Amazing Reception in Mexico for Kasparov & KCF!
There is so much to report from Mexico that we’re breaking it up into three separate reports, one for each day of Kasparov’s visit! We knew Mexico was excited about Garry Kasparov’s visit to launch the new Kasparov Chess Foundation center and to campaign for FIDE president. But we had no idea HOW excited and how well prepared! Everywhere Garry went there were huge crowds, top politicians, big sponsors, and even bigger signs.
Garry getting a few simul tips from Mexico City mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera. (GM Nikola Mitkov, a visiting trainer sent by KCF, on the left.)
“I thought I had seen just about everything, to be honest,” said Kasparov. “But Mexico City has surpassed my wildest expectations in so many ways. First off, the fans and even non-chessplayers showing so much interest and support. Education unites everyone! Then, the unanimity of political support here for KCF and chess in education is amazing. The mayor, the senate, the congress, the city assembly, they all joined in, across party lines! One joked it was the first time the PRD and PRI guys wanted to be in the same photo together! The Sports Minister, Jesús Mena, even came to speak at the KCF opening. I’m very grateful for all their support and efforts. And I must give special mention to my friend Hiquingari Carranza, director of the new KCF, for making all of this possible. He did so much great work that I think I could have asked him for another pyramid in Teotihuacan and he could have built it in a month!
The inauguration of KCF Ibero-America was truly special for many reasons. It completes the first phase of our global reach: New York City, Johannesburg, Brussels, Singapore, and now Mexico City, to coordinate for all of the Spanish-speaking world. The event itself was also remarkable. The Museo Soumaya is one of the most spectacular buildings in the world, and for them to donate it for the event was tremendous. When I was first there last year I knew having a chess exhibition next to Rodin’s “The Thinker” would be perfect, and it was. And all that was just on my first day in Mexico!
Kasparov couldn’t know on that first day that he would also get a special meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on his last day in the country, when the two of them both happened to be in Acapulco! But we’ll save that for the next report…
A firm handshake with Hiquingari Carranza after signing the papers formally launching the Fundacion Kasparov de Ajedrez para IberoAmerica. Carranza is the president and is already hard at work.
The morning started very early with a big press conference. Several dozen journalists were on hand and Kasparov covered nearly all the bases of the benefits of chess in education for kids. Little did he know that no convincing was needed in Mexico! As we would soon find out, nearly every politician in the country was ready to announce full support for an ambitious program to bring chess into thousands of classrooms. (A video of this and several other press conferences will be published as soon as we complete the transcripts.)
The first stop was the national Senate, an impressive new building. Kasparov was received by Lilia Guadalupe Merodio Reza, a Senator representing the state of Chihuahua. A chessplayer herself, she promised to do whatever she could in the Senate to aid KCF and chess programs in the schools.
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– GM Susan Polgar