Garry Kasparov with Magnus Carlsen during the opening of the SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz yesterday | photo: Lennart Ootes, Grand Chess Tour
13th World Champion Garry Kasparov, who is currently present in Zagreb for the SuperUnited Rapid & Blitz, has responded to the bombshell news that Magnus Carlsen has decided not to defend his World Championship title.
Kasparov sent out a series of tweets, and referred to his early retirement in 2005:
"As you might guess, as someone who fought for decades to reform and improve FIDE and the chess world, and who retired still #1 at age 41 in 2005, I have some thoughts."
He referred to his own mother, who passed away in 2020.
"My first thought was that I wished my mother were still alive to see someone else do what I did, or similar! Walking away from what everyone expects, or demands, you do takes courage. My sympathies are with Magnus."
"Of course Magnus will still be playing — he's playing right now in Zagreb. But he's doing what he decided is best for his goals, not just personally to live his creative life, but to promote chess without fighting with FIDE guys about how he spends his time."
The activist, who uses a considerable amount of time actively working against the regime in his former home country, used the opportunity to take a few shots at FIDE as well:
"I'm not a shrink or mind-reader, just sympathetic to even a world champion needing change, and wanting to see change in the chess world. And it needs it. FIDE has been a direct & indirect vehicle for Russian intelligence for decades and looks to continue as long as it's useful."
"I'm still working to develop & promote chess globally via sponsorship, education, and technology, and I'm sure Magnus will too. Does anyone believe that's what FIDE does? As I finally accepted in 2014 after I ran for FIDE president, its structure puts it beyond redemption."
"Magnus has been a great champion and will continue to be one. Perhaps there was no way to reconcile his need for creative expression and the classical match format I myself favor. So be it. On to new challenges and more great chess instead of politics!"
Finally, he says:
"Staying on top is harder than getting to the top because you are competing against the feeling you have achieved your life's goal already. Staying motivated after climbing the chess Olympus is like climbing Mount Everest a second time, or a sixth. Humans need purpose."
Kasparov previously expressed doubts as to whether Carlsen would actually drop out of the World Championship cycle.
"I think it's a very, very big if. From Magnus' statements, actually not statements, noises, that he may consider not playing if it's not Alireza Firouzja... that's what he said. To finally decide not to play... it's a long, long distance. Now with Nepo 99% the next opponent, let's check if Magnus is serious. That's exactly what he meant, "Now I am tired, I want something new." Let's see what happens," he said before the last round of the Candidates.