Eccentric chess players

SanjeevTakru
SanjeevTakru
Oct 10, 2014, 2:28 PM |
4

David Bronstein, who has the distinction of a 5-5 tie with Botvinnik in the latter's first title defence in 1951 (Botvinnik retained his title), once stared at the board for 50 minutes before making his first move..

The hypermoderns, Reti, Breyer and their followers revolutionized chess for quite some time with their fianchettoed bishops openings, and many believed that by opening e4 white was already in trouble... 

Nimzovitch once swept the pieces off the board in a losing position, shouting, "Why must I lose to this idiot?"...

Howard Staunton, the great British chess player of the mid-19th century, invariably had some excuse when he lost, often using his own chess publication to analyze even his losing games in his own favour...

Staunton's German contemporary, Andersen, who was the unofficial co-world champion with him at the time, was good natured and sporting. He readily played Paul Morphy during the latter's Europe visit in the 1850's, losing 2-7, while Staunton steadfastly avoided him. It is said that, most unusually for top chess players, Andersen's face often registered delight at Morphy's genius even when he was at the receiving end of Morphy's deadly combinations...

USSR's Tigran Petrosian, world champion 1963-69, was called Iron Tigran because his style consisted of playing for draw after draw, until his bored and fatigued opponent committed a slight inaccuracy, whereupon he would patiently sqeeze out a win. When he met another like-minded grandmaster, fellow-countryman Victor Korchnoi, in the Candidates semi-finals in 1971, both kept waiting for the other to do something for the first eight drawn games, Petrosian finally managing a win in the ninth and then drawing the tenth game to win the dull match.  Fischer, in contrast, won his semi-final match against Denmark's dynamic Bent Larsen 6-0. The merciless Fischer had also won 6-0 against USSR's Mark Taimnov in the quarter finals, while Iron Tigran had won his quarters by winning just 1 game. His opponent, W. Germany's Huebner, dropped out after 6 draws and 1 loss owing to noisy playing conditions, which didn't bother Petrosian who was hard of hearing...

What happened when the unstoppable Fischer met the unbudgeable Petrosian in the Candidates Final? Although Fischer had won his candidates matches spectacularly, Petrosian too had managed to stay unbeaten...

According to Spassky, Korchnoi needed to hate his opponent to play his best.... 

An Indian nawab took his chess playing employee Sultan Khan to Europe with his entourage, where Sultan became a rage in chess circles, regularly defeating top grandmasters and even becoming the English champion. However, when the nawab hosted a party for top chess players, they were acutely embarrassed to find their chess playing colleague waiting on them as a mere bearer. Undoubtedly, the piqued nawab's way of keeping his super-talented menial from getting too big for his boots and also conveying to all in no uncertain terms his view that nawabs were a superior breed to grandmasters. (Indian maharajas and nawabs, it seems, were very very sensitive to slights; one is known to have invited a young English Rolls-Royce salesman, who had remarked to him at the showroom, that it was a very expensive car, to his state in India, where he witnessed Phantoms being used to cart garbage. Phantoms carting garbage, Sultan Khan carrying refreshmnents; the thinking is obvious. Why did the nawab not execute him? India was a British colony at the time.)  Sultan returned to India with the nawab never to be heard of again, but he is very much a part of the history of the game...

Capablanca too was considered a master of the draw, waiting until he had a miniscule advantage, and then using his unsurpassed technical skills to convert a nearly equal game into a win. He was so far ahead of his contemporaries that he suggeated adding a few more squares to make the game more interesting...

The same Capablance, over-confident and under-prepared, was finally defeated 3-6 by Alexander Alekhine in a marathon 34 game match. But the new world champion who reigned for many years until his death, made sure that he never played Capablanca again, (or, for that matter, any other worthy contendor) who unsuccessfully chased him for a re-match until his own death . Unlike Bobby Fischer's case, there is no doubt that Alekhine was running scared....

Alekhine married four times; his last three wives were older than him by more than twenty five years...

Bobby Fischer in his entire career prior to playing Spassky for the world championship in 1972, had opened with e4 as white, disregarding the advantage this gave his opponent in preparing against him. In the one game in which he opened d4, his opponent had already announced his intention of forfeiting the game...

At the start of one of their games for the world championship, Korchnoi routinely held out his hand to shake Karpov's, and found himself looking ridiculous with his hand hanging in thin air as Karpov, by a pre-planned strategy, ignored it. Badly flustered, Korchnoi went on to lose the game...

The 1984 world chess championship final between the reigning champ Karpov and challenger Kasparov dragged on and on for 48 games into 1985; when it was finally abandoned with Karpov leading 5-3 and needing just one more win to retain his title, it was the trailing Kasparov, needing 3 wins without a loss to win the match, who strenuously objected to the cancellation of the match...

Until chess players knew better, there was a time when the best blitz players were often in most time trouble in standard chess. They would think interminably on the crucial moves, not worried about the clock, confident in their ability to move fast, sometimes leaving only a couple of minutes for 15-20 moves before the time control...

Asked if he considered himself a chess genius, Fischer modestly denied that he considered himself any such thing. He was only a genius who could excel at anything he chose, it just happened to be chess...

Another modest world champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, who said that he played chess with God, didn't profess that he actually defeated the almighty, only that he had an edge....