He opens the door and welcomes you to his suite with a warm smile and a firm handshake. Looking at the photographer, he promptly excuses himself. Within minutes, he is back in the room, having changed into something more presentable.
Former World chess champion Garry Kasparov has always carried himself with elan. Considered the strongest World champion in chess history, the Russian is now chasing political ambitions. Recently, he filed the nomination of the FIDE, the World Chess Federation, the election to which is slated next year.
Minutes after landing in the city from Goa, Kasparov looked pleased with the welcome he was accorded at the hotel, in spite of the indifference shown by the All India Chess Federation.
The legendary champion, who defeated Viswanathan Anand in the 1995 World title-clash and trained Magnus Carlsen in 2009, is here to watch the two battle it out in Game Three on Tuesday.
Kasparov picked The Hindu as his first choice to express himself on various issues.
On the timing of this visit:
I do understand my presence here can be considered differently, depending on the angle of observation. Personally, I view myself as the former World champion who has always had the passion for the game. It will be hard to believe but my appearance in a conference, in Goa, was planned before the announcement of this match. It would be insane of me not to take this opportunity (to visit Chennai). When I learnt that the match would be in Chennai, I was clear that I would take a two-hour flight, or even less, to be here, after having taken over 20 hours from New York to be in Goa.
Secondly, I had announced my candidacy for FIDE presidentship, I am already on a campaign trail. It’s apparent that the AICF is supporting the incumbent (president), and I think, they are somehow confused how to receive Garry Kasparov the former World champion without offering any sort of encouragement for the FIDE presidency. It should not be complicated, because I am not campaigning here.
I think it wiser for them, and better for the game of chess, if they separate these two things. I wish they treat my trip to Chennai as a form of “chess tourism”. I am probably the highest rated chess tourist ever in this country.
On commenting on the games during his stay:
Naturally, I will be offering comments because every journalist and chess lover will be looking for my comments on the game. I will be doing a lot of tweets and Facebook reports from here. It’s purely chess and nothing more. If some people ask me questions on FIDE, I will try to be very tactful in giving my opinion. I clearly see the sensitivity of my position here and I will not put AICF in a difficult position.
On whether he helped Carlsen against Anand:
I don’t even know who is working with Magnus. As for communication, yes, we still keep very good relations. I could have offered general advice but I am not directly or indirectly involved in Magnus’s preparation for the match. I am watching his opening ideas with the same surprise as you. Do I want him to win? Yes. I was never hiding my sympathies. I think, every chess tourist is entitled to his opinion and sympathies.
On his support to Carlsen:
Personally, I feel it’s time for change. Whether we talk of chess or Russia, I believe the change can come from the younger generation taking over. It will be great for the game if there is a young champion. Nothing personal. Vishy is from my generation, probably even younger. Magnus was born after my fifth World championship match with (Anatoly) Karpov.
I stick to my predictions. If the match goes on with equal scores, say equal after Game 8, then Vishy’s chances will be higher. He has more experience and there will be more pressure on Magnus. It will be 50-50 then.
On the games ahead:
It’s a slow start but things may change quite dramatically. I hope for an interesting fight tomorrow (in round three) because I will be here, physically, on the spot.
Magnus and Anand are on the cutting edge because they have spent so much time working for this match.
So, I have no doubt we will see some interesting games, interesting ideas. Some of them will be attractive to the amateurs and most of them will be very important for the professionals who are always following World championship matches. It is the No. 1 catwalk in chess fashion.
On the likely number of decisive games here:
Last time, (in 2012, Anand-Gelfand match), we had two. This match will definitely beat that number. I will be surprised if it’s less than three.
On who can bounce back:
Magnus. He has a history of bouncing back. Vishy will not. I mean, it will be very, very difficult for Vishy to do that.
What is easy for Magnus at 22, will be very tough for Vishy at 43.
On the likely winning score:
I think it will be +1 (one victory more) for Magnus.