Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Most Outrageous Moments in Chess - Part I

I have seen some interesting things since I began playing tournament chess about 14 months ago. I have certainly met some interesting people. I have met some really fun people and I've met some people who are borderline socially retarded. In sociology it is generally an accepted axiom that people do not tend to associate with other people too far outside their socio-economic statum. For example, Star Wars nerds use the force to align themselves with other dorks in the cosmos. Obscenely wealthy people tend to gravitate to other wealthy people (except for Bernard Madoff who will be getting up close and personal with all kinds poor people in the next 150 years).

Naturally when you meld a group of people with such diverse backgrounds, political alignments, religious beliefs, economic levels and the like, fireworks are inevitable. I have done exhaustive research and tried to bring you the most outrageous moments in recorded chess history, as determined by me.

#10 - Case Adjourned
In a game in 1927 between Hans Mueller and Frederick Yates, Mueller was on the move when the game was adjourned. Mueller wrote down and sealed his move and handed it to the tournament director. The following day the tournament director opens the envelope to find not Mueller's move but simply the word "Aufgegeben". Basically, "I resign".

#9 - Steinitz versus Blackburne
I am not referencing a famous game here. I am referencing a physical altercation which took place between Wilhelm Steinitz and Joseph Henry Blackburne in Paris in 1867. Apparently a heated dispute erupted and Steinitz spat on Blackburne. Being the gentleman he was, Blackburne responded by putting Steinitz' face through a window... Chuck Norris style (this is not a joke Blackburne really smashed dude's head through window).

#8 - William the Conqueror conquers his Nephew
William the Conqueror experienced many victories on the battlefield and apparently the chessboard. When he suspected his nephew Louis (who happened to also be the king of France) of cheating in a game of chess he unceremoniously smashed the chessboard over Louis' head. Louis resigned... which began the French tradition of resigning in every conflict they were ever involved in.

Interestingly enough, Garry Kasparov recently suffered a similar incident. Kasparov was on the receiving end of a board over the head, according to news sources, from a spectator who bitterly disagreed with his political views. Or it could have been from someone who secretly is in love with Kasparov and is driven into a frenzy when he talks and believes if he can't have Garry no one can! Incidentally I am prohibited from coming within 500 yards of him after that little incident.

#7 - Nimzowitsch Loses to an Idiot
After losing first place in a rapid tournament in Berlin, Aron Nimzowitsch shocked onlookers as he jumped upon a table in a fit of rage and screams, "Gegen diesen Idioten muss ich verlieren!" roughly translated "Why must I lose to this idiot?"

#6 - Most Powerful Church in England
Was the most powerful church in England created by a chess game gone awry? There have been several murders as a result of a dispute in a game of chess even as recently as Iowa in 2008. However perhaps the most interesting occurred on Christmas day 1026 AD when King Canute, the Viking King of England, was playing his brother-in-law the Earl of Ulf. King Canute had been engaged in a battle with the Norse and the Swedes and was being thoroughly beaten until Earl of Ulf showed up with reinforcements. Later that night in the comforts of a stronghold of The Earl of Ulf, a great feast had been prepared for King Canute and his army. Earl of Ulf was doing everything he could to try to cheer his downtrodden brother-in-law up and finally recommended a game of chess. The King agreed.

The Earl of Ulf was revered as an intense man who was wholly unyielding in every aspect but was very well respected and a tremendous warrior. He was also remarkably competent and had sort of a Midas touch. Anything he was ever put in charge of seemed to flourish. Naturally then, The Earl was quite a remarkable chess player as well. During the course of the game, King Canute made an ill-advised move and the Earl of Ulf captured one of the King's knights for free. The King picked up the captured piece and placed it back on the board stating emphatically, "make a different move."

The always unyielding Earl stood up and flipped the board over and stormed out of the room. The King shouted, "running away Ulf, you coward?"

Ulf turned and said, "You didn't mark me a coward earlier today when I saved you from getting beaten like a dog by the Swedes".

The next day, King Canute sent one of his warriors to assassinate the Earl of Ulf. Assassinated he was. While at church, an assassin plunged a sword in Ulf's back while he was singing at Christmas service. The priests closed the church but King Canute ordered the church doors be reopened and later that day were. During evening service the King came by the church and gave such a large donation of land to the church it became the largest and most powerful church in England at that time.

Stay tuned for the top 5 Most Outrageous moments in Chess...

Most Outrageous Moments in Chess Part II...

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