Saturday 23 March 2013

At the Candidates' tournament

London is on the radar for chess players at the moment. The Candidates tournament for the world championship title is going on.

We live in London. We met through chess (yes, I'll probably have to write about who "we" is and how all of that happened one day). So we went.

Now, a cynical view could be that the very same commentary was available on the web, at the same time (maybe with a short delay to prevent cheating, but I haven't noticed that, I think it really is live, which it should not be). For free. And then we would be able to see the games displayed on a much clearer board than the horrendous graphics that the organisers, for some reasons, apparently chose. Plus, we would actually have had a better broadcast -the transmission kept failing in the hall.

So why will we be returning next Wednesday?

Well, one could argue that walking past some of the players just before or just after the game, adds to it. Or coming across the lovely press officer Anastasiya Karlovich, for the male spectators (a huge majority). But I don't think that they are major factors.

One reason may be -and that would of course be totally anathema to an economist- that while you attend, you stop yourself from doing anything else. Yes, you are in essence paying to get rid of other opportunities. And are thus totally immersed into it. This could seem paradoxical but was mentioned as a great thing by our friend Simon, who went with us. Theoretically, you could do it at home. But then you may look at the computer evaluation, you may read an email, you may lose track at some point... There, it's a total immersion, trying to find the moves yourself, which is nice when you actually do (I found that I often did find the moves in the two games I was mostly following, but in the case of Gelfand-Ivanchuk, while I did find them I had very little idea of who was better. So I would not have known how to answer a draw offer by either side. It ended in a very exciting draw by perpetual check).
It was nice to go as a group as well. Although one of us had some difficulties in keeping his comments to an inaudible whisper.

I must add that, from where we were sitting, Vassily Ivanchuk, who walks a lot between moves, tended to follow a path that led him to, apparently, look straight into my eyes before turning again. Just looking into those eyes, with this player who is notoriously removed from the present (oh, that's a guy who would like the title of this blog), with his tilted head and probably seeing something else than the few spectators that were actually in front of him, well, it felt oddly emotional.
He always tries to make things interesting and was coming off two consecutive losses. Then again he had been very creative and adventurous, and he appeared so human, so likeable, there was like an urge of jumping on the stage and giving him a hug. This is not something you'd feel in an internet broadcast.

We then all went home for dinner, which was followed by paired blitz games (one board, four players, both teams take turn playing the moves and are not allowed to confer, although banter is encouraged). Both our guests commented separately that it had been the best day they could remember in months if not more.
Yet it all came from paying to restrict our opportunities. Man is surely not a "rational" creature.

No comments:

Post a Comment