Garry Kasparov and Fomenko’s New Chronology

Fomenko’s New Chronology is a creation by the renowned Russian mathematician Anatoly Fomenko (1945-present) & his associates that argues human civilization dawned around 1100-1200 years ago, and that all recorded events fall between then and now. Grandmaster chessplayer Garry Kasparov became fascinated with Fomenko’s New Chronology in the late 1990’s, sometime around 1996-1998 (based on the information below). It’s October 11th, 2021 as I write this, and assertions have been made online that Kasparov is a believer and supporter of Fomenko’s New Chronology. Are these assertions true? From what I can tell, and to answer with a single word, no. A longer answer is that Kasparov generally supports the criticisms made by FNC against the traditional chronology, but as far as Fomenko’s reconstruction goes, Kasparov does not believe in it and think it contains mythmaking and pseudohistory, just as the traditional chronology does.

I give a big thanks to Edward Winter for his endeavor to keep some tabs on Kasparov’s involvement in Fomenko’s New Chronology.[3] His article began in 2014 and has been helpful in forming my article here. Below, I provide my own commentary as well as additional context for multiple entries from Winter’s article.

Please do reach out to me if you have any more relevant information that can be added.

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Concise Contents

1999 – Kasparov’s Foreword in Fomenko & Nosovsky’s Введение в Новую Хронологию. Какой сейчас век? (2001)(Introduction to the New Chronology. What century is it now?)

2000 – Joël Calmettes’ documentary, c.49:50-c.53:07

April 19th & 24th, 2001 – Warren’s two articles attributing quotes to Kasparov.

2001 – Kasparov talked about New Chronology on Saturday Night online.

2002 – Kasparov’s “Mathematics of the Past

June 9th, 2006 – Kasparov claimed to not be a supporter of Fomenko & Nosovsky’s theory.

May 18th, 2021 – Kasparov claimed to not be a believer of Fomenko’s New Chronology and said it (FNC) contains pseudohistory and mythmaking.

Wikipedia

1999

The earliest connection I’ve seen so far between Kasparov and Fomenko’s New Chronology allegedly dates back to 1999. Reportedly, pages 10-28 of Fomenko & Nosovsky’s Введение в Новую Хронологию. Какой сейчас век? (2001)(Introduction to the New Chronology. What century is it now?) contain a Foreword by Kasparov. Winter provided two translated passages claiming to be from pages 9-10 and 28.[3]

Pp.9-10, “About a year and a half ago I came across a few books by A.T. Fomenko and G.V. Nosovsky, mathematicians at the Moscow State University. It turned out that for more than 20 years a group of professional mathematicians, led by the academician A.T. Fomenko, had been working in depth on issues concerning chronology and that some interesting results had been achieved. These books explained many things to me, and put many things in their proper place. The critical analysis in the books is exceptionally solid, provides an immense amount of valuable material and is worth studying and discussing. At the same time, the hypotheses and reconstructions put forward by the authors can be challenged in some respects. It is clear that a conclusive reconstruction of actual historical events is very difficult to set out, and this aspect of their work will always be open to criticism. Nevertheless, in the light of studies already published it cannot be denied that the chronology of “ancient” history accepted today has revealed very serious inconsistencies which it is absolutely impossible to ignore.”

We can calculate a window of time based on the beginning of 1999 and the end of 1999 to say that it was around sometime between July 1997 and July 1998 that Kasparov first “came across a few books by” Fomenko & Nosovsky. It would be useful to know the exact books that Kasparov had read then. My bibliography of Fomenko’s New Chronology can help put this into perspective by showing which books Kasparov could have possibly read.

If you have a link to an online edition of the 2001 book with Kasparov’s Foreword, please do send it my way. I’m interested in seeing if Kasparov expands more on what “many things” were explained to him, and what all was put “in their proper place”.

As far as Kasparov supporting the reconstruction, the above quote appears to me to show Kasparov being critical of it, saying it “can be challenged in some respects”. I’m interested in seeing if he ever clarified which parts of it could be challenged and which parts couldn’t.

P.28, “Respected historians who regard history as a clearly reported record of the life of mankind will undoubtedly reject with indignation any proposal to seek refuge within the virtual hypostasis of history. In that case, they are welcome to join in the discussion. The revolutionary concept of world history created by A.T. Fomenko, G.V. Nosovsky and their colleagues will need to be refuted in a thorough scientific debate based on solid arguments, without recourse to the much-loved accusations of charlatanism and incompetence.”

