Sunday, August 30, 2009

Manufacturing Hype & Fiction

In today's Sun Herald GM Ian Rogers points to a recent ruckus in the UK papers over the auction sale of 18 postcards that were exchanged between a couple of competitors in the inaugural World Chess Correspondence Championshps (1950-1953). Yes, it's that one that Aussie CJS Purdy won.

The reason for what Rogers calls "frenzied accounts" in the British press was apparently because one of the competitors in question was none other than Graham Mitchell. At the time of the championships, Mr Mitchell also happened to be the deputy director of MI5.

Here's the Daily Mail and The Telegraph both quoting an "expert" who said: "Agents would be trained to understand chess moves and Mitchell was quite a good chess player. The chances are that these were instructions or intelligence to a Soviet agent or an informer."

Make of it whatever you want but GM Rogers himself seemed pretty incredulous of the whole thing.

But anyway, this now leads me to this somewhat fitting item in yet another British paper, The Guardian. Stuart Evers tells us why our beautiful game is perfert for fiction.

More abstractly, chess is attractive to writers as it mirrors the very act of writing itself. Planning ahead, tactics, manipulation are both part of fiction's palate as well as chess's. In both his fiction and his plays, Beckett used the imagery of the chess set, moving his characters around like lowly, articulate pawns. The conclusion of Murphy may be the finest expression of the game's intrinsic link to both art and humanity – "The ingenuity of despair" indeed.

Read more in Why chess is a perfect game for fiction.

1 comment:

ejh said...

The expert is an author called Gordon Thomas. Sceptical of his claim I emailed Mr Thomas in July to ask for his sources, but his email account is either inoperative or bounced me back anyway.