Grow Some Hair on Your Chess

kasparov photo.jpg Some people have an image of chess players as geeky, meek introverts. There’s little to truth to it, and some recent developments may (or may not) change perceptions: (1) Garry Kasparov, quite possibly the greatest living chess player, has raised his profile among non-chess-players by becoming a candidate in the 2008 Russian presidential race. Kasparov has never been geeky or meek, but he now has a political voice that makes that loud and clear. Here’s a link to Kasparov’s interview with Stephen Colbert. (2) In an apparent bid to help make chess an Olympic sport, the World Chess Federation is requiring some players to be tested for steroids. See here and here. (3) As Eugene Volokh notes, there is now a sport of chessboxing. Competitors alternate between rounds of speed chess and boxing. The idea arose from a plot line in a comic book–a fact that is, admittedly, unlikely to boost the sport’s street cred.

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1 Response

  1. Scott Caplan says:

    (1) Depends on what you mean by candidate. Yes, he’s declared his candidacy, but his goal isn’t to win the election. It’s for there to be an election.

    That said, he risks his and his family’s lives day in and day out for an idea. It’s a geeky form of bravery, but it’s more brave than it is geeky, I think.

    (2) The IOC already calls chess a sport (http://www.olympic.org/uk/sports/recognized/index_uk.asp, it includes bridge as well). Chess was almost made an exhibition event a few years ago, but failed to make it because chessplayers protested at the drug testing (many think it’s because some of them like a certain performance-decreasing drug that a particular Canadian snowboarder is known to be a fan of as well).

    No comment on (3).