In my new book, Seconds Out, I describe a fictional idea known as The Calthorpe Hypothesis. It indicates how sporting talent might be identified, and how it transfers from one sport to another. As sometimes happens, fiction can become a reality.
Seconds Out is a thriller with the usual ingredients of a super villain with a plan to dominate the world, a valient team intent on stopping him, few ghostly interventions, and a protagonist facing academic ruin if his research turns out badly. For the last point only, I was able to draw on personal experiences.
The Calthorpe Hypothesis
In the book, the research is based on The Calthorpe Hypothesis, a concept I invented as supporting a theory which might turn out to be completely wrong.
As the story developed, I became intrigued by the possibility that the fictional hypothesis could actually have more credibility in the real world than I originally intended it to have.
Sometimes an idea buzzes around in irritating fashion, giving you no peace of mind. It often helps to share your thoughts with someone else.
“Chess boxing” I said to Susan one evening, as we were setting out to review progress on construction of the East Cheadle bypass relief road being conducted outside our front door.
“Sorry” she said “I thought you said Chess boxing. That sounds weird.”
“I did say Chess boxing. It’s a new sport. You have boxers who fight and then sit down to play a game of chess. It is the perfect contest requiring brain, brawn, courage and cunning.
“I suppose the chess players put gloves on after a game for fighting, and the boxers take their gloves off to move the chess pieces.”
“Whatever,” I said. “Anyway, it’s going to become big. And it is exactly where we should be looking to recruit much-needed new members for our Chess Club.
I am pinning my hopes on chess boxing as way of restoring my fading academic reputation, but I decide not to mention that to Susan for the moment.
As the story develops, I learn more about the Calthorpe Hypothesis in a conference on sporting excellence
I return to my room to dig more deeply into the implications of the Calthorpe hypothesis. With references from Greg’s paper, I quickly find what I am looking for. Professor Calthorpe is no longer with us. He was based in a department of sports science in Australia’s remote Northern Territories. His largely ignored work suggests it is possible to identify characteristics that suggest which sports are particularly complementary. He collected evidence from a range of Olympic sports such as weightlifting, swimming, gymnastics, and hurdling.
I can hardly sleep as I see the unnoticed implications of Calthorpe’s insights and consider how they will increase my academic survival prospects.
My first success came in the identification of Tim, a promising chess player who according to my ideas, could become successful at both chess and boxing. Tim agrees to become involved:
“I’ll think on it,” he said. “I’m coming over to East Cheadle soon. Got to go now. Lift’s waiting for me out there. I’ll let you know.”
Even if he can only play the last games of the season it might make all the difference. But a half-promise is not enough. My search for players must go on.
He leaves before I have time to learn his name. But before he leaves he says his meeting is to contact an agent for when he turns professional. That sounds even more promising.
A scan of the results board tells me I have been in contact with a Tim Bolton, whose grade makes him eligible to play as our new secret weapon.
The story continues with many a twist, and a final encounter with the evil Lyman Groat. After 60,000 words, I had become convinced that the Calthorpe Hypothesis is not an entirely crazy idea.
Chess Boxing is alive and well, and I am grateful to guidance I received when writing Seconds Out from the London Chess Boxing organisation.
Why not capitalize on the idea?
Putting on my Business School hat, I am now developing a research proposal around the hypothesis, and submitting it to various sporting bodies in the real world, seeking sponsorship in identifying their next top athletes from other sports.
I may still do so, but I have given too much of the game away already. Readers of Seconds Out, or even subscribers to this blog post, may beat me to it. If you do so, please buy copies of the book for all your family and friends.
You can learn more about The Calthorpe Hypothesis from clicking this link to the book