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Who knew that chess has drug testing
December 12, 2008 12:19 PM   Subscribe

The Great Chess Doping Scandal Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk refused to submit a urine sample for a drug test at the Chess Olympiad in Dresden and is now considered guilty of doping. The world of chess is outraged that he could face a two-year ban... [He] has been a grandmaster for the past 20 years and is currently ranked third in the world.

The only reason there are doping tests in chess in the first place is that the World Chess Federation (FIDE) has been trying, since the late 1990s, to make chess an Olympic discipline. And anyone wishing to be part of the Olympics must submit to the rules of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
posted by caddis (36 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Shoulda got a Whizzinator. Oh, wait.
posted by ageispolis at 12:23 PM on December 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Weed to bong 4.. or, wait what kind of dope are they talking about?
posted by ChickenringNYC at 12:27 PM on December 12, 2008


I am just thrilled to hear that they are trying to get chess into the Olympics. I'm all for that and hope they are successful. I'd love to watch that. So would it be a summer or winter discipline?
posted by dios at 12:27 PM on December 12, 2008


Chessbots don't pee!
posted by Artw at 12:31 PM on December 12, 2008


hehe .. Before it burned to the ground, we used to spend a lot of evenings playing chess at the Blunt Brothers cafe on Hastings (Vancouver).

A favorite technique of mine was to spend the first half of the game laboriously rolling a huge spliff, then light it and hand it to my opponent. Whenever it came back to me, I'd pretend to take a few quick puffs then hand it off again.

Unsurprisingly, I never lost!

(though in retrospect ... they were probably hustling me .......)
posted by mannequito at 12:34 PM on December 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is unfortunate, although I can't decide how; there's a long tradition of hard-drinking, chain-smoking chess players. Siegbert Tarrasch, grandmaster and famous teacher, wrote this question for a chess examination:

Q: What is the duty of an umpire where a player willfully upsets the board?
A: Remove the bottle.

Mikhail Tal, one of chess' most brilliant fabulists, spent an entire tournament considering his moves in the hallway because he wasn't allowed to smoke over the board.

So, it's unfortunate that some of that illicit colour is being lost from such a straight-laced game. And it'll be unfortunate to lose two potential years of Ivanchuk games. He was one of my first favorite players, and I have fond memories of reviwiewing Chucky's games with my brother.

On the other hand, I wouldn't look forward to playing my brother on speed, let alone Vasilly.
posted by goldfinches at 12:38 PM on December 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am available to play chess with you whenever you have the time mannequito.
posted by ND¢ at 12:42 PM on December 12, 2008 [7 favorites]


Grandmaster....with an asterisk!
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 12:43 PM on December 12, 2008


He was rooked.
posted by DenOfSizer at 12:46 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I would think this would be a much bigger deal in the world of chess boxing.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:50 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's great news burnmp3s.

Also, I hereby rename my sport Chesspliffing.

you're on ND!
posted by mannequito at 1:00 PM on December 12, 2008


Why the heck would they put Chess in the Olympics?? Not to say that it is not a skillful activity, but it is not a sport by even the most generous stretches of the imagination.
posted by BobbyDigital at 1:13 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Really, chess is in but softball is out? That's just wrong on so many levels.
posted by tommasz at 1:18 PM on December 12, 2008


it is not a sport by even the most generous stretches of the imagination.

Perhaps not. But most people don't realize the extent to which physical conditioning is called upon during the rigors of world-class tournament play.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:25 PM on December 12, 2008


And this just days after Nature said pharmacological cognitive enhancement should be legal...
posted by Maias at 1:28 PM on December 12, 2008


Clearly, Grandmaster Ivanchuk had miscalculated his en passant stratagem.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:35 PM on December 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


I wonder if speed would make you a better player? I have played on all the drugs in the world but speed and I gotta say, I play best sober. I once ran the table on a life size chess board at burning man while drinking whiskey and taking mushrooms. I had a giant smile on my face after that. I wasn't playing my best chess though.
posted by wolfewarrior at 1:39 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me that chess would far more likely end up the World Games, alongside lifesaving, ultimate frisbee, billiards and anything else not Olympian-seeming enough for the Olympics.
posted by Nomiconic at 1:41 PM on December 12, 2008


Why the heck would they put Chess in the Olympics?

It would be a stupid move, but how about chess boxing? If regular boxing is worthy of the Olympics, the same sport plus between-rounds breathers while you push pieces around a board ought to be good enough.
posted by pracowity at 1:45 PM on December 12, 2008


Vassily Ivanchuk certainly sounds like a colourful character, but he also sounds like a bit of a dick. Just piss in the cup or go away and howl at the moon for two years. Simple choice.
posted by afx237vi at 1:55 PM on December 12, 2008


So would it be a summer or winter discipline?

It seems like anything not involving snow or ice is during the Summer Olympics, even indoor activities (table tennis, gymnastics, fencing, volleyball.)
posted by ALongDecember at 2:09 PM on December 12, 2008




They brought in drug testing for snooker a few years back and a whole host of the old school suddenly retried - they had been on beta blockers for years.

But chess in the Olympics is clearly madness... it's definitely a game not a sport, I'd have thought that darts or ballroom dancing stood more of a chance.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:13 PM on December 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mikhail Tal, one of chess' most brilliant fabulists, spent an entire tournament considering his moves in the hallway because he wasn't allowed to smoke over the board.

