How are you today? The summer has come and gone too quickly, in my opinion. I was hoping to savor it a bit longer. Today playgrounds are more silent. Schools are re-opening. Fresh minds are readying to face new challenges. The cycle of LIFE never stops spinning…Summer will come again. Patience.
Starbucks finally takes a chance on Italy
After growing into 28,000 Starbucks coffee shops and a $25 billion a year brand name, head office has finally mustered the courage to take on the intractable Italian coffee mindset. But experts say that it is not without risk…
Starbucks knows that coffee is sacred in Italy. Loyalty to the local corner cafe and an intense dislike of new comers are only two of the challenges that must be faced. For this reason Starbucks’ Milan store is like no other Starbucks in the world.
I am not sure that I would want to step into this Starbucks, and I am not even Italian! Seems so ‘un-starbucks’ to me. It looks more like a high end bar than a coffee shop, serving more than 100 drinks and cocktails.
But I suppose Starbucks is betting on being more different than on being just another cafe in Italy. I wish them good luck!
Mamedyarov bares his soul
The 33 year old Shak , as he is affectionately called in his native Azerbaijan, is ranked number 3 in the world today. A brilliant player with an unusual style of play, Mamedyarov has had an amazing year on the tournament circuit and has shown that when he is playing his best he can beat anyone and everyone, Carlsen included.
But apparently Shak is not satisfied with the respect that the global chess fans have given him: he wants more. To be precise, Shak wants a rich sponsor.
Susan Polgar’s popular ‘Daily News‘ blog quotes Shak as saying some pretty surprising stuff: “It’s a great pity to admit it, but I’m fed up with chess!”
Shak goes on and explains: “I’m tired, and tomorrow I must play again. Sometimes I think about how there aren’t any athletes stronger than me in Azerbaijan, yet there is not a single sponsor for me? My love for Azerbaijan is boundless, but my strength is not. One day I will no longer be that Shahriyar Mamedyarov, and there will be no meaning in all these conversations.”
I feel for Mamedyarov, but chess is not football. Nor is it tennis or golf. And I also know the chess world: there are a hundred players just waiting to take Shak’s place. Sponsorship or not. It can be a cruel world at the top…and even more cruel at the bottom. Enjoy it while you can, Shak!
2018 FIDE election: 3 weeks to go!
As Nigel Short, Georgios Makropoulos and Arkady Dvorkovich nervously head into the final stretch before the October 3rd vote in Batumi, Georgia, the global chess community can sense the possibility of real change coming for the first time to FIDE in more than two decades.
With incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov voluntarily dropping out of the race several months ago, FIDE is not as caught up this time in the bitterness and firey disputes that have characterized previous presidential elections.
For all three candidates, this is the first time that they have run for the top spot. Makropoulos and Short are well known characters in the chess world and have been for 30 years or so. Dvorkovich is the new kid on the block, and naturally the favourite of those who want to put closure to the Kirsan years.
According to my own analysis several weeks ago, Dvorkovich was in the lead, having already secured a majority of committed votes. Nothing has changed since. Of course, there are many undecided votes, or voters that will sit on the fence until the very last moment.
Makropoulos has been trying the past couple of days to convince the social media of a very different reality, claiming as many as 120 votes for himself already! I don’t doubt that Makro has loyal supporters, but a rational estimate of about 37 committed votes as of September 1, including – surprisingly – Canada, is probably all that Makro can count on for certain.
When the election is all said and done, sober analysis will likely reveal the Makropoulos campaign to be little more than smoke and mirrors. He never had a big support base, having always been a behind the scenes bureaucrat.
How else to explain Makro’s frantic search for more than a year for anyone else to run against Kirsan? And failing to convince anyone, once Makro reluctantly decided to run himself – from one day to the next – he magically claimed to have overwhelming support in his pocket? Pure fantasy!
Election campaigns are all about projecting image. Winning is about something entirely different. Character. Substance. And let’s not forget real Votes…