Chess maestro visits Czech Republic

Garry Kasparov, photo: CTK

Russian chess legend and opposition politician Garry Kasparov has been doing the rounds during a visit to the Czech Republic. Apart from meeting with Czech political leaders, he also managed to get in more than a few rounds of his beloved game.

Garry Kasparov  (right) and Tomáš Jirsa,  photo: CTK
Garry Kasparov arrived in the Czech Republic at the invitation of Tomáš Jirsa, the mayor of the small Czech town of Hluboká nad Vltavou. Jirsa has stated that Kasparov was invited not only as a chess player but also a representative of the Russian opposition, a role which has seen Mr Kasparov do jail time back home. On Sunday, Mr Kasparov played a showpiece chess match in Hluboká against 26 opponents simultaneously. Among the opponents were an 11-year-old schoolgirl as well as the son of the Czech president Václav Klaus. The marathon match started at 2:30pm and didn’t conclude till five and a half hours later, when Mr Kasparov defeated the last of his twenty-six opponents, an Austrian player Alexander Klinker. Among the last of the players to be defeated was a Czech teenager from the town of Tábor, who had lost his hearing at the age of seven.

Garry Kasparov,  photo: CTK
Mr Kasparov also met with the Czech president Václav Kluas and touched upon several political issues between the Czech Republic and Russia as well as on the international front, including the situation in Iran and Kosovo. Crucially, he also stated that he believes that the proposed US missile base to be located in the Czech Republic and Poland is not relevant to Russian security, but he also added that he did not agree with the US plan.

The 44-year-old Russian politician was the world’s number one rated chess champion for almost all of the period between 1996 and his retirement from the sport in 2005. After that, he founded the United Civil Front party in Russia, which forms part of The Other Russia, a coalition movement opposed to President Vladimir Putin. Mr Kasparov visited the Czech Republic in June 2007, for a conference on politics and security. He has also played chess in the country before, the last time being an exhibition match in 2001.