Sunday, February 26, 2023

Putin Plays Poker Not Chess and He has a Losing Hand, Kasparov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 22 – Many have suggested for many years that Russian leaders play chess while Western ones play checkers, with the former recognizing that they can sacrifice many smaller pieces in order to win the prize but the latter assuming that they have to win everything in the pursuit of their goals.

            But Vladimir Putin is different, Garri Kasparov says. He doesn’t play chess but poker, a judgment that must be taken seriously because Kasparov is not only an opposition leader but a world chess champion (

            Putin for some time has looked “like a man who knows he’s lost and knows he is lying to himself but hopes that his enemies don’t realize that yet,” Kasparov continues. “In such a losing position, he has a tendency to push harder, act hastily and appear overconfident in a display of the desperate bravado of the doomed.”

            “A long as Ukraine and its allies don’t blink and continue to apply pressure, victory is assured,” he insists. What must be remembered is that “Putin is not a chess player: he is a poker player who bluffs and knows hot to exploit any weakness in the resolve of his opponents.” In response, the West must “not play his game” but play its own and not fall for bluffs.

            Kasparov continues: “This week in Munich and Brussels, I spoke to hundreds of officials. Overwhelmingly, their view is that today is a turning point, that Ukraine must win, and that Putin must be stopped now for the sake of European and global security and stability. Even those who still make noise about talks with Putin understand that Ukraine can’t be sacrificed.”

            And the brilliant chess player concludes: “The free world has woken up after decades of post-Cold War dormancy. But words aren’t enough. Ten years ago, deterrence at lower cost and risk was possible than it is now. But the prices and risks will only increase if sufficient action is not taken now. Glory to Ukraine!”

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