01 March 2022

Yahoos of Madness, Yahoos of Tragedy

When I first started using the word 'Yahoo' as a keyword for chess stories in the mainstream press, I chose the name because I was using Yahoo.com to identify the stories. As that site declined in importance, largely due to a series of bad business decisions, the meaning shifted to the explanation given in the footnote at the end of this post. I continued to use the keyword because it had the positive meaning of

expressing great joy or excitement

as in 'Yahoo! I found a chess story in the mainstream press!'. I knew there was an additional, negative meaning, but I never bothered to determine exactly what it was. I just checked and found:-

mid 18th century: from the name of an imaginary race of brutish creatures in Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726).

I never imputed that meaning to any of the previous posts in this blog's 'Yahoo' category, but that tradition is about to change. Before gathering the data for this post on February Yahoos, I had already decided on the theme -- Russia's brutal, barbaric attack on neighboring Ukraine and its impact on international chess. I'll come back to that after the usual overview of the past month's Yahoos.

Today Google News gave me exactly 100 chess stories, of which 15 were older stories of the type described in Old Yahoos Don't Always Die (February 2022). Of the other 85 stories, nine sources accounted for at least two stories, as shown in the chart on the left. That leaves 36 sources with a single story.

At this point in the monthly narrative I would normally look at lesser known sources like 'Coos Bay World' or 'The Bridge'. Major sources like 'ESPN' or 'The New York Times' are also good for an informed angle. Instead I'll return to Russia's attack on Ukraine, which was launched on 24 February, and follow the top chess news sites. Of the 21 stories from Chess.com, not a single one is about the war. Ditto the seven stories from Chessbase. Chess24 has one story.

I don't know why Google News returns certain stories among the hundreds of chess stories at its disposition. I assume that it has something to do with popularity, but how the service determines that is a mystery to me. Perhaps one day I'll see the light.

I know from my own research that all three chess news sites had at least two FIDE/Ukraine stories, and Chess24 had three, of which the most recent was the story flagged by Google. Let's look at the three stories from Chess24, all signed Leon Watson:-

On top of the Olympiad action, there are at least three major decisions that FIDE must make regarding its ties to Russia: 1) the connection with its current president, Arkady Dvorkovich, who is a Kremlin insider and Putin crony; 2) the future of Russian corporate sponsors, which are a major source of FIDE's income; 3) the future of Russian players, who are among the best in the world and who always appear in the most prestigious chess events.

On the first point, Dvorkovich is up for re-election later this year. On the second point, Chess24 reported,

FIDE will terminate all sponsorship agreements with Russian or Belarusian sanctioned and/or state-controlled companies.

On the third point,

Russian and Belarusian players [are] banned from displaying national flags at FIDE-rated events and nationals anthem will not be played.

That still leaves plenty of room for further action. I'll come back in a month to see how the situation has evolved.

[Yahoos (mainstream news stories about chess) are derived from Google News top-100 (or so) stories from the past month.]

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