Saturday, 5 September 2009

The value of negative publicity

There is an old saying that any publicity is good publicity. Whether this is true, I don't know, but it certainly gets tested semi-regularly by chess players. The latest such publicity-causing person is GM Vladislav Tkachiev, who got his name in the newspapers by turning up drunk to a game in the Kolkata Open, falling asleep, and eventually losing on time.

This has, like so many other notable chess stories, been picked up on by the good folk at the English Chess Forum, and there has subsequently been a lively debate on the subject.

What's quite clear is that Tkachiev's own personal reputation has not exactly been enhanced by this episode, and he's probably going to find it harder to get conditions to play in tournaments in the future. (Unless, that is, some organizer decides that a GM who may concede stupid points by falling asleep might be a good person to invite in the hope that he'll do this against a norm-seeker. It's possible.)

What's less clear is the effect on chess in general. Does the association of our game with alcohol help it or hurt it? Is it better for us to be the subject of no news stories, or ones that show our players in bad lights?

I don't know the answers to these questions. Perhaps you may.

1 comment:

  1. If the worst story about Chess is a player has too much to drink and falls asleep, then we need not fear the publicity too much. Indeed I don't imagine this making the news in many places outside the chess world.

    Football survives players doing far worse, including assault whilst under the influence, with much greater media scrutiny.

    It sounds like Vladislav has a problem. One wonders how good he would be if/when he manages to address it.

    One thing that makes me less condeming of those with drink problems is a friend, who whilst not obviously having a problem with alcohol, very obviously gets a buzz from drinking alcohol far above that which most people get. I can see it would be easy for his hobby to become a problem.