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Re: Decline of Evening Chess 17/18?

Posted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:44 pm
by Brian Towers
NickFaulks wrote:
Nick Grey wrote:Kingston's best ever player John Nunn 1991 prediction about the downfall of chess in Britain has come to pass. July 2017 BCM.
Can someone remind me what precisely GM Nunn was predicting?
Starting with the headline in BCM July2017 we have:
BCM July 2017 wrote:Interview: GM John Nunn by Milan Dinic
My 1991 prediction about the downfall of chess in Britain has come to pass
Notice the lack of quotes above around "My 1991 prediction about the downfall of chess in Britain has come to pass". That would be because nowhere in the article does Nunn say anything like that. The only person to use the word "downfall" is the interviewer.

Nunn famously has a brain the size of a planet so his actual answers are far more nuanced, with plenty of "on one the one hand this on the other that" albeit with a pessimistic tilt. Here are a couple of examples:
Nunn in 2017 BCM interview wrote:We once had 3 players in the world's top 10 - Nigel Short, Jon Speelman and myself. We don't have that anymore. One of the reasons is that there are so many good players now and there is much more competition at the top. It is much more difficult to reach the top 50 now than it was 25 years ago.
...
So, looking at it this way you could say that British chess hasn't particularly declined because our players are pretty strong. But in terms of their place in the world rankings, the position has declined.
and
Nunn in 2017 BCM interview wrote:So, the actual level of chess activity is much lower now than it was in those days. In a way, my prediction has come to pass. The top players have opportunities to play abroad so the lack of domestic tournaments hasn't impacted them much. However the impact is felt more lower down.
So, what did The Doc say in 1991? BCM kindly reprints the article. Here is the headline:
Nunn headline in 1991 BCM wrote:The Decline of British Chess by Dr John Nunn
RdC has summed up the article well is his post. Here is Nunn's last line in the the first paragraph
Nunn in 1991 BCM wrote:I am arguing that at all levels the number of chess events in England has remained static or declined, while elsewhere in Western Europe chess has boomed during the eighties.
In fact nowhere in the two articles does Nunn use the word "downfall".

The editor adds a few words of his own after the 2017 article:
Milan Dinic in BCM July 2017 wrote:But, since 1990, neither England nor any other team from the British Isles has managed to win a medal in the Olympics[sic], there aren't any big tournaments in the UK apart from the London Classic and the best British player is still the same as 30 years ago. That player - Nigel Short - recently told BCM that "the good Dr Nunn was right"in his predictions about the decline of British chess.
I'm not sure Mickey Adams and David Howell would agree with that. Interesting that international success is judged solely by team performance in the "Olympics" and individual Olympiad and World and European championship medals aren't mentioned.

I wouldn't go so far as to label the article clickbait, not least because it doesn't appear online but high level journalism it certainly isn't.

That said I found the article fascinating for the personal insights Nunn gives. Take this response to Carlsen's suggestion that Nunn never won the world championship precisely because, to paraphrase, he had a brain the size of a planet and therefore there was just too much else going on in there:
Nunn in 2017 BCM interview wrote:As you have seen from your interviews with top chess players, they are 100% absolutely committed to chess. To get to the top now you have to be like that, and not rely just on talent but have a complete commitment to the game.

I never had that

Re: Decline of Evening Chess 17/18?

Posted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:56 pm
by Roger de Coverly
Brian Towers wrote: Take this response to Carlsen's suggestion that Nunn never won the world championship precisely because, to paraphrase, he had a brain the size of a planet and therefore there was just too much else going on in there:
Nunn in 2017 BCM interview wrote:As you have seen from your interviews with top chess players, they are 100% absolutely committed to chess. To get to the top now you have to be like that, and not rely just on talent but have a complete commitment to the game.

I never had that
In other interviews he implies that had he remained part of the University establishment, he would just have played "as an amateur" during the summer breaks. It was only on losing his Oxford position as a result of funding cuts that he turned professional.