Sunday, September 20, 2009

Promoting Chess in Australia

There's a so-called chess guru down in Mexico who reckons that Australian chess must be losing something like 5000 players per year. Yes, you read that right: five thousand players! Heaven only knows how he came up with that number and, more importantly, where we'll find the people to fill the gap. Well, perhaps in the nation's nursing homes.

According to our guru:

This is an area which one would suspect has great potential for the future. We keep hearing about the aging population – more and more people with time and money on their hands looking for something to do. They’re less likely to be physically capable of taking up basketball, ice-hockey or football… but want a challenging and social ’sporting’ environment. Plus take into account the benefits of chess; slowing dementia, preventing Alzheimer’s, keeping the mind active, combating depression etc.

But to promote chess, I've got another idea. Actually, I borrow it from the May 1951 issue of Chess World. A ball. You know, dancing. These events were apparently once regular fixtures on the chess calendar. Hard to believe.

A certain Denis Howard wrote in.

Older hands say that he former chess balls in Sydney were memorable events - the sort any player of dancing age (15 to 80) could not bear to think of having missed - but the organisers are confident of eclipsing even those efforts in splendour and jollity.

All players who swing the light fantastic are requested to arrange parties - chiefly of non-players of course, but it is hoped that a good percentage of dinkum chessists will be present.

This will not be one of those emasculate affairs ending at midnight. Eight till one is the programme.

There you have it. Them oldies really knew how to party back in the day.


Denis Jessop said...

I used to play a lot of chess when I was younger but as I grew older I became less satisfied with the standard of my play also due to a long period of chess inactivity. I am now almost 74 yo and prefer road cycling including veterans' cycle racing to chess playing. Other sports that I engage when I can are golf and swimming. All of these have the advantage that they also improve your health. So much for the Guru's argument - he hasn't looked beyond roughish team sports. Still, playing chess is good exercise for the mind - see your post the other day - and is recommended for older people.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if that is the same Denis Howard who is a former Australian representative at bridge, and also a former World Bridge Federation president?

It could have been, he would have been somewhere around 20 years old in 1951.