Monday, October 13, 2008

Chess Comparisons

Tis the season when every sports writer in America breaks out the chess comparisons. Every year, MLB writers compare baseball matchups to chess. During the summer, it's not so bad. But during the playoffs, every, single writeup has at least one reference to chess.

Now with football in full swing, comparisons are being made between linebackers and quarterbacks. This week it was Ray Lewis vs. Peyton Manning.

To add on top of these is the US Presidential election. And we all know that somewhere in a political contest, there has to be at least some reference to chess. This political chess comparison is actually pretty good. The writer seems to have the good sense to take the comparison one step further by actually explaining the comparison of John McCain to an amateur chess player. Most writers will simply say, "it's a chess match" and leave it at that.

And then there is this article that classifies the two candidates into classic and hypermodern types. He dubs McCain a "classic 'Romantic-era' player" comparing him to Captain Evans. On the other hand, the author tags Obama as a "Hypermodern positional player" who is "an analytic who prefers big ideas to short-term tactics."

I really don't mind the comparisons. I enjoy the ones that go into the details. But the ones that make the broad-stroke comparisons aren't really that great. Everything is like chess in one way or another. But to put some thought behind the comparison is what makes the comparison truly worthy.


  1. Anonymous11:18 AM

    I find it actually very funny - comparing McCain to Captain Evans.

  2. Anonymous10:54 PM

    McCain is white. Obama is (half) black. It's even more like chess than usual.

  3. A very interesting post. I can see you've taken a lot of time tracking down different sources. I was amazed at just how many baseball stories have used chess in them.

    Today in USA Today there was an articled titled "Phillies Win Chess Match". This article discussed the decisions the two managers made in the final innings of the prolonged game 5.

    I know the author of the one article comparing Mc Cain's and Obama's styles to chess styles. He used to a partner of a law firm in NY that sponsored a number of high level international tournaments. He has a great appreciation and understanding of chess. I think his analogies of the two candidates are quite accurate.