CHESS, while is arguably my number one passion – except in the immediate aftermath of yet another loss when I determine never to play it again – is not my only passion.
Football also demands my attention on occasions and Euro 2008, which has just finished, has been full of attacking, absorbing play which has been a joy to watch.
However, on the rare moments when a contest has failed to fulfil TVs demands that every millisecond of the match contains a shot at goal, a lung-bursting drive down the wing or the award of a controversial decision, commentators invariably described the play as ‘being something of a chess match’.
The subtext is ‘this game is boring, but please don’t turn over’.
It’s not our fault – it’s because the pesky players have got it into their heads that they are playing that dull old game of chess’.
Even though I can spot such a passage of play is on its way as easily as the TV cameramen can spot the best-looking female spectators in the crowd, and therefore know what is coming, before the allusion to chess is out of the commentator’s mouth I am already shouting at my screen, ‘Chess is not a boring game!’
I get annoyed because such comments reinforce to the younger audience among the viewers that chess is not a game they should consider playing.
Yet everyone who has done more than just ‘push wood’ knows it is a better war game than any available on those ubiquitous SunnyNinTangoiPad contraptions that ensure today’s generation of children see less daylight than Count Dracula.
And if we cannot encourage children into playing this truly wonderful game, in 10 or 15 years’ time I am going to have a lot fewer opportunities to suffer those numerous defeats which make me want to give up playing it.
By Spencer Tilbrook
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– GM Susan Polgar