Friday, 24 February 2012

Is chess missing a sizeable market?

The cliché that chess is for "nerds" is a stereotype that is strongly resisted inside the chess community. When chess is publicised there is always a strong push (at least in English speaking countries) to point out that chess isn't just for 'brainiacs' and lots of 'normal' people play as well. A case in point is this story about chess in Central Queensland. 'Nerdy, brainy kids' gets mentioned in the first line, almost as a way of bringing the non-player into the story, by offering to overturn conventional wisdom. Not that I'm criticising the overall thrust of the story, but the lead in has become a cliché itself.
But having turned its back on the 'nerd' market, chess may be missing a vast pool of potential recruits. A month ago I dropped in on the Canberra Games Convention, which is an event for wargamers, board gamers, card players, and in the dim dark past, even role players. It is quite a large event, and attracts a lot more players than any Australian chess tournament. I was only there for a short while, but it was obvious to me that the 'nerd factor' was pretty high. The choice of clothes, conversations and general demeanour reminded me chess tournaments from 20 years ago. I mentioned this to a friend who straddles both worlds and he agreed with me. I suggested to him that maybe chess should re-embrace its inner 'nerd' and endeavour to recruit these players into the game. But he chose to deflate my balloon with the following observation (which I am not quoting exactly)
"Most of these people used to play chess when they were younger, but gave it up because they found it too hard"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You know, the problem with chess is the people who play it usually.
Narcissistic egomaniacs with huge fragile egos.
Juniors who trash chess pieces when they lose (James Morris) or who start crying when they lose (James Morris again!) fisticuffs (David Beaumont)turn people off!
If only more chess players were nerds!