HANG on to your chessboards, ‘cos Garry Kasparov’s coming to town.
The legendary former world champion is expected to head Down Under around Easter.
Among other things, he’s scheduled to present prizes at the famous Doeberl Cup chess tournament in Canberra.
There’s also talk that he might meet Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Kasparov is currently campaigning to become the next president of the World Chess Federation, and no doubt he’s keen to win Australia’s vote. I hope he gets it: he’s an energetic publicity-magnet who would lift the game’s profile and may be able to attract new sponsorship. And he could hardly do worse than his opponent, the chaotic incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
Kasparov became world champion in 1985, aged 22, and held the title for a remarkable 15 years. He’s also well known for losing to IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997, a turning point in the battle between humans and computers.
Since retiring from chess in 2005, Kasparov has been a tireless human rights campaigner and vocal opponent of autocratic Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’s also written several highly regarded books.
Kasparov is not the only foreign star attending the Doeberl Cup. Indefatigable organiser Charles Bishop tells me that no fewer than seven grandmasters have signed up for the nation’s premier tournament, including the very strong Romanian Dieter Nisipeanu (rated 2691, No 55 in the world), Dutchman Loek Van Wely (2678) and Armenia’s Hrant Melkumyan (2630). Leading the local charge will be new Australian champion Max Illingworth.
A flood of early entries has organisers hoping for record numbers at this year’s event.
The Doeberl has been going since 1963 and is considered the best tournament of its kind. Not only does it attract a galaxy of star players, it is always very well organised with a unique atmosphere and an air of camaraderie. To find out more, visit doeberlcup.com.au or check out Bill Egan’s excellent book on the tournament (email@example.com).
Another very strong event – the Sydney International Open – will be held immediately after the Doeberl Cup. Details: sio.nswca.org.au
Here is one of Kasparov’s greatest games.