A ‘cheating’ grand master is a scandal too hot to ignore

There’s nothing like a scandal – or a whiff of a scandal – to bring down ivory towers and let us in on the goings-on in some of society’s exclusive circles.

The higher the tower, the more thrilling the prospect of being afforded a peek into a world that is often cloaked in the mystique of royal, religious, legal, political and intellectual highness, or uber fame, ultra-wealth and super talent.

That is how we found ourselves over the high walls and deep in the luxurious Silver Woods Country Estate, in the Pretoria east suburb of Silver Lakes, Tshwane, on Valentine’s Day almost 10 years ago. It was on that fateful day that Paralympics
superstar Oscar Pistorius murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

It would be the beginning of a legal process that zoomed in on every aspect of his life right down to his bed-time routine. During the trial, our once golden boy – who was portrayed as half-man and half-machine in a futuristic worldwide ad campaign for a fragrance by French design house Thierry Mugler – stripped down to his stumps during mitigation of sentence to show the court how vulnerable he was when he fired at Steenkamp.

But I digress. What I want to zoom in on is a scandal whose punishment, if proven true, is of a less severe nature than a prison term but would nonetheless strip the accused of his prestigious title in a world that puts great value and prestige to titles.

And that world is the world of chess. Just as the pieces of the game – kings and queens and their castles; bishops and knights; and an army of soldiers ready to risk life and limb in pursuit of power and dominion – the players also command great respect.

So, when there’s a hint of wrongdoing in the world of chess; morabaraba takes a back seat – and every morabaraba aficionado becomes an instant chess enthusiast. When “grandmaster” and “cheating” are used in the same sentence, our interest is piqued.

Chess is called the game of kings – and those who are so good at it and are worthy of the title of grandmaster are usually smarter than the average Joe, right? That’s why we associated chess with people with good memories, who are adept at strategy and skilled at assessing and mitigating risks. So, the prospect of a cheating grandmasters is intriguing.

It is even more engrossing when that grandmaster, who is a 19-year-old, made a 31-year old grandmaster lose his marbles and abandon a game – behaviour that is unbe-coming for those who partake in the game of kings.

Oh, what a relief to be transfixed by a war that has no real-life casualties.


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