Speed Demons

karpov-vs-kasparovHave you heard about the rematch between Kasparov and Karpov, in commemoration of the classic matches of the 1980s? (I was always a Kasparov fan, myself). What is different about this time is that they are playing speed chess. (Collective sharp intake of breath… distant tinkling sound of dropped gins-and-tonic all over the web…) There’s a nice story by Giles Tremlett in the Guardian with some background on the earlier matches, their rivalry, and some discussion of the 80s era for those of you who suspect that period was only in black and white. There are some nice pictures (old and new) here. I cheekily borrowed the one above right (credited Kai Foersterling/EPA) for this post.

Look, the K vs K speed chess thing was bound to happen, given our increasingly limited collective attention span. Everybody is apparently too busy to take time to focus on anything for much of a length of time, so adjustments are happening to…

…see what I mean? Look around… Yep, you’re probably the only one who’s read this post this far, dear reader of good taste and discernment. Everybody else has been distracted by a twitter feed, facebook update, text message, scaremongering news flash, or just a shiny object…]

…various cultural icons around the world…. So long test cricket matches declined in popularity to be supplanted by Twenty20 cricket (US be warned: baseball games will one day be replaced by short games of rounders – just like soccer matches will be replaced by rounds of five-a-side – and my friends in the English department ought to start studying the art of the 140 character novel) and even the 100m sprint has become dramatically shorter, you may have noticed. What is the world coming to?

Anyway, I’ll admit that the idea sounds rather fun. To be honest, severely time limited chess brings out a different but quite interesting mix of skill sets, and at the level that the chess masters are playing I suspect that the quality of chess is still way beyond that which I’ve ever played or dreamed of playing even when I rose to the level of a half-decent player (for all of about a week or so back in the late 80s).

I decided to check on the progress of the matches a couple of days ago and found a “live commentary” on the Guardian’s website from earlier in the week, and I have to say it is hilarious (written as it is in the style of a commentary on a fast sport). So I thought I’d share it with you. It is here.



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