By James Bakama and Mex Ainomugisha
CHESS legend and Grand Master Garry Kasparov has arrived in the country on a brief visit aimed at finding ways to boost the sport. Kasparov arrived at Entebbe International Airport this afternoon aboard a private jet.
Kasparov, who is now a political activist and is considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time, was received by Uganda Chess Federation boss Vianney Luggya and other officials.
The chess legend later excited UCF officials, players and fans at Hotel Africana whe he said Uganda has the potential of becoming a chess superpower.
“All Uganda requires is to have the right infrastructure, network and professional training,” said Garry Kasparov shortly after arrival in the country this afternoon.
Kasparov is received by Uganda Chess Federation boss Vianney Luggya. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo
Kasparov, who is on a five-nation tour of Africa to promote the sport, said the presence of talent like Phiona Mutesi in Uganda is proof that chess stars can sprout anywhere.
Kasparov said all that Mutesi needs is professional training and the sky with the limit. “With the right infrastructure in place, you would have numerous such talents.”
On what it takes to become a chess star, Kasparov said “you must have passion, determination and be ready to work hard.”
His brief visit had him meeting government officials, the UCF’s executive and chess players in sessions aimed at mapping out ways to develop the sport.
Kasparov makes his way to the VIP Lounge at Entebbe International Airport. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo
He has special interest in schools. “Chess is a proper irrigation for students because like academics, it also involves thinking, planning and focusing.”
One of his tasks in Africa is to convince government and private businesses to support the sport. The Garry Kasparov Chess Foundation analyses the chess needs in countries and creates special designs to boost the sport.
Kasparov was in the company of his wife Daria Kasparova. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo.
His entourage, which includes his wife Daria, has consultants and prominent businessmen. Travelling in a private jet, they arrived at Entebbe at 3pm from Kenya. They were received at the airport by UCF president Vianney Luggya and director (technical) Stephen Kisuze.
What had started off as an exciting trip was however marred by disappearance of part of their luggage in Nairobi.
They frantically made numerous calls to Nairobi in a bid to recover two missing bags.
Kasparov hugs the little girl who presented him with a bouquet of flowers at the VIP Lounge at Entebbe International Airport. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo.
They head to Kigali this morning on a similar purpose before moving to Malawi and Zambia. Kasparov said he will wind up the tour in Port Elizabeth, South Africa where he will be one of the dignitaries at the Commonwealth Chess Championship.
Kasparov was ranked as number one chess player in the world for a record 20 years. He famously defeated IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer in a series of chess matches in 1996.
Kasparov shares a light moment with Vision Group scribes Mex Ainomugisha and James Bakama. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo.
Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at the age of 22 after defeating then champion Anatoly Karpov.
He held the official FIDE world title until 1993, when a dispute with FIDE led him to set up a rival organization, the Professional Chess Association.
He continued to hold the "Classical" World Chess Championship until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000.
Kasparov was left baffled by the weather application on his phone that wrongly indicated that it was raining in Entebbe. Photo by Mpalanyi Ssentongo.
Kasparov's achievements include being rated world No. 1 according to Elo rating almost continuously from 1986 until his retirement in 2005. He achieved a peak rating of 2851, which was the highest recorded until 2013.
He was ranked world’s top player for 255 months, nearly three times as long as his closest rival, Anatoly Karpov. Kasparov also holds records for consecutive tournament victories and Chess Oscars.
Earlier this year Kasparov met Uganda’s youngest candidate master WCM Phiona Mutesi in the US and the two played an exhibition game that has become an inspiration to Ugandans.
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Garry Kasparov arrives for visit