Thank goodness Sting's ego isn't too fragile when it comes to his chess game.
The singer and four of his bandmates took time out from their North American tour to play World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov for a game at the ABC-TV studios in New York's Times Square on Thursday afternoon.
A very cool Kasparov, likely not quaking in his boots, played Sting, guitarist Dominic Miller, keyboardist Jason Rebello, trumpet player Chris Botti, and vocalist Russ Irwin simultaneously and defeated them all within 50 minutes. Sting, a proclaimed chess aficionado and an old friend of Kasparov, lasted the longest, finally losing to the master in 45 moves. The fastest to fall was Miller, whom Kasparov squashed in a mere nine moves.
The event, which marked the end of the World School Chess Championships, raised funds for Sting's Rainforest Foundation via a corporate sponsor. The match was also televised on the Times Square Jumbotron video screen, leading to some very baffled skyward stares from the glassy-eyed tourists and screaming "Total Request Live" fans milling about 44th Street.
At the conclusion of the match, Sting helped hand out trophies to the finalists of Kasparov's own pet project, the World School Chess Championships, an international Internet tournament on kasparovchess.com that began March 1 and included more than 600 schools worldwide. The finals, which encompassed six different schools from England, Israel, Norway, Australia, New York, and Indiana, culminated on Thursday. Israel's Elkana Elementary School won its division, New York's Hunter College School won the junior high division, and Norway's Norges Toppidrettsgymnas won the high school division.
Prior to the match, Sting spoke of how he transferred his passion for the game to his own motley crew of kids.
"I have six children, and I've always encouraged all of them to play chess," Sting said. "I think it helps to sort the brain out. You do this first and then you'll do that and you'll do that. It's a very good discipline to learn for a young mind -- hasn't helped me much," he joked, "but my children... I think it's good." [RealVideo]
Kasparov chuckled at Sting's self-deprecating comment, and when he was asked what he thought of the performer's game, he (quite diplomatically) called Sting "a dedicated player," sending them both into laughter.
Sting and his band continue their three-month U.S. tour on Saturday in Wantagh, New York and in Saratoga Springs, New York on Sunday.