Monday, October 01, 2007

A genuine World Champion

If there is one sportsman whose career and fortunes I have followed with considerable interest, it is Anand (see note below). I am glad that he is now the undisputed world chess champion. And, 'world' here is truly the 'world' and not the eight countries that make up the 'world' in cricket, or what passes off as a World Series in baseball.

For this stupendous feat, he gets a prize of 390000 dollars, which is about Rs 1.6 crores. Although irrelevant to this context, I couldn’t help thinking that this was Rs 20 lakhs less than what Yuvraj Singh got from the BCCI for being part of the winning cricket team and for his six sixes in an over.

Players such as Anand, Vijay Amritraj in tennis, Prakash Padukone in Badminton, and Narain Karthikeyan in racing have met varying degrees of success in their respective sport, but each of them has had to blaze a lonely trail in the professional circuit, without the might of an association backing them up. Apart from the fact that they needed to train themselves to raise the standard of their game to global level, they have had to make their own travel arrangements, tackle various administrative barriers, and handle the other pressures all by themselves, at least in the early part of their careers. The journey to the top (in the case of Prakash and Anand) was, to that extent, more difficult and their achievement that much more creditable.

Alas, chess can never be a spectator sport, and doesn’t lend itself so readily to televising. The commentary, if at all, is scholarly and professorial. No Ravi-Shastri-types to tell you that “Even if Anand is unable to grab a queen or a rook, he needs to go for some quick pawns and put pressure on the opposition. He mustn’t lower his guard.” No cheerleaders to swing their hips, when Anand does manage to grab the opponent’s queen or rook. No Sidhuisms such as, " you may be the Bishop of Canterbury, but you have to wait for the lowly pawn in front to move aside, my friend".

Incidentally, I happened to see the World Carrom Series on Star Sports. What they have done is amazing. The game has been given a complete face lift to make it television friendly. The white coins have become blue, the black ones red, and the red one yellow. While replaying the shot, numbers are superimposed on the coin, so that the viewer can understand what was going on in the player’s mind. The whole effect keeps you engaged and thoroughly absorbed.

Can they do the same thing to chess? I have heard stories of Indian kings in the past who, just for kicks, loved to play chess using real animals and people as ‘’coins’. And, that episode in Alice in Wonderland, where Alice is told by the Red Queen that she must reach the eighth square and become a queen, if she wants to go home. Maybe, if we are placed in such reality shows, that would act like a booster dose of adrenalin and we would develop new admiration for the game.

Note (1): Those outside Tamilnadu, please note that the guy’s name is Anand. He is not to be referred to as Vishy, because Vishwanathan is his father’s name. Calling him Vishy is as absurd as calling Sachin Tendulkar by the name of “Ramy’ – a shortened version of Ramesh, his father’s first name.

Note (2): Those from Tamilnadu, why don’t you conform to the practice in the rest of the world and have a clear first name and a surname.


Anonymous said...

Dear Raj,

I think I know the answer to your Note 2: to confuse outsiders (so that we can tell them not to be absurd), use it as a starting point to give a lecture on our way of naming, our culture, and so on (which I often do, whenever somebody asks me about my first name), and, just for the heck of it--since, to conform is to surrender, you see!

A Motley Tunic said...

changed template...well looks different...maybe that was the point.

anyway, what baffles me is some married women from tamil nadu now living in the US, take up their father-in-law's name, so that the husband and wife share the same last name.

Philip said...

Ravi Shastri was famous for this dialogue

"India is in the driver seat now". We were left wondering if we were in a bus or were watching a cricket match. Anyways, the next ball India lost a wicket.

Btw, Sidhu must have been a Phd in English literature in his previous life.

Shruthi said...

Great post - love the notes at the end.

Raj said...

Guru, there is no hidden agenda in that note. Was trying to present both view points, within and outside Tamilnadu.But,you have given me a good theme for a post.

sommya, maybe that becomes the surname for future generations. You've got to start somewhere and father-in-law's name is as good as any.

philip, true. Cricket Commentatator's Crude Cliches.

Shruthi, thanks.

braindrain said...

Raj, For south Indian's surname has always been an issue. I attend all the interviews and my father gets the job !! If you are not from the higher class family , yu cant use your caste name, either.