Kasparov's Minority Attack


Over at I've posted a fantastic interview with chess master and Putin-hater Garry Kasparov from last week's Real Time with Bill Maher. Kasparov questions Putin's approval ratings, takes a few well-deserved shots at President Bush's ability to see into ex-KGB agents' souls, and assesses the impact of high oil prices on Russian democracy.

Also, check out Kasparov's recent Wall Street Journal article on "Don Putin" (that's a mafia reference, not Mr. Putin's estranged, Roger Clinton-like brother). A sample:

After years of showing no respect for the law in Russia, with no resulting consequences from abroad, it should not come as a surprise that Mr. Putin's attitude extends to international relations as well. The man accused of the Litvinenko murder, Andrei Lugovoi, signs autographs and enjoys the support of the Russian media, which says and does nothing without Kremlin approval. For seven years the West has tried to change the Kremlin with kind words and compliance. It apparently believed that it would be able to integrate Mr. Putin and his gang into the Western system of trade and diplomacy.

Instead, the opposite has happened–the mafia corrupts everything it touches. Bartering in human rights begins to appear acceptable. The Kremlin is not changing its standards: It is imposing them on the outside world. It receives the stamp of legitimacy from Western leaders and businesses but makes those same leaders and businesses complicit in its crimes.

Whole article here.

NEXT: It Takes an Agenda

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  1. He’s right, you know.

  2. Why are Russian grandmasters so much saner than American grandmasters?

  3. I wonder how many moves it’ll take for Kasparov to beaten by Putin’s Gambit (aka radiation poisoning).

  4. No way he kills someone as popular as Kasparov

    Well, I take that back.

  5. I happened to see this segment twice this weekend. And the second time I noticed something that struck me as odd.

    There are 2 instances where it sounds to me that he is saying the word “jew”. The first one comes at approx. -2:30 (on the linked video) he says “Putin has only one item in his jew political agenda” (maybe he was saying “true” instead of “jew” but it sounds to me like the word jew.)

    Later at -0:55 he says what sounds to like america is “using democracy as a jew political tool to promote it’s own interests” — in this latter case, the word “true” doesn’t seem to make sense (not that jew makes any more sense, but that is what it sounds like).

    did anyone else notice the same thing– or is my hearing just really bad

  6. I wonder how many moves it’ll take for Kasparov to beaten by Putin’s Gambit (aka radiation poisoning).

    His only chance is to recruit Deep Blue to defend him.

  7. According to

    “KASPAROV: Instead of looking – looking at his record. And now, Putin – Putin just is basically spitting in his face by making this open friendship with Admadinejad. But it was obvious from the very beginning, because Putin has only one item in his due political agenda. He needs high oil prices. And tension in the Middle East helps him to keep the oil prices all-time high.”

    “And now, it’s just a country which, according to many, is using democracy as a due political tool to promote its own interests. Which is working against us in Russia and elsewhere. [applause]”

  8. Thanks a.

    It still doesn’t make that much sense to me, but at least it makes it clear that I need to get my ears checked.

  9. Kasparov is Jewish — his original name was Weinstein. I believe he changed it to avoid any problems with the Soviet sports committee.

  10. And yeah, what he’s doing is pretty bold. My guess is that he’s too widely recognized to be killed off, but I wouldn’t want to step into his shoes and bet my life on it.

  11. He said “geopolitical”, not “jew” or “due”, you numbsckulls.

  12. Bobby Fischer’s mother is Jewish, but he has turned into a anti-Semitic nutjob.

  13. He said “geopolitical”, not “jew” or “due”, you numbsckulls.

    Ok, now that makes much more sense.

    In fairness, though, even Bill Mahers’ transcribers got it wrong.

  14. I guess Chris Matthews was right when he said “they are playing chess while we are playing checkers.”

  15. In fairness, though, even Bill Mahers’ transcribers got it wrong.

    Sure, and it is easy to misunderstand – but I find it a bit strange that you chose to throw out, in a public forum, the damning possibility that someone is making anti-semitic remarks based on nothing more than “did I hear that right?” It seems that before posting something like that one ought to make at least a little effort to resolve the issue. At the very least, leave out the leading question and simply ask what he says at that point in the conversation because you can’t understand it.

    Bobby Fischer’s mother is Jewish, but he has turned into a anti-Semitic nutjob.

    What the hell does that have to do with anything? Geez, see how ChicagoTom’s ill-advised and ill-informed question ends up leading someone to offer a way to reconcile being Jewish and making anti-semitic remarks when no such remarks were ever made?

  16. I feel sorry for the individual Russians, living under Putin and his thugs.

    However, I do not worry about Putin’s long term geopolitical ambitions for the simple reason that he is wrecking Russia’s economy and driving Russia towards political irrelevance.

    In the short term, of course, Putin can do a lot of damage, but if we don’t over-react, he can be contained.

  17. No way he kills someone as popular as Kasparov

    Kills Kasparov, stuffs the ballot box — bottom line, no way Putin gives up power without a coup.

  18. Moynihan,

    There was a longer, more in depth discussion of these matters a year or so ago on Charlie Rose’s show between Kasparov and Cohen.

