Monday 23 July 2007


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?

John Saunders
Editor of British Chess Magazine, also part-time clown and acrobat, children's parties and barmitzvahs a speciality...


  1. Chessbase have mentioned Ludwig before:

    I don't think it's a strange as it sounds, but I can't see them making much money out of it.

    Topdancing Tolya! Nice one :)

  2. Lighten up, John Saunders! Ludwig does have a connection with chess. The search algorithm is similar to the one used in chess programs, and if the product succeeds, hey, more publicity for chess! About Kramnik's performance on the stage; hey, if professional singers can play chess exhibition matches, why can't chess professionals ... err .. make a musical exhibition of themselves?

    Lighten up, John Saunders! Don't be such a mean-spirited chess fundamentalist.

  3. ....shouldn't that be full-time clown.

  4. Well worth clicking on the link that EJH has posted above... Croatian GM Davorin Komljenovic accompanying himself on the guitar as he performs the Gypsy Kings' hit Bambolero, with some barely audible vocals from another Croatian GM Bogdan Lalic.

    "... yes, it's come to this, it's come to this... and wasn't it a strange way down" (Leonard Cohen)

    Anyone know of any more singing grandmasters on YouTube?

    Any more cheek from some of you other blog responders and I will post my own version of the FIDE time control protest song "The Times They Are A-Changing" on YouTube and force you to listen to it.

  5. "Any more cheek from some of you other blog responders ..."

    Talk about ingratitude being sharper than a serpent's tooth ... John, I'm actually reading your blog. Be grateful!

    Cross-fertilization is a part and parcel of artistic creativity. It's easy to poke fun at singing grandmasters. Try making fun of chess-playing boxers ... preferably to their face.