Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Filthy Onlooker

Apologies to our American readers but I'm going to be talking about cricket for a bit.

I say cricket but I mean "cricket" really as I'm thinking of the $20million winner-take-all monstrosity that's due to be played at the end of the week. Jonathan Agnew was on the radio the other day bemoaning the tackiness of it all, and rightly so in the humble opinion of this chess blogger. Twenty over cricket being the totally pointless game that it is (if you want it over within three hours why not just play baseball* and be done with it?) is there anything in this event other than money and humiliation? Is it not just a bum fight in a slightly more socially acceptable form?

Aggers, by the way, was speaking even before it became clear that the financial backer, and apparent avid spectator, of this circus has appropriated for himself free access not only to the players' dressing room but also their wives and girlfriends. The normally sane Mike Selvey complains of a sponsor behaving like a "feudal overlord" but what does he chuffing well expect? If cricketers are prepared to act like whores for the entertainment of any old bloke with a wodge of cash should they be surprised if said financier treats other people as if they will do the same?

All this is quite a contrast to the Anand - Kramnik match which may or may not come to an end this evening. Whether Vishy secures the half point he needs for victory or Vlad lives to fight another day will make no difference whatsoever financially. What they're fighting over is the title of World Chess Champion. The prize fund is going to be split evenly come what may.

Fifty fifty is so much less vulgar than twenty20 don't you think?

* A great sport and the perfect way to spend your time if you don't have five days free for a proper game of cricket.


ejh said...

an England spokesman insisted there will be no problem between the players and the billionaire. "As far as we are concerned, the matter is now closed," he said.

'"As far as we are concerned, he's still paying us a great deal of money", he said.'

It would have been interesting if Prior had chinned the bloke.

There is, in fact, a connection worth pursuing with how chess disappears up the arse of sponsors provided they divvy up the cash. Yes, I can understand why professionals might do this but as I wrote here, it's not really on

unless one takes the view that ethical issues do not occur if the people concerned are giving you money.

This would also explain why people are prepared to overlook the thirty-year record of dubious practice by this chap and why Madame Ojjeh (whatever happened to her?) was considered a perfectly acceptable individual.

Anonymous said...

If nothing else, at least 20/20 has the merit of being exciting. Baseball is one of the dullest sports ever invented, and no amount of the watered-down beer they sell you at the concession stand can change that, unfortunately.

As for the WCC, I think it's a shame that it was only a 12-game contest, as Kramnik appeared to be just getting warmed up. Since it was probably the sponsors who were responsible for the shorter format, I think as a traditionalist you are obligated to complain about that in a blog post!

Jonathan B said...

I think perhaps you are confusing "exciting" for cheap and nasty.

As for baseball being boring ... well I suspect you haven't watched much of it. Truth is, it's a much better game if you have a three hour hole to fill.

As for the reduced length of the world championship match ... I thoroughly agree that it's too short. I think I've mentioned that elsewhere, perhaps in the comments box to somebody else's post.

seani said...

Baseball, with or without the beer, is a fine game; it suffers from being confused (and compared) with cricket... and much the same can be said about 20:20, which is more like rounders than cricket, a rushed hit and run exercise with more luck than skill determining the ultimate winner. The Stanford game just seems to strip cricket of another of its key elements - the idea of a team ethic and basic sportsmanship. Has anyone got a proper justification for this spectacle other than the cash on offer, or any other perspective than "what would happen if someone's dropped catch resulted in the loss of a million?".

So, after a shortened chess championship, ended at a time when it was just getting interesting, it's time to relax and watch two teams fake some non-monetary enthusiasm over three hours. By the sound of it, the pitch is a bit of a mare, so the lottery element will be sharpened.

Jonathan B said...

So, after a shortened chess championship, ended at a time when it was just getting interesting, it's time to relax and watch two teams fake some non-monetary enthusiasm over three hours.

I agree with you about the first part of that but not the second. I for one will most certainly not be wasting three hours of my life watching that complete non-event.

I'll be watching two or three episodes of The Wire instead.

Anonymous said...

Twenty20 – which is to cricket what draughts is to chess – is nothing without a steady supply of sixes and fours. Instead, the conditions this week have reduced international batsmen to groping around with what have looked not so much like cricket bats as white sticks Mike Atherton, The Times, Sat 1 Nov

Worth reading Atherton's brilliant columns for the most educated and trenchant take on the current nonsense

Atticus CC

Jonathan B said...

.. and they ended up earning no more than I got for staying home and watching quality crime drama.