The five loudest chess scandals
Alexander Alekhine: boycott, strange death and a trace of foreign intelligence services
If we leave out the scandals of the beginning of the 20th century and the figure of Prince Andrei Dadiani, who bribed his rivals, then the first scandal was connected with the name of Alexander Alekhine. A Russian emigrant, a multiple world champion, he was accused by the chess community in 1945 of collaborating with Nazi Germany during the war years.
This cooperation was expressed in a series of anti-Semitic articles in which the history of chess was presented from the point of view of Nazi racial theory. He also took part in several tournaments organized by the Nazi Chess Union of great Germany.
In the fall of 1945, many chess players announced a boycott to the champion, even invitations sent earlier to him to tournaments in London and Hastings were even withdrawn. True, later many observers claimed that it was at hand for several American chess players who fought for the world title, but were unable to defeat Alekhine in fair play.
In 1946, he unexpectedly, as a chance to save his career, received a telegram from the Soviet chess player Mikhail Botvinnik: an invitation to a match for the world championship. However, after a month and a half he died: he was found dead in Lisbon, in his hotel room, sitting in an armchair in front of half-empty plates and a chessboard. Later, the version was circulated that either the NKVD or the US special services were involved in his death.
Bobby Fisher: the vagaries of the “chess king”, tax evasion and a Japanese prison
Robert James Fisher, better known as Bobby Fisher, is the most expressive and scandalous chess player in the history of the chess game. What kind of numbers didn’t he throw out after he became the youngest grandmaster in the history of chess in 1958, and then both the world champion and the national hero of the United States – after all, not a single American chess player achieved this title.
Win without touching the pieces
Prohibited Chess Techniques
The famous chess player all the time violated the rules, insisted on privileges and increased fees, demanded something. His demands were mostly absurd and bordered on the vagaries of the prima donna. Either he needed a different light, then the parties had to start no earlier than 16.00, because he likes to sleep. On Saturdays, he refused to play for religious reasons, and insisted that everyone else play according to his schedule. But if the requirements were not fulfilled, Fisher simply rose and left – or left, disrupting the tournaments and leaving behind a train of indignation and curses.
After losing the title of world champion in 1975, refusing to take part in the match with Anatoly Karpov, he left the public field of vision for years. A new scandal occurred in 1992, when the ex-champion was accused of tax evasion. He defiantly broke the official letter of the US Department of the Treasury and did not return to his homeland. Then he was arrested and imprisoned in Japan – as an illegal migrant. In general, by the number of absurd situations, it is unlikely that any of the prominent chess players will be able to catch up with him. And thank God!
Viktor Korchnoi: anti-Semitism, psychics and the KGB arm
Grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi got scandalous fame after he asked for political asylum during a tournament in Amsterdam in 1976, accusing the Soviet Union of anti-Semitism. He is known for harsh speeches in the media – regarding the Soviet system and his rivals, who, according to him, have been intriguing their whole life against him. So, he explained his defeat in matches with Karpov in 1978 and 1981 with the help of parapsychologists and psychics hired by the KGB, the enemy using micro-headphones and even using stimulants, which they were just starting to talk about.
Later, he settled in Switzerland and received Swiss citizenship in 1994, competed in international competitions for this country. Until his death in last 2016, he continued to give revealing interviews about his rivals and about the entire Soviet chess school.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov: friendship with Gaddafi, relations with ISIS and attempted coup in FIDE
Many controversial incidents are connected with the name of the president of the International Chess Federation, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a Russian statesman, the first head of the Republic of Kalmykia. He is the only character in our scandal rating who is not a chess player, but a chess politician.
One of the first scandals involved the embezzlement of federal funds for the construction of the “Chess City”. This is a whole area in the vicinity of Elista, which was elevated to the 1998 chess tournament by order of Ilyumzhinov, then the head of the republic. According to various estimates, it took from 40 to 150 million dollars. And Kirsan Ilyumzhinov himself was accused of having spent on this construction, including the taxes that were supposed to go to the Federal budget of the Russian Federation. The help of subsidized Kalmykia was temporarily frozen.