July 3, 2022

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Sports – Chess: 50 years since the historic match of Russia


On Mediaset Networks (you can see it again at www.mediasetplay.mediaset.it by typing in the ‘search’ field: the big game) 2014 movie finished The big game (original title pawn sacrifice) by Edward Zwick and written by Stephen Knight. The movie stars Tobey Maguire, who will be remembered by the audience for his role Spider Man. The narrative traces the years from 1951 to 1972 of chess champion Bobby Fischer’s career with the final of the world title final in Iceland, where he will face the reigning Russian champion Boris Spassky. Their challenge will go down in history as the “meeting of the century”.

In a few weeks, as of July 11, 1972, it will be exactly fifty years since the start of that epic match that ended on September 1 after 21 out of 24 matches, with a score of 12.5 to 8.5 in favor of the ‘American’. The whole world was involved in the checkmate outbreak, including Italy. With a delay of four centuries, the Italians rediscovered chess. It was necessary to return to the pontificate of Leo X, a passionate chess player, to find in our country the prevalence and enthusiasm comparable to that of the Reykjavik “Century Challenge” champions: Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer.

Even Sanyo was not cured of the infection. In the fall of 1972 thanks to Angelo Cillo, participant in the TV quiz game sacrifice everything By Mike Bonjorno, the spread and passion of the chessboard “64 Houses” reached its zenith. In our province, the first chess clubs of the FSI (Italian Chess Federation) began to appear: Badoli, with about 50 members rising (on the field, with comments in favor of the audience, the famous sixth game of Fisher’s match was reproduced with live pieces.

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Our press has also started hosting chess articles on a regular basis, with Today’s message Directed by Daniela de Lucia E Samnit’s truth Directed by Giovanni Fuccio, so much so that it was the late director who requested writer accreditation for the 37th Chess Olympiad in Turin – the highest world team competition held in Italy for the first time in history – and the only Sannio-accredited journalist, at the time, 2006, was the first Member and then Chairman of the Board of Arbitrators of the Asigc (Confederation of telescacchistica). I stunned director Fuccio when I told him of the cleverness of the head of the press office, Adolivio Capisi, who had known me well for some time: “Oh, at last someone who knows how to distinguish an ensign from a horse.” The reference was to fellow national newspapers, not chess players, who had inevitably had to limit themselves in their reporting to matters of morality without any artistic value.

Going back to the film, it is natural to ask ourselves: How is chess treated in these somewhat themed films? Are the situations and matches you see on the screen realistic? Are the rules, such as the movement or arrangement of the pieces, not to mention how the board is placed (the bottom right square should be white), respected? Many times not, unfortunately. Today, it remains a pity that cinema, despite the increasing number of productions (more films released in the first twenty years of the twenty-first century than in all the last hundred), has not yet been able to attract the attention of the general public. The audience is in the game. We had to think of a TV series that came out on Netflix at the end of 2020, chess queen, based on the novel of the same name by Walter Teves. The latter, who died at the age of 56 in 1984, was successfully transferred to the big screen boaster (1961) and money color (1984), both with Paul Newman.

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Paraphrasing Paolo Fiorelli, like many of their fans, I firmly believe that chess is, among other things, an art. It seems natural and true that they negotiate with other arts: literature (chess is not inferior in quality and quantity, scientific and artistic), music, and painting. When I write about chess as a journalist, I realize that fans are divided into two parties: the one who believes in how great chess is and enjoys seeing his passion celebrated in cinema in a way that makes them more famous and gathers new followers. ; The other, who believes that the average person should discuss something else and not spoil our highest worship with nonsense.

The French writer Pierre MacOrlan used to say that there are more adventures on the chessboard than all the seas in the world. Chess can take on a variety of roles and meanings, among others embodying the eternal struggle between good and evil, or between life and death; Chess is like fear, chess is like hate, chess is like happiness.

Because the world does not know it, and seeing us sitting at a table, it will never suspect it, but we play chess to feel strong emotions. For the same reason we watch movies.

Giancarlo Scaramuzzo

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