Here Kasparov invites professionals to refute Fomenko’s New Chronology by using good argumentation and scientific debate. While I think there are spots where Fomenko gets things wrong, it’s difficult to determine if this is due to incompetence or intentional deception. You can see what all I think Fomenko gets right and wrong in my examination of his works.

I think I found Kasparov’s Foreword online.[10]

2000

Joël Calmettes released a documentary featuring Kasparov where Kasparov talks about his historical ideas. The narrator (Joël Calmettes?) asserts that Kasparov, like Fomenko, “believes that ancient history was completely fabricated in the 17th century”. Where does Fomenko state this belief? The relevant portion of the documentary is from I think c.49:50-c.53:07. It’s mostly in Russian. Please reach out to me if you have a text transcript of this bit. Both a Russian and English transcript of this clip would be useful. Did Kasparov state in the clip that he thinks ancient history was completely fabricated in the 17th century?

The documentary can be found here: https://archive.org/details/youtube-0o8XSI-auKc.

April 19th (and 24th), 2001

On April 19th, 2001, the Daily Telegraph published Marcus Warren’s “King Arthur was really a Russian, say Slavs“. This article perpetuates the myth that FNC argues “All accounts of events up to the Renaissance are forgeries hiding the truth and extending history artificially into the past”.[4] Where does Fomenko argue this? I’ve asked that question many times and have never received an adequate response. Page 196 of Volume 1 of Fomenko’s Empirico-Statistical Analysis of Narrative Material and its Applications to Historical Dating says they think “almost all surviving ancient documents (of antiquity or the Middle Ages) are authentic and written for the purpose of perpetuating real events rather than leading future historians astray”.

Kasparov is quoted in this article by Warren as saying, “I consider myself to be part of a team. It’s quite a big group and it’s expanding”. This quote follows a mention of Kasparov “fronting a television series on the inconsistencies of traditional chronology”.[4] Is the quote from this television series? There was little to no context provided by Warren. What is the team Kasparov sees himself on? From all of the information in this article, I’d wager he sees himself on a team that is studying chronological inconsistencies, rather than a team that fully supports the New Chronology reconstructions.

On April 24th, 2001, the Daily Telegraph published Marcus Warren’s “Email from Russia“. Here are the quotes from Warren’s article attributed to Kasparov:[5]

“”If we are correct in ten percent of what we are saying, this will be the most important thing I have been involved in. We must prove that ten percent. But if we do, it’s like a house of cards. Remove one and the whole thing collapses.”

“”New Chronology is a great area for investing my intellect. My analytical abilities are well placed to figure out what was right and what was wrong.”

“When I stop playing chess, it may well be that I concentrate on promoting these ideas. I believe they can improve our lives.”

These quotes might be the closest thing people could use to say Kasparov believes in Fomenko’s New Chronology’s reconstructed history. However, they are ambiguous and little context is provided. He acknowledges they have the burden of proof to show they are correct. The second quote mentions determining what’s accurate and inaccurate, but without it’s hard without context or clarification to say whether he’s applying that to the traditional chronology or to FNC too. I’d be interested in hearing about what ways Kasparov believes “these ideas” (whatever those may be) can improve our lives. None of this is Kasparov saying “I support the Fomenko-Nosovsky theory”. In fact, about 5 years later, Kasparov went on record stating the exact opposite of that. Check the part of this article under “June 9th, 2006” for that quote.

2001

Sometime in 2001, “Saturday Night online” published an interview where Kasparov talked about FNC. In 2010, Timothy Taylor (the interviewer) posted the alleged transcript of this interview on his website. Taylor’s article claims that Kasparov came across FNC in 1996 and authored the 1999 Foreword in 1998 as a Preface.

After a back and forth of Kasparov responding to Taylor’s questions, the interview ends with:

“TT: So what is the true history?

GK: I’m not trying to give any definite answer. What I’m trying to prove is that we have enough gaps, enough discrepancies, enough simple falsifications to conclude that probably this history was an invention of a later time. I don’t have enough information, and enough courage, to come up with a definite version of events. And I think it is too dangerous for me to do so.”

If Kasparov was a supporter or believer in FNC, he would have said “Fomenko’s New Chronology”. But from what I can tell, he didn’t say that because he isn’t a supporter/believer in Fomenko’s reconstruction.

2002?

Kasparov published a 4 page article titled “Mathematics of the Past“. It starts on page 5 and ends on page 8, but I’m not sure where it was originally published.[6] The most recent date on the article is a 2002 copyright, so I figure 2002 is the earliest it could be from. Please do reach out to me if you have more information on when and where this Kasparov’s “Mathematics” was originally published.

