Sunday 29 October 2017

How hard would it have been to get this right?

The New York Post only had to look it up.

The only way to get it wrong would be to assume that because somebody has a Japanese-sounding name, they must be Japanese.

But why would you do that? Why would you do that in the USA? In New York?

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Me neither

What is this garbage please?

I mean what was Pandolfini thinking of here?

He could very easily not have told that story, simply on the grounds that just a few hours after someone's death, it's not necessary to tell stories against them. I could understand that. What I can't understand is why you would choose to tell this story under the impression it was a story in its subject's favour.

Because yes, it was a sexist remark. And no, it wasn't a compliment, even if Lombardy thought it was. It's a story that makes Lombardy look crass and ignorant. It achieves this, because he was being crass and ignorant.

I'm not at all unaware that older people are and were from an age different to ours. Of course. But why choose to tell a story that makes a man you knew look like a silly, sexist old man, if you're trying to make him look good? And if you have to explain away his sexism while you're doing it, is that helpful to any efforts to look squarely at sexism within chess?

Obviously it's not. So what was Pandolfini thinking of?

Monday 23 October 2017

Me too

What is this garbage please?

And what is this garbage too?

I don't know the identity of this clown. Come to that, I don't know of any examples of the "work for sex" which they claim is a "fact" in chess, and they don't offer any. But much more important than either, is the fact that when women have to work for sex, or have to put up with sexual harrassment in order to obtain or continue in work, that's not something that's to their advantage, that's something they hate and are afraid of.

I know this and so should everybody else. It's just not that hard to know.

I know, too, that there are people in chess who don't know that, who think it's funny, even, that women might have to work for sex. How widespread that kind of attitude is in our sport, I don't know.

Perhaps we should try and find out. Perhaps there's a reason why a simple question like this

gets the answer that it does.

Friday 20 October 2017

Streatham Strolls West: Backtrack

In the first leg of our westward Streatham Stroll we followed a wayward path, wandering around the far flung Penwith area of Cornwall, noting the parallel developments of draughts and chess during the nineteenth century. These perambulations around sites of special ludic interest, and/or in pursuit of a good story, involved a detour via Lincolnshire where we followed the misfortunes of Howard Staunton. He, too, deviated from the straight and narrow when trying his hand at draughts, playing for stakes with one of the strongest players in the land (the Cornishman Robert Martins). Howard returned to London a poorer, and perhaps a wiser, man.   

As is often the case when strolling in a foreign field, now and then you have to pause, back up, and do another take - especially if you weren't paying sufficient attention, or someone points out an oversight. This expedition turns out to be no exception. So, when others suggest you take a second look, you must take heed and go into reverse. Hence this unanticipated backtrack to where were were last episode.

Readers who have read the comments to that post, will be aware that two, or maybe even three, points require correction or clarification. This week's unscheduled episode is intended to do just that and to put matters right before we press on next time. Apologies for having been too precipitous previously, and for not having taken proper precautions when we stepped out into unexpectedly hazardous terrain: the world of draughts.

Monday 16 October 2017

Closing time

I'd like this to be good.

It's my favourite sporting event ever, the 1978 match. Not just my favourite chess match, my favourite anything match, and I'd like a film about it to live up to that status.

You can't judge a film by its trailer, but my impression is that I'm liable to be disappointed, and to explain why, I want to make reference to a book I like, which is Edmonds and Eidinow's Bobby Fischer Goes to War (Faber & Faber, 2004).

You might say that you know more, after reading a good book, than you did before you read it, and that's true of Edmonds and Eidinow. But it's also the case that a good book leaves you knowing less, that what you thought you knew turns out not to be so simple, and that's what I liked about it most. Fischer v Spassky has been sold to us as the one-man band against the system, the lone genius against the Soviet system: and truth by told, that's part of the story, that's a theme you couldn't properly leave out.

But Edmonds and Eidinow write such that your sympathies aren't divided quite so unequally by the end. By then you probably like Fischer less than Spassky, and more to the point you probably like Fischer's entourage a good deal less than you like Spassky's, never mind the political systems behind them. It's not the story you expected, but it's a truer one, and a more detailed one, and it doesn't stop you thinking that Fischer was a lone genius against the Soviet system nonetheless.

Of course when I say "you" I mean the general reading public, since if you're a chessplayer, you might well already have a more nuanced and complex view of that match than other people. But it's that public, as well as chessplayers like us, which was well-served by the Edmonds/Eidinow book.

Will the cinema-going public be equally well-served by Closing Gambit?

Monday 9 October 2017

International Man of Mystery

A curiosity indeed.

I did not know this.

I probably should have, and when I looked up the Black Friday case - and it's a doozy - it certainly rang bells. If I played poker, I'm sure the name Isai Scheinberg would have meant something to me. But as it is, it was only last week that I learned that one of our major chess tournaments is sponsored by a man who is wanted in the US, on very serious charges involving very large sums of money.

In fact I've been exceptionally slow on this, because Mr Scheinberg has been sponsoring the tournament, either directly or through his one-time company PokerStars, every year since 2014.

On the run

But if did not know this, a lot of other people probably did. And if they did, they presumably didn't think the charges against Mr Scheinberg were of any importance at all. Nothing in which the chess-watching public might be interested. Nothing that ought to preclude him from sponsoring a chess event.

Which is pretty revealing, as statements of values go.

Friday 6 October 2017

Streatham Strolls West: Outward

Back in 2012 we instigated the practice of strolling chess-wise around Streatham and its environs - and occasionally even further afield. This is of obvious interest to those who live hereabouts and are members of the local chess club, but as chess knows no boundaries our wayfaring may have a broader appeal. So please follow as we set off for another chessic forage, this time to pastures, places, and games anew.

After Streatham Strolls East sometime ago (we got as far as Brockley and its cemetery, a few miles away, only to be stopped dead in our tracks by Joseph Blackburne, who pops up again below, large as life), now we go West - though not as far as Canada, the destination of our last outing. No, this time we go only as far Cornwall; and although our principal quarry is chess, there's another board game that will detain us en route: one as unfathomable as our own...

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Demonstration board

Chess maintaining its middle-of-the-road image during the Catalonian strike yesterday.