The pandemic and the series Lady’s Gambit They have worked the miracle: chess attracts private sponsors. The visit of former champion Anatoli Kárpov to Vigo is not financed by public bodies – it was normal – but by a shopping center (Travesía, managed by Carrefour Property). And his exhibition game with the mayor, Abel Caballero, will be played on a very innovative product from the Leonese company RMD: a board with giant pieces of recycled rubber, which combines the educational value of mental sports with ecology. There are more references to affirm that chess is no longer an activity of very strange people.
For example, the character Enigma King, a masked chess player who confronts passersby and offers them a hundred euros if they win; With the money at stake, you haven’t lost yet. After his great street success in the no sanfermines of Pamplona, the Enigma King harvested another in Vigo two weeks ago. And now he teaches chess from his internet portal, among other activities.
It is increasingly difficult to detach chess from its enormous social, educational and therapeutic utility, backed by scientific studies and long international experiences. Hence, the program of sponsored events in Vigo is not limited to the most striking (Kárpov, the mayor and Enigma King); It includes an online tournament, the Travesía Vigo Master Chess, with more than a thousand players, of which the top 40 will compete in the face-to-face final phase this weekend. Angélica Falagán, Travesía manager explains it like this: “As a result of the great success of the series Lady’s Gambit, we have detected a great social interest in chess. Hence our great commitment to a program that combines face-to-face and telematics, which brings cultural activity to the city and which amplifies the excellent work of chess associations and clubs ”.
This social component is further reflected in the initiative of the Leonese recycling company RMD: “Making a chess set with recycled tires is the extreme essence of recycling, the clearest extension of turning something useless into something that is useful for something, using intelligence in a double way ”, explains its general director, Adolfo López-Aguayo. After taking Kárpov to León for Christmas 2019, the pandemic stopped his plans, but he recovered them strongly last June, with the Pequeños Gigantes children’s tournament in the street and the installation of 30 large boards in individual Leonese schools, financed by local companies. All this makes special sense in that capital, whose Magistral Ciudad de León tournament (34 editions) is one of the most prestigious in the world in the fast game mode. And López-Aguayo announces that it has plans to promote its boards in connection with educational chess events.
The “world’s largest board”, made from 1,250 recycled tires, has pieces (with wheels) that weigh more than 200 kilos and measure more than five feet (the king and the lady). In it, Kárpov and Mayor Caballero will play on Saturday, after a careful marketing operation, to which was added even the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, who, during an interview with Cadena SER, asked Caballero “to leave to win”.
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