Chess And Presidential Elections

Chess And Presidential Elections

| 37 | Fun & Trivia

During the 2016 presidential election, many Americans got caught between a rock and a hard place. Indeed, since both candidates had flaws, it was very difficult to make a choice. I wish we had an objective criteria that would allow us to compare candidates.

Since this is a chess website, I bet you already know where I am going. Yes, I wish that besides the actual requirements to be U.S. president (one must be at least 35 years old, be a natural-born U.S. citizen, and have spent at least 14 years in the U.S.), the candidates should be at least master-level chess players.

I know, it will never happen, but wouldn't it be cool to hear an exchange like this during the debates?

Candidate A: "You never play openings that lead to positions with isolated queen's pawns. Don't you like isolated pawns?"

Candidate B: "Nobody likes isolated pawns more than I do!"

Fortunately, we have a chess player who just won an election in 2016, re-elected as attorney general of Washington. Bob Ferguson is a chess master with a USCF peak rating of 2227, and he has a picture of Bobby Fischer in his Seattle office!

Maybe it's this picture?! OK ... probably not ...

To tell you the truth, I would cast my vote for him just because he once made a draw against's popular contributor, IM Jeremy Silman

It is more difficult to find games played by presidents and the like. In my old article about celebrities playing chess, I mentioned that most of the published games played by countries' leaders were never actually played. Consider the next one:

On the other hand, it is an established fact that Benjamin Franklin was an avid chess player. He was even inducted into the U.S. chess hall of fame. Unfortunately, it is difficult to say how strong he was, since I wasn't able to find any games played by him.

So, who is currently the strongest chess player in a national government? It is really easy to answer this question. The 12th world champion, Anatoly Karpov, is a member of the Russian Parliament (Duma) and arguably one of the best chess players ever!

Many of the Russian laws that he has signed are controversial, to put it mildly, but his chess is impeccable. You can take my word for it!

We have many distinguished governmental ladies playing chess. 

Former women's world champion, Xie Jun, works in the Beijing sports commission. You can again trust my word: She is an excellent chess player:

Yugoslavian minister of sport, GM Alisa Maric, is also very strong in chess. Unlike the previous two cases, this time I don't have a personal painful experience to share, but Vishy Anand does!

Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Latvia's finance minister, recently beat the current women's world champion, Hou Yifan.

I doubt there is another tournament game in chess history where a politician completely outplayed the reigning world champion!

GM Victoria Cmilyte is a member of the Lithuanian parliament and a perennial member of the women's world top-10! Just like Dana, Victoria has also defeated multiple women's world champions as well as a number of male grandmasters:

As you can see, Victoria is a fierce attacking player, and you can find hundreds of attractive tactics in her games. Here is one of them. Test yourself and see if you can play chess like a politician!

Who is the strongest chess-playing politician you know?
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