Chess: Larry Evans
July 13, 2008

“Chess is vanity,” declared Alexander Alekhine, who wrested the crown from Jose Capablanca in 1927. Indeed, chess players are seldom afflicted with humility.

Capablanca once refused to pose with a film star, saying: “Why should I give HER publicity?” He couldn’t raise the purse for a rematch with Alekhine in an era when the world champion imposed conditions and could pick his own challengers.

Efim Bogoljubow was a born optimist whom Alekhine used as a punching bag in two title matches. In his heyday, he boasted: “When I am White, I win because I have the first move. When I am Black, I win because I am Bogoljubow.” In 1929, Bogoljubow lost by a wide margin of six points (15 ½-9 ½) and in 1934 by five points (15 ½-10 ½). He claimed that Alekhine hypnotized him, blithely dismissing his losses to the next generation: “The young demons have read my book. Now I have no chance.”

Ignatz Kolisch was penniless and abandoned chess for banking in the 19th century. He made a fortune and became a great patron of the game. Legend has it that he missed a match with Paul Morphy because the American refused to play for a stake while Kolisch, who claimed to be a professional, refused to play without one.

Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort attended a banquet where a toast was proposed to the world champion. They both rose!

One of Steinitz’s “customers” was Epstein, a wealthy banker who tarried over each move. When Steinitz tried to rush him, Epstein barked: “Just who do you think you are?” Steinitz stiffened: “On the Bourse you are Epstein and I am Steinitz. On the chessboard I am Epstein and you are Steinitz.”

Here is the full article.

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