NY Times - Natalia Pogonina Believes Chess Can Improve your Sex Life
Written by Administrator
Sunday, 24 January 2010
By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN
Published: January 23, 2010
Can chess be erotic? Yes, according to the movie “Joueuse,” which was released last month in France and Germany.
In “Joueuse,” the French actress Sandrine Bonnaire plays Hélène, a maid whose marriage and life are passionless. One day, while cleaning a room, she sees a couple (Jennifer Beals and Dominic Gould) playing chess. As they play, they touch each other suggestively and exchange smoldering glances. Aroused, Hélène vows to learn the game and teach it to her husband to see if she can rekindle their romance. He shows no interest, and she decides to learn more about chess. She turns to a character played by Kevin Kline, whose house she cleans, and he becomes her teacher. She eventually surpasses him as a player.
Chess as a metaphor for sex may seem far-fetched, but it has been used before, as in a tension-laden scene between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in the 1968 movie “The Thomas Crown Affair.”
What may seem even more far-fetched is the idea that there is a way to apply ideas about sex to improve chess skills, and vice versa. But Natalia Pogonina, who is No. 17 among women, and her husband are writing a book about just that. The book is titled “Chess Kamasutra.”
“We will be reviewing the most interesting openings and middlegame positions and relating them to positions from Kama Sutra,” Pogonina said in an interview last year with Chessbase.com.
Given her ideas, it is hard to know whether to read anything into Pogonina’s style as a player. She likes classical openings, but is not afraid to mix it up, as she did against Joanna Dworakowska of Poland at last year’s European Individual Women’s Championship. Pogonina ending up taking third, on tie-breakers.
Against Dworakowska, Pogonina chose the Ruy Lopez, a traditional system.
Pogonina’s 11 ... ed4 was surprising, as Black surrenders the center. But Pogonina had played the move before. Dworakowska’s reply, 12 Nd4, was a new idea, and Pogonina had to improvise. She adjusted, obtaining a queenside pawn majority.
Dworakowska blundered with 25 Bh4, but Pogonina failed to take advantage, as she could have after 25 ... Bf3 26 Be7 Bg2 27 Bd6 Qc6.
Pogonina pounced on her next chance, playing 28 ... a5 to create two connected passed pawns. Dworakowska could not play 29 ba5 because 29 ... Bc5 would win White’s queen.
Pogonina missed opportunities: She could have played 33 ... c3, as 34 Rb3 Qc4 wins a piece. And 35 ... Nf4 followed by 36 ... Ree5 would have been better than 35 ... Re5. But the result was never in doubt. Dworakowska resigned because she would have been down a rook, with no hope, after 43 Be7 Rc8.
A version of this article appeared in print on January 24, 2010, on page A18 of the New York edition.