Welcome to Chess & Languages Blog: My Game with Boris Spassky
© Photos by Maria Arbatova. Boris Spassky, the 10ᵗʰ World Chess Champion and me (in the blue cap)

Welcome to Chess & Languages Blog: My Game with Boris Spassky

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Hi, my name is Tycho Davydov, I live in Moscow, Russia, and this is my first blog post on My primary field of study is classics (that is Ancient Greek and Latin, but I’m quite interested in other Indo-European languages as well) and linguistics. While I’ve been playing chess for almost 18 or 19 years now (although not so good as you might think when someone says “hey, I am a chess-vet-since-2003”), I’ve never really tried to tie these two activities together, so I’m planning to give this blog a chance. The next post on this blog will be about Names of Chess Pieces in Different Languages (there are quite a few sites on the Internet where you can find some info on the subject, but none of them are enough to satisfy one’s voracious interest in Chess Linguistics (is there such a term? I guess there is now). I believe the post will be ready after a couple of weeks or so.

For now, I’m posting these three pictures (you can see the first one above) of me participating in the simultaneous exhibition with Boris Spassky, which took place on August 31, 2008, in Gorky Park (you can find some evidence of it here and here). As the article says, it was really bad weather that day; the old man next to me, I think, introduced himself as Kostya, so I nicknamed him in my head as “grandpa Kostya”. When it started to rain pretty heavily, he took out his black umbrella which covered almost the entire chessboard, and grandpa Kostya himself, who said: “You know why I’m doing this? I’m hiding from the KGB, it’s looking for me all the time. I work at the theatre which is at the Cultural Center on Petrovskie Linii st.” I was 13 years old, so I believed all of it, especially the KGB part. 

Guess who won the game? (Spoiler: not the white.)

Anyways, here are the pictures.

When Spassky captured my pieces, he said: “Let’s eat ’em!” («Будем кушать!»).

He repeated this phrase several more times, changing it a bit (“And here we go eating ’em”, “Just continuing with the eating” etc.).

I lost, of course. Nevertheless, I had a rule back then: never surrender. Spassky was disappointed, he said: “Why are we still playing this?” You can see the frustration on his face.

Russian woke journalist Maria Arbatova who was present there with her Indian husband was so touched by seeing me there that she immediately took these pictures, for which I am very thankful to her.