Millions of fans of the Monty Python gang will remember the film Life of Brian, which reminded me of the antics of Andrew Tate, currently under police custody in Romania, for charges related the child trafficking.In the film, the eponymous Brian is mistaken for the Messiah. As his fame and number of followers grew, his exasperated mother declaimed the famous words which became a piece of cultural folklore: ‘He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy’ I was reminded of Brian, when I learned about the recent interview of Andrew Tate by Piers Morgan, an English TV performer (the show is now available on U-tube).
The Piers Morgan interview
In the interview, Piers Morgan introduces Tate as an international celebrity who, like himself was a very good chess player, with whom he would go Mano a Mano in the show.
Andrew, we learn, has the slight advantage of being the son of an American chess grandmaster. As Piers himself had been school champion, he had no doubt he would be a match for his ultra-competitive guest.
The game was to be the finale of their show, a five minute match, a time popular among chess players at all levels, for which there are closely-followed championships starring the game’s greatest grandmasters.
As I watched, it became quickly clear it was not so much blitz-chess, as it is called, as a trash-talking game reminding me of a bigger boy annihilating a smaller boy.
It brought back further memories memories of noisy games in the class room, and of the cries of chess hustlers I’ve seen in New York’s parks.
The game was so one-sided it permitted the humiliation of Morgan, who lost piece after piece. In five minutes any strong player would not need to wipe out the entire fighting force of his opponent but win more quickly and comfortably. Unless, however, you get your kicks from humiliating people. I understand Tate has a philosophy in which this affirms the existence of the superman, a kind of pound-shop Nietzsche meets Jordon Peterson on speed.
Is it all just show-biz?
Perhaps it’s all showbiz, folks. A set-up, to convey a message. But for serious chess players, there is a future match to be arranged. In it, Andrew Tate, when released from police custody, could play in a tournament involving twenty teenage girl chess-players nominated by FIDE, the international chess organisation. On the evidence of the game I watched on U-tube, Tate would be lucky to finish last. I haven’t checked, but suspect some of the players would be GMs (Grand Masters. Chess hasn’t got round to more gender-sensitive labels)
Although, as in another recent Internet joust with a teenager, Greta Thunberg, he came out badly, he may be unwilling to risk further humiliation.