Today’s Vintage Chess Humor
How to Promote Chess to U.S. Adults
A brilliantly original ad that I found in the February 1968 edition of ChessReview, once the official chess ‘organ’ of the United States Chess Federation. The ad was paid for by the New York Times to draw attention to its award winning thrice-weekly chess column.
The ad then goes on to explain that ‘Amaurosis Scacchistica‘ is the latin name for chess blindness, that results in making incredible oversights, such as leaving a vital piece en prise.
How chess has changed in the US these past 50 years! Almost every chess column in the prestigious daily papers has long since disappeared, the New York Times having ended its column in 2014.
Part of the problem was that the internet changed the business model of daily papers, such that any chess column could not possibly keep up with all of the information available. Better to have a less time-sensitive poker column, for example.
The rest of the problem, of course, is that the major news papers were more than happy to get rid of the chess columns: the royal game’s prestige dropped vertically as a result of the increasingly destructive Russian influences (Kasparov, the Kremlin, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov) to wrestle control of FIDE away from the apolitical chess amateurs after the end of the USSR.
FIDE’s leadership seemed to be mafia-driven. Death threats at FIDE congresses in the mid-1990’s became the norm. Western sponsorship correspondingly dried up. No one should be surprised by this reaction.
While FIDE has cleaned up its act a great deal since, neither should anyone be surprised that today FIDE is run by a personal confidant of Vladimir Putin.
Virtually everyone inside today’s FIDE is either bought by, profits from or unknowingly accepts Kremlin money in some form or another, be it FIDE’s ”Development Fund” or some other instrument.
But let me be clear: this is not corruption per se. It is rather the sadly logical outcome of the systemic failure that follows the complete lack of transparency and accountability from several decades of un-checked Russian-style leadership of FIDE.
Today FIDE is what it is…an opaque organization…journalists are not allowed to attend FIDE’s presidential board meetings, minutes are not published and board members are forced to sign non-disclosure agreements.