July 28, 2021

“The competition leaves nothing in your life, it’s a war”

Since we suck at chess, let’s play Trivial Pursuit: who is the reigning world chess champion? Unless you’re a fan of 64 boxes, let’s bet you didn’t know it was the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen.

Catch-up question: name a single chess champion? We bet without much chance of being mistaken that it is the name of Garry Kasparov which emerges as the winner of this small poll without scientific value. He has become synonymous with the game that gave him everything – and vice versa – like Borg or McEnroe for tennis, Pelé or Maradona for football, and Mohamed Ali for boxing. It has become the game, its embodiment and its synonym.

Read also: An aperitif with Anaïde Rozam, “You make videos in your room and, all of a sudden, we invite you to watch TV”

It is with these thoughts in mind, and let’s face it with a touch of apprehension, that we go to an aperitif with Garry Kasparov at the Hôtel de Crillon, place de la Concorde in Paris. Despite the right hour and the tempting menu of the bar, he will be content with a cappuccino and sparkling water.

We’re not here to laugh. The great Russian master is visiting Paris to participate in an exhibition tournament and, above all, to promote his brand new online platform Kasparovchess.com, the result of a collaboration between the Vivendi group and the tournament organizer. Grand Chess Tour. The site, which broadcasts tournaments, also hosts tutorials, documentaries and a forty-six episode Kasparov master class. He tells his story, his memories of tournaments, dissects his best games. “There are quite a few very well-made chess sites out there. But this one will have a more personal touch ”, he promises by way of promotion.

A story of redemption

The platform hopes to take advantage of the renewed popularity of chess following the release of The Queen’s Gambit, the Netflix series adapted from the eponymous 1983 novel by Walter Tevis. The success of this fiction – a week after it went live, it became the most watched mini-series on Netflix – took everyone by surprise, including its designers. Kasparov contributed as a consultant, in order to ensure the credibility of the parts shown on the screen, the way of behaving of the players in competition as well as the hold of the Soviet system on Vasily Borgov, the character. of outgoing world champion.

“I am happy to have taken part in this adventure, he recounts. The book is a myth and many people wanted to adapt it but failed to do so. Scott [Frank, le producteur] understood that a feature film was not enough and that a series had to be made. We had a lot of fun, but we never imagined such a success. This is good, because it changes the image of failures which, until then, in works of fiction were associated with tortured geniuses and bordering on madness. There, it’s the opposite: failures save the heroine from madness and her addictions. It’s a story of redemption. “

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