Colin McGourty

9 months

Garry Kasparov: “I can hardly call it a World Championship match”

Garry Kasparov Ian Nepomniachtchi

Garry Kasparov taking on Ian Nepomniachtchi in Croatia | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour

13th World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov was asked about the upcoming Ian Nepomniachtchi vs. Ding Liren World Championship match when he made an appearance during the broadcast on the first day of the American Cup. He called the 14-game match in Kazakhstan “kind of an amputated event”, explaining the difference to the situation in 1975 with, “Fischer stopped playing chess, Magnus has not!”

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov joined the show on Day 1 of the American Cup

Garry Kasparov was talking on the Saint Louis Chess Club broadcast during the first games of the American Cup, with the one decisive game in the Open section, Hikaru Nakamura’s win over Sam Sevian, ending during the interview.

Although we still don’t have an official website, clear schedule or properly announced venue, world no. 2 Ian Nepomniachtchi is set to play the first game of the World Championship match against world no. 3 Ding Liren in Astana in less than three weeks' time, on April 9th. The winner of the match will become just the 17th undisputed World Champion in chess history. What does Garry think of the match?

I can hardly call it a World Championship match. For me, the World Championship match should include the strongest player on the planet, and this match doesn’t. I’m not here to comment on Magnus’ decision, but it’s kind of an amputated event. I have my own history with FIDE, so that’s why I’m not going to change my view about the FIDE Championships. It’s a pity Magnus is not there and naturally the match between Nepo and Ding is a great show anyway, but it’s not a World Championship match.

Garry explained it was no fault of the players.

It doesn’t diminish the achievements of Nepo and Ding, who qualified fair and square to play this match, but the difference with, let’s say, 1975, when Karpov became World Champion after Fischer walked away, is quite obvious. Fischer stopped playing chess, Magnus has not. And that’s why it’s a very odd situation, especially for the Grand Chess Tour, because we will have the “World Champion” in a month’s time, and the strongest player on the planet at the same time, in the same tournament, but maybe that’s what we need now, kind of a sensation and more excitement.

That suggests Magnus Carlsen will be the wild card for the Superbet Chess Classic tournament in Bucharest, Romania from May 4-16, when Ding and Nepo will be joined by the tour regulars Alireza Firouzja, Wesley So, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri, Fabiano Caruana, Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Richard Rapport.

With Norway Chess following on May 29th with Magnus Carlsen, Alireza Firouzja, Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Wesley So, Fabiano Caruana, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Nodirbek Abdusattorov, Gukesh and Aryan Tari it’s set to be quite a month for classical super-tournaments.

Garry assessed the chances of Ding and Nepo:

And picking my favourite among these two? I don’t know. Both are very good players. A couple of years ago, I would say Ding, but now after the pandemic, I think Nepo had a better performance, and also he had the experience of playing the World Championship match. He lost the match, but he had some experience, and that probably gives him a slight edge, though I think Ding is probably more stable than Nepo. I think it’s a very, very close call.

Later in the interview Garry Kasparov was taken by surprise with the news that Alireza Firouzja is interested in fashion.

Alireza Firouzja

Alireza Firouzja is the defending Grand Chess Tour Champion | photo: Lennart Ootes

Garry’s initial response was:

I see nothing wrong with Firouzja making a quick buck on the side. Magnus also did something of that type.

He was more puzzled to learn that Firouzja instead seems to be taking classes on fashion design.

After a brief “wow!”, Garry concluded:

We were busy with other things. I can appreciate any other activities outside of the chessboard, it’s their choice to make, but I’ll be watching them playing at the chessboard!

The American Cup continues each day from 19:30 CET (2:30pm ET, 0:00 IST). Watch all the American Cup games live here on chess24:


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