• Allison Lee Pillinger Choi

A Love Note to A Mother Who Raised a World Champion

For all the sons and daughters, mothers and fathers out there, we wanted to share this touching tribute to a man’s mom -- truly, a love note of the most powerful kind.


Garry Kasparov is known as a world champion in chess and of human rights. . . and he views his mom as his greatest champion. With her recent passing, he wrote a few words to encapsulate her life and legacy. Our favorite excerpts are below, though continue on to the full read, A Short Tribute to My Mother. It will surely remind you to do two things: 1) thank your mom or dad (in fact, we’re never too old to send our own parents a “grown-up” Valentine), whether on this earth or in spirit, and 2) reinspire you to be your kid’s greatest champion, wise counsel, and source of strength. In Garry’s words, “giving yourself to others can be the greatest achievement of all.”


A Short Tribute to My Mother


My mother died in Moscow on December 25, at the age of 83. She meant everything to me, of course, but she was a remarkable woman in her own right, and I wanted to share a little about her and her life. . .


Klara Shagenovna Kasparova was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in the Soviet Union, on March 19, 1937. . . She married my father, Kim Weinstein. . . Exactly 60 years after they married, they were reunited forever.


It was an unusual marriage at the time, a Jew and an Armenian, even in mixed Baku, which still had its unofficial ethnic partitions. You could say my mother’s family broke down barriers . . .


She had talent and drive and likely could have had an impressive career, but promotion would have meant joining the Soviet Communist party, which would have fatally split the family. As always, my mother chose family over herself. . .


[S]he wanted me to know that she believed I could do anything. And so I believed it, too. Not only that I could do great things, but that I had a responsibility to try to achieve them. Above my childhood bed there was a sign in her beautiful handwriting with a mantra of the Soviet dissidents: “If not you, who else?”

I was soon showing promise as a chessplayer, and my mother was always my greatest supporter. When she told me that I could become world champion, it wasn’t just because I was winning so much, but because she wanted me to know that she believed I could do anything. And so I believed it, too. Not only that I could do great things, but that I had a responsibility to try to achieve them. Above my childhood bed there was a sign in her beautiful handwriting with a mantra of the Soviet dissidents: “If not you, who else?”

My mother’s greatest strength was to provide strength to others, especially her family. At first, she could seem severe to outsiders, but she took great joy in the successes and happiness of those she loved. . .

My life has been turbulent, with many conflicts and dramatic twists, and my mother supported me at every turn. As I did all my life, I still spoke to her every day, at all hours from every corner of the globe, until she was unable to speak.

For someone who gave everything for her family her entire life, it was cruel to have her final days spent in the company of strangers, a situation all too familiar to many others during this terrible pandemic. But I know she would never have wanted anyone else to be at risk; even the thought of it would have made her furious. . .


Her example shows me, and all of us, that giving of yourself to others can be the greatest achievement of all.

I am bereft. She was my role model, my greatest champion, my wise counsel, and the strongest person I will ever know. She taught me not what to think, but to question everything. She raised me not to follow a particular path, but to work until the correct path became clear, and to trust my instincts when it wasn’t. Her example shows me, and all of us, that giving of yourself to others can be the greatest achievement of all.

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