The Future of Chess
The best way to predict your future is to create it. – Abraham Lincoln
In times when the whole world is concerned about the future our game is not an exception. What will happen to chess? Does chess have a future?
I dare say that chess as a game has a future. Homo ludens has always loved games so there will always be people who will be enchanted by the 64 squares and 32 pieces.
Another question is how that future will look like. We have grown accustomed to the classical chess that comes from time immemorial, with the special atmosphere of the tournaments and matches, feeling that there is something precious and exalted in the aura of the chess world.
The pandemic forcefully changed the scenery. It forced us to stay at home, to forego all chess tournaments and if we wanted to play we were offered a digital version of our game.
I already wrote about this new world and its leader, Hikaru Nakamura. In a very recent interview Nakamura spoke about his disbelief in the future of classical chess and openly said that the future is online.
I understand that saying these things is in line with his business as a streamer and esports celebrity and that this type of future would be very favourable for him. As Carlsen has built his business companies that are slowly taking over the chess world Nakamura also wants to build his own domination, only in the online world.
When it comes to talk about the future, I always remember Kasparov’s words from 2011. Paraphrasing, he said that chess will be played only by the elite, the rest of the world will watch and be considered amateurs.
The elite just finished the only OTB tournament in this period in Wijk aan Zee. Previously it was Norway Chess. The rest? We stayed at home, watched the elite play and moved the pieces on our screens.
The pandemic sped things up, but all seems to be falling in place for Kasparov’s and Nakamura’s future.
I don’t like that future. I may be a tourist, amateur or Candidate Master in Kasparov’s terminology, but I love playing chess. I want to be the doer, not the watcher.
I also firmly believe in Abraham Lincoln’s words. It is always the person’s responsibility and it is within his or her own powers to create his or her future. What will happen to chess depends on us.
By “us” I mean the players who are not the elite. There will always be classical chess and OTB tournaments for them, they will look after their interests well. If the rest want to play OTB and want it badly, OTB will live. Then there will be organisers and sponsors who will make them happen. FIDE can also help, a major step in this direction will be including the opens in the World Championship cycle.
Of course, a lot depends on how long the pandemic continues to paralyse the world. If it is for too long, then no amount of love for the game will be able to change things simply because there will be no choice. But there are positive news in the world today so let’s try to be optimistic.
There are many actions in the world where the common people show their will and when united they manage to change things. The same applies to chess as well, so when the masks are finally down we will see how strong our love for the game is. I like to believe that it is and that we again get to experience the special atmosphere of the chess tournaments. The online world can and will exist, but nothing compares to the feeling of holding and moving your pawn from e2 to e4.