On page 7, Kasparov mentions that it had been “About five years” since he had become acquainted with FNC. If 2002 is when he said this, it would place the beginning of his interest in FNC in or around 1997.

There is a response essay to Kasparov’s “Mathematics” on RationalWiki. The responder identifies themselves as “a professional historian” and goes by the name “AKjeldsen”.[7] I reached out to him and he informed me that he wrote the response about 14 years ago (c.2007) when he only had a BA in History. He also said that he hadn’t posted his essay elsewhere, which is somewhat unfortunate as just about anyone can go and edit it where it is now.

About 7 hours prior to the time that I wrote this sentence, he tweeted “Personally, I refuse to be lectured on anything historiographical by a man who also believes in Anatoly Fomenko’s New Chronology (i.e. “everything before 1000 CE is fake”).”, in reference to a recent article about Columbus written by Kasparov.[9] When Kjeldsen and I exchange messages, he didn’t say he changed his mind after reading this article, but he did say it was good for Kasparov if Kasparov had changed his views. As can be seen in the next entry (June 9th, 2006), Kasparov had already gone on record saying he was not a supporter before Kjeldsen had written his essay. If Kasparov were to have changed his views between 2006 and when the essay was written, then they would have been changed to supporting FNC.

June 9th, 2006

As late as June 9th, 2006, Kasparov stated, “Я не являюсь сторонником теории Фоменко-Носовского (I am not a supporter of the Fomenko-Nosovsky theory)”.[1] The relevant excerpt is included below in Russian followed by Google Chrome’s page translate English translation. I made minor corrections to the translation where the bot appeared to me to have messed up.

Уважаемый Гарри Кимович! Видел по ТВ передачу, в которой вы выступали сторонником теорий г-на Фоменко. Мне интересно: как шахматист-профессионал (вот уж с этим никто не спорит) во сколько тысяч лет вы оцениваете возраст шахматной игры (начиная с шатранджа)? И вписывается ли этот возраст (шесть тысяч лет, по наиболее распространённой теории) в хронологию Фоменко? И как вы собираетесь управлять государством, если ваши взгляды на историю столь оригинальны? Будет ли Русь переименована снова в Орду? // Михаил Евгеньевич Левашов (Москва)

Я не являюсь сторонником теории Фоменко-Носовского. Но как человек с аналитическим складом ума, привыкший анализировать получаемую информацию, я очень скептически отношусь к построениям и выводам официальной истории. На мой взгляд, Фоменко-Носовский правильно отметили многочисленные неувязки, нестыковки в официальной концепции. Но вместо того чтобы продолжать работу именно по задаванию вопросов и разрушению зачастую мифологических построений, они выступили с новой теорией, которая, к сожалению, страдает теми же проблемами. Потому что очевидно, что информации для выстраивания другой, альтернативной концепции, сегодня еще не хватает. И поэтому основные атаки на труды Фоменко-Носовского, они как раз связаны не с их критической частью, а с тем, что пытаются сегодня подать в качестве позитива.”[1]

Dear Garry Kasparov! I saw on TV a program in which you advocated the theories of Mr. Fomenko. I’m wondering: as a professional chess player (no one argues with that), how many thousand years do you estimate the age of a chess game (starting with shatranj)? And does this age (six thousand years, according to the most widespread theory) fit into Fomenko’s chronology? And how are you going to run the state if your views on history are so original? Will Russia be renamed the Horde again? // Mikhail Evgenievich Levashov (Moscow)

I am not a supporter of the Fomenko-Nosovsky theory. But as a person with an analytical mindset, accustomed to analyzing the information received, I am very skeptical about the constructions and conclusions of the official history. In my opinion, Fomenko-Nosovsky correctly noted numerous inconsistencies, inconsistencies in the official concept. But instead of continuing to work precisely on asking questions and destroying often mythological constructs, they came up with a new theory, which, unfortunately, suffers from the same problems. Because it is obvious that today there is not enough information for building another, alternative concept. And therefore, the main attacks on the works of Fomenko-Nosovsky, they are just connected not with their critical part, but with what they are trying to present today as a positive.”[1]

May 18th, 2021

On May 18th, 2021, Kasparov posted in r/IAmA,

“Hello Reddit, I’m Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion, tech optimist, and an advocate both of AI and digital human rights. AMA!”

