Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"A strong chess player"

Thomas Powers, writing in the London Review of Books, last issue but one:
I was in Mitchell’s apartment once or twice – something to do with Christmas – but just about all our conversations took place in the street or in the lobby of 44, where I often came and went around drink time on a visit to one of Barbara’s friends, Ruth Tremain, who had taught maths to Army Air Corps pilots at Yale during the war. She was a strong chess player and we played often while I was writing a piece about Bobby Fischer. Because I had married Candace, on whom Ruth doted, she let me win a few games, but that didn’t last long.
Prior to reading Powers' article I knew nothing of any Ruth Tremain, but given that a Google search for "ruth tremain" chess returns only a link to the piece referred to above, is it likely that she was in fact "a strong chess player"?


an ordinary chessplayer said...

Keep in mind, a 1400-player can beat the stuffing out of your average man on the street.

ejh said...

That's so, but on the other hand the average man on the street isn't usually writing an article about the world champion at the time.

Anonymous said...

So your real question seems to be: How strong or weak a chess player is Thomas Powers? If you find out, just add 100 points and you'll get what he'll regard as a "strong chess player".

ejh said...

I refer you to the answer above your comment. The point is that somebody who's actually writing about the world champion might, one thinks, confronted with somebody who can beat them, have enough curiosity to ask a few questions - "do you play regularly?", or "have you ever won anything?", or "how do you compare to grandmasters?". Otherwise they're just going to make the same mistakes every other hack does when writing about champions, prodigies and the like.