03 May 2011

Me, Myself, and I

On vacations I always take along two books to read: one chess book and one non-chess book. For my most recent vacation, I selected Kasparov's 'How Life Imitates Chess'. Whether or not you've read the book, here's a pop quiz for you. The book is about (select one):-

a) Kasparov
b) Life
c) Chess
d) All of the above

Before I read the book, and based on a few reviews around the time it was published, I would have guessed (b), it's about life. Going by the author & title, many people would choose (d), it's about all of the above. In fact, the correct answer is (a), it's about Kasparov, i.e. Kasparov's favorite word is 'I', with 'me', 'my', and 'mine' as runners-up.

I was reminded of this while re-reading Sosonko's 'Russian Silhouettes', where the Russian / Dutch GM mentions the "'I', 'I', 'I', with which every second sentence of Kasparov begins". Here are some examples from 'Imitates' of first sentences in key chapters.

Preface: 'On 11 October 2007, I gave a presentation...' • Opening Gambit (the introduction): 'I was a teenage chess star...' • Chapter 1: 'When I first played for the chess World Championship...' [...] • Endgame: (after the last chapter): 'On 10 March 2005, I played my last professional game of chess...'

Once you come to terms with that, the book is excellent. And, yes, there is also a fair amount of c) 'Chess' in the book. Recommended.


Here's another quote from Sosonko's book, where Botvinnik is speaking:

With whom would I like to remain on a desert island, Karpov or Kasparov? I would say this: I now have quite good relations with Karpov. But if I had to choose between Karpov the champion and Kasparov the champion, I would prefer to remain alone on this desert island.

In other words, 'This island ain't big enough for the both of us.' Which World Champion had the smallest ego?


Wahrheit said...

Which World Champion had the smallest ego?

Almost certainly, Euwe. Smyslov, second place.

Harvey Kelly said...

I always thought Tal would be great company, and not just for the ciggies and vodka he'd no doubt throw your way.