At a financial conference (Pärnu Finantskonverents), which will take place in Pärnu on 19 April, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and the famous chess player Garry Kasparov and politician will talk about the role of innovation in the modern world. On the eve of the conference Postimees was able to talk on the phone with Kasparov. Here are some of the highlights:
On his current activities
In addition to my political activities in Russia I am very actively working on a program to promote chess in schools. This program has been around for more than 20 years, and I have been funding the Kasparov Chess Foundation in the USA for ten years now. Our program has taught chess in more than 3,500 US schools. Last year I opened a branch in Europe, in Brussels, and we spent a lot of time collecting signatures in support of a European Parliament resolution on chess in schools. We got 415 signatures, more than the 378 required to pass the resolution. It does not obligate anyone to do anything, but it is a very important step to obtain political support. For the first time such a serious political institution was in favor of this idea.
Over the past year and a half I have visited many countries around the world – Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, UAE, different European countries. The first country in which we have signed an agreement on the introduction of computerised chess programs in the education system, was Georgia. From September there will be introduced pilot programs in 100 schools. France is also considering chess as a very promising direction, and from June 1, they begin a program of gradual integration of chess lessons in learning at an early stage.
In principle, it is not so much about learning to play chess, but about using chess to improve concentration, the ability to see the "big picture", to use a specific formulae for the solution of a problem, which is very important for mathematics. In addition, a number of countries in the poorest areas of chess training can improve self-esteem and give children a feeling that the intellectual work can bring concrete results. Chess is an inexpensive activity that does not require a huge investment to be included in the education system.
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Garry Kasparov: In the last 30 years the rate of technological breakthroughs has slowed down