Humor in Chess

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Chess is one of the most well-researched games and if you are not deterred by those 32 pieces and 64 squares, you are sure to find in chess folklore something to your interest, not necessarily in the games themselves. Well-played games are of course things of prime interest to enthusiasts, but even otherwise you will find interesting stories like the idiosyncracies of players, notable incidents, stories, humors and such like.

Here is one story that I read long time ago and was possibly made up to show why Russians led the world in chess for so long. It concerns Alekhine, one of the legends in chess history and world champion during 1927 to 1935 and 1937 to 1946.

The story goes that Alekhine, a champion by that time, was traveling through the countryside and stopped at a roadside inn for a meal. Nobody there knew about him and Alekhine found that many farmers were playing chess at different tables. One of the farmers sitting by himself asked Alekhine if he would like to join him to play a game or two and Alekhine indulgently agreed just to pass his time. To his utter surprise, Alekhine soon found himself at the losing end. While praising the farmer for his chess skill, Alekhine was curious to know why the farmer had never touched his rooks which could probably make the win even faster. The farmer said with an expression of surprise “You mean you play those pieces also? Here we use those as corner markers.”

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