Spare a thought for chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen, who was embarrassed on a pretty global scale recently at the ongoing World Chess Championship in Sochi, despite eventually retaining his world title.
The Norwegian chess grandmaster was seemingly so engaged in his recent match against Vishy Anand that he actually fell asleep in front of the cameras – much to the amusement of social media commentators everywhere.
Carlsen told fans after the game that he “wasn’t in the best of shape,” but, despite his brief moment of apparent narcolepsy, still managed to draw in Game 8 of the championship. While some could maintain that Carlsen’s cranial muscles were working too hard, others could argue that he’d perhaps become so bored of the game that he took the chance for 40 winks.
This isn’t the case, however, for the ever-growing chess trend that is currently developing around the world. While some argue that chess is dwindling in popularity, it’s actually proven to be gaining followers around the globe, particularly in India. Doubtless Vishy Anand will have had his part in the Indian following, and his grandmaster status, plus engaging attitude with fans, has been praised by representatives at the All India Chess Federation.
Speaking in reference to Anand, the All India Chess Federation’s Bharat Singh said: “The game has really grown in the past six or seven years particularly.”
But it’s not just taken off in developing countries. Over in the United States, the game is set to regain its cult status thanks to developments in Hollywood. Pawn Sacrifice, set to hit screens in spring 2015, will see Tobey Maguire stepping into the role of former chess champion Bobby Fischer.
The movie has yet to hit theatres but has already been given a healthy IMDB rating of 8.1, doubtless giving its viewers incentive to give chess a try.
Maguire has made a name for himself starring in sporting movies such as Seabiscuit, promoting a sport which has doubtless caused a flurry of betting. Sports betting has grown exponentially in recent years, and if his upcoming movie is as successful, we could indeed see an influx of bets on chess championships. The Coral mobile app, for example, was taking bets on the recent World Championship Matches this month.
Whether it’s in the movies, on television or in the betting markets, there is no doubting that chess is putting itself on the map once again as the on-trend game for children and adults everywhere. As a mentally demanding and hugely thrilling sport, it’s certainly been a long time coming.