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Earlier this year, on the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour, current chess world champion Magnus Carlsen and Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura had a dead rubber match – both players needed a draw to qualify. Instead of following the traditional methods of drawing a match, both players decided to lean on memes playing an opening called Double Bongcloud.
There are several explanations for where the Bongcloud nomenclature came from, but it has existed since at least the 1990s and seems inextricable due to the rise of chess on the Internet. There were rumors that former world champion Bobby Fischer was playing online in the 90s and he would use this openness to demonstrate his superiority (thanks, Guardian). As this suggests, the joke with Bongcloud is that it’s such a bad move that you should be stoned to try it.
At the time, Grand Master Nigel Short was somewhat disapproving of the play. PC Gamer recently interviewed former world champion Garry Kasparov who, among his many successes, mentored young Magnus Carlsen. I asked Kasparov about this incident and whether he considered it disrespectful.
“I can tell you, I would never have done that,” Kasparov laughs. "As for me, it's bad because I'm old-fashioned. You know, I grew up in the Soviet Union. So 40 years ago, in 1978, it was the first time I qualified for the Soviet national championship and I think when go on stage, you have to act, an actor, so you have to be dressed.Throughout my career, most of the games I played, I had a collar and tie.
"It's because it's not just my game. I play it in front of the audience and I think it's important to respect the audience. I think the audience wants to see something, entertain themselves. And those kinds of sweepstakes aren't sending the right message."
The memes aside, however, the double bongcloud perhaps demonstrated a more fundamental problem: a format that places two competitors in a situation where a tie is the most desirable outcome.
"I understand that this draw proved the imperfection of the system in Magnus chess," says Kasparov, "because you have these endless marathons and it's about winning in the end. And this game had no value for two players, s & # 39 ; risk or Both could qualify: I understand their professional inclinations to make this type of draw.
"We had these debates in football, for example, when during the qualifiers both teams needed draws to qualify and sometimes those games were very painful to watch. So, again, I would like to improve. But I think if you play chess for the public, especially for the Internet audience, you're not talking about a couple of hundred people, but about a hundred thousand people. I think you should respect your viewers. "
PC Gamer spoke with Garry Kasparov about the launch of his new chess site, Kasparovchess.com. Come back soon for more information on our chat.