“The Yin of the Nerd in Lockstep with the Yang of the Jock”

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The secret is out. The New Jersey Knockouts have discovered why the New York Knights have had an incredibly dismal start in the U.S. Chess League. The Knockouts blog noted that there is something wrong with the photo (above) of 15-year-old Robert Hess (the Knight’s third board) that appeared in the laudatory profile of him in the New York Daily News. (I believe the News reporter was going for a Pulitzer, or the position of Poet Laureate, when he wrote of Hess: “the yin of the nerd in lockstep with the yang of the jock.”) What’s wrong, of course, is the position of the board: the White square does not belong in the left-hand corner.

OK, it’s a common mistake in movies and even public spaces. (In King’s Gambit, I describe how Au Bon Pain cemented chess tables into the ground in Harvard Square with the boards positioned incorrectly.) The difference here is that the prop master was an international chess master.

So this weekend, in preparation for Monday’s big match against San Francisco, Knights manager and task master Irina Krush is foregoing the Gorgonzola and putting her team through grinding, back-to-basic drills.

“Now, Hikaru, practice putting the queen on its own color… Very good, Hikaru. Now remember what Nimzowitsch said: ‘Keep the queen at home until at least the third move.’ I want to see nice classical development. No c3 on move two.  Yes, you got it, knights before bishops.”

“When you castle, Pascal, my dear, it’s always the king that moves two squares.”

“Now, Robert, a pawn can move two squares only on its first move. And can you lose the football helmet during the game? Remember we’re playing over the Internet. Your teammates, not the opponents, are the only ones who are going to be distracted by your headgear.”

“Brilliant, Elizabeth, you set up all eight pawns correctly!”

“Jay, the knight’s the only piece that can jump.”

“Matt, very good, you got itthe knights start next to the rooks.”

3 Responses to ““The Yin of the Nerd in Lockstep with the Yang of the Jock””

  1. Daniel Lucas Says:

    Incorrectly positioned boards have long caught my attention. In advertising, sitcoms, and in movies–invariably the production seems to get it wrong. The thing is, though it is a common mistake, this seems to happen much more than the 50% of the time simple chance predicts. Sounds like a research project for a bored (“board”?) graduate student?

  2. Stephen Dann (MA) Says:

    Maybe incorrectly positioned boards are there to catch your attention! A clerk taking minutes at a recent state chess association board meeting was doing multiple Soduku puzzles (one at a time is not enough?), chess organizing is that boring. After surveying how few top chess players and politicians (at the U.S. Open in Cherry Hill, NJ) actually read Weinreb’s Kings of NY (way up there for a non-player for both research & writing), I’m tempted to pass reading/reviewing King’s Gambit as another NYC-type of thing. Or should I wait for the movie? But it might be time to have another contest, or, write off the book-buying public. Have you thought about starting Paul’s Book Club? Weinreb even wrote articles about his research writing Kings to apparently no avail. Is is time to write about pawns?

  3. Royal Error « thepHtest Says:

    […] an early post, I good-naturedly ragged on Robert Hess, the chess-master athlete on the New York Knights, for not […]

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