Keene On Chess
GM Raymond Keene
Chess vs Alzheimer’s
Avid fans of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, that fantastic confection from the fertile brain of the late lamented Douglas Adams, will recall that Zaphod Beeblebrox’s spaceship is powered by a so-called “Improbability Drive.” This unique mode of transport was based, I believe, loosely, on Heisenberg’s Uncertainly Principle, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem and a lack of awareness concerning the wellbeing of Schrödinger’s cat.
Some critics too, notably Frank Rich, the so-called “Butcher of Broadway”, have assailed the plot of the musical CHESS for being highly implausible. This creation of Sir Tim Rice and the Ulvaeus/Andersson half of ABBA, has been revived in a concert version and was performed in front of a packed house at the Royal Albert Hall on the evenings of May 12 and 13. The atmosphere was electric and the standing ovation epic, which encouragement leads me to predict that CHESS is destined to return to London’s West End in the not too distant future.
As far as implausibility goes, during the course of the evening, a Soviet world chess champion defects to the west, and back again, a manager switches sides, and a dissident falls for a Russian patriot, none of this being to the “Butcher’s” tediously conventional taste. Yet I have witnessed first hand at the Baguio World Championship of 1978 the orange-robed gurus of the Ananda Marga sect (out on bail after a charge of attempted murder, by the way) chanting for victory outside the playing venue.
Years later former world champion, Bobby Fischer (himself part of the inspiration for the musical), was imprisoned in Japan, and before the latest Russian elections Garry Kasparov, perhaps the greatest chess champion of all time, found himself incarcerated in a Moscow jail, being visited by his erstwhile arch rival Anatoly Karpov. To cap it all, the eccentric President of the World Chess Federation, Kirsan Ilhumzhinov, has openly claimed to have been abducted by aliens. Implausible indeed.
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