Chess (#1015)

Last Updated: Sat, Aug 25, 2012 03:12 hrs

Garry Kasparov was a high-profile visitor to the Pussy Riot trial, where three women were jailed for singing an anti-Putin song in church. While talking to media, Kasparov was arrested and manhandled in public. He faces a charge of having bitten a police officer’s hand. Video evidence (including clips aired on BBC) suggests the officer was undamaged — both his hands are visible. The former world champion, who is a bitter and outspoken critic of Putin, says he will counter-sue.

In what turned out to be a quiet week for the game, this incident and its ramifications dominated conversation. FIDE president, Kirsan Illyumzhinov is a committed Putin supporter. The Russian government supports the game. The former KGB officer, who is now de facto czar of Russia, even met Boris Gelfand and Viswanathan Anand after their title match.

There was another bizarre incident involving another former world champion. Boris Spassky, who is recovering from a stroke, disappeared from his home in France. Fred Friedel of Chessbase writes that he received a condolence email from Spassky with reminiscences about Gligoric. The next thing Friedel knew, he was fielding frantic calls from Spassky's wife, Marina (a former French diplomat) and trying to help trace him. In an interview with Pravda, Spassky (who s a dual citizen) said he had "fled back to Russia" to escape confinement by his wife. No further reports have clarified the situation.

Another talking point was a survey commissioned by AGON, the world championship sponsor. International market researcher, YouGov, and TGI (Target Group Index), claim that 605 million adults play chess regularly. Across the world, as many as 70 per cent of adults have played the game at least once. There is a high branding perception, with associations of intelligence, strategic thinking, etc.

Digging deeper with a sample of 4,161 adults (UK), 2,024 adults (US), 953 adults (Germany), 2,013 adults (Russia), and 1,000 adults (India), a TGI survey found more details. Over half of regular players are aged between 18-34. Most have more education and are better-informed than average, reading several newspapers and technical / business periodicals. Regular players are also major high end consumers of big-ticket luxury items.

THE DIAGRAM, WHITE TO PLAY (Karjakin Vs Potkin, Russian Chps, 2012) leads to a sharp ending. Play went 32.Rb1 Rxb1 33.Bxb1 Nf5+? White's better after 33.-- Nc8/ Nc6. This loses to 34.Bxf5 exf5. Or 34. - gxf5 35. a4! Ke7 36. Kd3! and g6, c4, king entry.

Now 35.e6!! fxe6 36.Kd4 Rg7 Or 36...Ke8 37.Ke5 Rf8 38.Ra7 a4 39.Ra8+ Ke7 40.Rxf8 Kxf8 41.Kxe6. 37.Rxg7 Kxg7 38.Ke5 Kf7 39.Kd6 a4 40.a3 (1-0 ). Zugzwang 40.-- e5 41.Kxe5 Ke7 42.Kxd5 etc.

Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player

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