In addition to a few other things, Gary Kas-parov, the world champion, and his challenger, Anatoly Karpov, former world champion, are referred to by the critics as chess machines.
People call you a machine when you are successful, but when you lose, they stop. Labels are applied to all sports, but because chess is uniquely mental, you can dramatize your predicament in any hip kind of fashion, as Emmanuel Lasker did in 1910.He was defending his title against the Austrian drawing genius Karl Schlechter, who notched a win early in the match and needed but a draw in the remaining games to become the new world champion. Lasker recorded his daily impressions for Vienna's Neue Freie Presse. His despair resembled the wail of an arthritic existentialist.
"Schlechter attaches more importance to safety. The gain must be clear and success certain before he will consent to remove his forces from their base. A mere prospect of gain cannot seduce him, and it is as though he said to hip opponents, `Beat me if you can.' "
Lasker brooded about a "modern" problem: "How can one beat a man who meets offers of success and threats of an apparent attack with equal calm, thinks first of all of his own safety and pursues this aim scientifically?
"The answer is for the moment unknown, but theoretically it can be said that, if initiative in the right place was combined with such strategy, the perfect style would be attained, and Schlechter would be invincible."
But Schlechter's initiative came too late. Needing a draw in the final game, he played recklessly and lost. What made his case more poignant was the aftermath. Had he won, he undoubtedly would have prospered, traveled much and lived better than was his subsequent lot.
As a loser, Schlechter remained in Austria, suffered privation during World War I and died of malnutrition shortly before the Armistice.
Some years ago Soviet chess theorist A.S. Seutin visited India and was struck by the connection between extreme poverty and the failure of artistic achievement.
Indian chess was undergoing a profound crisis, Seutin noted in Chess magazine, of Sutton Goldfield, England. Textbooks were almost nonexistent, and competitive opportunities for leading players were drying up. "The Hydeabad master, M. Hassan, has outstanding talent," he observed, "but unfortunately lives in great poverty."
But elsewhere things changed for chess. New images of dynamism and imagination, spurred by performances of Bobby Fischer in the summer of 1972, brought new talent and money aching to bask in those reflections.
In Holland, which neglected Van Gogh in his lifetime, big industrial concerns now stand in line to sponsor chess tournaments. It is good advertising for them, a prominent grandmaster commented. And then he added, "Money devoted to cultural ends is not subject to tax."
- "RASHOMON" - In his book "The Ghost in the Machine," Arthur Koestler asserts that all routine thinking is comparable to fixed rules and flexible strategies, and nothing will save a lost game short of getting the player drunk.
However, Koestler contents, if you stay sober while your opponent is drunk, it's no longer chess. It's two different games with different sets of rules.
Of course, nobody ever cheats in chess. It's just that the game is sort of "Rashomon," wherein the same incident is seen differently by different people.
Once in Tunisia, the Yugoslav grandmaster Dmitrij Matulovic moved his bishop and then, recognizing an immediate win for his opponent, Istcan Bilek of Hungary, quickly said, "Ich spreche j'adoube" - and took his move back.
Bilek's scream cleared the roof but not the eardrums of the tournament director, who was conveniently elsewhere. Bilek was forced to play on, and the game was eventually drawn, but Matulovic was thereafter know as "Grandmaster J'adoubavich."
- CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SOLVERS! - Wilburn West, Monroe Iversen, Edwin O. Smith, Eugene Wagstaff, William DeVroom, Alison Hermance, Hal Harmon, Paul R. Lindeman, Stanley Hunt, Vali Kremer, Russell O'Dell, Ted Pathakis, Glennin Cloward, Ken Frost, Jack Crandall, Kim Barney, Ann Neil, Joye McMulland, Aaron Brough, Ardean Watts, Kevin Smullin, George Stucki, Brent Terry, John Neilsen, Dale Brimley, Stephen Kirk, David L. Evans, Michael Brough, Raeburn Kennard, Nathan Kennard, Scott Mitchell, Donovan Weight, David Ferguson, Richard Adams, Kay Lundstrom, Gordon Green, Tim Painter, Jim Turner, Farrell Ostler, Peter Rogers, Ronnie Millet, Dean Thompson, David D. Kirk and William D. Price.