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November 24, 2007

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"Unsanctioned protest"...nice.

I saw Kasparov on Colbert too. He was pretty impressive. I guess I wasn't shocked, because if you think about it, he has to be a brilliant guy; but his passion, resolve and spot on understanding of a whole range of political concerns was really refreshing and heartening.

I'm guessing that Bush will also pop in with a comment about Putin not crossing the line and having real purty eyes with a nice soul behind them?

It's very disturbing to read about Kasparov being not just detained, but beaten. I'm sure nothing that Bush and our DOJ hasn't promoted as just another questioning technique, but it gets really sad and upsetting to see situations like Pakistan, with marches of lawyers and cricket players; Myanamar, with marches by monks; and Russia, with rallies led by international chess players; all being met with what are now US embraced and promoted policies of mass roundups, disappearances and abuse and mistreatment.

And we have no platform for response, because we have been the enablers. I'm trying to think what would have happened when the Berlin Wall was poised to come down, or Poland was having its stirrings, if the US stood for Iraq, Guantanmo, Black sites, waterboarding, torture, disappearing etc.

I think Kasparov is a pragmatist and his pessimism is well placed.

What I liked was he knew how to turn his ability to calculate into a really well played appearance on Colbert. I think a lot of people misplay the show, bc it's hard to know whether to play it straight or not.

EW - Agreed. Of course Musharref engaged and did pretty well on Jon Stewart too (especially compared to most US domestic politicians that naively show up for the Stewart/Colbert gauntlet).

bmaz

I first started following Pakistani politics when a Pakistani friend and I were trying to follow the news just after 9/11. Said friend gave me a very detailed comparison of what Musharraf was saying public in English and what he was saying in Urdu. He's a chess player, that one, and he's lucky that only his educated subjects can speak both languages to keep track of it.

Because the US and Russia are in this tense gray area (not allies, but not enemies), it's quite fortunate that Kasparov is the opposition leader in Florida. Not only is he a very intelligent person, he has the fame of being the world's greatest chess player. Hopefully his Deep Blue fame will convince news organizations to pay closer attention to Russian politics. (If you can't beat celebrity obsession in our news media, join it!)

The attention might convince Putin to show some more restraint and tone down his totalitarian tendencies. Of course, it would also help if the U.S. was more thoughtful about relations with Georgia (Russian peacekeepers are deployed in the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia) and wasn't so reckless with nuclear proliferation treaties.

I saw Kasparov on the Bill Maher show and had the same reaction. I am very sad to hear he has been detained.

He made it very clear that Bush was no real match with Putin (Putin being far more sinister) and that while we have had major set backs in our democracy we were in no way as fascist as the Putin regime.

He made the same statement that night about danger and reminded us about the spy who was poisoned by Putin when he referred to the Plame case and the way she was treated. It was an interesting point. I hope he will be safe. He seemed very aware of his position, but very pessimistic.

He was intelligent and funny, and played off every joke that Bill Maher threw out. I was very impressed. Bill Maher has a way of making some people look dumb (not as cleverly as Colbert) but Kasparov made Maher look very naive.

THanks for raising that, Katie. I think you're right: Kasparov made Maher look naive by comparison. I guess that's why I put up the Colbert clip--Kasparov can kick the shit out of our best commentators here in the states. But what does it get him, what does the best chess mind in the last half century get you, from a guy like Putin?

E.W, I was hoping you could tell us the answer to that last question, cause that night I had the same thought. What the hell?? What is the purpose and why is someone so smart engaging in this process? What does he think he can accomplish? What was he trying to tell us? I was looking for hidden messages, thought to myself "spy"? but was left with nothing but an uneasy feeling.

My big wonder is, what are Putin and China going to do if Cheney gets to give Iran a spanking?

I saw the Kasparov/Maher match and it was certainly no contest, Kasparov is much sharper and deeper than any American pundit or politician on the stage today. He is also very Russian with the fatalistic attitude that seems to be such a large part of their national character.

