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Breaking the Hoodoo

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Don't ask me, that's what they call it over there. That's the jinx or curse or karma that has kept a Scotsman from winning the British Championship since Combe did it in 1946. Even having the tournament in Scotland last year didn't help. This year, however, Jonathan Rowson is one of the top seeds and has a half-point lead with one round to play. He got a nice pairing against a FIDE Master in the final round, albeit with black.

This year saw the British Ch become the British instead of the Commonwealth Ch after the "Indian takeaway" of the last two years ruffled feathers. Top Brits Adams and Short still aren't playing. Maybe if Rowson wins they'll make it English-only next year. (Rowson won Hastings, too.) There was a brief sensation this year as Georgian-born Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant took the lead for a moment. She's a woman and plays for Scotland, but two consecutive losses have put her out of the running. Have there been any female national champions other than Judit Polgar? [Andy McFarland points out that Victoria Cmilyte won the open Lithuanian championship. It was in 2000 and she was only 16 at the time and rated just 2329. Quite a feat, although she tied for first with five other players in a massive Swiss. Interview with her from 2000.]

Being a national champion is prestigious, but few elite players bother because of poor conditions (small prize funds) in most countries. They also worry about losing precious rating points to the non-elite players they will face. Boo-hoo. That changed in the USA when the AF4C took over, although right now the USA doesn't have anyone in the world's top 40 to worry about rating or conflicting invitations to gravy-train European invitationals.

It's a credit to Yasser Seirawan that he played in the US Ch and on the Olympiad teams when he was a WCh Candidate and World Cup player in the 80s, when US Ch conditions were often quite poor. And how about Joel Benjamin's 21-consecutive US Ch appearances! Of course this is what we should hope for, but it's not always what we get.

I can see why Anand doesn't play in the insanely long Indian championship (he'd score +18 or so), but why not the Olympiad team? [Rimfaxe gives a link to an interview that confirms Anand will play in the 2004 Olympiad after an absence of 12 years.] Many of the top Russians don't play in their championship, although this year they are trying to organize a "super-final" that will include Kramnik, Kasparov, Svidler, et al. Do your country's best players play for your country?


Aww, it's my old college chum Jon. Good to see him on form.

Anand has mentioned the likelihood of his playing for India this time around, hasn't he?

The reference to the European "gravy train" is hilarious, by the way. Americans can be so funny when they don't get their own way.

Yes, and imagine how funny it would be if you understood it!

"Yes, and imagine how funny it would be if you understood it!"

Wow, my very own Mig (TM) Snappy Comeback to cut out and keep. Cool.

America enjoys calling it national championships the World Championships whenever possible, generally when no-one else gives a toss, but in chess, it doesn't matter a damn - hence jealous snipes at Europe's success in that area. Yes, they have more chess players, more tournaments, and more of those with half-decent prize money. In golf, players from all over the world try to get to the States for the PGA tour; if Europe has so much easy money for chess it warrants the term 'gravy train', US players should be going over and making plenty of money in the leagues and the tournaments. But they aren't good enough, there is no gravy train, etc. etc.

Yak yak. I guess you missed the part where I said the US doesn't have anyone in the top 40 right now so they don't have to worry about it. If you need that in smaller words, it means they don't have anyone strong enough. Jealous snipe? It's just a fact. No excuses or accusations. You are so eager to make a totally off-topic point about how much you dislike Americans that you build strawmen. "Cheese? You said cheese? Boy, that reminds me of how much those Americans are always whining about how great Europe is."

It's not easy making a living playing chess anywhere in the world. But it's a lot easier if you live in Europe. Some Americans go to Europe to live and play. But see, then THEY ARE LIVING IN EUROPE and the point about elite American players is rather lost.

Coming from Canada, I would say that our country's best players play in our national championship, as well as vie for spaces on the Olympic team.

Canada is certainly not a world chess power, but it is heartening to see that those at the top of their game in the country place value on the title of the nation's best player, as well as representing their country in the Olympiad.

I have had the good fortune to meet both Yasser Seriwan and Joel Benjamin when they visited Canada. I found both to be admirable ambassadors of the game, showing both a fierce fighting spirit on the board, and a ready approachability off the board. I don't know about the world superstars in that context, but I would hope that they have the understanding that their talent implies a responsibility as well.

PS. As an aside, I have started reading this column about a month ago, and find it interesting, informative, and fun. Mig certainly aspires to be an ambassador for the game, and I personally say....keep up the fine work and thank you!

I visited this page first time to get info on people search and found it Very Good Job of acknowledgment and a marvelous source of info.........Thanks Admin! http://www.reverse-phone-look-up.net

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 12, 2004 4:58 PM.

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