By Tuesday morning, only Chenaiites living in the kind of bubble Viswanathan Anand claims to be in would not know that Garry Kasparov was at the championship hotel. The problem for those who did was they didn’t know where to look.
So, children and adults kept peering into the hotel’s three restaurants when they weren’t lounging in the lobby. “He was supposed to meet us but didn’t show up,” said a Norwegian journalist. Father Henrik Carlsen told HT that till before the start of the third round match, Kasparov hadn’t met his son.
After the third straight draw in this world championship match, the son confirmed: “It’s good that one of the legends of the game is here. It adds an extra dimension to the contest.” When Anand, who has had verbal jousts with Kasparov, was asked about him being in the building, he said: “It’s like Elvis, is it? Good that he’s here to watch, sure, yes.”
Did Kasparov’s presence in the audience lead to blood on the board? Carlsen said: “Don’t want to get into politics. He deserves to be treated with respect.” Anand’s reply was: “I didn’t see him anyway, so...”
Kasparov arrived at the hall nearly three minutes after the 3pm start. In a hotel where bees are more than a motif, the buzz transformed into soft clapping as Kasparov sat near one of the two exits in the darkened hall. Before their five-minute time ran out, cameras whirred in a direction opposite to the players.
When Kasparov left the hall some 20 minutes into the game, he was cordoned off by the hotel security, put in a lift and taken to the business centre where sentries you mess with at your own risk suddenly appeared. From the business centre, he was escorted into another lift. All those who didn’t get the message that Kasparov was strictly off-bounds would have after the game when Kasparov, again shielded by bouncers, got in a lift so full that its occupants had to make room for the six-time world champion.
This was different from Kasp-arov’s arrival on Monday evening. Perhaps wary he would use the visit to lobby for Fide presidency, organisers and the hotel staff had hit the see-no-Kasparov, hear-no-Kasparov button. On Tuesday, the organisers seemed a lot more accommodating to the controversial champion but that may have come with curbs on Kasparov’s access to the media and more.