A user by the name of “backtothefuckyeah” asked,

“Is it true that you believe in the New Chronology theory, that the very existence of the middle ages is a conspiracy? If so, why do you think mainstream historians have got it so wrong?”

To which Kasparov responded,

“I believe in questioning everything and in evidence, and agreed with some of the New Chronology’s critiques of how thin the evidence is in some areas of the standard chronology of ancient civilizations and the Middle Ages, which are often based on a singular disputed account or object. But there’s also much to it that is pseudohistory and mythmaking, which just repeats the mistakes of traditional history, so I don’t think “believer” and its unempirical connotations describes me accurately. I would connect things to today, when fake news is everywhere and groups constantly want to rewrite history books, from Putin rehabilitating Stalin or various groups revisiting the entire history of the founding of the United States. History belongs to the present, so we must question.”

Wikipedia

Garry Kasparov is mentioned on the “New chronology (Fomenko)” Wiki page. As per the “View history”, this page was originally created in 2003.

As far as I can tell, Kasparov was originally voicing support for Fomenko’s criticisms, not Fomenko’s reconstruction.

2005, Feb. 3 – “List of his supporters even includes such famous figures as Harry Kasparov.” This is the earliest version that mentions Kasparov. The first name was corrected later the same day.

2007, Nov. 28 – Almost the same sentence (“The” is added before the word “list”), citation added.

2008, Jan. 24 – The sentence was changed to “Garry Kasparov is a supporter of Fomenko”.

2008, May 9 – The sentence was changed to “Garry Kasparov is a supporter of Fomenko; Billington writes that the theory “might have quietly blown away in the wind tunnels of academia” if not for Kasparov’s writing in support of it in the magazine Ogonyok.” At some point “Chess master” was added before “Garry” and at another point that was changed to “Former world chess champion”.

Kasparov did not write in support of the reconstruction in the magazine Ogoniok.[10]

2015, May 3 – The sentence changed to, “Fomenko’s historical ideas have been universally rejected by mainstream scholars, who brand them as pseudoscience, but were popularized by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov.”, followed by the sentence “Billington writes that the theory “might have quietly blown away in the wind tunnels of academia” if not for Kasparov’s writing in support of it in the magazine Ogoniok.”. These are the same two sentences that were there on 13 Oct. 2021.

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References:

[1] – “Ответы Каспарова” (9 Jun. 2006). http://www.kasparov.ru/material.php?id=44FE98F9E4576&fbclid=IwAR36sOGtJqiQXFAXrfjdnxP6BHODqSFM8H8YiE-3Q4hPGVdufq_Azyu833k. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

[2] – Kasparov’s New Chronology Related Reddit Comment In r/IAmA (18 May 2021). https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/nfegqm/comment/gyl0h9d/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

[3] – Winter, Edward. “Garry Kasparov and New Chronology” (2014, with updates). https://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/newchronology.html. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

[4] – Warren, Marcus. “King Arthur was really a Russian, say Slavs” (Daily Telegraph, 19 Apr. 2001). https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1316610/King-Arthur-was-really-a-Russian-say-Slavs.html. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

[5] – Warren, Marcus. “Email from Russia” (Daily Telegraph, 24 Apr. 2001). https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/1311163/Email-from-Russia.html. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

[6] – Kasparov, Garry. “Mathematics of the Past” (2002?). https://www.math.ualberta.ca/pi/issue5/page05-08.pdf. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

[7] – RationalWiki. “Essay:Kasparov’s Mathematics of the Past” (Last modified 27 Oct. 2016). https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Essay:Kasparov%27s_Mathematics_of_the_Past. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

[8] – Taylor, Timothy. “Garry Kasparov Interview from 2001” (23 Aug. 2010). https://timothytaylor.ca/garry-kasparov-interview-from-2001/. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

[9] – Andreas Kjeldsen’s 11 Oct. 2021 Tweet about Garry Kasparov’s belief in Fomenko’s New Chronology. https://twitter.com/AndreasKjeldsen/status/1447590119649816578?s=20. Accessed 11 Oct. 2021.

[10] – http://newc.narod.ru/article/nx/ksprv.htm. Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

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2 Comments on “Garry Kasparov and Fomenko’s New Chronology

  1. This all got started with Velikovsky. It seems that a Russian upbringing plus (I think) Jewishness creates a kind of revisionist cast of mind that is out of reach for us poor western radical intellectuals. We want to save what we can, they want to kick the house down and start again. Something like that. The important thing to remember is that we can learn from them, they don’t even know who we are.

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