Kasparov Sees Chess of All Kinds in Thailand

By Panupand Vijjuprabha

FIDE Presidential Candidate Garry Kasparov and running mate Ignatius Leong arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, and were immediately whisked off to the Ministry of Finance. There they made a call on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Kittiratt Na-Ranong, who is also President of the Thailand Chess Federation.

Kasparov presents his book to Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt, with Panupand Vijjuprabha (left) and Ignatius Leong (right) flanking them

Kasparov and the Deputy Prime Minister shared their views on chess in Thailand, the region and the world. Mr Kittiratt agreed with Kasparov on how and why chess could play major roles in education and social networking. Mr Kittiratt endorsed the TCA’s support for the candidacy of Kasparov for FIDE President.

The one-hour meeting concluded when Mr Kittiratt presented Kasparov with a
Thai Chess Set and briefly explained the rules of the game

Makruk or Thai chess

This is a board game descended from the sixth century Indian game of chaturanga or a close relative thereof, and therefore related to chess. It is regarded as the most similar living game to this common ancestor of all chess variants. There are around two million Thais who can play makruk, while 5000 can play chess.

In starting position, pawns are placed on the third and sixth ranks. Queens are placed at the right side of kings. Pawns promote and move like queens when they reach the sixth rank. There is no castling. When neither side has any pawns, the game must be completed within a certain number of moves or it is declared a draw. More about Thai chess in this Wiki article. Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik got interested in the game and said “It is more strategic than international chess. You have to plan your operations with total care since Makruk Thai can be compared to an anticipated endgame of International Chess” [see Kramnik plays Makruk Thai]

Kasparov was taught the rules for ASEAN Chess and Myanmar Traditional Chess. He learnt that ASEAN Chess is a hybrid of Chess, Thai Chess and Myanmar Chess and was first introduced into the SEA Games in 2011.

Kasparov learning Myanmar Chess

Kasparov watches as the players played a ASEAN Chess Blitz game (played with a standard western chess set, as many variants are)

After watching a blitz game Kasparov was able to join the players in analysing an endgame position

Kasparov: “I’m delighted to have the chance to learn about these different forms of chess, and also to see how popular they are. I can definitely see the potential of embracing different forms of the game to bring more players into the FIDE family. Top players of western chess play Fischerandom tournaments, after all.”

Kasparov with the top men players in Thailand…

… and with the top women players

At the dinner hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Kasparov was introduced to Board members of the TCA, who paid intensive interest in Kasparov’s plan to implement reform on the policies of the future of FIDE as well as on the roles of how key national federations in various regions could play to support the global activities in FIDE and the Chess in Education programs. Kasparov received resounding applause when Mr Kittiratt re-assured the support of Thailand for Kasparov for the FIDE Elections next year.


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