Chess Stories

Playing Botvinnik

"If you play Botvinnik, it is even alarming to see him write his move down. Slightly short-sighted, he stoops over his scoresheet and devotes his entire attention to recording the move in the most beautifully clear script; one feels that an explosion would not distract him and that examined through a microscope not an irregularity would appear. When he wrote down 1.c2-c4 against me, I felt like resigning."

Capablanca's Challenge

In article (Arthur Burke) writes:


  Along the same lines, while not a quote, per se, here's one of my favorite chess stories.

After Alekhin had taken the championship title from Capablanca, Capa apparently spent quite a bit of his spare time hanging out in a specific cafe in Paris. Friends, acquaintances, and others would often drop by, participating in games and libations with the former, charismatic, champion. One day, while Capa was having coffee and reading a newspaper, a stranger stopped at his table, motioned at the chess set and indicated he would like to play if Capa was interested. Capa's face lit up, he folded the newspaper away, reached for the board and proceeded to pocket his own queen. The opponent (who apparently had no idea who Capablanca was) reacted with slight anger. "Hey! You don't know me! I might beat you!", he said.

  Capablanca, smiling gently, said quietly, "Sir, if you could beat me, I would know you."

Promotion for Alexander

Date: Fri, 10 Jan 1997 16:47:24 +0000
Organization: The Open University
Subject: Chess quotations

I have a vague memory of one by C.H.O'D
Alexander that you may like: after being
awarded an OBE or MBE (can't remember which),
Alexander was asked by a French(?) interviewer

"Does that mean you are a Knight?". 

"Alas, barely a tempo" he replied.

Sorry I can't remember the source, possibly Chernev's
"Chess Companion".

Pete Taylor

Time for a quick game?

From: (Jonathan Berry)
Subject: Re: Shortest Tournament Games

In article ,
asdmm4@UAA.ALASKA.EDU wrote:
|But even this has been improved on by a game (Miles-Reuben) that went:
|1. Draw agreed

I believe that the best of these games was Hubner - Rogoff from
a World Youth (Under-26?) Team Championship, maybe circa 1970.
In those days of adjournments, Hubner had a long long long
game.  Germany was due to play USA the next round, and Hubner
obviously wanted to rest instead.  But the team captain said they
really needed his strength or at least his presence on top
board.  So Hubner said OK, but only if you let me make a draw.
The captain agreed, because that would boost his team's lineup
on the remaining boards.  But Hubner, being a man of some
principle, didn't want it ever to appear that this might have
been a real game, so he offered to Rogoff (a very strong
player, but not quite in Hubner's class) that they draw without
any moves being played.  So:

1. Draw agreed.

However, the arbiters did not like this and refused the game.
So Hubner and Rogoff put together a scoresheet of a game which
began something like this:

1.b3 g6 2.Na3 Bg7 3.Rb1 Ba1 4.Bb2 Nh6 5.Bg7 Rg8 6.Bh8 Bg7 and
so on ... Draw.

The arbiters were not amused.  They *insisted* that the two
play some real moves.  Rogoff agreed, Hubner didn't.
Hubner 0-1 Rogoff, which makes this game the answer to the
trivia question:

"Which game was the shortest draw in chess history and also the
shortest decisive game?">
Jonathan Berry

Lasker incognito

Lasker often used to play without letting on who he was: he had fun at the expense of one poor chap who managed always to win against his mystery opponent when he gave knight odds, but lost when he had the extra knight!
One day he sat down to play a blind man, who despite his disability was a strong player.

  After a few moves of the game, the man raised his head and said,

"Ah, Dr.Lasker, I presume."

WHo is the strongest player?

>   wrote:
> >..but you agree that Kasparov probably cracks walnuts with his bare
> >hands?
>       Nunn talks in his second games collection about the lot
>       drawing at a Swedish tournament.  The lots were on the
>       bottoms of gold bars, and the players were warned that
>       the bars were too heavy to be picked up with one hand.
>       Nunn says that immediately after this was said, Kasparov
>       began flexing his right hand, obviously determined to
>       draw his lot one handed.  He tried, but failed and had
>       to use both hands.
>       On the other hand, Portish picked up his bar one handed
>       with no apparent strain.  He may be 60, but you don't
>       want to meet him in a dark alley.
> William Hyde
> Dept of Oceanography
> Texas A&M University

Several Stories

From: Avital Pilpel (
Organization: Columbia University
Subject: Some chess anecdotes.
  • About "Chess and James Bond":
    A family friend of ours, a chess master, went to see the movie THREE DAYS IN A ROW in the movie theatre (it was before VCR's) just so he could figure out the position and then spent another week figuring out where the position was from!
  • A humorous definition of chess tournaments:
    1. Swiss system: Very much like swiss cheese, full of holes and comes in different flavors.
    2. Round Robin: You have to play everybody, including those that you are scared to death to play against...
    3. Elimination: Not for you, what will you do after the first round?
  • A story about Rubinstein, the great master:
    In one tournament, he needed only a draw to clich first place uncontended in the last round. A few moves were played, and his opponent offered a draw. Rubinstein refused! After a few more moves, when Rubinstein had an obvious advantage, HE offered a draw that was gladly accepted, and then he said: "I will decide what the result will be with a player of YOUR caliber".
  • Two chess stories from Israel, my home country:
    1. One time, Nimzovitch visited Israel and went to the local Lasker chess club anonymously. He naturally crushed everyone else, and eventually one of the old kibitzers there told him: "You're a pretty good player, your style reminds me of Nimzovitch...".
    2. A few days after the 1973 Yom Kippur war started, the next round of the Israeli open was supposed to begin - naturally nobody showed up except for a few old kibbitzers who wondered why the hell nobody came!
  • The worst blunder:
    One of the marks of the amatuer is that he or she seems to consider material advantage better than mating the opponent for some reason. I was once in a tournament in NYC, where white had the following advantage: Queen, rook (or two? not sure) , three light pieces, five or six pawns, against a... BARE KING!

      The result??? STALEMATE!!!
    (I swear this is true).

  • I am surprised there was no mention of famous underpromotions that win the game. There are quite a few fsamous ones and it is always amusing to watch. Zuckertort [sp?] had actually composed a problem in which white mates by promoting a pawn to a BLACK knight, and said: "when the horse is well-bred, you don't check it's color". Some other famous problem composer, I do not remember who, had another interesting variation: Black, in order to escape mate, "promotes" his pawn to a new KING. White retaliates by promoting HIS pawn to ANOTHER BLACK KING, and goes on to mate all three of them!!!
  • There [mostly from the excellent and ever-improving collection at Edinburgh University Chess Club]

  • A threat to Nimzovitch

    Before his game with X, Nimzovitch approaches the tournament director, pleading with him to ask X to refrain from smoking cigars during their game. The tournament director goes to X and requests his compliance and X agrees. The game begins and shortly thereafter X removes a cigar from his pocket and places it on the table. A few minutes go by and then Nimzovich again approaches the tournament director, who notices that the cigar is just sitting on the table and says to Nimzovich: "What's the problem? X is not smoking." Nimzovich: "Yes, but he is threatening to smoke, and any fool knows that the threat is more powerful than the execution"


    Who is X?