Though it’s still winter, chess fans can look forward to the World Chess Championship, which will be held in Moscow in May. World Champion Viswanathan Anand from India will take on challenger Boris Gelfand from Israel. In anticipation of this spring’s battle, I’ve collected a few quotes about chess.
Long perceived as a male-dominated game, in recent years there has been increased interest and participation among women, partially as a result of the achievements of Hungarian grandmaster Judit Polgar and her two sisters. One of these stars is Irina Krush (how’s that for a great chess name?), a three-time U.S. Women’s Champion who emigrated from the Ukraine when she was five and is ranked No. 28 on the current FIDE list (FIDE: Federation Internationale des Echecs, also known as the World Chess Federation). She once explained a loss this way:
“I just lost my mind. There is really no other way to explain my moves.”
Chess player, writer and theorist Aaron Nimzovich (1886-1935) had a less gracious way of describing a chess master’s bad day at the office:
“How could I lose to such an idiot?”
Another 20th-century legend, European Savielly Tartakower (1887–1956) described the ominous situation that awaits players as they sit down to start a game:
“The mistakes are all there waiting to be made.”
Stanley Kubrick, director of such legendary films as Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, Paths of Glory and many others, expresses the thrill of the game for both novices and masters:
“You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas.”
Born in Japan, American grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura is currently ranked No. 12 in the world and has this to say about his method:
“I’ll play some of these really crazy moves that people are not going to be expecting. The way I play is not like most people. The moves are more computeresque. They’re not the moves that most humans are going to play.”
Garry Kasparov, former world champion from 1985 to 2000, is considered by many to be the greatest player ever. His style was often stunning:
“What separates a winner from a loser at the grandmaster level is the willingness to do the unthinkable. A brilliant strategy is, certainly, a matter of intelligence, but intelligence without audaciousness is not enough. I must have the guts to explode the game, to upend my opponent’s thinking and, in so doing, unnerve him.”
Sign up for my free email chess course for Beginners and Club Players. In this free course, I focus on helping beginner chess players see the entire board. You will learn how to attack your opponent from move 1 and create a new threat with every single move! I’ve created this series of lessons designed to help beginner and club level players understand the game at a deeper level so that you can start beating higher rated players immediately. Start getting free tips from me directly to your inbox!
– GM Susan Polgar