Naked Chess, Snoop Dogg, And Best Chess Ad Ever
In this month's "In Other News" mashup, we ask if you would play naked chess? Rapper Snoop Dogg asks why the world isn't woke to a girls chess team? And make sure to read until the end for a remembrance of a national championship chess player who gave all in the service to his country.
Little known fact: When Snoop Dogg said "There's so much drama in the L.B.C.," he was reading a copy of "Storming the Barricades" by GM Larry Christiansen. OK so that's not *exactly* true, but what is clear is that Mr. Dogg still has a following.
A recent Instagram post highlighting the success of a Detroit-area all-girls chess team garnered more than 200,000 "likes."
Screengrab via Snoop Dogg's Instagram page.
There's actually a few small issues with Dogg's post. First, "The Detroit News," "The Huffington Post," and others did write about the story. The second "problem" is that the tournament was for girls only, so necessarily a team of all girls won. The third problem is that scholastic chess almost never gets any coverage in the mainstream media anyway, regardless of the demographics of the winners!
But carry on Snoop, the chess world needs your audience.
Citizens of the U.S., Netherlands, Italy, and Chile, your problem is solved. So, your national team didn't make the football World Cup next year in Russia. Wondering who to root for? Iceland!
First of all, it's a chess-crazed nation with more GMs per capita than any other country. More importantly, how many other countries had a player who celebrated World Cup qualification with a game of naked chess? We haven't done an exhaustive search, but we're pretty sure the answer is "zero."
Screengrab via Emil Hallfreðsson's Instagram account.
Hallfreðsson only has one career goal playing for his national team, but maybe he will prove popular as a naked streamer on Chess.com.
No surprise here: Armenian national hero GM Levon Aronian said in a recent 45-minute radio interview that he's always tried to emulate former World Champion GM Tigran Petrosian.
While the interview is in Armenian, here's a few snippets translated from the article:
- "Different players use different methods. I've come to understand that it's easier for me to resist tension, when I'm in good physical shape."
- "Games against Azerbaijani players would bring additional tension at the beginning of my career, but I feel at ease now."
- On being asked what he'd do if not chess: "It would certainly be something where mathematical rules work."
- "What comes to my mind is music by Bach, Beethoven. It inspires me and helps to not get bored with my work. The music flows like water, exempting you of the need to focus on every sound."
As a follow-up to my interview with IM Dorsa Derakhshani and her ousting by the Iranian Chess Federation, WBUR in Boston asked my help to produce a radio piece on her life and on the controversy.
Airing on the show "Only A Game," the segment begins with her precocious beginnings and continues with a discussion of what happened in Gibraltar this year and her views on wearing the hijab.
Dorsa Derakshani (right), already winning chess awards as a young girl. Photo courtesy Dorsa Derakhshani.
The segment aired just a few days after Derakshani officially transferred her federation to the U.S.
On "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1990s, Adam Sandler used to wonder, "Who are the ad wizards who came up with this one?!" We're wondering that too in this recent social media post by the fast food chain Arby's.
As pointed out by the US Chess Federation and by Arby's themselves, those are not haphazard arrangements of pieces:
It looks like the White king ate too many curly fries. Screengrab via US Chess Federation's Instagram page.
Kudos to you, Arby's, for celebrating the anniversary of the "Game of the Century" in your own greasy way. For those that have never seen the final mate, look below for comparison. For those that have never had a "Deep Fried Turkey Club" head on over to one of the 3,342 Arby's, where you will help support the career of a mysterious chess-mad advertising executive.
As Union Square continues to overtake Washington Square as the park of choice for the aspiring New York City chess hustler, at least one convert claims he's making a decent living from the game.
Ambakisye Osayaba said he's earning up to $400/day in the park, which amounts to about $100,000/year if he works five days per week. Of course, there's no guarantee you'll win every day, or that it won't rain, so smart "hustlers" like Osayaba mitigate the ups and downs by giving lessons, too.
It's always a risk plying your craft in the Big Apple, as there are world-renown experts in nearly every field. So too in chess.
But according to Osayaba, that didn't stop him from taking on the challenge. At last year's world championship match, he stopped by and ended up playing WFM Maria De Rosa, the fiancee of GM Hikaru Nakamura.
WFM Maria De Rosa and fiancee GM Hikaru Nakamura in 2016. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.
Osayaba said he won (has a hustler ever admitted otherwise?), but with the help of the late GM William Lombardy, who sang him some of the moves (Nakamura disputed some of the facts of the article but didn't elaborate). Lombardy was formerly Osayaba's teacher.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, a Green Beret and former scholastic chess champion, was one of four American servicemen ambushed and killed in Niger last month.
Black got his beginnings in chess in fourth grade at the Tacoma Chess Club, just outside Seattle, Washington. He would go on to play in 30 chess tournaments, almost all as a child. In his final event, the 2005 World Open, he fell just shy of making Expert. Black's final rating was 1975 (USCF).
Staff Sgt. Bryan Black and his wife, Michelle. Photo courtesy Karen Black.
In researching his tournament history, Black would always play in the top section of tournaments, even when he was eligible for a lower section. This was despite his mother, Karen Black, saying that his reaction to losing was "absolute, total irritation and annoyance."
Along the way, he had many notable events, including winning the 2000 Washington Junior Open with a perfect score. At the national level, Black finished in a large tie for second place in the 1994 Elementary Championships in San Jose, California. The only blemish on his 6.0/7 finishing score was a loss to future-GM Vinay Bhat, who Black actually finished one spot ahead of in the final standings.
In 1999 he again tied for second in a national championship, this time in the high school division in South Dakota. Once again, he was by far the lowest-rated player finishing in the top 10. His last-round upset win came against Chess.com's very own future-IM Danny Rensch. Rensch is checking his old files but so far has been unable to locate the game.
Black still wasn't done with the titled-player scalps! One year later he played in his final scholastic event, the 2000 High School Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was a tournament director in his section, and have a very loose memory of someone drawing future-GM Irina Krush (2463 USCF at the time) early in the event. It was none other than 1842-rated Bryan Black. Chess.com reached out to Krush but she does not have a copy of the game. (Despite the claim in the article that Black was coached by GM Yasser Seirawan, that was debunked by Seirawan to Chess.com.)
After his chess career ended, Black graduated college at the age of 20, worked as a ski instructor and stock trader, and eventually enlisted in the Army. He was also a Special Forces Medic. Read more about Black in this article from his hometown newspaper.