Chess legend Kasparov on Rahul Gandhi: I hope my little joke is not seen as expertise

Russian chess great Garry (aka Garri) Kasparov has said that he hoped his “little joke” on Indian politics does not pass for “advocacy or expertise”, after his cheeky social media post on Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s love for the game went viral.

Russian chess legend Garry (aka Garri) Kasparov and Indian politician Rahul Gandhi
Russian chess legend Garry (aka Garri) Kasparov and Indian politician Rahul Gandhi. Image courtesy: Instagram/garri_kasparov; rahulgandhi

Within hours of asking Gandhi to “first win Rae Bareli before challenging for the top”, the 61-year-old Kasparov said that it was just a joke and should be seen as one.

“I very much hope my little joke does not pass for advocacy or expertise in Indian politics! But as an ‘all-seeing monster with 1000 eyes’, as I was once described, I cannot fail to see a politician dabbling in my beloved game!” wrote the former world champion, who retired in 2005, in response to a post by Bollywood actor Ranvir Shorey.

Also read: Indian general polls: Congress fields Rahul Gandhi from Rae Bareli

Shorey’s comment appeared to be a dig at Gandhi’s recent assertion that he was the best chess player among all Indian politicians. Kasparov gave the same reply to a few other accounts which commented on his original post.

The Congress recently shared a video of Gandhi playing chess on his mobile phone while on the Lok Sabha election campaign trail. The MP from Wayanad named Kasparov as his favourite chess player and drew parallels between the game and politics.

A user on X made a cheeky comment on his page, which read “feel so relieved that @Kasparov63 and @vishy64theking retired early and didn’t have to face the greatest chess genius of our times”.

Kasparov, rather unusually, originally responded to that post. “Traditional (sic) dictates that you should first win from Raebareli before challenging for the top,” wrote the fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The chess legend is based in Croatia after fleeing his country.

Rahul Gandhi, while naming Kasparov as his favourite chess player, described him as a “non-linear thinker” in the Congress video.

“…Once you get slightly better at it, the opponent’s pieces actually operate almost like your own,” he said, drawing comparison between chess and politics.

For the 2024 general elections, Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh; he is also contesting from his seat Wayanad, which led him to a win in 2019.

Kasparov, a former world No. 1 for a record 255 weeks, became the youngest-ever undisputed world champion at the age of 22 in 1985 and is a political activist now.

The iconic Russian player is a contemporary of Indian chess great Viswanathan Anand.

Recently, when 17-year-old D Gukesh bettered his record of becoming the youngest challenger to the world title by winning the Candidates Tournament in Toronto, Kasparov had put out a congratulatory post on X. He described Gukesh as “the Indian earthquake in Toronto”.