Katie -- I have no idea what Kasparov's game plan is, but from this spectator's perspective it seems to me that he is an extraordinarily brave man. I'm not using that term lightly. His is a household name, known throughout the world. I imagine he could live quite comfortably anywhere he chose. He's privileged, with no need to take risks for the benefit of others. And yet he is. He may indeed be taking on Putin because his fame gives him some measure of protection (granted that's not saying much when it comes to Russia). He may be doing this because it is the right thing to do. His fame will make it possible to shine a bright light on Putin's activities not only in Russia, but on the world stage. He is in a unique position to do so.

What's the name of the famous economist (Adam Smith was it?) who basically said that individuals act in their own self interest. I don't believe that is true. There are people capable of seeing beyond their own self interest to that of their community or country or world and they choose a course of action to benefit others. I think Kasparov may be acting out of such a desire to make his country a better place.

If only our own "opposition" party would take a page out of Kasparov's book and stand up to Bush's power grab. It wouldn't be easy, but it would be the right thing to do. The world really could use more brave people.

I am all for his altruism, but my thinking is, I believe him when he says that speaking out is dangerous and I think to myself "please be more careful they are going to hurt you."

That's why I feel uneasy. It seems that he is putting himself in grave danger...a sitting duck. He's so smart, I have to believe that he's smart enough to use his brain in effectively...to make sure that he is in a position to make the most of his abilities.

It seemed that he was setting himself up, by almost thumbing his nose at Putin. What is the purpose of doing that? We seem in too weak a position to negotiate or protect him. I just don't get it.

Katie

The reason I didn't title this post, "Putin captures opponent's King" is because I don't think Kasparov sees himself in those terms, necessarily. That is, he is someone who knows well that sometimes it takes sacrificing some pieces, even some important pieces like Bishops or the Queen, to win a game. And I rather suspect that Kasparov can look at politics in Russia in that sense, too. He will not win the presidency, that much is assured. But can he launch a campaign that will, eventually, reclaim Russia from its authoritarianism?

But will his sacrifice be effective in this climate? Something inside of me, doesn't like the timing. I see your point though, it just seems riskier than it's worth. Of course I don't know the climate in Russia. But right now it seems that fascism is the global rage. That suppression is "in" and that "the people" are more worried about being "in" than being "free." I suppose this is the point he makes. God bless him. I guess I am feeling pessimistic about the global powers that be. If the United States, beacon of light, cannot fight off fascism, it's hard for me to imagine that the people of Russia will be successful.

Katie

I think he's following the dissident patters of the 1970s and 80s, so he may believe, given history, that it'll be successful. Of course those dissident patterns succeeded largely because Russia's oil wealth collapsed, which isn't going to happen any time soon.

So, no, it probably won't work. But you've gotta try, right?

KASPAROV'S GAMBIT

That was the name of the game I created the art for more than a decade ago. Beautifully stuctured game, where you could also choose what scenarios your opponents would use and so learn how to beat them. Practice, practice, practice! For learning to play chess well, it was much better than the Chessmaster series.

http://www.mobygames.com/game/kasparovs-gambit

I'd played some chess, and occasionally beat a state champion, but working on the game introduced me to 2 international grand masters who were a universe beyond me when it came to strategy and foresight. They were brilliant and confidant, but also nice guys.

Kasparov is indeed taking a serious risk by putting his human, physical body on the gameboard. The fact that they had to beat him up is evidence that they can't master him by brainpower, argument, logic.

He is thinking many, many moves ahead.

If he is willing to hazard himself (I agree with your bishop designation because knights are oblique and rooks hold back), I sincerely hope that he has seen an endgame where thoughtfulness wins out over those who still pound rocks together.

Many may remember Kasparov's widely publicised foray into nutbar historical revisionism from a few years back (the thrust of it was that historians had conspired to add 1000 years to the period separating us from the epoch of the Greeks and Romans of antiquity). The article was so transparently foolish that it seemed more likely that he was setting himself up for something in the future. If that was an opening gambit in some larger game (of which his detention is the latest move), then I must admit that its meaning remains as obscure to me as Kasparov's chess moves. Anyone?

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