28 November 2013

Chess and the 'Nerd Dollar'

I had a 'Hallelujah!' moment at the end of the recent post on Carlsen - Anand, More Mainstream Press. I asked the question, 'Why the media excitement about Carlsen?', and got the answer 'It's all about the "nerd dollar"!'. I should have realized that before. After all, it's money -- not sex, not love -- that makes the world go round.

That helped me sleep better for one night, but then I started to wonder: What exactly is the 'nerd dollar'? A web search on that term plus 'chess' returns only my 'More Mainstream Press' blog post and the article I quoted there. Widening the search by removing the word 'chess' returns a laundry list of pages that shed no light on the subject. An image search, shown below, is more useful. The fellow who appears twice in the top line (as well as the small image in the bottom line) is a poster boy for the concept. Those are nerd dollars he holds in his hands.

Google Image search on 'nerd dollar'

If you want to get to the heart of the concept, 'marketing to nerds' is a better path to follow. For example, 5 Simple Tips for Marketing to Nerds ('Nerds, geeks, eggheads and wonks are an influential audience'), lists,

  • 'Share your passion.' [That would be chess.]
  • 'Find your niche.' [Chess again.]
  • 'Hone your voice.' [Shout 'CHESS!']
  • 'Grow organically.' [What's that got to do with chess?]
  • 'Be inclusive.' [Chess960?]

If you're bothered by any negative connotations attached to nerds, geeks, etc., see my essay, Top 10 Myths About Chess. Myth no.5 is

Chess is for nerds • In fact, this isn't a myth, since chess is for everyone. It is for nerds, geeks, eggheads, and boffins, as much as it is for anyone else. People who need to call other people unpleasant names should better say, 'chess is only for nerds', but this is decidedly false. Even if it were true, so what? Smart, awkward, quirky people have made more contributions to the advancement of humanity than have the rest. If they want to play chess, that's their business.

And their business can be a frugal one. 'Who said, "The best things in life are free"? Whoever said it could have been talking about chess.' (From Chess for Free; 'You don't have to be a cheapskate to enjoy chess, but you don't have to be a millionaire either.')

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