I just saw on my dad’s fb that today is Garry Kasparov‘s birthday. How could I have forgotten that? It is a birthday I know all my life. I am also born on the 13th of a different month and I have received many comments on the date’s bad luck connotation, to which I usually reply that this number gives birth to great minds.
Whoever doesn’t know me and reads this would probably think that I am a chess aficionado, which (sadly) I am not. But I grew up with chess all around me as my dad is a chess lover. Garry Kasparov, ever since he dramatically appeared on the international chess scene, was considered nothing less than a hero, a wonderman, a genius in my house, an (informed) view that influenced me.
So, although I do not follow chess I have followed the outline of Garry Kasparov’s career and I am always interested in what he thinks and does.
I have also met him in person. My dad and his chess friends ages ago got him to come and play some chess in Corfu. I remember anticipating to meet the man, to hear his opinions at first hand and off the record, to spend time with him and to find out about his taste. Unfortunately, he didn’t satisfy my apetite. I remember him as a serious, focused man. A moment without playing or other obligations, a carefree moment, was not a chit chat opportunity time, but a great opportunity for him to think and reflect. To progress. The only way you could attract his attention at such moments, considered free time for the rest of us, was by bringing up a subject that fell into his active interests like history and chess. Everything else seemed like mere distractions.
After he had left and I got over the fact that I didn’t get the pleasure to fill his time on the island with my interpretation of pleasure on Corfu, I felt a deep respect for the man. I don’t think I had met anyone before that enjoyed and opted for serious concentration when visiting a mediterranean summer island holiday destination. By meeting Garry Kasparov I didn’t learn more about chess or history or politics but I learnt a lot about the power of concentration and determination.
Here is a bit old documentary about Garry Kasparov that gives a fair portrayal of the chess man (English & Russian with Greek subtitles). Being a decade old doc means that it has no information on Garry’s off the (chess)board activities, which are plenty…