Chessmaster Garry Kasparov talks masterclass, Israel, Queen's Gambit

Publication Date07 November 2021
HB: I want to start with the chess masterclass series that you started. It's a new series. Tell us more about it and what makes this series different?

The masterclass was launched a couple of weeks ago. It's a part of the platform that I launched together with a leading French company in this area, [global media conglomerate] Vivendi.

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The idea of the platform is to focus on education helping people to learn about the game, and combining this with entertainment, with strong personal elements. There are many chess platforms, but we want to put our efforts into presenting chess from a different angle. There are more than a thousand lessons recorded by top players and coaches. There is a story behind each one and, of course, my masterclass is on the top of this pyramid.

I did one masterclass nearly five years ago, but that was a very classical one. It's still available online so you can look at the games. It was constructed as a teaching process: Garry Kasparov tells you what to do and what not to do, how to study chess.

This one is very different because it's much more personal. It's not simply me giving you tips. It's telling you the story of my life, presenting my best games and even talking about general topics like how to make decisions and how this experience will help you analyze your decision-making process. And of course, it's filled with chess advice. I hope it will attract a vast audience. An audience that was brought into the world of chess because of The Queen's Gambit [Netflix miniseries]. A lot of people who knew about chess but never thought about playing the game, and all of the sudden they discovered it, and hopefully, my masterclass will make them even more interested in our beloved game.

HB: You mentioned an important point about the generational question in regards to playing chess. What are the age groups that you are trying to attract to this masterclass?

I think it's oriented to the more grownup players because of the personal elements. I think it's for teenagers and adults and they can easily share it with their kids. There are nearly 10 hours of recordings, 55 episodes. There is no way you can exhaust the interest of the public in the game of chess in 10 hours of recording.

HB: You were a consultant for Netflix's hit series The Queen's Gambit. Tell us more about your involvement and how much did they consult with you on the content of this series?

I was invited to meet [writer, director and executive producer] Scott Frank and his producer and Bruce Pandolfini, an American chess coach, a famous chess coach who was one of the consultants on the movie, at a restaurant on the Upper West Side, and originally they offered me to play the [fictitious] Russian [World] Chess Champion Vasily Borgov. It was tempting but it would have taken at least three months of my time. I couldn't afford that, so maybe I made a mistake.

I was there with my wife, Dasha, and to make the offer even sweeter, they offered to have her play Borgov's wife in the movie. We looked at each other and said, 'Sorry, Scott, we don't think we can afford to carve out so much time.' I was very upset, visibly upset, but then we talked about the series and about the book.

By the way, it's a great book, Walter Tevis's The Queen's Gambit. And by the way, he was a great writer. I said, 'Look, I can be very helpful if I become a consultant.' I said I can try to actually compose games, because Scott had the idea of using very close shots to show chess. And I basically did the chess plot, including something I was very proud of, the last game.

HB: One last point about your...

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