PEOPLE : White knight moves into aviation

Garry Kasparov, the world's best chess player, is expanding his horizons. This week saw the formation of the Kasparov Consultancy, a company with offices in Moscow and London which offers advice to potential investors in the Russian aviation industry.

While accepting that poor safety, fuel shortages and unreliable schedules are all problems, Kasparov believes the industry offers considerable prospects for enterprising Western business people.

``We can help Western companies not waste their time and money,'' he says, adding that his chess abilities will transfer well to the business world: "In chess, you must analyse and make judgments. Very often, your opponent's intentions are clouded. Thereare time pressures and there is no simple maths, logic or concrete solution. So it is in business."

The sky, however, is not the limit for Kasparov. After chess and aviation, he has political ambitions and will, he says, definitely run for office one day. Whether he would gain the votes of other chess players, however, must be open to doubt. Four yearsago, he resigned as president of his own Grandmasters' Association after a disagreement with other board members. Now, they might well be cautious before buying a used Ilyushin from him.

From Arabia, a tale worthy of Scheherazade. King Fahd has appointed the youngest court adviser in the country's history - his son Prince Abdelaziz. The 22-year-old aide reportedly never leaves his father's side, a situation that proved awkward when Sultan Qaboos of Oman visited the King in January.

The Sultan's advisers informed their Saudi counterparts that their boss wished to confer privately with Fahd, with no aides present. But to the irritation of the Sultan, Abdelaziz remained in the room and the Omani leader ended up departing without discussing what was on his mind. Later investigation by the Sultan was said to reveal that a fortune teller had told the Saudi monarch that when the angel of death makes his appearance in his court, the youngest of his children will not be at his side. Hence the King's insistence that Abdelaziz never leave the court as long as Fahd is sitting on his throne.

New York City officials, usually plagued by such intractable urban problems as crime, municipal financing and racial disharmony, found something new to worry them this week: not being photographed with the Princess of Wales.

``We were very pleased to learn that Her Royal Highness visited Harlem Hospital,'' said a spokeswoman for the Health and Hospitals Corp,which runs the city's health facilities, ``but both the president and chairman of HHC learnt she was visiting Harlem Hospital as they were watching the 11 o'clock news that night."

And because it was the HHC's job to notify City Hall, Mayor Rudy Giuliani's office also was unaware that the Princess was visiting the hospital's pediatric Aids clinic on Monday.

As a result, Pamela Hamilton, the hospital's public relations director, was sacked. Or, as the New York Post, put it: "Di's Pal Gets Royal Shaft''. The Post said Ms Hamilton was sworn to secrecy by the Secret Service. But thankfully the TV crews somehow managed to hear about Diana's visit; otherwise the poor city officials might not have even seen her on the news.

Jacques Santer also took a small blow to his ego on a visit to the European Commission's canteen. As the new EU President reached the cash register, he was asked for identification in order to get a discount on his lunch.

He didn't have it, but senior staff quickly let the cashier know that the man with the tray and the hungry look was their new boss.

A small puff or two was all Vaclav Havel wanted when he lit a cigarette yesterday during a visit to Dukovany and the Czech Republic's only nuclear plant. The President's action set off an alarm, bringing a rush of firemen to the scene. Smoking, even for poets, is prohibited in all areas of the reactor.

Comments