Monday, March 14, 2005

A great champion retires: "We are in a position to checkmate tyranny"

Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player of my generation--perhaps of any generation--today announced his retirement. In a column entitled "The Great Game," Kasparov wrote more on the state of the world than on his own career:
This is a time for ambition. Victory in Ukraine and the reshaping of the Middle East are only the latest symbols of how democracy is dominant in the world today economically, militarily, and morally. We must leverage this ascendancy to set a global agenda and end the era of complacency and concession that is embodied by the United Nations. In politics as in chess, or in the military or in business, when you have the advantage you must press it quickly -- or lose it. For the first time in history, we are in a position to checkmate tyranny. Momentum is largely on the side of democracy.

...I am excited by this new strategic battle, to be played out on a larger board. At the same time, I realize that this is no game, but a very real struggle for the future of my country. I am preparing for the fight of my life. When I look at my eight-year-old son, I know the stakes of this battle could not be higher...

My retirement from chess... is about opposing our authoritarian regime and bringing positive change. There are millions like me in Russia who want a free press, rule of law and fair elections. My new job is to fight for those people and to fight for those things.
That's a retirement speech. (Well, okay, a retirement column. But the point stands.)