Klitschko Joshua: The other face of boxing

April 26, 2017
Boxing has been mythologized in countless movies as a mix of human motives and emotions. Exploitation and nobility, courage and crookedness, bravery and betrayal. A contest between good and evil.The match between Vladimir Klitschko and Antony Joshua is being heavily marketed as the battle of the good guys.
A contrast
The fight has attracted more attention than any I can recall in recent years. It has been in complete contrast to the shock-horror trash talk has increasingly been boxing’s marketing plan A.
From Muhammed Ali’s inspired and witty “I am the greatest” creations, the performances have become increasingly crude and violent. There has been a convergence with the pseudo-violence in other martial sports. The pre-fight press-conferences were depressingly characterized by Tyson Fury in his brief spell in the limelight recently before his medical condition and drug dependency were revealed.
Tyson Fury was named by his father after heavyweight champion Mike Tyson famed for his uncontrollable violence in and outside the ring.
The noble art …
In contrast, the Klitschko Joshua rumble has been presented as a battle of heirs to the noble art of boxing. Both were exceptional Olympic champions. Both talk intelligently about boxing.Klitschko, (like Lennox Lewis) is an accomplished chess player.
It is probable that if they wanted to, he and Joshua could compete in the increasingly fashionable sport of chess boxing.
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Andy Murray: Advice from a chess trainer

March 4, 2012

After his change of coach and some evidence of strengthening his mental game, Andy Murray may be may be interested in advice from Stewart Reuben, a chess trainer who used to play odds games with Bobby Fischer

This week [March 2012], Andy Murray avoided a slump in form after a good performance in the opening grand slam of the season. His play in the tournament has been consistently strong. Even his serve percentage held up well until the final. LWD has commented for some while on his potential, and on recurring patterns in his play. Our observations are not backed up with any direct experience of competitive play. For this I draw on a shared platform of understanding of more experienced commentators which seemed pretty well summed up in the Guardian’s analysis of his Dubai performances:

Murray ought to be able to lose a final without forensic examination of his disappointments in big matches …[although] he is getting closer with a sound, improving game and an on-court demeanour that is noticeably calmer since he took on Ivan Lendl as his coach in January. He beat [world No 1] Djokovic on Friday with as good a service game as he has produced in a long time but it let him down against Federer, even though the winner’s 50% first-serve rate was only two points better. It is tough for Murray to overcome the ingrained instinct that he has a better chance of winning from the back of the court, even on his own serve. These fine calculations are often split-second ones and it is more comfortable for him to rely on trusted strategies.

Leaning from a Chess master

Stuart Reuben is a distinguished English chess administrator and teacher. One of his valued pieces of advice to young chess players is that weaker players tend to choose the cautious move against stronger players. This is a strategy which favours the stronger player. I can confirm from personal experience of playing as one of a hoard of amateurs against a visiting grandmaster taking us all on simultaneously. Too often, the chess bunnies play passively as their games drift away.

Reuben (a world-class poker player, by the way) encourages us bunnies to seek dynamic positions, avoiding trying to keep it simple as a primary factor in selecting each move. Not quite simple. The weaker player has also to avoid recklessness. In my case, this often shows itself as a futile attempt to break out of the passivity trap by being foolishly aggressive, a dilemma facing the chess player.

Over to you Andy

So there you go, Andy. If snooker players like Steve Davis and boxers like Lennox Lewis have found the value of chess as a metaphor for strategy in another sport, why not add it to your training regime. You may find ways of adding these vital percentage points to your play at crucial moments of important matches.

Acknowledgement

Image of Stewart Reuben from the Atticus website