By Frank ‘Boy’ Pestaño


Thursday, November 4, 2010

CHESS is inherently a harmless and safe pastime. However, it has its dark side and it’s not about it being very addictive.

Since a lot of egos are involved, a whole symphony of feelings comes into play.

The Manny Pacquiao Blog. Stories and updates on the Filipino boxing champ.

A few days ago, I was playing at a chess club and met an old acquaintance whom I have not seen since my Luneta weekends in the 70s and 80s.

I still remember him vividly as he was involved in a fistfight in Luneta over a chess game. That memory prodded this topic.

Although most people will disagree, there is some truth to the statement by Henry Blackburne that “chess is a kind of mental alcohol. Unless a man has supreme self-control, it is better that he should not learn to play chess. I have never allowed my children to learn it, for I have seen too much of its evil results.”

Blackburne, nicknamed “The Black Death,” is notorious for his fistfights with his opponents.

I did a search on the Internet about chess fights and violence and came across an article by world famous and hall of fame writer Bill Wall. He is, without doubt, the most productive writer about chess trivia.

Please note that these are isolated incidents and are exceptions.

Martin Wirth shot to death Vernie Cox after the two argued over a chess game in 1994.

Cox died of two gunshot wounds to the chest. Witnesses said Wirth had lost a chess game with Cox and knocked over the chess board. He went home and returned with a gun and shot Cox to death.

Robert Bryan of England shot Matthew Hay with a shotgun over a chess game in 1992 and was jailed for 10 years .

The Soviet Union banned cosmonauts from playing chess in space with each other although they can play with ground control after a fist fight once broke out between cosmonauts over a chess game in 1980.

In 1981, GM John Fedorowicz and GM András Adorján got into a fistfight at the Edward Lasker Memorial on New York. Fedorowicz was upset that Adorján beat him when Adorján was drawing all his earlier games.

Patrick McKenna, a prisoner in Nevada, strangled his Las Vegas cellmate, Jack J. Robles, after an argument over a chess game in 1979.

In 1971, when Tigran Petrosian lost his match with Bobby Fischer, Petrosian’s wife, Rona, put the blame on his trainer, Alexey Suetin, and slapped him.

Walter Bjornson of Vancouver was cut with a knife by his opponent in 1950 during a chess game, leaving a four-inch gash in his forearm.

The Argentine Chess Federation called off the national chess tournament in 1954 after a player punched the arbiter.

A Russian scientist killed another colleague with an axe after losing a chess game at the Vostok Research Station in the Antarctic in 1989.

International Master Bernard Zuckerman was once playing a chess tournament in 1979 .

A loud spectator was nearby and Zuckerman told him to keep quiet. When the spectator refused, Zuckerman hurled a captured bishop at him.

During the Candidates Tournament in Curacao in 1962, Bobby Fischer and Pal Benko got into a fight. Fischer asked Bisguier to assist him during an adjournment, but Benko also wanted Bisguier to help with his own adjournment.

Fischer insulted Benko and made fun of his accent and Benko responded by hitting Fischer A U.S. sailor got into a fight with a spectator in a Greenwich Village bar in 1960 while playing chess. He struck the spectator with a broken bottle and hit him on his jugular vein. The sailor was eventually acquitted of murder and was charged with accidental death instead Laurence Douglas of Puoghkeepsie, New York, stabbed Craig Williams to death over a chess game in 2000.Douglas, who lost $5, pulled out a knife and stabbed Williams 16 times.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 05, 2010.