FORMER world chess champion Gary Kasparov yesterday joined the list of international sports personalities, who have extended a helping hand to the victims of typhoon Yolanda that ravaged most parts of the Visayas.
Kasparov arrived in the country yesterday afternoon at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and went directly to a nearby restaurant to meet officials of the National Chess Federation and a small group of media to announce his donation of $10,000 for relief efforts.
“This has been a long-delayed trip (to the Philippines), but I understand there are far more important things than chess at this time in your country. My heart goes to the typhoon victims,” said the 50-year-old Kasparov, a many-time world champion.
“Chess is important, but first things first, in a matter of life death, chess can take a backseat.”
Among those who have donated to victims of Yolanda were the National Basketball Association Players association, Chinese no. 1 golfer Liang Wenchong, and Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra.
NCFP president Prospero Pichay was on hand to receive Kasparov’s donation.
“We will course the donation to the Philippine National Red Cross. We are very thankful for Mr. Kasparov for lending a hand to our fellow Filipinos, who are in dire need after the super typhoon,” said Pichay, who was accompanied by his secretary general Jason Gonzales and grandmaster Eugene Torre.
Torre also recalled his past encounters with Kasparov, who had beaten him three times in their four meetings.
“Magaling talaga. Naitabla ko lang isang laban ko sa kanya and the rest puro talo,” said Torre.
Kasparov is on short trip in the Philippines for his campaign sortie as candidate for president of the International Chess Federation. Prior to the Philippines, he had been to Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand. From here, he will fly today to Macau and Hong Kong to cap his Asian visit.
Kasparov is challenging incumbent FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov of the Republic of Kalmykia. He has been holding the title since 1995.
“The Philippines is an important country for chess because of its rich tradition,” said Kasparov, who recognizes the immense contribution of late, former Fide president Florencio Campomanes of the Philippines.
Incidentally, the Philippines was the first and country Asian country that Kasparov visited during this active days as a player. That was in the 1992 World Chess Olympiad where Russia took the world title.