Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy V-Day

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'd like to share a passage from a book I'm reading.  Chess is about passion and desire.  And so when we lose, our emotions tend to spill over.  Sometimes our love for the game turns to violence.

In Paul Hoffman's book The King's Gambit, he mentions some interesting tid-bits about other's desire for the game.

"Defeat in chess is always painful.  William the Conqueror reportedly smashed a chessboard over the Prince of France.  Pascal Charbonneau, the champion of Canada and my closest friend in the chess world, told me how a childhood contemporary broke all the furniture in a hotel room at a tournament and retired from chess.  The Spanish writer Fernando Arrabal once signaled his resignation with a theatricality that surpassed Rossolimo's.  He grabbed his king, climbed up on the chess table, extended his arm horizontally, and dropped the king so that it bombed the board.

"When I was a spectator in 2003 at the annual chess tournament at Foxwoods Casino, where 630 players were battling for a price fund of $93,500, I was nearly struck by a chess clock that an irate loser hurled in my direction.  I'm sure I wasn't the intended target, but I had to duck, and the clock smashed into the wall behind my head and broke into pieces.

"When a player get violent, his wrath is often directed not at spectators or his opponent but at himself.  One contemporary Russian grandmaster has been known to pick up the pointiest chess piece, usually the bishop or knight with a particularly jagged mane, and stab his own head until it bleeds.  Then he rushes out of the tournament hall only to return for the next round as if nothing untoward has happened.  At one event, this grandmaster was among the tournament leaders who were playing on an elevated stage.  When he lost a key game, he bloodied his face and then, in an extreme masochistic flourish, dove off the three-foot high stage, belly-flopping onto the hard floor."

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