The Dangers of Chess
There are so many dangers in chess: fights, stabbings, shootings, killings, muggings, threats, robbery, assault, molestation, car wrecks, train wrecks, plane wrecks, ax attacks, drugs, illegal gambling, addiction, theft, identity theft, threats of arrest and imprisonment, etc. Here are some of the incidents to show how dangerous chess can be, perhaps the most dangerous game in the world.
Canute (995-1035), king of England, Denmark, Norway, and part of Sweden, was said to have killed an earl over chess. The story is found in The Chronicles of the Kings of Norway called the Saga of Olaf Haraldson. In 1028, the king was playing a game of chess with his brother-in-law, Earl Godwin Ulfnadson , the husband of the king’s sister, when the king made a bad move, which led to a loss of one of the king’s pieces. The king took his move back, replaced his knight, and told the earl to play a different move. The earl got angry over this, overturned the chess board and started walking away. The king said “Runnest thou away, Ulf the coward?” The earl responded, “Thou wouldst have run farther at Helga river if thou hadst come to battle there. Thou didst not call me Ulf the coward when I hastened to thy help while the Swedes were beating thee like a dog.” The earl then left the king’s quarters. The next day, the king ordered the earl to be killed. The earl was stabbed to death at Saint Lucius’ church. In 1035, Canute died at the Abbey in Shaftesbury, Dorset. According to Henry Bird in Chess History and Reminiscences, the king was killed while watching a chess game. Armed soldiers rushed into the building and slew Canute while his friend, Valdemar, who was playing chess, was severely wounded. Valdemar escaped using the chess board as a shield.
Around 1120, King Henry I (1068-1135) of
England and King Louis VI (1081-1137) of France got into a fistfight over a
game of chess in Paris. One story says that Louis threw the chessboard at
Henry; another says that Henry hit Louis over the head with the
chessboard. Courtiers stepped in to stop the fight. This episode
supposedly was the start of events that kept England and France at war for
almost 12 years.
Around 1213, Joan (1194-1244), Countess
of Flanders and the daughter of Baldwin IX (1172-1205), count of Flanders and
first emperor of the Latin Empire of Constantinople, beat her husband,
Ferdinand (1188-1233), prince of Portugal, in a game of chess. He got so
mad that he hit her. In revenge, she left her husband in French captivity
from 1214 to 1226, refusing to ransom him.
In 1251, the first known court case involving chess and violence appeared. It dealt with a chess player who stabbed his opponent to death. A quarrel arose between two players of Essex over a chess match. One of the players who lost was so angered that he stabbed his opponent in the stomach with a knife, from which he died.
In 1264, another court case was opened when a man stabbed a woman to death with his sword after a quarrel over a chess game.
In 1622, Gioacchino Greco was robbed of all his money (5,000 crowns) that he won in Paris from playing chess while on his way to London.
In 1624, playwright Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) was arrested in London after producing a play, A Game of Chess, which satirized the proposed marriage of Prince Charles with a Spanish princess. The play was performed in the Globe Theater in London. Its nine performances was the greatest box-office hit of early modern London. All the actors were fined for their participation in the play. After Middleton’s arrest, the play was censored and was not allowed to be shown again.
In 1649, Tsar Alexei (1629-1676) banned chess in Russia. Players caught playing chess were whipped and put in prison.
In the 19th century chess master Joseph Blackburne was arrested as a French spy for sending chess moves in the mail. The British government thought they were coded secrets.
In 1867, Wilhelm Steinitz got in a
dispute with Henry Blackburne at a City of London
Chess Club game. Blackburne made an insulting
remark and Steinitz spat towards Blackburne. Blackburne, who was over 6 feet and 250 pounds, then
smashed the diminutive Steinitz in the face with his fist. Steinitz
struck with his full fist into my eye, which he blackened and might have
knocked out. And though he is a powerful man of very nearly twice my
size, who might have killed me with a few such strokes, I am proud to say that
I had the courage of attempting to spit into his face, and only wish I had
Later, at a tournament in Paris in
1878, Blackburne returned to the hotel drunk and got
in a quarrel with Steinitz. Steinitz wrote,
“…and after a few words he
pounced upon me and hammered at my face and eyes with fullest force about a
dozen blows…But at last I had the good fortune to release myself from his
drunken grip, and I broke the window pane with his head, which sobered him down
Some sources say that William Steinitz was arrested in New York or New Jersey after someone in the telegraph company thought that his chess moves being sent over telegraph was code.
On December 15, 1906, Frank Marshall was traveling by train in Louisiana, giving simultaneous chess exhibitions. On his way to another chess event, his train collided with a freight train in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. Marshall survived, badly bruised, with cuts on his hand and a sprained ankle.
In 1915, Ajeeb, a chess automaton was set up at Coney Island by James Smith and Emma Haddera. One player lost to it and was so angry he took out a gun and shot at the torso of the automaton. It killed its hidden operator, Sam Gonotsky, which was covered up. In another incident with Ajeeb, a Westerner emptied his six-shooter into the automaton, hitting the operator in the shoulder (source: New York Times, January 1929)
One lady who lost to the Ajeeb automaton was so enraged that they stuck a hatpin into the automaton, stabbing its operator in the mouth." (source: Time magazine, Feb 4, 1929)
In 1928, chess master Norman Whitaker was on his way to The Hague to play in the Amateur World Chess Championship. He was traveling by train when the train wrecked and derailed, killing 9 people and severely injuring his wife.
