Monday, February 26, 2007

Chess as an Official Sport?

"The issue is really quite simple," emails Gerry Walsh, President of the English Chess Federation, about his campaign to improve the status of chess in Britain: "The recognition that Mind Sports and Physical Sports should have equal status in a modern society. We are all conversant with the comment 'a healthy Mind and a healthy Body'."

And hence, the creation of this Petition, whose wording reads simply: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Require all Government Departments to give Mind Sports such as Chess and Go equivalent status with physical sports." The 'more details' section adds that:

"The mind sports, such as Chess and Go deserve equal status with the physical sports, which would provide easier access to funding. Mind sports bring great benefits in terms of personal development, social interaction and improved attitiudes to learning, and are accessible to all members of society. This petition seeks to improve their status by requiring all Government departments to treat mental and physical sports on an equal basis."

You'll find many familiar names have already signed. What about you?


ejh said...

"But it's not a sport, it's a game." Oh, shut up.

Anonymous said...

This thread reminds me of an old (about 20 years if memory serves) book by Jim Plaskett - Playing To Win.

Anyhoo, I very much like the term "Mind Sport". I think the Germans already have an established word in their language for this.

Rather than those stale old arguments as to whether chess is a game or a sport (or a science or an art - as discussed in Plaskett's book) perhaps we would do better to campaign for the recognition of the idea of Mind Sports.

As for equal status though ... well maybe chess will deserve it when each 4NCL match attracts a paying audience of 20-70,000 people.

ejh said...

The term is Denksport which I think puts it very well.

I don't like Plaskett much, but I like that book, which I used extensively in my Masters thesis. (Moving Too Fast? Information overload and the study of opening theory by chess players.)

Tom Chivers said...

What!? A Masters degree in chess!? Did I read that right!?

ejh said...

No. My Masters was in Information and Library Management (University of Northumbria at Newcastle, 2001). My thesis however was about chess.

Anonymous said...

"You must be a British citizen or resident to sign the petition" - I'll spread the word.

ejh, Plaskett is world-class showman. You should have heard him in audio lecture while eating soup.

Tom, in eastern Europe there are sport (and chess) faculties and people can even earn a doctorat. I think Viktor Bologan has master degree in sport.

Anonymous said...

I kind of assumed you wouldn't think much of Jimbo. He is somewhat to the right of you afterall. Somewhat to the right of most people probably.

As it happens I'm not a big fan of him (as a man rather than chess player/author) myself. I have personal experience of him acting like a right twat at one of the Golders Green rapid plays. It was several years ago though so perhaps I should finally let it go and forgive him.

(I too really like Playing to Win btw)

Anonymous said...

I also played him in a rapidplay, in the last round which he was leading and he turned up 10-15 minutes late. I then won a pawn, but gave him a draw as he was a GM- shame the no draws rule didn't exist (although I could have lost I suppose).
Chess isn't a sport. It does help to be fit, but this is no pre-requisite to success. If it was given sports status, would they make a programme Chess Players Wives?

ejh said...

He wasn't too impressed when I rubbished a book of his (Coincidences) in Kingpin. But it was a load of old nonsense, so what can you do?

Anyway, subsequently I said he was welcome to take it up with me by email, an offer I rather regretted afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Opera to the best of my knowledge isn't a sport (although many do have a sumo physique). However they seem to have no trouble getting grants galore.

PS These word verifications seem to be getting harder and harder to dechiper- perhaps it's time to go to the opticians?

ejh said...

That's the second time you've complained about opera on here, Andrew. Did I mention I missed a match weekend before last in order to go and see Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci at the Teatro Real in Madrid?

I don't see any problem with classifying chess as sport, and I think that if it isn't so classified it will be much harder to obtain both coverage and funding. Have you noticed for instance that it has no regular place on the otherwise comprehensive BBC Online site?

Back to Jimbo, I believe he lives in the same country as me, which is a shame. However, judging by the address given by his missus (Fiona Pitt-Kethley) he's a good five hundred miles south of me...

Anonymous said...

Cavalleria Rusticana is a pizza and Pagliacci is pasta right? Did you spot David Beckham at Teatro Real in Madrid?

Tom Chivers said...

* Goran * - thanks. Interesting about official studying of chess in Eastern Europe. We have nothing at all like that here. Perhaps it's why English players tend not to prepare their openings so well.

* Andrew * - I could remove the need to do them, but it would increase the amount of spam . . . Btw, if you register to post on the blog, which you are welcome to do, you no longer have to do them, provided you are logged in.

* Justin * - I remember reading that review. It in turn reminded me of an old phrase: 'if there were never any coincidences, that itself would be a coincidence.'

ejh said...

Pagliacci is pasta right? Did you spot David Beckham at Teatro Real in Madrid?

No, he was playing with another bunch of clowns.

Anonymous said...

I'm not at all sure about the idea of chess as sport either but definitely happy with 'mind sport'.

After all Formula 1 requires no physical fitness either (it may be helpful but it's clearly not essential) and that has the tag 'motor sport'.

I didn't play JP but he seriously affected a game I was playing by loudly and insistently demanding my opponent cease playing (half way through) so he could play Backgammon with the aforementioned Mr. P.

Later he disrupted the organisers activities toward the end of the tournament insisting he be paid his prize money THAT INSTANT so he could leave early

btw: I should make clear the opinions expressed on Plaskett's arrogant twatishness that day are very much my own and not official Streatham & Brixton Chess Club policy.

Anonymous said...

although IMHO they should be