Archive for January, 2006|Monthly archive page

Fun Read 1: Chess Pimp Recommends… The Chess Artist by J. Hallman

In Uncategorized on 01/19/2006 at 3:01 am

In my last article, I shamelessly “stole” a passage from a rather good chess book (actually better said a book on chess, what is the difference you will find below). The book is called “The Chess Artist: Genius, Obsession, and the World’s Oldest Game” by J. Hallman. Rather long title that tries to capture the different issues and perspectives raised in the book (and there are a lot).
Three good points about this book are:
1. It presents the world of chess through the eyes of a non chess player, who dives into the game and its rules and history (in other words, if you don’t know anything about chess and you happen to “accidentally” click on the link for the chess pimp on the blog, thinking it was some cool dude, this is your chance to get educated (or not)).
2. It is also an interesting travel guide because the author doesn’t simply present the game. He travels to the region of its birth place and during the journey makes observations about cultures and people that go beyond the realm of chess (he also meets beautiful translators who might be spies, goons that are ex – KGB turn tour guides in an ex-communist state, and the president of FIDE himself – Kirsan Illyumzhinov)
3. The book does not end with a definite position towards chess, the characters that inhabit its plot and the many paradoxes and extremes that have haunted the game’s history. It raises the questions but leaves the readers to ponder upon the answers till the last page.

*4 An optional fourth good point about the book is that if your name is Bessel Kok and you recently lost the FIDE elections to Kirsan Illyumzhinov, you can at least get the small satisfaction of the negative image the president receives in the book (the author does not “forget” to mention uncomfortable details surrounding Kirsan’s past and present including the ways he might have silenced (read killed) political opponents)

Three bad points about the book are:
1. N. 3 Somehow I (and I am sure all the rest of the chess players and pimps out there too) wished that the book would have given a definite (and positive) perspective towards the game and its heroes, would have proven that most players are not social misfits captured between the 64 squares and that Glenn is not just another hustler with dreams of getting that distant GM title.
2. Relates to 1 – the author does explore a lot of controversies but leaves some of them hanging in the air even from factual perspective – maybe he could have explored less topics or organized them better.
3. It is too short (okay, this is a point that a lot of readers might not agree with it, especially if you fall asleep just by hearing about a book on chess, but if you have read so far I am sure (hope so) you have at least a little interest in the game).
So this is it – a short review of an excellent (by my humble (?) opinion) book.
Till next time…
The Chess Pimp
pimping chess everyday….

Patzer vs Pimp ?

In Uncategorized on 01/19/2006 at 3:00 am

“Glenn arrived for the final round just minutes before it began. His final opponent was a Canadian named Jean Hebert. Their game focused on a pawn Hebert moved into Glenn’s territory. I thought of the chess language for pawns – pawn storms, pawn shields, pawn thrusts – but now they all seemed like childish exaggerations. Hebert simply moved a pawn onto Glenn’s side of the board. “ (“The Chess Artist”)
As yours truly hails from Canada, it simply hurts when one of our best players is mentioned above as just another player “named Jean Hebert” (for anybody who doesn’t know Canadian chess he has been one of the top players and instructors in the country for a long time). But it has largely to do with this concept of chess ‘rating’. Jean has a rating of 2400-something. Pretty decent rating by our (and mine especially) standard, you must admit. But today, nobody pays attention to players under 2600 and even 2700. You go to any online chess website you see that the games everybody follows are the ones between the “impossibly” rated 2900s and 3000s. And there is a wide gap between the number of observers of those games and the rest. All the commented games from any top tournaments have to be commented by GrandMasters with 2600 + rating (there was a time I thought about becoming a commentator, okay I admit I was dreaming). There was even a commotion some time ago of raising the level required for a grandmaster to 2600, cutting the number of titled players by more than 1/3. But does that make everyone else a simple patzer whose opinion doesn’t count for anything? One thing I know for sure – the rating requirements for a chess pimp are still the same and hopefully will not change in the future.