidents,” he no longer feels life and liberty are safe there.

Not that his life is necessarily safer anywhere else in the world, as the fate of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko—who was poisoned with polonium-laced tea in a posh London hotel in 2006—attests.

No tea was served in the mazelike reception lounge area of the large Upper West Side apartment complex where we met. Kasparov, 50, came barreling out of the elevator, a compact fellow with the physique and the no-nonsense mien of a welterweight boxer. He had just returned from the World Chess Championship in India where his former protégé Magnus Carlsen, a then 22-year-old Norwegian prodigy, stunned the world with a smashing victory over the reigning champion, Viswanathan Anand.

Kasparov, who became the 13th world champion in 1985 and was ranked number one in the world until he retired in 2005, seems genuinely in awe of Carlsen’s ability: “He has unique chess talents,” says Kasparov, who trained Carlsen for a year back in 2009. “I would say that he is a combination of Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov [the Russian world champion whom Kasparov dethroned]. Because he has Karpov’s precision and ability to just locate the piece’s best positions but also Fischer’s determination. So he can play to the last point, the last moment, last chance, and some people say he’s good at squeezing water out of stone.” Meaning he can see possibilities of victory even in often bleak-looking end-game boards, possibilities that can be obtained only by exploiting minute, nearly invisible positional advantages. In fact, Kasparov believes the Norwegian has so far-outdistanced the rest of the world that he will not be beaten by anyone “for next five years, at least,” although Kasparov thinks an American, Hikaru Nakamura, he had been bringing along may have a chance.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/garry-kasparovs-next-move-180949729/#ixzz2t8bRS8e9

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