Nakamura Breaks Out

The New York Knights beat the Queens Pioneers in the US Chess League when Hikaru Nakamura, the White Plains wonder, broke the Nakamura paradox and won his first game as a Knight. Maybe it was the inspiration teammate Jay Bonin provided when he arrived at the Marshall Chess Club donning a shield and sword and shouting, “Go Knights!” New York still has a chance to reach the playoffs. The Knights played their match early this week. The other teams play tonight.

The new world chess champion Vishy Anand said yesterday that he hopes to see chess as an Olympic sport. Now, I too would welcome all the attention chess might get if it were part of the Olympic games. But, as one wag said, “I don’t consider something to be a sport if I can do it better while smoking.”

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One Response to “Nakamura Breaks Out”

  1. Tom Panelas Says:

    I still think Queens’s problem is that their iconography is all wrong. The name and logo make no sense. Why are they called the Pioneers? There’s nothing in the borough’s history, geography, or culture (don’t laugh) to suggest cowboys or covered wagons. The team’s branding looks like the handiwork of some Midtown marketing consultant who’s never crossed the 59th Street Bridge and imagines the outer boroughs to be all sagebrush and hardscrabble.

    And that logo with the sunset? What’s that all about? You can’t hardly see a decent sunset in Queens for the Manhattan skyline blocking the view to the west.

    The Knights, on the other hand, have it right. The team benefits from Manhattan’s longstanding association in the public mind with chivalry and the heraldic orders. Everyone knows the Knights Templars made their home in the Cloisters back in the 11th century and that the Hospitallers repaired to Castle Clinton after Saladin chased them out of Jerusalem. (Alas, they were later ousted from Battery Park by the Dutch armada, or they might be there still.)

    Oh, and don’t believe the spin from Olmsted’s latter-day publicists about him having designed Belvedere Castle. That guy gets credit for everything! Anyone who reads history knows it was built the old-fashioned way, by indentured serfs, under a commission from William the Conqueror, who wanted a place to escape across the pond whenever the Saxons got rowdy.

    But I digress. What Queens needs to be a USCL contender is not a change of roster; the current one is excellent (two GMs, an IM, solid strength in the lower boards). What they need is a new name and new branding based on Queens as it really is. Forget Archie Bunker and Doug Heffernan; they’re anachronisms. Think Airports. Think Tennis. Think World’s Fairs. Think polyglot—people from every corner of the world.

    Queens is a great, proud place, and there’s plenty of dynamic imagery to work with. My advice to the Pioneers: drop the Rawhide routine. Be yourselves.

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