Sunday, February 1, 2009

Current Chess Scene - part one

One of my biggest gripes about the chess scene today is that there is no adult chess experience. I'm not talking about some obscure European chess porn (but if you have some, feel free to email ;-)), but I am talking about being able to enjoy and discuss chess in an adult context.

In organized chess today, the scholastic programs make up the majority of the members of the United States Chess Federation. And on one level, that is a great thing; the Federation needs every member it can get. But as a result, the Federation has created an environment that is wwaaayyyy too kid friendly. We are so busy kissing their prepubescent asses and trying to keep their parents happy that we end up trying to please everyone from ages 5 to 95. This is an impossible task!

So what we all get is a big serving of bland, boring, uninteresting dullness. Is it any wonder why so many people drop out of the chess scene after a few years? Unless you have completely dedicated your life to the game, are an 8 year old, or the overprotective parent of an 8 year old, I just don't many things that hold the attention of the casual player. The casual player needs to be given some other type of social reward or fulfillment.

Now don't get me wrong...I like kids, I have kids and I even used to be a kid. And I believe that if kids are around, then everyone has a personal responsibility to set the best example possible. But sometimes I also like to curse and get pissed that I hung a piece for the thousandth fucking time!

I am here to say that this squeaky clean one-image-fits-all is wrong! I am here to say that is one of the MAJOR reasons that chess in America is in such a sorry state!

And this is one of the reasons I started Endgame Clothing...that's right, dear reader, to save chess!!!

End Part One


Polly said...

It's been awhile since I've been here, so I finally got around to reading your response to my comment. This post in an intersting look at chess in the US. I'm not sure the squeaky clean image of chess is the problem. I don't think it's the USCF's mission to make chess this all-american wholesome family friendly activity. It's true their biggest money making tournaments are the scholastics and team tournaments. Both events could be described as family friendly, but I've enjoyed some wonderful adult social interaction at these events after the kiddies go to bed.

Many of the chess clubs I play at are made up primarily of adults, but during school vacations more kids come around to play. Even when the kids are not around one does not hear the f-bomb going off frequently.

If you go into a bar you might see that they have a darts league where they play teams from other bars. I can't recall ever seeing chess played at a bar unless there was a chess tournament going on near by. Maybe a bar chess league would be an interesting way to stimulate interest amongst the casual player who's looking for something beyond a friendly game at home, but doesn't want to make the commitment to something as serious as a USCF rated tournament.

Maybe chess in the mid-west doesn't have the east coast edginess that I have seen out here. Go into the skittles room of any of the major evnts like the World Open, and you will see stuff that no more resembles squeaky clean then a pig covered in mud. You will hear enough curse words to keep the biggest potty mouths around happy. Even though I won't use the f word on my blog, I certainly have used it in describing what happened in my games. I used it several times last night in describing my dumbass play that turned a won ending into a lost ending.

I think online chess has hurt the over the board chess scene more then the Disneyfying of tournaments. Too many people prefer sitting at home playing for hours on ICC or some other chess server. I think much of that is the way this generation interacts. They're tied to their phones and computers. Texting and IMs seems to be the standard methods for communicating.

I don't know if your shirts will save chess, but I love the wandering king design. I still would like to see the same design with a queen on it. To me the wings denote strength, freedom and grace. When I watch birds fly I see all of that.

I understand where you're coming from in terms of strong and sexy. I'm one of those rare female Sports Illustrated readers that enjoys the swimsuit issue. I admire the beauty and strength that the models project. However I would not wear a tee shirt with a picture of one of the swimsuit models on it.

In something like chess I prefer focusing on a player's ability, accomplishments and mind. It bothers me when reading about a female athlete or chess player when it starts out with something like "The stunning dark haired beauty is at the top of her game.....blah, blah, blah."

I think I have difficulty with the pin up shirt because I feel as though it's out of context with what chess is all about.

John aka Endgame Clothing said...

Polly - You make a lot of great points. I regards to online chess hurting over the board tournaments, that may be true but I think online chess has had an enormously positve impact on chess as a whole...and it's here to stay. But at the end of the day, there is just no comparsion between playing online and playing OTB...the trick is to get more casual players off of their computers and walk into a tournament. It is very easy to play online, but real life gets in the way of playing tournaments. For that reason, I think the USCF has missed an opportunity to promote chess in America through the Internet.

As far as my designs go, there may be more queens in the future ;-) I have a new line of designs that will be coming out later in the year.

Thank you, Polly, for your thoughtful comments. I really appreciate the time and effort!!