This question was posed by my partner Karen in the pub the other night as she watched a friend and I push wood around the board. She definitely thought NOT!!
Is this typical Anglo-Irish prejudice that is reflected by the rest of the non-playing chess community of these islands? Being good at chess in the British Isles does not confer sex appeal.
In other parts of the world chess players are judged as sports people, have endorsements, and are used as models! They are sexy.
It is a universal truth that in these islands no-one ever took up chess in the pursuit of finding their true love. I would also contend that no-one ever took up chess in these islands to improve their sex appeal.
Sadly, competence in chess at club level never translates into huge amounts of adoring fans, invitations to glamorous parties, members of the opposite sex falling at your feet, or an improvement in your physical appeal. It also does not confer wisdom in the fashion arena.
To use the Jeremy Clarkson vernacular – the image of the club chess player is popularly covered by words such as jumper, pipe smoking, socially awkward, boring, tweed jackets etc. You are definitely viewed as the Austin Allegro as opposed to the Ferrari you think you are.
But the professional chess world gives us Magnus Carlsen and Alexandra Kosteniuk, amongst many others who are both smart, good looking and sexy. Great for them, but sadly it does not seem to trickle down.
With the Oscars season just passed, it is worth looking how Hollywood uses chess. It is overwhelmingly used as a prop to convey intelligence and sophistication. Only once to my knowledge has it been used as the element of seduction [answers please to our Twitter account!]. Surely those two traits are sexy?? At our level… no!
The combination of art, science and life that is chess must be sexy?? Again, at our level… no!
So sadly I conclude that I reluctantly agree with Karen, Another victory for her! Again!
But I have the final word… Damn the popular majority! Chess makes me feel good, and that alone in my mind makes me sexy!! So there!!
By John White, London League 4 Captain and Sexy Beast.