Chess fever

Chess fever

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Grandmaster Emil Sutovsky — that if Russia expects a new surge in the popularity of chess

The current match for the title of world champion for many was a pleasant surprise. And it is not just that Sergey Karjakin is a brilliant player, and has managed to reduce the normal time a draw with world champion Magnus Carlsen, who was considered the favorite. Because until now Russian players have performed successfully in competitions of a high rank and not only Sergey Karjakin and Vladimir Kramnik, and Peter Svidler, and Alexander Grischuk and Ian nepomniatchi were shining lately. But this time the country was gripped by chess fever, which in recent years was not.

Why did this happen? I think it’s played a few factors. On the one hand, indeed, in the world championship match, the Russian grandmaster did not participate in 2008. The last time it was Kramnik, he played against Anand and lost. But there is a second factor — let’s call it geopolitical. Today Russia largely has to confront the West, and this confrontation of achievements in chess, which has long been considered the most intellectual sport, of course, is of special weight. And chess is good.

In addition, it is necessary to mention a very professional work team Karjakin, who not only prepared him to match in terms of sport, but together with the Russian chess Federation is doing everything to make this fight received extensive coverage, including for a wide range of chess fans. So wide that the President of Russia sends wishes of good luck to Sergey Karjakin, and the Minister of sport gives advice on how to beat the enemy…

In Soviet times, chess was extremely popular. In schools, palaces of pioneers, houses of culture there were a lot of circles, published a lot of material in the Newspapers. The status of player was extremely high — the word “grandmaster” was pronounced with trepidation, a names Botvinnik, tal, Petrosian, Karpov, with a gasp. Not only for the matches of the world championship, but the party of USSR Championships queues, had thousands of fans.

Over time, the nationwide love for the game slowly faded away. There were several reasons: on the one hand, the collapse of the Soviet Union, on the other hand, in the world there are a lot of new, and unexpectedly found that in addition to chess there are many other interesting activities. Millions of people were playing games that could be considered competitors of chess. This coincided with the time when being smart became uncool. And now, another historic fault, the cult of brute force and deep subsoil is moved slightly to the side, and Russia begins to be proud of intellectual potential. While chess is still a sport, and here your can root for.

I do not think that someday chess will become as popular as in Soviet times. But the media coverage of matches is an important point. Chess enough media, you can tell is very interesting, that this just can work. As, however, and the program “Chess in schools”, which already covers hundreds of thousands of children across Russia. The idea of the program is not that children necessarily been the players, and to give them some skills that will be useful to them in their studies and in life in General. This and the ability to concentrate, and ability to make decisions is the ability to take a punch, because there are no competitions without defeat, a chess instill the ability after losing, continue the fight to improve and go further.

And, of course, is both logical and analytical thinking, resilience, memory. Without all these factors the child can not do. And it turns out that chess develops such qualities that can be useful both in studies and in life — and in the format of the game. I think this sport has a good chance to return to the masses, but a lot depends on whether Karjakin still beat Carlsen and become world champion. If Yes then I am sure that there will be another surge of popularity of chess in Russia.

The author is President of the Association of chess professionals

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The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the editorial Board