Checkmate With The Chess Grand Master – Garry Kasparov


About The Author

Brian Santhumayor of Nanthoor, Mangalore, has a Bachelors Degree in Engineering and MBA in Marketing and works as an Account Manager for an enterprise software firm in Manhattan. He actively writes articles on US Foreign Policy, UN and World Affairs. He volunteers by fundraising for numerous non-profit organizations including the American India foundation run by President Bill Clinton and has won numerous awards for his charitable efforts.

The name of Garry Kasparov brings back memories of my college days in Mangalore. My brother and I used to be huddled in front of the TV watching Kasparov win yet another Grandmaster Chess title. Kasparov was an inspiration to all budding chess enthusiasts in India and all over the word. Games like, Chess (Shatranja or Shatpada), Snakes and Ladders, Playing Cards, Polo, the martial arts of Judo and Karate had originated in India and it was from here that these games were transmitted to foreign countries, where they were further developed. Any of us chess enthusiasts who have been fortunate enough to follow classical chess know that Garry Kasparov represents true greatness, overflowing energy, historical accomplishment, and the desire to build the game he loves and to give back. He was a true genius.

Garry Kasparov talking to US foreign policy experts in New York

Mangalore and the Kala Sampath club were no strangers to the game of chess. Kala Sampath used to organize and take part in several chess competitions with other clubs as well as Parish’s. It was not unusual to see a budding chess player in Mangalore proudly state that he/she wanted to be as good as Garry Kasparov. Garry Kasparov and other Grandmasters have inspired a whole lot of Hollywood and Bollywood movies. Some of them include the movie "Chess" starring Mahima Choudhary,  "That Game of Chess" starring Alok Nath,  "Shatranj Ki Khiladi" -starring Shabana Azmi and "The Fifth Move" directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The Bollywood heartthrob John Abraham, often voted one of the Indian movie industry’s sexiest stars kills time between takes by playing computer chess.

In 1985, as I was packing my bags in Mangalore to start my engineering course in Hyderabad, I watched the biggest chess competition match on television that catapulted Garry Kasparov to world fame, as he became the youngest ever world champion at the age of 22 years. In May 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue Supercomputer played a fascinating match with the reigning World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov. The event was captured live on the web site, where millions of chess and computing fans tuned in to witness the event in real-time.

In 1995 he played a title match against Kasparov in New York’s World Trade Center. After an opening run of eight draws (a record for the opening of a world championship match), Anand won game nine using a splendid sacrifice on the queen side, but then lost four of the next five. He lost the match 10.5 – 7.5 to Kasparov.  Kasparov is known for his uncanny intuitive play and lightning-fast vision of the board. He is notorious for switching strategies mid-game, a tactic he used to his advantage in defeating Deep Blue.

Brian with the Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov

Chess remains a low profile sport in India while cricket has overshadowed all other sports. Cricket has become more popular than even the national game hockey, in which India won eight Olympic gold medals. Like hockey, chess also has virtually no takers among sponsors, who seem to favor no other sport other than cricket. Bollywood star Aamir Khan could soon become a brand ambassador of Chess in India to help the low profile game to gain popularity in the country of its origin.  The Chess Association CPAI hopes the clean and popular image of the 41-year-old Khan, who has also taken social causes like supporting the protestors of Narmada Dam, will not only boost the profile of the game but will help bring in some money.

As for me, I had this missionary impulse to spread the game of chess during my college days. I could not conceal my excitement when I received an invitation to meet with Mr. Garry Kasparov who was visiting New York last week.  Mr. Garry Kasparov was in Manhattan, New York at the invitation of the Foreign Policy Association to speak about Democracy and Russia. He said, "It is essential to have voices around the world committed to the understanding that human freedom is the most important of society’s values. I hope that together we can bring that message to every corner of Russia and the world."

In addition to his work with the Other Russia, Mr. Kasparov continues to write books about chess–he’s up to Volume Six in a series about his great predecessors–and he has a mass-market book coming out this year called "How Life Imitates Chess," about the decision-making process in chess, business, politics and history. But at least for now, politics has taken the place of chess as the big game in his life: "I just don’t see any other choice for me," he says. "As I used to say for 25 years, I am defending the colors of my country. I’m still doing the same, just not at the chessboard. At a much larger board."

At the end of his speech, he received a rousing applause and a standing ovation from the audience that included top US Council on Foreign Relations officials. To me, Garry Kasparov will always be the greatest Grand Chess Master in the world. I asked him what his plans were on the chess front? He replied, "Do you play Chess?"  I joked with him that I was still trying to figure out playing chess as well as he did!

Author: Brian Santhumayor- USA