I've just been reading an article on the ChessBase website, which is a big promotion for some music composition/accompaniment software called Ludwig. It ends with the statement "Ludwig will be available as a ChessBase product in October this year".
Music software? ChessBase? I checked everywhere for signs of a spoof. Not dated 1 April. I was a bit taken aback when I saw photos of a sheepish-looking Vladimir Kramnik joining in an impromptu musical recital and playing some strange-looking percussion instrument. Rather undignified, I thought, and not to be compared with such semi-pro musicians as Taimanov, Smyslov and Portisch giving one of their rather impressive mini-concerts. "That's the world chess champion standing up there, holding his maraccas", I said to myself, losing the internal battle against cheap innuendo. Has it come to this for our chess heroes? You couldn't imagine someone persuading Botvinnik to get up on stage and play a version of "Camptown Races" on the spoons, could you? Whatever next? Bobby Fischer, the ever-so-slightly un-PC stand-up comedian? Garry Kasparov, stage magician, sawing lovely assistant Judit Polgar in half? 'Tapdancing Tolya' Karpov showing us his ballroom moves on Celebrity Come Dancing?
So have I been spoofed? I don't think so. It appears it is not just the poker players who are deserting the professional game for easy money, our friends at ChessBase are also diversifying. Will they rebrand as AnythingforadollarBase?
Editor of British Chess Magazine, also part-time clown and acrobat, children's parties and barmitzvahs a speciality...