Saturday 13 December 2008
The Perfect Marriage: Chess and Cricket
It's official: chess and cricket have got married. The world's greatest sport has finally decided to formalise its natural partnership with the world's greatest game.
The ceremony was performed in Chennai on 11 December, with Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni doing the honours for cricket and world chess champion Vishy Anand representing chess. The photo shows Dhoni slipping a diamond ring on Vishy's finger. Best man duties at this, the celebrity wedding of the year, were performed by Nigel Short and Peter Svidler, while Vishy was 'given away' by FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov (bravely masking his disappointment that chess had decided to marry cricket and not the Olympic Games, with which it had previously conducted a long but pointless flirtation).
OK, I'm getting a bit carried away with this skit, so here's the real story. The photo does not lie - that really is MS Dhoni placing a ring on Vishy Anand's finger. It was a present to celebrate the world chess champion's 39th birthday on 11 December. And, while on the subject, I'd like to wish Vishy all the best myself. A really great champion and one of nature's nice guys.
Rather surprisingly, the birthday celebration took place after day one of the India v England test match in Chennai. As Matthew Turner has already commented, it might explain India's woeful batting on the following day. Can you imagine England's cricket team taking time off during a test match to make a birthday presentation to Mickey Adams or Nigel Short? As Geoffrey Boycott might have said: "tha's roobish plannin', is tha'!"
Vishy was quoted as wishing Dhoni and the Indian cricket team luck in their ongoing encounter against England. “Good luck for the next four days, though I hope it gets over in three,” he said. He might yet get his wish but possibly not in the way he'd hoped. His birthday celebration could have caught the cricket team in the corridor of uncertainty.
Now, have I ever told you about the time I went to The Oval and saw Brian Statham bowl his last test-match spell? Well, it were 1965 and I were nobbut a lad and ... (continued page 94)...
[The original story and photo here]