The Bashkansky family Chess Travel blog

The Bashkansky family Chess Travel blog: parents Guy and Ludmila with children NM Ethan and WIM Naomi

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Celebrity Apprentices

Kids Photos with Best Chess Players

Best in the US

In this March 13, 2012 photo from the recent Marathon Sprint post, Naomi poses with the strongest US chess player Hikaru Nakamura who visited Chess4Life:

This brings to mind that the kids have already posed for a few photos with important chess world celebrities, from Garry Kasparov to Susan Polgar.

Best in the World History

There is a story behind the photo below of Ethan and Naomi with the best chess player in the world history, Garry Kasparov.  In April 2009 we traveled to the Scholastic Chess Super-Nationals in Nashville, TN.  This is the most important children chess tournament in the US.  Every 4 years, all the best US kids, teams and coaches come to play chess and compete in the humongous Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.  This place probably deserves a separate post.

In the morning of April 3, 2009, Garry Kasparov and the chess playing astronaut Gregory Chamitoff were the keynote speakers at the opening ceremony at the Grand Ole Opry House.  Kasparov proclaimed, ironically: “As a young kid, I just hated these opening ceremonies.  The chess functioners just kept talking and talking, and all I wanted was to play chess!”.  This got him an enthusiastic round of applause from the kids audience.

Later that day, back in the hotel, hundreds of people stood in line to get Kasparov’s autograph.  He was signing his own books which people bought specially for this occasion.  We also bought his book in advance, to get an autograph: “How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom”.  He made periodic breaks from signing, every 15 minutes.  As our turn in line has approached, both our kids became quietly excited.  They gave Kasparov his book for signing.

“How old are you?” - he asked Naomi.  Shy silence was the obvious answer.  No self-respecting girl or woman will tell her age just like that.  Garry understood.  He said: “Is it a secret?”  Her eyes were burning with both adoration and indignation.  Ethan laughed and provided the age information (she’s 5, he’s barely 11).  This is when I pressed my camera button, and took the first photo:

Then Kasparov proceeded to signing the book, and the kids posed for the second photo:

Best in the World among Women

Just before going to Kasparov, Naomi posed for a photo with Alexandra Kosteniuk, who was the Women's World Chess Champion at that time:

Three Best Sisters in the World History among Women

A couple of days later, at the same tournament in Nashville, we also met Susan Polgar (the oldest Polgár sister).  Susan has won many Women World Championships and Olympiads.  She does a lot for kids chess development in the US.  She is certainly one of the most famous and important chess celebrities.

Naomi posed for a photo with Susan, and soon after that became her online chess school student:

And in the spring of 2010, as I was taking Ethan’s photo, Sofia Polgar (the middle Polgár sister) just happened to be in the background:

However, the truly best female player in the world history is Judit Polgár (the youngest Polgár sister), with whom we still don’t have a photo!

So how do we take a photo with this elusive Judit?  Maybe she'll visit us at the World Youth Chess Championships in Maribor, Slovenia this November?  It's just across the border, only 3 hour from her home in Budapest.

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