Meeting Kasparov For The 1st Time...

GM KaydenTroff

In my last blog I talked about getting invited to a Chess Camp in which Garry Kasparov would be teaching.  Meeting Garry Kasparov or the “Michael Jordan of Chess” for the first time was just… AWESOME!!!  Just sitting there while he was going over the other kids games (more like teenagers or adults) was just incredible.  His understanding of chess and memory of games he has played is STUPENDOUSLY COOL.  We all would go over a game and he would say: “That reminds me of a game I played once.” He would then show us and it would end up being from like 1 to 30 years ago (Actually one was 35 years ago). 


But before I get too much into that I should start at the beginning. 


Before the trip I was invited by Michael Khodarkovsky to come to this Master Class and it would appear he and Garry Kasparov are the organizers.


Michael sent me an email telling us that it would be in the New York Athletic Club on the 12th floor and just giving us general details and (in a different email) what we should wear in the New York Athletic Club: no jeans or tennis shoes.


So after that we got our flights and figured out where we were staying and all the important details. So now I begin with our trip.


I’ll start with our flight.  Sometimes we need to go backwards to learn something, to figure something out… or save moneyJ.  The cheapest flight to NY was to fly to Las Vegas AND THEN fly to NY… what we do to save money…                                                                     


Going there wasn’t too bad, because I had a book and they had TVs on the airplane (on the back of the chair of the person in front of you).  So it wasn’t too bad.


After the flight we headed to where we were staying… Sam Shankland’s grandparentsSmile.  I’m thankful for Sam’s grandparents and their generosity (which saved us like $400), and Sam for hooking us up with them.  Sam’s grandparents even arranged for a taxi for us to get to their apartment (which was in the North Shore Towers if anybody wants to know).  It was a very nice place and we made sure to leave them chocolates and a “Thank You” note. 


We did have to walk a good distance to get to any restaurants, except for the restaurant and grocery stores beneath the towers.  It was like its own little community.  Is this not what you would call a community?  It had an indoor and outdoor pool, movie theater, golf course, as well as the restaurant and grocery store, and I saw a little park when I was looking through the window. 


The Chess Camp was at the N.Y.A.C. (New York Athletic Club). To get there we had to walk a little bit, take the Q46 bus to the last stop then take the subway F-Train to 57-street, walk a little bit more, and then we would be there.  It wasn’t too bad as long as you know what you’re doing, which the directions we had--didn’t!  Luckily we asked the front desk to double check and they totally improved our directions.  So we made it with some time to spare going there, which we wouldn’t have with our directions.  How do I know?  Oh trust me… I know!! 


Meeting the other kids… uh… no… not really kids except… well… me… and Jeffrey Xiong.  Well meeting the other students was fun, some of the top younger players in America.  There was Kayden Troff (meSmile), Alexander Ostrovskiy, Alisa Melekhina, Alec Getz, Jeffery Xiong, Makenzie Molner, Marc Tyler Arnold, Daniel Naroditsky, Alena Kats, Andrew Shvartsman, and Kaissa Korley and Anna Matlin came on the second day only.  Amanda Mateer was there, but I think she was just Makenzie Molner’s accompanying person.  Jeffery and I appeared like we might have been the only people that were there for the first time.


They had the tables set up like a U with a plug that we could plug our computers into and a projector in the middle.  We had the games on our computer and some of them just had sheets of paper with the moves on them.  We had about 4 games each.  One person would go up at a time and read the moves to Kasparov and he would put them on his computer and projector and give his opinion about your moves.  I was the second to last person so I went the second day.  We did 6 people each day.  The first day was fun. I sat next to Daniel Naroditsky and it was fun to talk to him.  It was just awesome and the second day was betterSmile (mostly because we analyzed my games which were fun).  The worst part of day 1 was going back… and that is the reason I know asking the front desk was a good choice.  


We decided to follow our directions that we printed off from home and took the F-Train to what ended up being a scary neighborhood. We then got on the bus and took it to our stop.  We could see the Towers so we figured it wouldn’t be too bad… man… we were wrong.  We followed our directions which took like 15 minutes and ended up at a dead end and all that was in between us and the 500-feet to the Towers was a highway… ugh… So we walked back and just kept pressing forward instead of turning and after a good walk ended up at what appeared might be another dead end.  We asked someone for directions… and he told us to go back to where we were.  I didn’t want to do that and I noticed that there was a turn before the dead end and told my dad let’s try that instead of going ALL the way back.  We went down the street and now we had a golf course and fences in our way!! So, we started going around it and we found a frontage road.  We walked up the frontage road and FINALLY got to the Towers.  We had been walking for over an hour which might not have been that bad except that we were wearing nice (but not the most comfortable) clothes (because you were suppose to wear clothes like that in the N.Y.A.C.).  The next day we made sure that we had DIFFERENT directions (better directions).


The next day is when Kaissa Korley and Anna Matlin were there.  It was fun to have them, there, even if they weren’t there for the first day.  Anna Matlin is my friend, and Kaissa Korley… well I’ve seen him beforeSmile.  I wasn’t sure when I was going to present my games and I was actually was hoping to go second to last, which worked out perfectly.  After lunch, the last three were Daniel Naroditsky, me, and Makenzie Molner going in that order.  Getting to the end of Daniel Naroditsky’s games I knew I was going to be up (because I was told after lunch) and I was pumped and ready!!  I went up and I had my little Netbook with my games on it and sat down next to Kasparov.  He asked me some questions like what my ratings were and when I started playing and just some questions to get to know me better.  He actually seemed a bit surprised that I started playing at 3 and learned just by watching my dad and brothers play.  I have to say that I wasn’t really nervous. Kasparov is very nice and if he didn’t like my games I knew I could blame it on my coaches because they recommended them… just jokingSmile… but it is trueSmile.  He seemed to like them, and I guess even though the email said “4 to 6 games” they meant 4Smile.  We had already gone over 4 of my games, and he seemed to like them and I wasn’t feeling nervous at all.  So he was about to send me off and I was like, "Wait a second, I still have 1 more game."  And, oh my goodness, I’m glad I did because he briefly looked at it and it was just me and him, and it was probably my favorite part of all of it.  He told me it was good and I said, "thank you" and my turn was over.  I got some comments from Daniel Naroditsky and Alec Getz about my games, and truthfully there were some really NICE games from everybody.  The most common person/opponent in all of our games was IM Bryan Smith. He was in about 4 or 5 games I think of our like 50 total.  Kasparov didn’t seem to know him before, but now he does!


After we were all done going over games, Kasparov was telling us about different things, simuls and computer matches he has played which was fun.  But after all of it, I talked to Kasparov a little bit. He recommended a 70's book which, unfortunately, I don’t remember because I was just living in the moment! Luckily, he told me that Michael would be sending a note on what they think I should work on.


Overall, it was a great experience meeting Kasparov and the other students and analyzing the games.  And I want to thank Michael and Garry for inviting me and making it a great time, and Sam Shankland’s grandparent for letting us stay at their apartment, and everybody who gives me support.

Thank You! And Merry Christmas!


The next thing I will be doing is our TNT (Troff and Treiman) Chess Camp this Wednesday.


And I will be putting up pictures that my Dad took with me and Kasparov.