Archive for Sunday, October 30, 2005

Gorbachev supports Chess for Peace initiative

Match ends in tie

October 30, 2005

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— Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev came to the Kansas prairie Saturday to promote Chess for Peace, an international initiative to use the ancient game to find common ground among people of different cultures.

Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his part in ending the Cold War, said change comes when people get together to express what they want in public policy.

"I think it is very realistic to speak of this possibility," Gorbachev said of the Chess for Peace initiative.

The effort included the second "Class of the Titans" match Saturday between seven-time world chess champion Anatoly Karpov and four-time women's world champion Susan Polgar.

The match, played in an auditorium at Bethany College, ended in a tie, as each won two games and two ended in a draw.

Gorbachev supervised the first match and gave Polgar a break by making the first move on Karpov's board.

Gorbachev said he wanted to "cause some difficulties for the older player."


Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, upper right, waves to parade participants Saturday in downtown Lindsborg. Gorbachev visited the town to attend the Chess for Peace event at nearby Bethany College. The tournament features chess champions Russian Anatoly Karpov, left, and American Susan Polgar, center. The parade participants are unidentified.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, upper right, waves to parade participants Saturday in downtown Lindsborg. Gorbachev visited the town to attend the Chess for Peace event at nearby Bethany College. The tournament features chess champions Russian Anatoly Karpov, left, and American Susan Polgar, center. The parade participants are unidentified.

Speaking through an interpreter before the chess match, Gorbachev told reporters that American troops will have to leave Iraq eventually, but he does not think it is possible to rush the troops out.

"Unfortunately, the credibility of the United States has suffered in the world as a result of the war in Iraq," he said.

What is needed now is the "Iraqization" of that country, he said, giving Iraqis a chance to be responsible for their country.

"Without it, we will not see any progress until the Iraqi people are in charge ... and without it, we wouldn't see progress toward a more peaceful Middle East," he said.

Gorbachev said global peace faces three main threats: security, poverty and a global environmental crisis.

Gorbachev said that President Kennedy had said a society that cannot take care of the poor and dispossessed cannot create safe conditions even for the wealthy.

"I believe we should extend that globally," Gorbachev said. "If we don't pay attention to the 3 billion people in the world living in poverty ... then we are creating a time bomb that will explode at any moment.

"The Cold War set the stage for the problems we are seeing now," Gorbachev said.

The United States and the Soviet Union spent $10 trillion each on the arms race, he said.

"You can imagine how these sums, how this money could have been used a lot better to solve many of our problems and be able to help other nations."

In the evening, Gorbachev sat down with Alan Murray, assistant managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, for what was called a "conversation" over a chess board.

Among other topics, Gorbachev said steps that Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken for social reform have made him popular with the Russian people.

He also said that former President Boris Yeltsin had "a cowboy approach, a cavalier approach," that resulted in the break up of the country. Yeltsin also used inappropriate methods, Gorbachev said, and privatization in Russia caused the plunder of the nation's wealth.

Chess for Peace organizes games among traveling players and on the Internet. It plans to bring students from across the globe to Lindsborg to play in June 2006 at a peace festival.

An early form of chess is believed to have been created in ancient India to settle disputes and avoid tribal warfare.

The idea was reborn in this central-Kansas town of 3,200 people, where Russian immigrant Mikhail Korenman is pursuing his dream of making his new community a chess Mecca.

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