Monday, March 17, 2008

Football and Chess

What is it with football (soccer) and chess? In Norway quite a few young players have had problems deciding which talent to give priority - football or chess. There can hardly be any doubt that there is a connection between the two activities but it doesn't necessarily have to be more to it than the fact that both are popular among young competitive boys and men.

I have never been much of a football enthusiast myself and consequently not in the best position to find out what's going on. But now maybe I will be able to read up on the subject.
There is now a new book available titled "Football & Chess". I have no idea about its content except what I can guess from its title but I suppose there at least will be a mention of a couple of Norwegian chess players.

Norway's first chess star, Simen Agdestein is well known for being a top GM (number 16 on the rating lists) at the same time as he successfully played on the Norwegian national team. Tim Krabbe has written an article on this in his Chess Curiosities.

Less well known is the fact that one of clubs in the Norwegian Youth Chess Federation used to be called "Åvangen ball og sjakk" and in fact was a combined football and chess club. The youth section of my chess club (OSSU) used to play some chess and football matches against them. The details varied but the matches always consisted of a football part where each goal scored counted for one point as did each win in the subsequent chess match (which were played over 11 boards or so). Obviously the players were the same in both matches. I seem to remember that the chess results tended to contribute more to the final result than the football goals did, so maybe the goals should have been weighted heavier - maybe two points for a goal could be worth a try.

I have never heard that Magnus Carlsen's football abilities are matching his teacher's but he is a healthy and sporty boy so I was not surprised to see in this ChessBase reportage that among the top chess players he is the football star.

Addendum March 25th:
Here is the Table of Content as found at Schachversand Niggemann:


003 Introduction

007 Football and Chess

011 Part 1 - The Technical Elements

013 Building connections

019 Dominating the Midfield

023 Build-up Play

032 Mobility

035 Piece Positions

038 Using Space

043 Creating Space

048 Exploiting Weaknesses

055 Stretching the Defence

057 Combinations

061 Defending

068 Stretch and Compress

071 Pressing

078 Rotating

084 Attacking from the Back

088 The Spare Man

091 The Hole

095 Using the width

101 Part 2 - The Coach as Chess Player

103 Benitez vs Ancelotti

113 Part 3 - General Strategic Concepts for Controlling the Game

115 The Initiative

125 The Mini-Battles

126 Balance

129 Part 4 - Psychological Factors

131 Awareness

135 Creativity

137 Daring

140 Concentration

143 Emotional control

145 Surprise

147 Part 5 - General Features and Aesthetics

149 Comebacks

151 Luck

153 Style

159 Evolution of the Games

163 The Beautiful Games

166 The Future

169 Bibliography

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