Thursday, December 05, 2013

Rosner: "Let the loser grieve in peace!"

Chess Column
By: Cecil Rosner
Posted: 11/30/2013 1:00 AM

One of the most absurd aspects of the recent world chess championship match was the press conference that followed each encounter.

After hours of gruelling play, Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen were forced to answer some strange and often inane questions. Much of it was almost too painful to watch.

As a professional journalist, I am generally in favour of full transparency and expansive media access. Sometimes grandmasters can offer interesting insights into the games they have just played, but that doesn't mean it always makes sense.

I think back to some of the gruelling and emotionally draining games I played in my career and wondered what it would be like to have to answer questions immediately following a harrowing loss. What can you say? Yes, I was an idiot. No, I guess I should not have blundered.

Here is one exchange that occurred after Game 6, when Anand had just suffered his second straight loss to Carlsen.

"Mr. Anand, you said it was a blow to you," said Ole Rolfsrud of Norwegian television. "How will you now work out of this blow?"

"Well, you just do your best," was Anand's polite and sensible answer.

After another question from an Indian journalist who wanted Anand to comment on the retirement of a popular Indian cricket player ("There are other things on my mind," said Anand), Rolfsrud was back for more.

"I am still wondering if Mr. Anand will elaborate by what you mean by doing your best?"

This seemed to be the final straw for the former world champion, who snapped back: "Doing your best means doing your best. I don't know why you don't understand English."

My full sympathies are with Anand on this. In football or hockey, you can sometimes blame conditioning or injuries or a variety of other factors for a lack of success. In chess, it usually comes back to your own mind. The reason you lost or didn't play well is because you screwed up. The synapses in your brain were not firing as well as the other guy's.

The post-game press conference seems like a strange sort of public flagellation for the losing player. They are forced to explain the unexplainable. Then when they fall short of doing so to the satisfaction of the flagellators, they are asked to elaborate on the unexplainable.

Here is my unsolicited advice to the organizers of major matches: Make the press conferences voluntary. Let the loser grieve in peace. Internet audiences all around the world will thank you.



Anonymous said...

Great column! That's just how I felt. The questions at the press conferences were beyond inane.

Anonymous said...

The inanity of a press conference after a decisive game depends largely on the quality of interviewers as well as the moderator. Certainly, some of the reporters who asked questions were not only shallow but had shaky command and understanding of English (as Anand correctly pointed out). Same can be said of the lady moderator who was altogether boring, lousy, and had no moderating talent whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Alternatively everyone can learn to be good at english - which won the cold war of languages. The carlsen family were well behaved but the journalist were off board - probably they are not used to seeing sun the whole day and living in a city which has more people than their whole country

Anonymous said...

Make the press conferences voluntary??
This guy is a joke more than the press conferences were. So, I come to conferences, travel, pay my money only to see nobody coming??

Edson Dias said...

The journalists were far below the level of the event. It is very, very said the journalists are not selected.