7 Times Chess Players Talked Trash

7 Times Chess Players Talked Trash

NM SamCopeland

Trash talk is a rich part of chess culture. Born in the coffeehouses and parks where real chess is played, where real men (and women battle) and only cowards turn down a sacrifice, and no one pays a mite of attention to the elements.

Here are seven amusing, ridiculous, or even historic incidents of trash talk over the board, in print, and in media.

7. This Park Hustler

In one the most viral clips in chess history, GM Maurice Ashley and his park hustling opponent, Wilson, maintain a constant stream of trash talk designed to distract their opponent. Pay particular attention to the lightning-fast sleight of hand attempted near the end of the game

6. "A Bust To The King's Gambit." - Bobby Fischer

In 1960, Boris Spassky defeated Bobby Fischer with the King's Gambit. Spassky's opening was actually fairly ineffective, but Spassky was not one to be phased by a pawn deficit. Pursuing activity, he tripped Fischer up and won the game.

Fischer was not known for handling his defeats with equanimity, and rather than engage in trash talk in the tournament hall, he took to the presses, publishing a pamphlet purporting to refute the entire opening. Unfortunately, this article which somewhat vindictively furthered chess knowledge wasn't Fischer's only published diatribe. As ostensible mental illness escalated, Fischer's aspersions became less chess oriented and more paranoid and anti-semitic.

5. "You come to hustle me, grandmaster?" - Vinnie

No trash talker in chess is more iconic than Vinnie from "Searching for Bobby Fischer." Boisterous, vivacious, and competitive but entirely good natured in his trash talk, Vinnie (as played by Laurence Fishburne) is the center of the park chess community. What young chess enthusiast wouldn't be drawn to him?

4. "4-2 now... Fortuitous!" - Ben Finegold

GMs Ben Finegold and Simon Williams certainly exchanged more vicious trash talk insults in their parentally advised Death Match, but no comment was more witty than this throwaway by Finegold after Williams earned his second win.

3. Young Anish Giri on Twitter.

Is there a greater friend to a chess journalist then Anish Giri? The witty Dutchman has been regaling audience members with his barbs for the last half decade. Often, what seems clearly barbed to observers, seems just a general observation to Giri. Perhaps he is not trying to talk trash? Perhaps it is just a gift? Here he is dissing Norwegians

The Norwegians were also involved (perhaps unwittingly) in another great trash talk moment by Nigel Short when he alleged that they called Garry Kasparov "The Rug" because of his plentiful body hair.

Returning to Dutch trash talk, for awhile it seemed that Giri would no longer be entertaining chess fans at such a high volume. Fortunately of late he's been extremely active on Twitter, full of wit, but sporting less barbs.

2. "Too weak. Too Slow." - Magnus Carlsen

By most accounts Magnus Carlsen has a well-developed sense of humor, and according to our PRO Chess League proctors, he has even been known to burst into raucous song upon victory.

In this famous casual blitz game against his friend and erstwhile second, GM Laurent Fressinet, Carlsen constantly taunts his opponent with this line which has since been repeated by or to most chess players throughout the world. Be sure to stick around for the mate at the end

1. "Never in my life have I had such a won game after ten moves as I have now!" - Siegbert Tarrasch

Are there weightier words in the history of chess? With this sentence, Tarrasch denounced a young Aron Nimzowitsch, the man who would later tear away the classical conceptions that Tarrasch asserted so dogmatically in his esteemed writings.

The young Nimzowitsch attended university in Berlin, but played more chess than university and played in an aggressive style totally unlike that with which who would become permanently associated. Here is one incredible coffeehouse finish he played.

Nimzowitsch raised some funds to tempt Tarrasch to play a training game, but then (against Tarrasch's wishes), he informed press and friends of the match. Tarrasch was incensed and played to initially punish the insolent Nimzowitsch. The opening was a resounding success for him, which inspired the above line. Although Nimzowitsch later drew the game, Tarrasch's words, manner, and general dogmatism got to him and were fuel for his remarkable later writings that tore apart the classical thinking with which Tarrasch was associated and exposed fresh veins of thought in chess.