Chess 29may12The World Chess Championship reached a critical stage this week with the best of twelve series between Boris Gelfand and defending champion Viswanathan Anand tied at 6-6, taking the contest to a tie-breaker on Wednesday.

Central to the tied score was a move made by Gelfand, his tenth as black, which took him 40 minutes to make. It proved crucial to the Israeli.”If I hadn’t been thinking for a long time and made a move quickly, maybe, it would be already impossible to do anything on the next move,” said Gelfand, as reported on the News Track India website.

One of the appealing aspects of Mind Sports are these moments of intense focus, which while often agonising for the player – Gelfand was pictured with his face scrunched up – offer delightful segments of analysis for the spectator, be it a chess match of a hand of poker, which can later be analysed at length. In the post-mortem, Anand, World Chess Champion since 2008, admitted that Gelfand had played “very well.”

While chess grandmasters are permitted lengthy periods in which to make their move, in poker when the clock is ticking and the blinds ready to go up, the pressure is on to act before other players call the floor. If they do thinking time is cut to one minute before a tournament director can declare a hand dead.

Yet good players know when the circumstances require serious thought and tend to allow players as much time as they need to make crucial decisions that can be the difference between survival and elimination.

Gelfand and Anand shook hands on the game, after Anand’s 22nd move, watched by 400 spectators in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and many more watching on screens outside.

The four-match tiebreak presents the possibility of yet another draw, at which point the Armageddon phase comes to effect, a match in which each player has only a few minutes to act. White receives five minutes while black receives four, although in the event of a draw black is declared the winner.

At stake will be $1.5 million to the winner, with $1 million to the runner-up.


28-5-12 - Robert Williamson III


Nernan Villa Mex 25may12

Vincenzo Gianelli (background) celebrates his double up through Nernan Villa (foreground)

Picture the scene; a man stands with his arms raised aloft, another looks shocked but amused, while a lady nearby looks disheartened, certainly not oblivious to the cheers and hollers of those standing a few feet away.

If you read the newspapers across Europe over the past week this image was one splashed across the front pages; the three people mentioned being British Prime Minister David Cameron (arms aloft), US President Barrack Obama (shocked but amused) and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel (disheartened), taking a break from high level talks about saving the world economy. They’d been watching the Champions League final and the British Prime Minister was showing his delight at Chelsea’s win, while his German counterpart’s face dropped as Bayern Munich missed out on penalties.

Some newspaper suggested that, while not intentional, Mr Cameron’s raised arms were an ungracious way to celebrate in front of his German counterpart, although later pictures showed the now smiling Mrs Merkel embracing Mr Cameron.

It’s a scene that will be mirrored countless times this summer as the World Series of Poker begins, the vanquishers celebrating in front of the vanquished, only later (if then) considering the feelings of the player now reduced to spectator status.

In the United Kingdom Debrett’s, the authority on all matters of manners and etiquette, made helpful suggestions, reminders you might say, of how best to handle your own success at the expense of others.

“All things in moderation especially if the other person can be offended,” suggested etiquette advisor at Debrett’s Jo Bryant. “You can celebrate and be happy but don’t rub their faces in it.”

Yet sometimes even this simple code is a request too far, particularly in a unique environment like a high stakes poker tournament where emotions can be turned over and then back again in a matter of seconds, usually on a showdown.

One player will find himself behind and needing miracle cards, and then get them, eliminating their opponent. It’s a scene that takes place dozens of times during any poker tournament and the natural reaction is to celebrate, hopes having gone from being crushed to reborn. The other guy? Well he just wants to run away and hide, and while some stay to graciously shake hands, others do just that.

But like with the emotions attached to football, poker too will keep its colourful antics. Players will still raise their arms aloft and shout, and a player nearby, not in the hand, will find this schadenfreude amusing, while the defeated will be crestfallen and doing their best to keep a brave face.

One final note, and as the BBC pointed out, the last time Cameron and Merkel watched a football match together, Germany trounced England 4-1. Feelings of revenge, however inconspicuous, will always prove hard to tame.


Table Nally

Patrick Nally

In an interview with the Financial Times recently, Patrick Nally, known as the Godfather of Sports marketing, talked of his role in bringing large corporate sponsorship to major sporting events; Coca Cola to the World Cup, even jeans to the Olympic Games. Nally was instrumental in shaping the sporting world into the mould it is in now.

As a member of the IFP Executive Board, Nally has, over the past two years, turned his attentions to Mind Sports, seeking to transform the image of games like poker, played by millions of people, across the world.

“Whether you are a doctor, accountant, architect or engineer, there are vast numbers of people that would socially like to create competitive events and activity among their groups and be ranked,” said Nally. “There are billions of people around the world who participate in mind sports online, and we are giving the ability for people to come to global events, to win through to, in the case of poker, the ultimate table.”

With the expertise of Nally, it has made the development of the IFP in particular an intriguing story with the IFP World Championships last November being the first opportunity for Mind Sports and sponsorship to combine. The IFP will be working alongside other major sponsors later this year when the new software is launched in tandem with a revolutionary new membership scheme.

Read the interview on the Financial Times website.