Personally, I like both columns a lot. Keene's has a truly unique quality, in that it is the only chess column in the world that can usually be solved blindfolded, simply by guessing 1.Qxh7+. Barden, meanwhile, is master of the instant intrigue, writing with genuine skill and impressive economy to make the reader really feel like they are playing the position set in the puzzle.
On the subject of chess in the media, two American newspaper articles recently caught my eye. In San Francisco, a judge has ruled that chess players shouldn't be drug tested in order to compete, since it constitutes an invasion of privacy. This wholly sane and commonsensical decision could pose an interesting problem for any FIDE competitions held in the States, since FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's Quixotic quest to make chess an Olympic sport requires doping controls on players.
Meanwhile, further south the Los Angeles Chronicle reports that
Aloha Mischeaux, a finalist in the fourth season of the popular American Idol TV show, kicked off the 2009 U.S. Chess Championship in rousing fashion with a stirring rendition of the national anthem at the opening ceremonies for the tournament at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art on Thursday, May 7.Who, what, why? Surely not newsworthy, you might be thinking? Exactly my point: yet there it is. Perhaps tie-ins with TV programmes and pop music is precisely what the mainstream media want from big chess occasions. Just what do we chess players know! Incidentally, today is a rest day at the M-Tel Masters, and the chess players will play a football match. Perhaps next year they should instead compete at Karaoke?
What do you suggest our top players should sing?