Garry Kasparov in Nashville: "Hard Work is a Talent."
By Jennifer Shahade   
April 20, 2009
Garry Kasparov makes the first move in the game of eventual K-6 Champion, Daniel Gurevich. See a slideshow on the Kasparov Chess Foundation webpage.

Garry Kasparov's attendance at the 2009 SuperNationals was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for kids, parents and coaches.  Executive director Bill Hall said, " USCF is grateful to Garry Kasparov and the Kasparov Chess Foundation for inspiring thousands in Nashville. Meeting a living legend is an experience that children, parents and coaches will remember forever. Garry's example had kids leaving Nashville, trophy or not, with ambitions to work a little harder at chess-- and at life."

Garry Kasparov with USCF Executive Director Bill Hall, Photo Polly Wright

The SuperNationals kicked off with Garry Kasparov's opening ceremony speech. He was greeted with a standing ovation, and as soon as the crowd sat down, they laughed as he explained how anxious he was as a child to get over with the ceremonies and on with the chess. Read more about the opening ceremony here. 

Robert Hess, Parker Zhao, Garry Kasparov, Darrian Robinson and Jarod Pamatmat
On Saturday just before his Q+A session, Garry Kasparov attended a photo shoot for the June 2009 Chess Life Cover. Joining him for the shoot was a star in the midst of his three-week tear: GM-elect Robert Hess. Parker Zhao, the highest rated player in the K-9 Championship, Darrian Robinson, the highest rated female in the K-9 and Jarod Pamatmat, the highest rated player in the K-6  were also included. Despite his distinguished appearance, Kasparov showed his youthful side by mentioning an ice cream stop after the shoot. And like Hess, Kasparov was anxious to wipe off his makeup.


Art director Frankie Butler gave CLO some insight into the cover, which was shot by local photographer, Mark Mosrie ( and will appear on on June 1. "The portraits are amazing for what was essentially a 30 minute shoot.  A great deal of preparation went into choosing the location and the background.  Kasparov is very photogenic, so combining that with a well-fitted suit, dramatic lighting, and rich drapery in the background – made for sensational results!  I look forward to (the final product)."   

This mother is excited to finally have her Karpov-Kasparov match poster signed by Garry.
Kasparov also hosted two book signings and a lecture, "My Life in Chess" followed by a Q+A.

In his lecture, Kasparov talked about the balance of talent and hard work that creates champions. He also explained how the two can often be conflated: "The ability to work hard is a talent too."  Kasparov also used the phrase, "the gravity of past success" to emphasize how important it is to create new challenges even when reaching your goals.

After the slideshow and talk, Kasparov answered questions that ranged from "What is your favorite game?" to how often he had already discovered novelties from the current games of top GMs. He struggled with the favorite game question until Orrin Hudson of " " suggested Kasparov-Topalov, Wijk Aan Zee, 1999. Kasparov agreed that it was a good occasion to celebrate this game, since it had been just over ten years.


When asked about raising a champion chess player, Kasparov wisely advised that his mother was a better source of information on that.

Garry Kasparov at a lecture and Q+A, "My Life in Chess"


At the opening ceremony, Kasparov said that the standing ovation made the trip to Nashville instantly worthwhile, so hopefully the second standing ovation, at his Q+A/lecture made Nashville a memorable trip for him. It certainly was memorable for thousands of kids who played and stayed at the most star-studded American chess festival ever.
Read more about the Kasparov Chess Foundation here. Look for the Kasparov
Chess Life Magazine cover in June 09, along with a SuperNationals story by Alex Betaneli.