Monday, May 10, 2010

Thoughts on Anand vs Topalov

Following the ongoing World Championship on Mig Greengard's excellent chess blog over the past couple of weeks has been a bit of an eye opener. The banter on the blog has everything going for it - highbrow analysis from Rybka simulations, translations from Shipov's magnificently abstract Russian commentary, cheap shots by fans, a lot of Indian jingoism and some absolute gems from Nigel Short makes for compelling reading. Who knew that Chess could generate such edge of the seat excitement. The match has turned out to be an absolute cracker generating abundant drool worthy content for the layman and expert alike.

Following Vishy's career over the past two decades has been a satisfying experience. Vishy is the perfect blend of insane talent and copious amounts of hard work. Breaking into a predominantly Russian and Eastern European bastion and consistently staying in the top 5 for more than 15 years with three World Championship titles speaks of a steel and resolve for which he is seldom given any credit. Finally all the talk of mental frailties and stage fright for big occasions were laid to rest when he comprehensively beat Kramnik for the World title in 2008.

The current match against the mercurial Topalov has been a fantastic advertisement for the sport. Topalov's off the board antics with his pig-headed insistence on imposing Sofia Rules governing draws have actually made the match more exciting on account of mistakes made by both sides due to fatigue and sheer pressure. Anand has proved to be the better chess player but Topalov's relentless energy and a penchant for provocative moves has kept the contest finely balanced.

The decider awaits tomorrow with Topalov playing with white pieces and a distinct advantage. I cant wait to log in.

PS: Mig Greengard's chess blog is probably the chess equivalent of Pete Bodo's excellent Tennis blog.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Is Bikini mein Jaan Hai and Other Assorted Rants!

JK Cements must surely get the Golden Lion or the Mauve Monkey or whatever accolades they hand out at the Cannes Ad awards this year. The whole babe in Bikini thing reminds me of an old joke back when I was in Lucknow, featuring the line -

Kuku Naadey wale kacchey. Aapki izzat ka buri tarah se rakhwala.

I know its a bizarre line but the gist of it all was that the underwear featured a 'naada' called 'Kuku' for which no force was too strong. It would just not tear. Is JK cement a metaphor for Kuku Naada? If yes then it has to be the most awesomest wicked ad ever.

Also, on the WTF continuum, is NEO sports for real? Terry Pratchett laid down the definition of the shortest unit of time as the New York second which is essentially the time between the signal turning green and the chap behind you honking. Well, compared to the time between an over ending and NEO switching to the ad feed, the New York second is like a frickin' epoch of a million years. I am sure the person who mans the transition lever is tied to some sort of an electric torture device which penalizes him based on time taken to make the switch. Nothing else can explain the lightning reflex.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On Ordinariness

Virender Sehwag's comments on Bangladesh's lack of ability at Test Cricket has, predictably, led to a lot of wailing and gnashing of the teeth. People have accused Sehwag's attitude to be bordering on arrogance and utterly lacking in political correctness, but then, that's the way Sehwag is. He has never refered to a spade as a digging device and probably does not know how to do it.

It is also hard to spot the flaw in Sehwag's argument. Bangladesh most definitely are not an extraordinary side. And their record, since being allowed to play test cricket is ordinary at best. Bangladesh are a guerrilla side. Successful with the odd ambush against giant teams but not having the artillery for a direct confrontation. Runs against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are still considered cheap amongst the international cricket cognoscenti. And its actually refreshing to see someone like Sehwag calling them out for what they really are.

This will obviously anger them. But it should push them to work harder, not start complaining about lack of respect. Respect has to be earned on the field.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji - A Gush

kis.ko pataa tha, pehlu mein rak.kha
dil aisa paa.ji bhi hoga
Hum to hamesha samajhte the koi
Hum jaisa haa.ji hi hoga
Haan yeh zor karey, kitna shor karey
Bewaja baatOn pe ain.wey gaur karey
Dilsa koiii... kameenaa nahin

Now that's what I am talking about. When Vishal Bharadwaj and Gulzar combine, they have a propensity for producing nuggets that are almost Wodehousian in their choice of words and metaphor. In this case the two have outdone themselves. The masterstroke in the above para is, of course, the use of "ain.wey" instead of the more pedestrian "yoon.hi".

Have been listening to the track non-stop for a full day now and the smile on my lips refuses to go away.

Great Song, Great Song.