Prior to the no smoking rules, he advocated blowing cigar smoke directly into the opponent's face. That, and placing the board by a window in such a way that light reflected into your opponent's eyes.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:15 PM on December 12, 2008


A lot of the serious chess players I knew took speed. Particularly for speed chess tournaments.
posted by Nelson at 2:26 PM on December 12, 2008


what.

the.

fuck.
posted by liza at 2:35 PM on December 12, 2008


I hear he was on cocaine straight from Bolivia.
posted by No-sword at 2:44 PM on December 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


Prior to the no smoking rules, he advocated blowing cigar smoke directly into the opponent's face. That, and placing the board by a window in such a way that light reflected into your opponent's eyes.

My grandfather, who was a great enough backroom Gin player* to have won a fucking resort hotel in a hand at one point, bought a Betamax player for the club he frequented back when they first came out. He then would show up first in the room, set some porn playing on the t.v., and sit with his back to it. A little light in your eyes is nothing.

Additionally, unless it's clinically prescribed for ADHD, wouldn't Ritalin (a.k.a. speed) just be detrimental to one's game? I'm honestly asking, because pharmacology is well outside my realm of knowledge.

*My parents were once involved in a large Gin competition in Canada about ten years ago. The final table was just between the two of them. My mom won. I play at the same level as my parents, and have only once met anyone who could regularly beat me, and thus challenge any MeFites to a game if you feel up to it. Bring it.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:04 PM on December 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


This brings to mind the TIME magazine article from this past August:

Should Chess Be an Olympic Sport?
"What makes an Olympic sport? The games that get the official nod from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can be controversial and sometimes bewildering: rhythmic gymnastics is considered a competitive Olympic sport, but ballroom dancing is not. Handball and badminton are part of the program, yet rugby and squash don't make the cut. Among the 28 sanctioned sports for 2012, you can find table tennis but not golf, baseball, softball or racquetball.

Curling is also on the official Olympic roster, and that really piques Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Curling is simply 'chess on ice, and it is an Olympic sport,' he says, 'but classical chess is not!' Ilyumzhinov has been struggling for over a decade to get the board game of chess, a 'sport of the mind,' accepted by the IOC.

The World Bridge Federation (WBF) — representing the card game of bridge — is similarly disgruntled. Like the chess federation, the WBF has been lobbying since 1995 to claim a piece of the Olympic spotlight. In their efforts, both organizations have even offered to submit players to drug testing in order to conform to the Olympics' anti-doping code standards. Once again, however, both bridge and chess were denied entry last year.

Neither FIDE nor WBF is taking the rejection lightly. Gaining recognition as an official Olympic sport could greatly benefit the games, raising their profiles in countries where they don't get much government funding"....[more]
posted by ericb at 4:01 PM on December 12, 2008


Additionally, unless it's clinically prescribed for ADHD, wouldn't Ritalin (a.k.a. speed) just be detrimental to one's game? I'm honestly asking, because pharmacology is well outside my realm of knowledge.

The key factors here are how these substances affect the dopamine in your brain. The more dopamine your brain produces, the more you enjoy your current situation and the better you feel. If your brain produces low levels of dopamine when you're, oh say, doing math then that activity is undesirable and no matter how hard you try you will hate it and be signifigantly disadvantaged over someone who likes it.

Of course, if you increase your dopamine production by about 1200% (I have been assured that this is what speed does) then you'll be tweaking the fuck out and no longer able to concentrate. Speed also massively increases the levels of norepinephrine and seritonin (wheras ritalin acts as a reuptake inhibitor for dopamine, norepinephrine and has a slight effect on seritonin).
posted by Pseudology at 6:57 PM on December 12, 2008


Err to conclude my previous comment ritalin increases your dopamine levels enough to allow you to be just as interested in things as a normal person but not so much that you lose your ability to concentrate.
posted by Pseudology at 7:03 PM on December 12, 2008


I've never liked the IOC. Anyone remember Ross Rebliati? The IOC almost stripped him of his gold medal because he got high at his friend's wake and failed a drug test (whether or not this was an accidental or deliberate act is subject to rumor). It's such a shame too because even though he kept the medal he lost all of his sponsor money. He's now back to working manual labor.

Despite the commonly held opinion that marijuana should be legalized and the even more commonly held opinion that the ski and snowboard industry is full of stoners the few I've met who are sponsored all sign contracts that say their money goes away if they are caught with any drugs, including marijuana.
posted by Pseudology at 7:29 PM on December 12, 2008


What I'm curious about was the drugs they would've tested Ivanchuk for. Wat it simply athletic performance enhancing drugs as in the Olympics or were there any chess-specific cognitive enhancing drugs that FIDE would've tested for? It seems like it would be totally ridiculous to ban Ivanchuk from playing chess if all they were testing for were athletic performance enhancing drugs that would not enhance chess performance.
posted by gyc at 8:17 PM on December 12, 2008


Why the heck would they put Chess in the Olympics?
I think this has been something FIDE President (king?) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has been pushing for some time. For the prestige (and the money of course).

I don't get it. Chess has been doing their own olympiads since 1927. I don't see what they'd gain from switching.

The World Mind Sports Games last October had chess, bridge, draughts, xiangqi and go. According to this Chess Life article, there was drug testing for bridge and chess (because they're IOC) but not the others.
posted by MtDewd at 2:31 PM on December 13, 2008


I don't get it. Chess has been doing their own olympiads since 1927. I don't see what they'd gain from switching.

More public visibility and mainstream media attention, for one.
posted by gyc at 11:06 PM on December 13, 2008


I guess if you want mainstream media attention you'd need a drug scandal.
posted by MtDewd at 8:25 AM on December 14, 2008


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