November 27, 2005

Ah! Sex and chess, the eternal subject.

I'm just trying to picture the guys who are thrilled by the idea of a World Chess Beauty Contest.

Found via the NYT, which has a giant article about attractive women who play in chess tournaments. The Times also points to the "Internet Chess Club" -- which makes me want to say "demented and sad, but social" (or demented and sad and not even social). It quotes a female chess player: "a large percentage of the comments [there] are about how hot the women are."

The Times tackles the issue of what to do when a male player accuses his female opponent of using her good looks to "distract" him:
"She was distracting... But there was nothing I could do. It was the beginning of April, right after spring break, and she was dressed appropriately for the time of year. It wasn't anything against the law. I told the guy, 'You are going to have to call upon yourself to overcome the distraction.' He ended up losing the game anyway, but I am not sure that was from being distracted."
I don't play chess, and I've never watched a chess tournament, but I've seen some film clips and photos of grand players, and I imagine that the physical presence of the opponent always has an unnerving effect of some sort. And isn't each player aware of the things about him that are a bit disconcerting, such as very large size, audible breathing, or nervous ticcing? And then there's the subtle question of whether a player is doing it on purpose. It must be distracting just to get sucked into thinking about whether your opponent is doing it on purpose.

12 comments:

brylin said...

"I imagine that the physical presence of the opponent always has an unnerving effect..."

Dr. Emanuel Lasker, World Chess Champion for 27 years, the longest reign in the history of chess, would light a cigar during the game and blow smoke at his opponent. When smoking was subsequently prohibited, he would put an unlit cigar in his mouth and distract his opponent.

Lasker, by the way was quite a guy. A mathematician and philosopher, he was a friend of Albert Einstein.

Chess is huge in Europe. In Amsterdam there is a prominent square named after Dr. Max Euwe, a Dutch world champ. In the square, there is a human-sized chessboard and people play day and night. Often the games draw large crowds.

Young men distracted by pretty women? Who would have thought?

Howard said...

This goes back to pre-history: when I was in boot camp in San Diego there was an outdoor poker game in downtown Diego designed to fleece sailors of their paychecks. The house shill was this gorgeous babe with huge bazoongas who would reveal and withdraw, reveal and withdraw, reveal and then reveal some more as she fleeced the crowd. Everybody that lost once didn't go back there twice, but to say she was distracting doesn't quite cover it. And of course nobody got laid either.

Ron said...

Chess porn! An idea whose time has come! (or is that cum?) Finally a way to capture the prurient dollar of the highly educated! What's next, NPR porn? LSAT porn? CSPAN porn?

oh, the possibilities!...

Icepick said...

So much to say, so little time.

I don't play chess, and I've never watched a chess tournament, but I've seen some film clips and photos of grand players, and I imagine that the physical presence of the opponent always has an unnerving effect of some sort.

Rarely unnerving, and usually not even noticable. There are few players who really have presence at the board.

And isn't each player aware of the things about him that are a bit disconcerting, such as very large size, audible breathing, or nervous ticcing?

Most people have no self-awareness. Why should chess-players be any different?

And then there's the subtle question of whether a player is doing it on purpose. It must be distracting just to get sucked into thinking about whether your opponent is doing it on purpose.

If the opponent is doing something distracting, it doesn't really matter whether they're doing it on purpose. You develop an intense hatred of them regardless. And it doesn't just have to be your opponent. It can be someone playing at the next table, or a spectator.

Bill Church, who made a fortune selling fried chicken, once said "The basic ability of a grandmaster has to be the ability to simply confront, to just sit there and confront and continue to confront." The same is true of us lesser players. Letting your opponents distract you is just a sign of weakness.

Ann Althouse said...

Icepick: ""The basic ability of a grandmaster has to be the ability to simply confront, to just sit there and confront and continue to confront." The same is true of us lesser players. Letting your opponents distract you is just a sign of weakness.'

Gah! Why did that make me think about blogging?!

Roger Sweeny said...

Sex and chess? How about "Sex and Physics."

The last two paragraphs of a (serious) interview with the (serious) author of Einstein in Love:

I know lots of people like Albert. I might be like him myself. He was a hopeless romantic, he lived on anticipation. He was always yearning for the next thing. He was always envisioning some wonderful life with somebody else, while grimly enduring life with the woman he was with. If I think about it, I would say that that was kind of the key to his psychology, that he had the lure of the perfect situation, the perfect person. Of course if you're Einstein, you want everything that you want your way and then you want to be left alone. So you want love, and you want affection, you want a good meal, but then you don't want any interference outside of that, so you don't want any obligations interfering with your life, with your work. Which is a difficult stance to maintain in an adult relationship; it doesn't work. Everything has to be a give and take.

Einstein always felt Paradise was just around the corner, but as soon as he got there, it started looking a little shabby and something better appeared. I've known a lot of people like Albert in my time, I have felt lots of shocks of recognition. I feel like I got to know Albert as a person in the course of this, and I have more respect for him as a physicist than I did when I started, I have more a sense of what he accomplished and how hard it really was to be Einstein than I did before. It's a great relief to be able to think of him as a real person. If he was around I'd love to buy him a beer ..... but I don't know if I'd introduce him to my sister.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/overbye/overbye_print.html

Ross said...

It used to cause quite the stir at the Albuquerque, NM, coffee shop were I once played when a fellow would bring around his Romanian wife to play 5-minute games. She was a fine player and very beautiful, which always caused some chatter, but if you can't focus on the pieces during the game you'll never be much of a player anyway.

Troy said...

In the words of the world's most powerful (not best mind you -- or even real!) chess player... "It's good to be the king!"

Dean said...

And no one has mentioned The Thomas Crown Affair? At least the first one, I can't recall the what was done in the second one.

In my short-lived chess playing career, I was never intimidated by my opponents physical presence. But then again I never played a female either.

Icepick said...

Gah! Why did that make me think about blogging?!

And I worried that the blogging subtext was too subtle!

Wade_Garrett said...

Ann: I applaud all clever Breakfast Club references!

KaneCitizen said...

Maria Manakova, 31, who is the fourth-ranked woman in Russia and who is ranked eighth on the Beauty Contest site, attracted attention last year when she posed nude for Speed, a Russian magazine. She followed it up by posing for Maxim and the Russian edition of Playboy.

OK, so when I read the above, of course I had to do some follow-up research. I found this interview with Ms. Manakova, but also found some anagrams having to do with her, reproduced below:

Rearranging the letters of "Grandmaster Maria Manakova" gives: "I am smart, earn anagram. Vodka?"

Also, "The female chess Grandmaster Maria Manakova" -- "Hmm! Camera's near a half-naked Soviet game-star."

And "The woman chess Grandmaster, Maria Manakova" -- "Ha! I am a mega-smart enchantress, warm on vodka!"

So if you're trying to picture the guys who are thrilled by the Chess Beauty contest, just picture the guys who are into that and derive anagrams from it.