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Chess Trivia

Efim Bogoljobov (1889-1952) died of a heart attack after a simultaneous exhibition.

Jose Capablanca (1888-1942) died of a stroke after watching a skittles game at the Manhattan Chess Club. President Battista of Cuba proclaimed a national day of mourning for their fallen warrior.

Edmundson (? – 1982) died of a heart attack in Hawaii while playing chess on the beach.

Paul Keres (? – 1975) died returning home from a tournament.

Leonhardt (? – 1934) died of a heart attack at a chess tournament.

Frank Marshall (1877-1944) died of a heart attack after leaving a chess tournament in Jersey City.

Vladimir Simagin (1919-1968) died of a heart attack while playing in a chess tournament.

Herman Steiner (1905-1955) died of a heart attack after a game from the California State Championship.

Johann Zukertort (1842-1888) died of a stroke while playing chess at a London coffee house.

Abe Turner (1924-1962), a chess master who was killed after being stabbed nine times in the back by a fellow employee, Theodore Smith, at CHESS REVIEW. Abe had been working there for two weeks. The assailant had been released from an asylum and claimed that Abe Turner was a Communist spy and had to be killed on orders from the Secret Service.

A member of a Middle East chess team tried to buy one of the girls working for the organizers at the Buenos Aires Olympiad for one million dollars. The offer was refused.

At the Buenos Aires Olympiad, Hans Ree was told a joke and laughed so hard he fell out of bed and broke his leg.

Blackburne (Joseph Henry 1841-1924) once walking round the boards during a simultaneous display, drained his opponent’s glass saying, when rebuked, ‘he left it en prise and I took it en passant’

Blackburne was once arrested as a spy because he sent chess moves in the mail and it was thought that the moves were coded secrets.

Blindfold chess was forbidden by law in the former Soviet Union because it was considered artistically pointless and harmful to one’s mental health. A view often held in countries where there’s been blindfold exhibitions.

Bobby Fischer once withdrew from a chess tournament because a woman was playing in the event (she was Lisa Lane and U.S. woman champion).

Botvinnik has played every World Chess Champion of this century.

Bronstein once took 50 minutes to make his first move.

Capablanca had the mayor of Havana clear the tournament room before he would resign his game to Marshall in 1913.

Capablanca was never checkmated.

Capablanca’s official title was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary General from the Government of Cuba to the World at Large.

Charousek copied out by hand the gigantic “Handbuch des Schachspiels”.

Dr. Hans Berliner, a former world correspondence champion himself, programmed a chess program named HITECH which won a Pittsburgh masters’ tournament witha performance rating of over 2400 and the North American computer championship in 1986, and then won the 1988 Pennsylvania State Chess Championship outright after defeating Internation Master Ed Formanek (2485) in the last round.

During the American Revolution, there was a strong effort by the colonists to rename the King, Queen, and Pawn to Governor, General, and Pioneer.

FIDE once considered to set up a fund for support of retired or impoverished chess masters.

First place prize in one of the first Ladies chess tournament was a sewing machine.

GM Lothar Schmid has the world’s largest private chess library with over 20,000 volumes.

Herman Steiner once spent 75 minutes over his second move.

Igor Ivanov’s first game in the West was a draw in 14 moves against a 1651 rated opponent. He did not know the rating system. He assumed his opponent was a strong master since he played an opening that equalized early.

In 1851 the world chess champion was A.Anderssen; at the same time the world checker champion was A. Anderson.

In 1868, George Carr played chess with a friend five miles away using a telescope and semaphores.

In 1922 Jose Capablanca played 103 opponents at once in Cleveland, drawing 1 game and winning all the rest!

In 1939 Weaver Adams wrote a book entitled, “White to play and Win”. At his next tournament he lost all of his games as White and won all his games as Black.

In 1965 Fischer was linked by Telex to Cuba from New York to play in a chess tournament. Each game lasted five to seven hours. After the event, the Cubans had to pay the bill of over $10,000.

In 1978 Karpov was named “Soviet Sportsman of the Year”.

In the television series STAR TREK, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock played chess 3 times. Kirk won every game.

James Mason’s real name is still a mystery. Karpov became World Champion before he became the USSR Champion.

Leon Trotsky’s real name was Bronstein and his father was David Bronstein. Lenin used “Karpov” as one of his pseudonyms during his exile.

Moving one square at a time, a Bishop may go from K1 to K7 in eight moves in 483 ways.

Neumann won a tournament in 1865 with a score of 34 wins, no losses, no draws.

Only one country in the world bans chess – Iran.

Paul Morphy once conducted a chess column at the fantastic salary (for 1859) of $3,000 a year. Paul Morphy, King of Chess, once lost a game in twelve moves.

Sand glasses were used as the first chess clocks.

The Canadian representative to an international chess event got to the tournament by a Track and Field Club that raised money through bingo.

The German master Saemisch once lost a game on time after only 13 moves. The time control was 45 moves in 2 1/2 hours.

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) is the world’s second largest organization consisting of 122 nations. It’s budget is only $150,000 a year.

The leading British chess masters of World War II all became leading codebreakers for British intelligence.

The most popular PBS TV show aired was the 1972 Fischer-Spassky chess match.

The police raided a chess tournament in Cleveland in 1973, arrested the tournament director and confiscated the chess sets on charges of allowing gambling (cash prizes to winners) and possesion of gambling devices (the chess sets).

There are over 200 million inhabitants of China that are keen chessplayers.

There was no World Woman Chess Champion from 1944 to 1950.

To accustom himself to all conditions of tournament play, Botvinnik in practice matches would have his opponent blow smoke at him.

When Napoleon died, he willed that his heart be cut out and placed inside a chess table.

Other Useless Information

Humphrey Bogart (1900-1957) Before becoming a movie star, Humphrey Bogart hustled strangers at 5-minute chess for 50 cents a game in chess parlors in New York Times Square. In 1943 the FBI prevented him from playing postal chess, thinking the chess notation were secret codes. He was a USCF tournament director and active in the California State Chess Association. He once drew a game against Reshevsky in a simultaneous exhibition. He made 75 films and chess appears in several of his movies. He and his wife, Lauren Bacall, appeared on the cover of CHESS REVIEW in 1945 playing chess with Charles Boyer.Claude Akins (Sheriff Lobo) and chess enthusiast. He taught Dean Martin the game and always beat John Wayne.

Ray Charles, legendary musician and who has been seen on film (“The Blues Brothers”, “Naked Gun 4”), learned chess in 1965 in the hospital while being treated for heroin addiction. He uses a peg set made for the blind.

CHESS, Most expensive musical play ever put together, costing over $4 million in 1986. The musical was written by Tim Rice and music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (formerly of ABBA).

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