Originally posted by Ken: Someone already asked me this question and I just said, Anand. I don't like seeing peoples' eyes glaze over as I begin to pontificate on the subtleties that underlie what should be a simple answer to a simple question.
That's a good point. Just a general rule of being a good conversationalist is figuring out what the person you're speaking to is interested in and addressing that. Like if a non-chessplaying friend wanted to know what was the deal with the toilets last year, they wouldn't be asking for a blow-by-blow account of the whole messy business. They'd just want to know what was the deal with the toilets. An answer like "The guy who was losing decided his opponent must be cheating because he was spending too much time in the bathroom" is all you need to say. If they show more interest after that, then maybe you'd go into more detail.
I remember years back, three of us who were fairly into Star Trek were at a function, and someone who was really not
into Star Trek asked a question about something. One of us started giving this detailed answer that started off with "Well, the technical manual says", and the other two of us just cringed. The "normals" don't want to hear about Tech Manuals and things. It was just a really casual question that deserved a really casual answer.
Same thing here. If a non-chessplyaing friend asks you who the world champion is, they do not
want to hear about the history of match play. They just want to know who the champ is. You answer simply "Anand". If you feel so motivated, you might add "But some people disagree", and if you get any further interest, maybe go into that, otherwise, that's the end of it.
Soltis did a column years ago about how to discuss chess with non-chessplayers. I just checked my index of Soltis columns, and it looks like it was August 1987. I remember there was some mail afterwards that was critical of it for not being serious enough (he said things like if someone asks you what your favorite piece is, to say the Knight, because, for some reason, that's what non-players want to hear. I'm not sure why, I guess because that's the most well-known piece or something.)
Still, the basic principle is sound. Tailor your answer to the interest level of who you're talking to.
"All this talk about more than one world champion is nonsense. Kasparov is the only real one. He proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. To win the title you have to beat Kasparov in a match. It's as simple as that." -- Alexei Shirov, 1998