Thursday, October 14, 2010
Guns or Big Heads
Generally speaking, a man with a head this large playing chess would command quite a bit of attention. The big-headed character, a mascot for Emmy award winner Ted Greenberg's one-man show*, was available for any players while promotional free tickets for the show were being distributed. The chess playing mascot, however, got little attention for three reasons:
One, this is New York City, where anything goes and a lot is usually going. Two, this area of Washington Square Park, currently used for chess, is dominated by chess hustlers who are setup for business and playing for money. Three, the best candidates to find interest in chess are chess players. However, serious chess players (or hustlers) really could not care less about anything apart from a player's skill, and the mascot had mediocre playing ability. Perhaps a joke best illustrates this attitude, common to players and known to those very familiar with the game:
In a park, people come across a man playing chess against a dog. They are astonished and say: "What a clever dog!" But the man protests: "No, no, he isn't that clever. I'm leading by three games to one!"
This character trait of players is the theme in the short story The Chessplayers, about a trained chess playing rat, who, though remarkable on the face of it, leaves players in a club unimpressed because the rat's playing ability is not that good.
New York City is a mecca for chess, and anyone who lives here will see this illustrated in many ways. On August 6, 2009, I wrote a true story about a shooting I witnessed in Washington Square Park, where chess players only ducked and hid long enough for the bullets to stop flying before resume their games. See my story, Chess Monsters, here.
Only good playing will will impress good players. Gimmicks, novelties, Emmy Awards or non-human players will not. And neither will men with guns or big heads :)
*Ted Greenberg (sitting to the right of his mascot) is an award winning comedy writer who has written for the David Letterman show. Information about his one-man show, The Complete Performer, can be found here.
Other Postings on Chess in New York City: Good Fortune, Chess Monsters, Solid as a Rock, Marshall Chess Club.