A chess game is usually a well-mannered affair. In formal tournaments, a handshake is expected before play begins.
Bobby Fischer, although usually intent on fighting “to the naked kings,” was famously respectful and courteous toward his grandmaster opponents.
But tempers can and do fray in intense competitions.
Grandmaster Aron Nimzowitsch is said to have once jumped on a table and screamed, “Why must I lose to this idiot?”
Conflicting reports say that, during a 1974 match, Tigran Petrosian, a former world champion, and Viktor Korchnoi, a future challenger to the world title, repeatedly kicked each other under the playing table.
I recall watching the robust and irascible Korchnoi violently sweeping the pieces onto the floor after a loss in a 1987 tournament in Brussels.
His 140-pound foe, former world champion Anatoly Karpov, cowered with his head down on the other side of the board, his sole concern to escape the tsunami of crashing pieces — and whatever might follow.
I have also witnessed a couple of other noted grandmasters — both U.S. champions — dramatically clearing the board after frustrating losses.
Such incidents are, of course, rare.
Chess might inspire strong emotions, but hockey it ain’t.
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– GM Susan Polgar