Chess great Garry Kasparov was the star-studded attraction in the 10-man playing field at the Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz this past week.
The former world No 1 received a wild card to play in the tournament, 12 years since retiring from the sport he once dominated and went on to finish eighth in the points table. But, while many were hoping for Kasparov to extend his comeback, the 54-year-old announced that his return to competitive chess was brief and that he had no intention of rejoining the sport as extensively as he once had.
“I’m an ambassador for chess, and I’ve dedicated much of my life to advocating for the game and its benefits. Playing in St Louis was a great way to do that,” shared the six-time former World Champion in an interview with Mumbai Mirror on Monday.
Kasparov also added that playing in St Louis was his way of returning the patronage chess received from the Grand Chess Tour and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, and from Rex Sinquefield. The Saint Louis Rapid and Blitz and the Sinquefield Cup are then both invite-only tournaments organised by the Grand Chess Tour.
Alongside his participation, Kasparov then also had a chance to revisit his rivalry with Indian No 1 Viswanathan Anand in Saint Louis. The former world No 1 light-heartedly remarked that Anand’s participation in the tournament had helped him because “I did not feel like such an alien, or an antique, among the rest of the field”.
Speaking on his performance, Kasparov commented, “It’s a little ironic that I finished ahead of my old rival,” in reference to Anand finishing ninth in the points table. And though Kasparov did add that this result wasn’t to be perceived as Anand’s acumen slowing down, he did go on to state, “Consistency is the first casualty of age for a sportsman.”
However the Russian great was quick to emphasise that despite his occasional struggles, the 47-year-old has had adapted well to the changes chess has had seen, since Kasparov’s retirement in 2005. “I’m sure that Anand, like nearly every veteran before him, has learned to manage his resources, to conserve his energy in order to better maintain his results,” Kasparov opined.
Finally, when asked about Anand’s potential retirement from the sport, Kasparov was just as vehement about letting the man himself taking a call on his future.
“He [Anand] can and should play as long as he likes, no more and no less,” then countered Kasparov, adding, “Sportsmen, even world champions, don’t owe anyone their unhappiness. We aren’t statues, we are human beings. He should do what makes him happy.”
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