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Checkmate, Maybe Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
October 5, 2012
Pobo and Grenier in Washington Square Park
As 15-year-old New Jersey state champ Alexander Katz told the US Chess Scoop , chess has a come a long way. Check out just a small sampling of recent mainstream hits and celebrity chess plugs:

1.       New Yorker Magazine published a short story by Lara Vapnyar, "Fischer v. Spassky", which explores the emotional complexity of rooting for (or against) Bobby Fischer.   For more chess fiction, see "Sicilian Defense" in the October 2012 issue of Chess Life Magazine. 

2.       The film Brooklyn Castle, premiering on October 19th, is generating a lot of buzz. Highlights include a match between one of the stars of Brooklyn Castle, Pobo and actor Adrien Grenier (of Entourage) in Washington Square Park. "Pobama" won 3-0, but both players had a lot of fun. (see a video of the match here.) USA today also ran a photo essay on the team featured in the movie, IS 318. A Brooklyn Industries T-shirt inspired by the film links chess and fashion. (also see The Chess Queen Wears Prada & the December 2011 Chess Life Magazine piece, "Dress Like a Grandmaster.")  Find more info about the movie at brooklyncastle.com.

Carly250.jpg3.       Carly Rae Jepsen, who sang the catchy summer single, "Call Me Maybe"  confessed to being a chess geek in the San Francisco Chronicle, a story that was picked up by numerous news sources:   She said,

"My stepfather - he used to actually set up a little chess problem for me by the breakfast table, and I'd try to sort it out before I went to school in the morning"

In exciting news for many Epsen also indicated that she was looking for a suitable sparring partner:  "I'm on the search. If you can find any artist who likes to play a good game of mediocre chess, I'm their girl."
4.       Wired.com published two chess pieces within a week, the first on supercomputer Olympic training courtesy of Texas Tech University   and the second on computer bugs & Kasparov-Deep Blue, based on a Washington Post review of Nate Silver's new book, "The Signal and the Noise."

5.    Queen of Katwe, a book about Phiona Mutesi, a chess champion who learned the game in the slums of Kampala, Uganda will be released on October 9th. Find an excerpt on ESPN.com and look for reviews and more in CLO & Chess Life Magazine.
Photo World Chess Hall of Fame

On a personal level, I love bringing chess to new audiences. I recently went to Saint Louis for the opening of "Screwed Moves" at the World Chess Hall of Fame, where I spun roulette chess with Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan as well as artists & patrons. Later this autumn, I'll speak at the Philadelphia Art Museum in connection with an upcoming Duchamp exhibit. I also wrote a piece for Cardplayer on chess and gambling, which led with a story originally published on CLO, "The $50,000 chess game."

Do you think chess is entering the culture more fully or it's a coincidental cascade?