Professional Chesstling Round I: Entrance Music
Greetings mates and welcome to the first installment in our planned series discussing the distinctive similarities and shared nuances between two of the most respected sporting institutions in the world -- chess and wrestling. We start with a focus on entrance music, which is essential fanfare for any notable pro wrestling match. But you may be surprised to know that the tradition is becoming more and more popular in professional chess as well.
Chinese chess superstar Ding Liren may appear to be a mild mannered Asian kid who doesn't speak a word of English. But those who know the top-ten GM well say he's actually pretty hardcore (see our piece on Liren and Ving Rhames in our recent Super Pro-Am coverage). His musical genre of choice is Gangsta Rap, and when he needs to get pumped up for a big event, he likes to deck himself out in bling, gather up his entourage, and then blast Dr. Dre's "Keep Thier Heads Ringing" as he enters the playing hall.
Its no secret in the chess world that Peter Svidler is a big fan of Broadway. In fact, he's come to be known as "Svidler On The Roof" due to his fondness for the famous musical, and he can often be heard giddily singing the tune "Matchmaker" just before the tournament pairings are announced. "If I were a Rich Man" is another Svidler favorite. The reason, says Peter: "I've basically been singing this tune my entire life".
One might assume that being the highest rated female player in the world would make Hou Yifan hugely popular in the chess world. But despite her accomplishments, she's garnered surprisingly little notoreity. Its only fitting therefore, that tournament organizers will often cue up The Who's classic rock offering "Who are you?" while she is being introduced at an event, typically resulting in murmurs and confused looks from bewildered spectators.
Will someone please help us identify the person in this foto?
Not many people would have supposed that Hikaru Nakamura was a hard rock music aficianado. But the American Super GM happens to be a big fan of Guns N Roses. He can often be seen playing air guitar and headbanging as event organizers crank the popular 90's hit "Knocking On Heaven's Door" prior to his entrance. "I've even entered the venue wearing a kilt a couple of times" , says Naka.
Hikaru puts his game face on for an important tournament.
Conclusion: Though not as popular or prevalent in chess as it is in wrestling, we at Fool's Mate Magazine think it would be great to see more big stars using intro music and other theatrics to add some much needed excitement to an otherwise quiet and boring pastime.