The Amateur Eye – TV Chess Missed

I know what you are going to say:  The Fischer versus Spassky World Championship Match of 1972 was due to Shelby Lyman’s brilliant performance to educate an uninformed American public about the values and greatness of our noble game.  The public saw it as a war game between the lone ranger and the Russian bear.  The silver bullets coming out of the six shooters of Fischer livened up spirit of the World Championship battles that were viewed world-wide but special meaning for the Americans and Russians.

At the time, George Koltanowsky (Kolty) presented a series of shorts on chess which were great entertainment.  It was followed by a few individual match games which caused yawns and shrugged shoulders of interest except by a very limited group known as ardent chess fans.

In a narrow view, Americans saw it as Russia versus the USA…period.

I hate giving up on chess as a TV spectator sport.  The only thing lacking is a really inventive format.  How about a cartoon feature program using chess figures in better explaining chess to youngsters.  Years ago, before computers, it was thought by folks like Nimsowitsch and others that kids not study chess until around age 13 or so.  It was pictured as an “old man’s game” having little to no value.  Today kids, both boys and girls, are throwing chess pieces around the board in record numbers.  Cartoon characters and even a cartoon host(s) might draw the masses of children picking up the game at different age levels.  The degree of complexity could easily be formulated to specific age groups from age 3 on.

Maybe I am stupidly naïve.  Am I???  Are there none in our social fabric brave enough to test the waters?  Maybe not?  Maybe yes.  Are there no musicians and song writers who have talent for making such a program come alive.  This game which has given so much to so many around the world deserves better by its devotees, teachers, and supporters.

One thing I do know.  Putting those chess pawns, knights, bishops, kings and queens in the box is disheartening. To be of value, they have to be seen, used and cherished.

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