Thursday, May 21

Commencement Address By Garry Kasparov

The 13th World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov accepted an honorary doctorate and delivered the commencement address at Saint Louis University.  He spoke of memories from growing up in the communist USSR and contrasted those to the values upon which America thrives, in particular freedom and innovation.  He poignantly shared his life experience and doled out plenty of advice.  For example: "Hard work is a talent. The ability to keep trying when others quit is a talent. And hard work is never wasted."

During his speech, Kasparov wondered aloud if this graduation ceremony would be the happiest day in life of his young audience?  The answer: It does not have to be.

When I won the world championship in 1985 I was 22 years old and it was the greatest
Call him Dr. GM Kasparov!
day of my life. I imagine today is a similar feeling for many of you. You are young, you are strong, and you have a long-time goal in your hands.

On that day in 1985, a strange thing happened. I was standing there on the stage, still with my flowers and my medal, the happiest person in the world, when I was approached by Rona Petrosian, the widow of a former world chess champion from the 60s, Tigran Petrosian. I was expecting another warm congratulations, but she had something else in mind. “Young man,” she said, “I feel sorry for you.” What? Sorry for me? Sorry for me? The youngest world champion in history, on top of the world? “I feel sorry for you,” she continued, “because the happiest day of your life is over.”  .....

There are still new frontiers today, and a limitless number of new inventions waiting to be discovered by people with the curiosity and courage to look for them, and the freedom to do so. It will require belief, hard work, and the values of innovation and liberty. It will require your belief, your hard work, and your ideas. You might say you aren’t ready for a new challenge right away, that you want time to relax, to celebrate, to rest on your new laurels. I’m sorry, but the world will not wait for you. The world needs you now.

Today you have fulfilled one dream, and tomorrow you set course on a new one. If you always have a dream, the happiest day of your life is never over.

 Watch the video above (17 minutes) or read the full text at Kasparov's website.

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