Chess

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The Independent Culture
GRANDMASTERS do not grunt. I once knew a county player who grunted periodically, but it was a muted harrumph of a grunt, a milli-Seles of a grunt, and nobody ever complained.

Grandmasters neither spit, nor clear their noses on the playing area. Some drop ash or crumbs on the back rank or sprinkle dandruff around the central squares, but they apologise and blow it away.

Grandmasters rarely abuse their equipment. In films, losers may show their indignation by sweeping the board clear, but real players respect their pieces. I knew a club player who once swept the pieces from the board with a loud cry of anguish, but he first warned all in the room to stand back.

Grandmasters do not punch the air when they win (though I once saw a young American arouse contemptuous looks by doing so), neither do they hug each other in romantic embraces after victories.

When they know they have put a piece out of play, they do not point incriminatingly at their opponents, hoping for an undeserved throw-in. Nor, if they fumble a capture, do they claim a clean catch, even when they know the piece bounced first on the board.

So why do the ill-mannered, uncouth and unsporting exponents of other games get all the money? The answer, of course, is that the Great Sporting Public, however much it may protest, secretly admires bad behaviour. The lack of inhibition, the courage, the obvious commitment and the sheer bloody- mindedness behind a full- throated grunt or stamping tantrum are things we all wished we could possess, even if we are glad we do not.

So, Nigel Short, if you want to become seriously rich, grunt when you make your moves, bang your pieces down, and leave your hankie at home.

Thursday's answer: 1. Re1 Kxe1 2. Qd2; 1 . . . Bg2 2. Qh4; any other is mated by 2. Qg1.

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