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Friday, October 27, 2017

7 Things Lady Gaga Has In Common With Chess

     The other day I was poking around on the internet and looking through old chess books and magazines trying to find something interesting to write about, but nothing seemed to pop out, so I went to one of those sites that generates headlines designed to grab interest and typed in chess. You know, the kind they use for clickbait ads. A few interesting possibilities came up:

 The Most Boring Chess Article You'll Ever Read – the problem is, I've probably already done that.
The Rise of Chess and How To Make It Stop - Not a bad idea. Chess was more fun and you had a better chance of getting a higher rating when the USCF only had 5,000 members and there weren't a hundred kids running around at chess tournaments.
10 Ways Chess Can Suck the Life Out of You – You could probably come up with more than that.
10 Ways Marketers Are Making You Addicted to Chess - That's easy to answer also. Start with opening books, DVDs, software and pay-to-play internet sites.
Why You Should Forget Everything You Learned About Chess - for me at least, most of it was either wrong or useless.

     Buried down in the middle was the headline Seven Things Lady Gaga Has In Common With Chess. Actually, I couldn't find seven things she has in common with chess, but did you know Lady Gaga likes a man who knows his way around a chessboard? Last year she revealed to The Sun newspaper, "I like to play chess, I think that it's fun." Unfortunately, that's about all that's available on her devotion to chess.
     Singer-actress Jessica Simpson is also a chessplayer. Back in 2010, Simpson and her speculated boyfriend at the time, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, were obsessed with playing chess against one another. She became addicted after he taught her how to play and they began playing each other on a regular basis. Beyond that though, like Lady Gaga, nothing is really known about her chess prowess or even if she still plays.

     However, I did find her name mentioned in a book titled Your Children Are Under Attack – How Popular Culture Is Destroying You Kid's Values And How You Can Protect Them published in 2005 by Jim Taylor, PhD.
     Taylor points out that children under the age of six spend two hours a day in front of a television or computer screen and, unbelievably, two-thirds of toddlers spend over two hours a day in front of a screen. The result is that children see more than twenty thousand commercials a year and absorbs unhealthy values that hurt their development. Taylor shows how today's kids are bombarded by the values of popular culture that advocate greed, blatant sexuality and violence. In the book he shows parents how to work with children to fight back against this assault.
     He points out examples of how parents push their kids in all kinds of things: music, dance, sports and many other activities that value achievement, and that includes chess. A few years back I visited a tournament at a local college and on the way to the parking lot after the first round I observed a mother who was grabbing her sobbing 7 or 8-year old daughter by the shoulders and yelling, “Look at me when I talk to you! Why didn't you play the opening like I showed you? What's wrong with you!” Poor kid. Today it's nothing like when I played in my first tournament, the state junior championship, at the age of 15 or 16. My sister and mother dropped me off at the site then left to find a hotel room and go shopping. They showed up a few hours later and my mother asked, “How'd you do?” I don't remember my exact answer, but do remember her reply. “That's nice. Do you want to go get something to eat?”  My parents never knew there was such a thing as an Elo rating or that I even had one.
     Taylor warns that not only kids but many parents are seduced by the pop culture's message of fame and fortune through athletic success. They are bombarded with “reality” TV shows, talent shows, children's beauty pageants and the success of young performers. He mentioned Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson in that context.
     The author reminds parents that if they fall for that pot of gold they will probably be disappointed and may do irreparable harm to their children. The odds are a child's superstardom or obtaining the Grandmaster title are highly unlikely to happen.

Read Nigel Davies article: Too Young For Chess

1 comment:

  1. One thing Lady Gaga has in common with chess grandmasters is that what looks to outsiders like effortless skill is really the result of combining initial talent with a lifetime of hard work and dedicated practice