Raymond Keene

Sporting life

Can chess and bridge be considered sports? According to a European Court of Justice judgment earlier this month, bridge is a sport and should be granted the same official status as football, rugby and tennis. The Daily Telegraph report says: ‘Advocate General Maciej Szpunar ruled that sport was an activity requiring a certain effort to overcome a challenge or an obstacle and which trains certain physical or mental skills. To be a sport it is not necessary that the activity has a certain physical element. It is sufficient that the activity has a significant mental element which is material to its outcome.’
This judgment is of great significance for both the English Chess Federation and the English Bridge Union in their battle to have Sport England recognise both activities as sports. It is a measure which the body has so far resisted, claiming that sport must entail physical exertion.
Of course, social bridge or chess can no more be classified as sport than kicking a football around in your back garden. But once mind sports have recognised competitions, titles and rankings — the criteria used when chess was recognised as a sport in Germany in 1977 — then recognition is due. International chess competitions have been common since 1834, with the world championship universally recognised in 1886. This week’s game is a brilliant effort from the 11th World Team Championship in Khanty-Mansiysk.
Akobian-Adhiban: Khanty-Mansiysk 2017; Semi-Slav Defence
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c6 4 e3 Nf6 5 Nf3 Nbd7 6 Qc2 Be7 7 g4 A bold way to unbalance the position. However, such aggression also carries within it the seeds of future defeat, in particular the weakening of the square f3. 7 … dxc4 If 7 … Nxg4 8 Rg1. 8 g5 Nd5 9 Bxc4 b5 Paradoxically this natural move is new to theory with 9 … b6 and 9 … Nxc3 being the earlier choices.

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