How can chess save itself? No doubt it would make purists protest, but chess should steal a few moves from poker. After all, in the past few years, poker has lured away many chess masters who realized that the analytical skills they've learned from chess would pay off in online card rooms.Meanwhile in the Style section, Dylan Loeb McClain discusses the World Chess Beauty Contest which has the stated goal of raising interest in the game.
And that's a shame. There are plenty of smart people playing poker (and I love playing it myself), but there's no denying that when it comes to developing mental acuity, chess wins hands down, so to speak. Dan Harrington, a former world poker champion who quit chess because there wasn't enough money in it, laments that poker is thin and ephemeral in comparison.
Why has chess been undergoing a decline in interest in recent years? Perhaps after Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in 1997 the world views the best chess player as a machine, reducing interest in the game for humans.
And we shouldn't lament poker so. Prime time coverage of a game that uses probabilities, Bayesian analysis and complex strategies can't be completely a bad thing.