Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Guardian on Andrew Paulson

The world title match in Moscow in May between Vishy Anand and Boris Gelfand, which the holder Anand narrowly won, was largely ignored by the mainstream media.

Andrew Paulson, a 54-year-old American businessman who has spent most of the past 15 years in Russia, is committed to reversing this decline. In a remarkable financial coup, he has persuaded Fide, the international governing body of chess, to hand him the media and marketing rights to the world championship for the next 10 years.

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His company, Agon, is about to release the results of a YouGov poll on chess in the US which he says proves how extensive is the interest in the game. Fourteen per cent of adults play at least once a year; and the percentage is higher if you add the number of children playing regularly. Even more striking is the fact that two-thirds of American adults have played chess at some point in their lives.

Design group Pentagram is developing a new visual identity for the world championship, using the tagline "The best mind wins", and Paulson has commissioned a short film drawing on footage from the Fischer-Spassky match and from movies which have featured chess, notably From Russia with Love. He wants chess to be seen not as some nerdy pastime, but as central to the culture of both east and west.
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