National Geographic : 2006 May
about the local chess club. NE He began networking with COK MO Russian expatriate players at tournaments around OK the country, inviting them to play in his picturesque little Kansas town. He persuaded the local Rotary Club to stage a small tournament, and in 2002 Karpov came to train for a match against rival Garry Kasparov, who'd won the world champion title from him in 1985. Karpov beat Kasparov for the first time in years-and when he returned a few months later to lucky Lindsborg, Korenman sprang the question: Would he lend his name to a chess school in the town? "There's something he likes about Lindsborg," Korenman says. "He's from a small city himself." Soon after, Korenman says, several past presidents of the U.S. Chess Feder ation wanted to name another school after Karpov. "I already have one in America, in Linds borg," he said, "and it's enough." Though at least 20 schools bear Karpov's name worldwide, Lindsborg has the only one in the U.S. Korenman may have put chess on the map, but there's one thing he hasn't been able to do: Turn his students into Russians. Something about American culture, he says, prevents promising young players from training for the next step in ability. The recipe for creating well rounded children is not, perhaps, best for mak ing great chess players. Back in Voronezh, his eight-year-old nephew attends chess school five days a week, has lessons from a private coach, and plays in a tournament each weekend. That kind of focus seems unimaginable for most American kids-and their parents. Several blocks north of the chess school, along tree-shaded streets of well-maintained homes, at the house of the two young brothers Koren man identifies as the most talented players in town, their mother wants to make something perfectly clear: "My sons aren't chess freaks," Carolyn Masterson says. "They're talented at it, but it's not their entire lives." There's little doubt about that. It's two nights before a youth chess tournament that will coincide with Gorbachev's visit, and instead of practicing his rook and pawn endings or the Sicilian Defense, Aaron Masterson, 16, is sprawled on his basement floor, blasting aliens to pieces on his laptop. His brother, Paul, 13, plans to practice some, but Aaron has five hours of rehearsal tomorrow for Fiddleron the Roof. Afterward, he's off to a French horn lesson. His schedule is a rickety Rube Goldberg contrap tion, balancing Boy Scouts, church activities, and year-round sports. These days Aaron is more enthusiastic about basketball than chess, though he admits he's only average at hoops. "The difference between team sports and chess is the approval you get," he says. There are no high fives in chess, no celebratory bear hugs from teammates, no flirta tious glances from girls in the hallway. "I have to make choices about what I want to excel in," he says. "Chess is the one thing I have less time for." This does not make his Russian chess coach happy. "Everyone has a limit in chess, and he has not reached it yet," Korenman says. "I com pletely recognize they have a million things to Russian-born Mikhail Korenman, the school's founder, teaches strategy. "Chess is competi tion, sport, and education at once," he says.