At the Albert Hall? Good Lord. To be accurate - and it is rare that quoting chessboxing publicity takes us towards greater accuracy rather than away from it, so let us not forego the opportunity - it is in the Royal Albert Hall Loading Bay, which sounds at first like it might be the lift, but is apparently
a stunning, underground landscape encompassing a striking and cavernous interior space, hidden from the general public for 140 years. Massive modern graffiti murals, created by some of London's top street artists, lend a dramatic and theatrical atmosphere ideally suited to staging the sport.That's "basement venue with painted walls and bar", then. Still, the Beatles got started in the Cavern.
Our gimmick tomorrow is 4 FIGHTERS - 1 WINNER which does rather point in the direction of a freak show rather than a sport, since I rather doubt that this would be allowed in a licensed boxing event. Proper sports play to proper rules. Freak shows do not.
The Albert Hall freak show appears to be an international cast, albeit one apparently lacking (with one exception) international ratings. One assumes that right now, some gullible hack with knowledge neither of chess nor boxing is being fed easy-to-regurgitate nonsense in order to hype the Albert Hall event. In re: the Scala event, our man Woolgar has already found a gullible hack in Rosamund Urwin of the Standard, which when I left London was mostly operating as a work-creation system for cleaning staff on commuter trains.
No obvious improvement is apparent since then, not from Ms Urwin's article anyway, which introduces Mr Woolgar as
One of the men making chess fashionable againa claim which appears to rest on something almost like chess appearing in a Prada video.
Ungenerous minds may not see this undoubtedly significant moment in social and cultural history as the new Fischer-Spassky, but perhaps they should hush their mouths, since
in London, chess is about to enjoy the kind of profile it hasn't seen since Garry Kasparov — now a Russian opposition leader and Pussy Riot supporter — took on Nigel Short for the World Chess Championship in the capital.Personally I am almost sure I recall another world championship match in the capital since then, but the struggle of memory against forgetting is not perhaps one to be wasted on the promoter of that match, so let us perhaps suggest that if the profile of chess in London is relatively high at the moment, this may be because of actual chess events taking place in my home city, rather than freak shows such as Mr Woolgar's. Still, "fashionable"? Do me a favour.
Anyway, scroll down from Ms Urwin's churnalism and you can find various remarks from the commentariat, including one from the present writer (which reads as though I typed it wearing boxing gloves - sorry about that) and several from Mr Woolgar's friends and admirers, including the amiable Andy Costello.
I mention this, in part, because as I am sure readers recall, the line used to be that chessboxing was a fast-growing sport. Curiously that claim has shifted, given that even a fool (provided they are not also a journalist) can see that you can only sustain that claim so far when there is only one club in the country, and one promoter putting on shows featuring much the same people. So it is now advertised as
the fastest growing hybrid sport in the world- by the way, for a professional sport, a total of fifteen hundred nicker isn't a great deal when it comes to prize money, is it? - and so Andy argues thus.
Chess and Boxing are both difficult sports to master. It stands to reason that there will not be a huge number of people who have mastered both. I guess that the are not many pentatheletes for the same reason. Is that cause to knock the pentathalon?No, it isn't. On the other hand, the pentathalon tends to involve people who actually have mastered five events, as opposed to people who have attempted two and mastered neither. Pentathalon, my arse.
Andy reckons he was good once, though, as in this interview from 2010:
I was a junior chess champion, a really high level player.Information as to what Andy was champion of, and what "really high level" he actually achieved, is welcomed.
More additions to the mountain of chessboxing bullshit, like the dust heaps in Our Mutual Friend. But back to reality. There may be readers still unaware that having, bizarrely, been elected last year to the post of Director of Marketing of the English Chess Federation, our mutual friend Tim Woolgar has decided, this year, not to stand.
I am not sure, to be honest, whether he actually announced his withdrawal, or whether he simply did not put himself forward. If he did go so far as to make an actual announcement, this would have been the only recognisable activity he undertook in the entirety of his period in the post.
Let's have a look at his candidate statement once again:
My priority would be to draw up and implement a strategy for communicating meaningfullyThere was never any strategy, nor any drawing up of one, nor any attempt to do so.
This will involve a re-examination of all the resources at our disposalThere was never any re-examination of anything. In fact there was nothing.
Nothing. Nothing whatsoever. Nothing at all.
From start to finish, waffle and nonsense. Far from
communicating more effectively with mass media outlets particularly national newspapers and broadcastershe never even found a single journalist to bullshit on our behalf.
Still, at least that means that the mountain of bullshit was not added to. Though his candidate statement was as big an addition as he's ever managed.
Ladies and Gentleman, I give you Tim Woolgar. What did he do for us?
He did nothing.
Take it away, boys!