  19. Apteryx:

    Kasparov is Jewish — his original name was Weinstein.

    Kasparov was born to a Jewish father and an Armenian mother.

    Hey Kasparov!

    1. e4

  20. Hey Kasparov!

    1. e4

    Hey Barton!

    1. …c5

  21. Why are Russian grandmasters so much saner than American grandmasters?

    Not so fast. Kasparov is a believer in The New Chronology (jesus was born in the 11th century, and recorded human history begins around 800 AD, etc)

  22. James B.

    THAT, (New Chronology stuff), was interesting. Still. I think I’ll keep my old history books. 😉

  23. Rick Barton
    Hey Kasparov!
    1. e4

    Garry Kasparov
    Hey Barton!
    1. …c5

    Rick’s gonna get his ass kicked!
    Rick’s gonna get his ass kicked!

  24. J sub D

    My general response to Queen’s Gambit Declined is

    2. Resign.

    It saves me hours!


  25. Aresen,

    Kasparov appears to be playing the Sicilian Defense against Barton rather than Queen’s Gamblit Declined. Might I recommend the Wing Gambit, 2. b4? I might.

  26. Hello all. Yes, it was “geopolitical.” As Chris Matthews put it afterwards, “he’s thinking in Russian!” Garry and I worked on that one after seeing all the mistaken reactions. He used the word again around four times today on Hardball so you can check to see if he improved!

    Now if only he’d stop saying “crisises”…

    Saludos, Mig


  27. Barton Kasparov

    1. e4 c5
    2. c3

    (This is the c3 Sicilian-Thanks but no thanks to the Wing Gambit cuz I don’t know it)

    Rick’s gonna get his ass kicked!

    Yep. Been there, done that. And by far far less than a Grand Master. I’ve never even played a Grand Master. I have beaten and drawn an expert before-the same guy both times if I recall. But I’m thinking that my opponent might not really be Gary Kasparov…Now if this is GK-Thank you, Gary, for the honor and I hope your political efforts contribute to making Russia a more libertarian place.

    I also hope the rumors are false and that you’re not really a CIA agent cuz they’ve done some stuff of late that is truly barbaric and that shames America that we don’t have better control of our government. BTW, the German government presently has active arrest warrants out for ten CIA agents resulting from the barbaric treatment of one of its citizens. This is unprecedented.

    Lastly, I hope that the rumors that you’re a Massod agent are false cuz those creeps spy against us.

  28. Unfortunately, I think the Reasonoids have it all wrong re Mr Putin.

    I think we should back off the anti Russian rhetoric here and think about how the US has pursued an anti Russian policy for years now. Putin may not be the Democratic exemplar we claim to have in the good ol’ neocon USA but he is not nearly as bad as some Reason writers like to paint him.

    We need to deplore some acts of his, such as the war against Checknya but all in all we need to stop intervening in Russian affairs with our multi colored “revolutions”, our expanison of Nato against him, our threat to put missiles in Eastern Europe, our military bases in the Southern ‘Zan countries, our treatment of the Serbs in former Yugoslavia, etc.

  29. Did someone just suggest we have more in common with Vlad Putin than we think? I need more coffee.

  30. John Kindley

    You are right. The modern notation (letters & numbers) confuses me. I preferred P-k4, P-qb4 notation. (I recognize the ambiguity in the old notation, but it was easier to visualize a game from reading the plays.)

    I like the game, but it is so hard to find someone I can beat. 😉

  31. Well, then you’ll just have to keep beating yourself.

  32. As far as I can tell, the high oil prices are nothing more than a band-aid. Russia is still suffering a demographic implosion and is an economic basket case. Sure, the oil sales allow Putin to build lots of shiny new weapons and make welfare handouts, but Russians still aren’t actually building or producing anything, and are still choosing not to have children.

  33. Pfffftt… I’d rather listen to someone who didn’t get beat by a computer!! Way to fail the species.


    (had to do it)

  34. It’s so sad. Kasparov is so brave, and Putin’s going to kill him.

    All of the things that you’d think would protect him – American backing, a high profile, support from a large number of people, a history as a national hero – aren’t going to matter.

    Putin is going to kill him, just to make the point that even those shields won’t protect you if you dissent from his rule.

  35. joe

    I wish I could say you were wrong.

  36. Aresen:

    The modern notation (letters & numbers) confuses me. I preferred P-k4, P-qb4 notation.

    Yeah, I grew up with descriptive notation too. Algebraic seemed pretty awkward at first but now it’s the one that seems natural.

  37. To all of you who is taking this clown seriously, here in Russia Kasparov’s views are as respected as Bobby Fischer’s in the States.

  38. As a Russian living in France, I am hardly can be accused that I am brainwashed by Russian media. However, I completely agree with what Mr. Pupkin said. Here is an article from a UK newspaper where a person who knows Kasparov well from his previous career gives an interesting insight..

    In Russia, during his chess career, Kasparov was regarded as a cross between the greatest of athletes and revered intellectual.And now he yearns to feel again the admiration and influence he had for 15 years as the world’s leading player.

