How chess prodigy is kept in check

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The Independent Online
Former Russian boxer, now resident in the United States, seeks clever, modest, stay-at-home girl from good family. Nationality unimportant. Will pay costs of travel and education. Preferred age-range 13 to 14. Independence guaranteed at 21. Successful applicant may also fall in love with son of advertiser.

That, in a nutshell, is Rustam Kamsky's plan unveiled in an interview in the latest issue of the British Chess Magazine. Mr Kamsky's son, Gata, recently failed in his challenge to Anatoly Karpov for the Fide (International Chess Federation) world championship, but Kamsky senior has now let it be known that his plans for his son extend beyond the chess board.

At 21, Gata is undoubtedly one of the most exciting prospects in the chess world, yet for the past seven or eight years, his passage has been far from smooth.

Coached by his father, first to be a musical prodigy then a chess player, Gata has led a reclusive existence, studying for 13 or 14 hours a day with total dedication. Apart from supervising his son's chess studies, Mr Kamsky has lost his temper with opponents (threatening to kill Nigel Short in one notable outburst), complained about rivals who were allegedly poisoning Gata's food, and irritated sponsors when playing conditions, or financial arrangements, did not meet his expectations.

While Gata himself behaves impeccably at the board, hardly any of his tournaments or matches has passed without some outburst from Kamsky pere. Fisticuffs are rare, but shouting matches all too common. In the latest title match, it was a row with Karpov and the organisers about the rules at the start, then a complaint against two operators in the computer room that they might be passing information to the champion.

Until recently, all efforts seemed dedicated to the sole objective of capturing the world title, but now that Gata is 21, Mr Kamsky's horizons have widened. "I want to avoid bad and chance encounters for my son," he explained, "the mistakes of youth."

He has even talked about giving up chess and finding a new career for Gata - medicine is currently the field that he finds most attractive. "I am dreaming that my son should be a normal person with a good profession, interesting work, family, children, a house with a garden and a dog."

And Gata's opinion? "It does not matter," said his father, "because I am the master of the house. It's up to me to decide."

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