Aware his presence would make a lot of people uncomfortable, presidential candidate Garry Kasparov checked into the championship hotel on Monday evening insisting that he is here as a chess tourist for 48 hours.
For all of Monday, the buzz at the hotel was about Kasparov’s impending arrival and All India Chess Federation (AICF) officials saying they knew nothing about it. “It’s only from the media that I have heard about Kasparov’s possible arrival,” said DV Sundar, a Fide vice-president responsible for getting the battle for the world title here. This, one hour before Kasparov checked in.
The Fide presidential aspirant, once described by GM Tony Miles as a monster with a 1000 eyes who can see everything, did his best to allay fears of launching his campaign from Chennai.
“I am a chess tourist. I know the support of the Indian federation is with the opposite camp (with current Fide president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov). They just have to make sure that when a world champion is visiting, there is nothing that will portray him in a bad light. In the 48 hours I am here, I can guarantee that I am not campaigning,” said Kasparov.
Kasparov compared the first two draws to the start of a boxing match between two prized fighters. “When you look at heavyweight boxing, it very often starts slow with players trying to find a response. The match will become exciting.
“When you see a draw, it is hard to explain to non-chess players how much effort has gone into it by the respective teams to reach this result. You see the moves on the board but not how many options have been rejected... There is a clash of two different worlds here. It is not just about draws, if they make 50-60 moves and exhaust all possibilities then it is fine, but if not you will hear my voice,” he said.
And in the time he is here, Kasparov said he expected “blood to be spilled.”
Kasparov also stated whom he is supporting but said he would do nothing beyond wishing the challenger luck. “I cannot hide the fact that my sympathies are with Carlsen, not because we have worked before but because I believe that the future belongs to the younger generation.
“Having said that, the world championship is a highly unpredictable event and Vishy has plenty of experience and is on his home turf. I wouldn’t share the optimism of the commentators saying Carlsen will have it easy. To become the world champion you have to forget what you did before,” he said.
Kasparov said the amazing publicity around this match reminded him “of my matches with Karpov and for people a little older about the Fischer-Spassky game... I hope the Anand-Carlsen match will lead to the revival of chess.”
But like Ilyumzhinov on Saturday, the conversation with the media wasn’t without veiled digs. “Most of what I have to say (about chess) is negative... There could have been plenty of stuff that could have been done in the past. The current leadership has missed plenty of opportunities. I believe I can improve the future of the game of chess,” he said.
“And unlike with (Vladimir) Putin, at least we can be sure that the votes will be counted,” he said, about next year’s Fide presidential election.