Saturday, December 26, 2015

Holiday Greetings from Garry Kasparov


2015 was a year of great sorrows and great joys. The murder of my friend and colleague Boris Nemtsov was a harder blow than I could allow myself to imagine. Boris was a giant in body and soul and both Russia and I will miss him until the end of our days. It was also a year of new life: the birth of our son Nickolas and of my book, Winter is Coming. I said in 2005 that I wanted my elder son, now 19, to grow up in a free Russia, and it is painful to have that same wish for Nickolas.

The signs are not good at the moment. 2015 was a year of increasing global trauma and it looks as though even worse will come before the world wakes up to reverse the trend. My most hopeful wishes at the end of last year went mostly unrealized while my darker fears have come to pass in too many cases. As always, we must keep in our thoughts the innocent victims of dictatorship and terror and the few brave dissidents and leaders who take so many risks to protect them. The lives lost and the new lives born in 2015 must remind us of the value of human life — and why we must fight to defend it against those who do not value it at all.

There were also highs and lows for the chess world in the past year. The Kasparov Chess Foundation continues to thrive all across the globe thanks to the inspiring passion of our benefactors and supporters. The Grand Chess Tour just completed an exciting first year, raising the standard for professional events to a new level. Sadly, our beloved sport was once again dragged through the mud by FIDE and its leadership as President Ilyumzhinov was placed on a sanctions list for facilitating business with murderous Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and the terrorist Islamic State. But KCF and the Tour and the millions of devoted chess kids, parents, teachers, fans, players, and organizers around the world give us hope for a brighter future.

While we are wondering what 2016 will bring, let us also imagine what the people of 2050 will think of us. Did we do everything we could to expand human freedom? To increase human knowledge and joy? To spread the opportunity to succeed that most of us enjoy? It is not enough to want these things; we must make the decision to achieve them. Let us all find new ways to challenge ourselves, not only to improve, but to improve the world.

Garry Kasparov