    His may be a futile ambition: Putin is powerful enough to crush any dissenter and that is why Kasparov is running scared but he feels someone’s got to try to do it – even though he admits his opposition candidacy is only symbolic. It is considered highly unlikely he will gather the two million signatures necessary to compete in the presidential race.
    And, even if he did, Putin makes up all the rules anyway.

    Nevertheless, becoming leader of Drugaya Rossiya (the Other Russia) – a renegade party that effectively constitutes opposition politics – is a role just about big enough for Kasparov’s unusually large ego and doesn’t surprise those who observed him during his years at the top of chess.

    “Kasparov has a long history in Russian politics of aligning himself with every leader from Gorbachev onwards to try to gain power and influence, ” says former British champion chess player and Daily Express columnist William Hartston. “Whenever he realises he isn’t going to get it, he always does the same – ditches them and starts to campaign against them. Frustration drives him on.” Interestingly, Hartston reveals Kasparov had a reputation for doing the same thing when he was playing chess. “He would try to take power away from the International Chess Foundation by forming players’ unions but would ditch them when they wouldn’t do what he wanted. He did this on at least three occasions.”

    HARTSTON says the impression was of a man who didn’t want to belong to any club that wouldn’t elect him president. “I don’t think I’ve met anyone so completely incapable of seeing anyone else’s point of view, ” he adds. But Kasparov has always taken himself more seriously than others have done. Putin may have a history of removing his detractors but it is unlikely he is losing sleep over Kasparov’s latest ambitions. “I saw Kasparov once at a players’ meeting during a discussion about the schedule of play, ” says Hartston. “When it was clear he wasn’t going to get his way Kasparov stood up, banged his chair and said ‘I think
    you should appreciate that I am the world champion and that should stand for something’ before storming out.

    “The funny thing was the reaction of the others, the rest of the world’s best. They just watched with a collective ‘Oh, there goes Kasparov’ expression. His is a fairly normal chess temperament. It’s just an extreme example of it.” Chess is, says Hartston, a game of “complete information”. “The psychologist in me says it attracts the sort who want complete control over their environment. It is not for adaptable people. It attracts control freaks and perfectionists.” So what drives Kasparov, a man with riches enough to furnish a comfortable retirement, into a grubby political arena? “With his status came celebrity, foreign investment accounts, summers on the Adriatic, an apartment along the Hudson River, friendships among Western politicians and businessmen and the attentions of beautiful women, ” says an acquaintance.

    The money may remain but the challenge in retiring young is maintaining influence and connections. For the past year or so Kasparov has been working as a motivational speaker in the US, flogging himself and his book How Life Imitates Chess. “His conceit [in the book] is that success in the boardroom requires the same sort of planning, strategy and discipline as success on the chessboard, ” says a source who refers to it as “can-do hokum”. But this new incarnation has failed to give Kasparov the gravitas he demands, hence his latest attempt to reinvent himself.

    Taking on Putin is certainly one way of exercising his large brain and Kasparov likes nothing more than getting inside the psyche of his opponent. Indeed, putting himself on a par with a man who has the entire Russian military at his command and is arguably one of, if not the most powerful, men in the world, goes some way towards explaining his zeal.

    A telling example of Kasparov’s desire to unpick the psychology of his rivals is the way he set about competing against his greatest adversary Anatoli Karpov.
    From the start, Kasparov’s sights were set on Karpov, the world champion. As a boy Kasparov played chess obsessively. By the age of 12 he was attracting national attention and by 18 he was the Soviet champion, under endless pressure to perform.

    The first Karpov-Kasparov match began in September 1984 and was the talk of the chess world for years afterwards. “Every morning the two men entered from the wings and walked to a chess board at centre stage, ” says David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker who recently interviewed Kasparov. “They sat hunched over the pieces for hours, inches from each other, breathing the same overheated air.”

    KARPOV would stare at the board, Kasparov would stare at Karpov before clawing his hair and
    “expressing his emotions with the eye-bulging theatricality of a silent-film star”, as Remnick puts it. To begin, Karpov dominated but after nine games Kasparov started playing at a new level. The next 17 games were draws. Karpov won the 27th game, followed by 20 more draws as well as another Kasparov win. Then Kasparov won two more. He had worked out his opponent, stalking him like a lion pursuing prey. But then, before either could win, the tournament authorities called off the match, claiming both players were exhausted. Kasparov was furious, convinced it was a government stitch-up to suppress the new boy, an outsider. But he had learned his opponent thoroughly and the next year he took the title.

    It’s unlikely Kasparov will achieve the same with his presidential ambitions. Although Putin is unable to run for re-election to a third term in 2008, he declared the possibility of becoming prime minister again after his presidential term is over. This would enable him to run for president again in 2012.

    But Kasparov won’t let a little thing like a power-crazed politician and death threats put him off. He is doggedly determined but admits his party is short of resources and time to overthrow the current regime.

    “We want to use the campaign to publicise our ideas, ” he says. “What we’re saying is, we won’t win now but, when this regime collapses, be aware we are here.”

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