Sunday, March 17, 2013

Formula 1 on St Patrick's Day

I was driving down Jacka Boulevard through St Kilda on my way to Port Melbourne. If you've never been to St Kilda, it is a bohemian wonderland that doubles as a tourist magnet. It has it's good sides such as a beach, great cafe culture, art and artists and excellent clubs and venues. It also has it's bad sides with drugs and prostitution openly available and it gets madly overcrowded throughout the summer and most weekends through the year. I personally dislike crowds too much to want to be in St Kilda at the moment, but I like hanging out around Acland Street when it's colder and there's room to move.

Anyway, as I was driving through St Kilda I saw signs by the road saying that it's an alcohol free zone, as is a big expanse of suburbs around the Grand Prix in Albert Park. To be honest, it was no skin off my nose as I don't drink and drive but I wondered how long this drink ban was going on for and whether it would be successful in keeping alcohol off the streets. The same policy was used during the St Kilda Festival a few weeks back which to my mind makes a lot of sense with so much emphasis on providing attractions for families. But today is not family festival day...

Today is, in fact, St Patrick's Day. Again, for those who don't know what I'm talking about, St Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and so this day has become a celebration of the great Irish tradition of getting absolutely pissed. This can be done in a number of ways, but it is usual to wear something green that identifies you with the Emerald Isle, find an Irish Pub of which there is at least one pretty much anywhere you travel in the World, and drink as much as you can while complaining about how bad Guinness tastes outside the homeland (whether you've been to Ireland or not!). In fact St Patrick is a fairly serious Saint who has been mythologized and celebrated throughout the centuries. There's a pretty good article about him here.

I also noticed a strange phenomenon concerning the scheduling of the the London Candidates tournament. The tournament started slowly and was eclipsed by the media heavy Red Nose Day in the UK. Coinciding the start of a mind sport event such as chess with Red Nose Day (comic relief) seems a bit strange, but then the tournament is scheduled to end on April Fool's Day. I wonder if someone in marketing is trying to make chess appear a more fun event to the general public? Unfortunately, none of the players wore red noses on the opening day of play, but I have hopes of perhaps a big green hat being worn by one of the players today. And if not, maybe we'll be lucky enough to see Magnus Carlsen in the last round needing to win and reaching for his h-pawn, hovering his hand over the flank pawn, and then smiling and saying "April Fool"!

While round 1 was a bit lame, round 2 came alive with 2 of the games decisive. I was watching Carlsen-Kramnik and you just have to admire Kramnik's ability to not lose games of chess. I mean, I know he does lose games, but he really found equality easily with the black pieces against the world number 1. The decisive games came when the old guys Gelfand and Ivanchuk (damn, both younger than me), lost to the number 3 (Aronian) and 4 (Radjabov) in the World. To be honest, the games were not classics, with the losers playing badly rather than the winners playing excellently. The other game between Grischuk and Svidler was a draw which leaves Aronian and Radjabov as the early leaders of the event.

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