At a 1976 Amsterdam chess tournament, Soviet grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi politely asked an English competitor how to spell the words “political asylum.” He then went straight to a police station and announced that he wished to defect.
In correspondence chess there is a concept known as the “Dead Man’s Defense”, where a player spends as much time as possible playing out a lost position in hopes that the opposing player simply dies or loses interest, thereby winning the game.
The “queen” in chess used to be the “advisor” which could only move one square diagonally. It wasn’t until chess was brought to Europe and the rise of female monarchs during the 15th century was the “advisor” replaced with the “queen”.
Chess Grand Master Ossip Bernstein was arrested by the Bolshevik secret police and ordered to be shot. As the firing squad lined up, an officer asked if he was really the famous chess master. The officer made Bernstein play a game for his life against him. Bernstein won easily and was released.
Several computer algorithms have named Bobby Fischer the best chess player in history. Years after his retirement Bobby played a grandmaster at the height of his career. He said Bobby appeared bored and effortlessly beat him 17 times in a row. “He was too good. There was no use in playing him”.
Chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer literally spat on a US order warning him that a rematch in Eastern Europe would violate US sanctions. He played the match and then spent the next 16 years as a fugitive outside the US until his death.
In 1770 a man invented a machine that could play a strong game of chess against a human opponent. The “android” that played the game was nicknamed The Turk (as was the machine itself). It wasn’t until 1857 that it was revealed to be a hoax (a chess master was hiding in the machine).
Villagers in the India village of Marottichal began playing chess as an alternative to drinking after a ban on alcohol.The village is now known as ‘Chess Village’ due to its near 100% chess literacy.
In May 1997, an IBM supercomputer known as Deep Blue beat then chess world champion Garry Kasparov, who had once bragged he would never lose to a machine. After 15 years, it was discovered that the critical move made by Deep Blue was due to a bug in its software.