Progressive politics, ideas & culture


Say it ain’t so, Garry

This Magazine Staff

Recognizing that I am in danger of sinking irretrievably into the abyss of nerditude, I nevertheless intend to now blog about chess.

I didn’t think it right that we let pass such an earthquake-like event as the retirement of Garry Kasparov without some sort of comment. To quote from the Guardian story about him, Kasparov was “the highest-rated player ever, the youngest world champion at 22, the No1 player for two decades.” These are not small things. I would also like to point out that not only did Kasparov agree to play IBM’s dumb computer in a very public match, but he shrugged off his eventual loss to Deep Blue and went on to keep winning real tournaments in the real world where real chess masters are allowed to study the games of their opponents beforehand.

He’s a genius, and he’s a bit weird, as can be said of much in the world of professional chess. That he is toying with the idea of trying to unseat Vladimir Putin and take control of his native Russia in 2008 is a story worth watching, though chess and politics have a way of not mixing very well – witness Bobby Fisher’s various forays in the field. Whether or not he is right to oppose Putin’s increasingly authoritarian control of government (of course he’s right), Russian politics is no board game. It’s played for keeps, and often has little respect for rules.

Anyway, I’ll be toasting him the next time I’m in a bar. We will not see a champion, of anything, at his level of greatness again in our lifetimes.

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