Chess / By Shelby Lyman
on February 22, 2014 – 12:01 AM

In many ways we live in a more competitive and difficult world than I remember growing up in. Housing, affordable entry into college, middle-class jobs and health care among other niceties and necessities rarely can be taken for granted.

In part, this reflects relative scarcity, in part a broad secular cultural change which I leave to historians and sociologists to explain.

Clearly, sports also are affected.

Football is a prime example. Today’s players are bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled. They put more time into their sport on the practice field and off – where videotapes and the weight room require an additional effort.

Chess has not gone untouched.

Grandmasters who once could rely on talent and inspiration at the chessboard are likely to be mercilessly subdued by their computer-driven colleagues.

A decade or so ago, the delightfully gifted and formidable 49-year-old Armenian player Rafael Vaganian reflected on the changes, the high-water mark of his career well behind him.

“We knew a bit, we studied a bit, then we improvised … nowadays everything is checked by the computer. The game is often decided after 30 moves.

“I know it sounds like nostalgia and carping, but the chess we played in the ’70s and ’80s suited me better.”


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