24 October 2018

Gonzo Chess Journalism

After the two latest posts on the FIDE Presidential election...

...I should move on to the forthcoming 2018 Carlsen - Caruana World Championship match, but I have one more post on the election. While I was collecting material, I found a set of election reports in an unexpected place, rec.games.chess (rgc). Twenty years ago, rgc would have been a first choice for chess reports of any kind -- see An Early Digital Clock (August 2015) on my main chess blog for one example -- but it's not 1998 anymore, it's 2018. The reports were by Sam Sloan, the same person I once featured on that same blog in Sam Sloan and Gulf News (July 2014). Sloan has a unique angle on chess reporting, which some might liken to Gonzo journalism. As Wikipedia explains,

Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative. The word "gonzo" is believed to have been first used in 1970 to describe an article by Hunter S. Thompson, who later popularized the style. It is an energetic first-person participatory writing style in which the author is a protagonist, and it draws its power from a combination of social critique and self-satire. It has since been applied to other subjective artistic endeavors. Gonzo journalism involves an approach to accuracy that concerns the reporting of personal experiences and emotions, in contrast to traditional journalism, which favors a detached style and relies on facts or quotations that can be verified by third parties.

In Sloan's first report,

he started,

I am here at the World Chess Olympiad in Batumi Republic of Georgia in the visitors gallery. The first round is about to begin. It is 24 September. There is no WIFI in the visitors gallery or on the playing floor. This is no doubt an anti-cheating measure because otherwise I could look at the games from here, find the best move on my laptop computer and then acting as an accomplice signal the right move to a player down below. There was also a drug-sniffing dog being led of a leash. No doubt this is an anti-drug measure although there is no known instance of a drug being used to improve a chess players performance.

For the record, here are Sloan's other reports in chronological order. They are a mixture of reporting on the Olympiad and on the FIDE elections:-

In case there's any doubt, the reports are Sam Sloan's thoughts, not mine.

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