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Friday, January 21, 2011

Top chess world's question for 2011: Who's better - Garry Kasparov or Magnus Carlsen - in ad campaigns?

Chess blog for latest news and trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hi Everybody,

Don't blame us for comparing. Don't blame us for watching the master teacher and the super pupil do the same thing and think who's better. Not that we can choose one of them. We can't.

Chess great Garry Kasparov has just starred in an advertising campaign for the Polish division of ING Bank, We found some great references and articles at and www, Without the help of these two sites we would have found it tough to get you to understand all the fun. (Update: We also found the report.)

The campaign, in brief, is for an internet bank account with no regular fees. At its homepage you find a large image of Kasparov at the board next to the words: “Kasparov’s waiting for your move!” Lower down there’s “Free lessons from a grandmaster”, followed by videos of Kasparov talking about chess openings.

In case you didn’t follow… here’s a translation. Note the Polish host, Marek Kondrat (of whom more later) speaks in Polish, while Kasparov answers in Russian:
MK: In his life he’s often determined the fate not only of kings but also of simple pawns. Ladies and gentlemen: Grandmaster Garry Kasparov.
GK: Thank you very much.
MK: How much would you charge for a chess openings course?
GK: You’ll be surprised – not-a-thing! (the word is simply “nothing”, but Garry stresses all three Russian syllables) Go onto the internet and study on your own, though of course my help wouldn’t do any harm.
MK: Let’s go onto the internet. (and they do!)
GK: Don’t be afraid – on this internet customers don’t pay.

MK: Welcome to our internet chess openings course – as you’ve all no doubt guessed, it’s the Russian Game.
(Garry shows the moves.)
MK: Why is chess so popular in Russia?
GK: Probably because in chess a pawn can become an important figure.
MK: There you go…
For the Polish Defence (1.d4 b5!?) they have feathers in their caps, and both speak Polish, but some more background is perhaps required: A curiosity of the videos is that while there’s much regret in chess circles that Garry Kasparov has chosen politics over chess, it’s also a cause célèbre (in Poland) that Marek Kondrat has chosen working for ING Bank (and a wine business) over “serious” acting. He’s one of the top Polish actors, probably best known for playing the main character in the wonderful “Day of the Wacko” (Dzien Swira).
All that needs to be added is that Kondrat made his debut – “debiut” in Polish, *and the same word that’s used for chess openings* – as the 10-year-old star of the 1961 period drama “The Yellow Slippers” (“Historia zoltej cizemki”). The name sounds even odder in Polish, as the “slippers” in question are those funny pointed medieval boots… Garry Kasparov never had a chance!

MK: Welcome to the free internet chess openings school: Today, the Polish Defence.
Garry points out the moves (in Polish! – though it’s almost the same as in Russian).
MK: Have you heard of “The Yellow Slippers”?
GK: ???
MK: That’s what we call… Kondrat’s Opening! (or debut)
As well as those extremely light-hearted contributions to opening theory, in another video Kasparov talks about the role of the Scheveningen Variation in his becoming World Champion (he’s back speaking Russian):
When we learn to play chess as children we all play the most varied of openings, though of course at a very primitive level. It’s only later, in the course of our chess and personal development, that we discover those schemes, those opening variations, that suit our taste and our chess understanding. But in my case it was different. The Scheveningen Variation of the Sicilian Defence, which in a very general sense was shown to me by my first trainer, Oleg Privorotsky, all the way back in 1972, became Garry Kasparov’s trademark opening, and served me faithfully during the course of my whole chess career. But above all else, in the decisive game of my World Championship Match with Anatoly Karpov, when I once again chose my main weapon, it didn’t let me down. And, having won what was probably the most important game of my whole life, on 9 November 1985, at 22 years of age, I became the youngest World Champion in chess history.
All that’s left is the promised Chuck Norris joke:
If you’ve just watched the video then you might be able to reconstruct the text yourself :) Here’s a translation that doesn’t include the punch line (note that “mate” is “mat” in both Polish and Russian):
MK: (in Polish) Garry, did you ever manage to beat your opponent on the first move?
GK: (in Russian) In one move? No, only Chuck Norris can manage that.
MK: (in Russian) Ah, I understand… (punch line)

Rings a bell right? Just check our posts on World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen starring in the G-Star Campaign listed below.

We also have the Garry Kasparov Altavista campaign for you from a previous post.

From Alexandra Kosteniuk's
Also see her personal blog at

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