SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
”As long as players are applauded for manipulating their ratings, let’s stop pretending that chess is a sport.”
Mark Weeks on his popular BLOG yesterday———————————————————————————————–
Mark wrote an insightful opinion of the 3-move last round draw in Reykjavik between grandmasters So and Eljanov. I recommend readers take a short look.
Apparently the draw was not pre-arranged ( ELJANOV ) and when So offered the draw Eljanov did not have anything against accepting and thereby securing a tie for first place. A matter of convenience. I have read Ian Rogers’ views on CLO (Chess LIfe Online) and much of what he argues I also agree.
In essence, I agree with all of them: the players and the critics! And there are many critics…BUT as Eljanov points out, neither he nor So can be accused of lack of fighting spirit: their performance in Reykjavik before the last round was nothing short of brilliant and exemplary sportsmanship.
So what gives? How can something feel so good and yet be so wrong? And with that I leave it to my readers to decide for themselves…the issue of the draw has been hotly disputed for more than 150 years of modern chess: surely Eljanov vs So will not be the last word.
HOWEVER, I like Mark Week’s sensible approach to this incident. Rather than debate the ethical issues here (the rules say no short draws), Mark essentially asks that we stop pretending that non-games do not happen (they happen all the time, occasionally even at the world championship level) and instead consider this as just a logical consequence of the entire chess world’s infatuation with ratings.
It all starts with FIDE: their precious ELO is a cash-cow and they want to keep it that way. As long as everyone wants an ELO, then FIDE will prosper. The players manipulating ratings is just a natural consequence of a chess world thinking about money. In this case So reached 2700 and by doing so guarantees himself better invitations and better financial conditions.
If you criticize So (and Eljanov) then you must also criticize FIDE for creating this situation. Chess players’ priorities must adapt to what FIDE is doing…
As for chess being a SPORT, Mark is absolutely correct! No respectable sport would tolerate this kind of behaviour. So , echoing Mark, let us stop pretending! Let us hope that Kirsan , especially, realizes the failure of his vision to make chess spectator entertainment.