In a brief e-mail exchange with GM Maurice Ashley, The Chess Drum got a bead on what the coach/player/announcer/organizer felt about the current affairs of chess.

"First, the news about Kasparov was a shocker. He is certainly the most charismatic TOP TEN player in the game and without him, many sponsors might back down from touching the World Championships unification cycle. He also played so many wonderful games that chess fans will certainly lose out on some truly creative treats. I for one will miss his presence."

Ashley, organizer of the HB Global Chess Challenge, made an implicit reference to a recent article on The Chess Drum titled,
"Chess is Dead: Is Nakamura Right?" While Ashley was shocked by the news of Kasparov's retirement, he felt that the future of chess should not (and will not) be put in the hands of any one personality, but should be propelled by a "driving force."

"…chess is definitely not dead. The question is simple: Who will replace Kasparov? Not the player, but the driving force, the energy that sparks great events. Who will have the vision and the resources to give chess players a new exciting direction to follow? If you look at it this way, then you can see that it is quite easy to turn things around because it is less the players and instead more imaginative leadership that will make the difference."

Interestingly enough, Ashley feels that the game is afflicted by "HRS," or "high rating syndrome," a condition in which only the games of the highest rated players are given any attention. Ashley feels that there are tons of stories waiting to be told about rising stars, but it will be up to a new type of leadership to serve as a driving force to set the chess world back on the right path.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 26 March 2005