In a local shopping centre the other day I saw a rather large girl in a low-cut dress. She had a treble clef and a couple of quavers tattooed on her breast. She had good skin tone and colour, and in spite of her weight the tattoo was attractive—but I couldn't help wondering what it would look like if she kept eating. Would those few notes expand into a full length symphony?
Tattoos appear to be in vogue at present and while some look great, others do not. Sometimes I wonder if tattoos are the result of graffiti vandals turning their own bodies into a living canvas.
The guy in the photograph does appear to have been a little too enthusiastic but he'd be handy to have around if you needed a chess board to explain your latest brilliancy to a friend.
In spite of such permanent disfigurement, support for tattoos sometimes comes from the unlikeliest places. It was no less a personage than Major Charles Emerson Winchester III who said, “Tattoos are the common man's way of investing in art.” (OK, scriptwriter Burt Prelutsky penned the thought but it was Charles who voiced it.)
We've all noticed that chess is used in the movies to give the impression that one character or another is smarter than the average bear and, if that's the public conception we might consider getting a chess tattoo to show that we're pretty smart ourselves. Even if we're not!
What image would you choose? The knight has a lot of panache and is a universal favourite, but that's already been done to death. What about a beautiful chess player like Kateryna Lahno or Alexandra Kosteniuk? That's a bit sexist, and unless you're planning to have a mini-biography penned alongside the face, there wouldn't be much point.
Then what about a winning position from one of our games? It couldn't be too complex or we'd end up looking like the guy with the chequered head. My favourite memory would be a game I won under tournament conditions last year against a WIM. I stuffed the score sheet but the final position was very much like this:
But it wasn't much of a finish. Black's flag fell while she was wondering how to stop me sacrificing the exchange. Was it a game to be proud of? Not really. With 600 rating points between us she assumed she only had to push the pieces around to win and took me a little too casually. I didn't win—she lost. OK, scrap that idea.
So, after much deliberation, I've decided that there's a way to get a chess tattoo that is not only free, but has the potential to make money. I'm going to get Erik to sponsor me for a chess.com logo—complete with green pawn—and then I'll ask for a commission for anybody I sign up because of it.
On the other hand, I may just wear my chess.com T-shirt.