FORMER world champion Garry Kasparov is in the Philippines for just a short time and had planned to buckle down to work upon arrival and discuss with local officials his bid for the presidency of the world chess federation (Fide) as well as his plans if elected.
Instead, the first thing the chess legend talked about was trying to help victims of super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). He later donated US$10,000 to the relief fund from his own pocket.
“First things first, because when you talk about death, people starving and displaced, it’s difficult to think about something else,” said Kasparov in a press conference on Tuesday shortly after his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
They Said It!
“I want to say that I felt obliged to do something... I have great memories (in the Philippines)." - Former chess world champion Gary Kasparov
“This trip was planned some time ago but naturally, something is far more important than playing chess,” Kasparov added. “I want to say that I felt obliged to do something and I’ll be donating privately $10,000 to the relief funds here."
The 50-year-old chess legend is in the country to campaign for the Fide presidency which he will be contesting against incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
Kasparov was met at the airport by National Chess Federation of the Philippines president Prospero Pichay and Asia’s first grandmaster Eugene Torre.
“I still believe we have obligations to the long-term future of the sport that is why I wanted to come here and meet the Philippine chess federation to discuss things that of mutual interest along with important issues in the Asian region,” said Kasparov.
Kasparov noted the importance of the Asian region as he plans more visits in the future.
“I’m planning three more tours to Asia to demonstrate the importance of the continent,” said Kasparov, who still has stops in Macau and Hong Kong after he had gone to Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand prior to the Philippine trip.
One of Kasparov’s plans, if elected in the November polls in Norway, is heighten the interest in the sport worldwide.
“Fide does nothing to promote the game and boost its prestige so I will definitely change it,” said Kasparov.
The Manila visit was the first for Kasparov since he led Russia to the open title in the 1992 Chess Olympiad.
“(The Philippines) was the only Asian country I visited for a long time,” Kasparov recalled. “It was the 1992 World Chess Olympiad and it was very memorable.
“It was the first time the Russian team was there after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I was the leader of the team. We did well, we won the Olympics so I have great memories here.”