In 1935, Agnes Stevenson, one of the top women chess players in the world, was killed after she walked into the propeller of the plane she had been flying on. She was on her way to Warsaw to take part in the Women’s World Chess Championship when the plane made a refueling stop at Poznan. She left the plane to have her passport inspected. On returning to the plane, she stepped in front of the plane and the rotating propeller hit her.
On February 17, 1940, former New England chess champion Harold Morton (1906-1940), died in a car crash in Iowa when he hit a truck. His passenger, chess master Israel A. Horowitz, survived, but with serious injuries and a concussion. The two were giving simultaneous chess exhibitions throughout the country and were returning home after a tour of the south and far west.
In 1940, the Germans arrested all the chess players that were meeting at the Warsaw Chess Club (Kwiecinski Chess Café), which was banned earlier by the Germans. The Jews were all taken to a concentration camp (Danilowicowskia) and were later killed in a mass execution. This included Polish masters Dawid Przepiorka, Achilles Frydmann, Stanislaw Kohn, and Moishe Lowtzky.
In the 1940s, a tournament director of the U.S. Championship had his car stolen during the tournament. The car was recovered a day later.
In 1948, grandmaster David Bronstein (1924-2006) survived an assassination attack during the first chess Interzonal in Saltsjobaden, Sweden. On the last day, Bronstein was playing Tartakower when, suddenly, a Lithuanian made a lunge at Bronstein to kill him. Several spectators grabbed the would-be assassin. The attempted killer wanted to murder a Russian because he claimed the Russians were responsible for sending his sister to Siberia and murdering her.
In 1950, Walter Bjornson, a chess player in Vancouver, British Columbia, was arrested for assault after cutting his chess opponent in the arm with a knife after he lost a chess game. (source: Chess Review, 1951. p. 38)
At the Amsterdam tournament in 1950, Samuel Reshevsky and Miguel Najdorf got into a scuffle after a game.
In March 1952, Pal Benko was arrested and imprisoned for 16 months in a Hungarian concentration camp for trying to escape from East Berlin and defect to the West. He was accused of being an American spy. When they searched his apartment, they found mail devoted to his postal chess games. The police assumed that the notation was secret code, and they demanded to know how to break the code.
In 1954, the Argentine Chess Federation called off its national chess tournament after a chess player punched one of the tournament directors.
After the 1957 US Junior Championship where Fischer finished first and Gilbert Ramirez second, they were riding home together with some other participants when car kept breaking down. All the players chipped in to have it repaired but eventually it broke down completely and had to be abandoned. While riding through the hot desert with no air conditioning arguments lead to a fist fight between Fischer and Ramirez. Ramirez blackened Fischer’s eye and Bobby bit Ramirez on the arm.
In 1959, a Soviet scientist killed another Soviet scientist at a Soviet research station in Vostok, Antarctica after a chess game argument. The losing player got so mad that he killed his opponent with an axe. After the incident, the Soviets banned chess at their Antarctic stations. (sources: The Antarctic Legal Regime, p. 67; Terra Incognita: Travels in Antactica; The Crystal Desert: Summers in Antactica)
On June 1, 1960, an American sailor, Michael L. George, got into a fight at a Greenwich Village bar, Chumley's at 86 Bedford Street, when a spectator criticized the sailor’s chess game after he lost. The sailor struck the spectator (Clinton Curtis, a free lance editor from Miami) with a broken beer bottle, which cut his jugular vein, and he died. The sailor was eventually acquitted of murder and charged with accidental death instead. (source: New York Times, June 2, 1960)
In September 1961, chess master Norman Whitaker (1890-1975), chess expert Glenn Hartleb, and a 16-year-old boy were driving in Arkansas when they got into a car wreck, killing Glenn Hartleb. Apparently, Whitaker and Hartleb were too tired to drive, and they allowed the 16-year-old to drive. He lost control, hit a bridge abutment and overturned the car.
In May 1962, during the Candidates Tournament in Curacao, Bobby Fischer and Pal Benko got into a fight after Fischer asked Arthur Bisguier to assist him during an adjournment. But Benko also wanted Bisguier to help with his own adjournment with Tigran Petrosian. Fischer supposedly insulted Benko and made fun of his accent. Benko responded by slapping Fischer.
On October 25, 1962, Theodore Smith, an ex-mental patient, was arrested for murder after stabbing to death chess master Abe Turner (1924-1962) at the office of Chess Review magazine. Smith stabbed Turner 9 times in the back, and then stuffed his 280 pound body in a safe. Smith had been recently released from an insane asylum and claimed that Turner was a Communist spy and had to be killed on orders from the U.S. Secret Service.
In 1966, Mikhail Tal (1936-1992) was beaten up and hit on the head with a beer bottle during the 1966 Olympiad in Havana. He was drinking and had been flirting with a woman in a bar when her jealous boyfriend got in a fight with Tal. He missed the first five rounds of the Havana Chess Olympiad because of his injuries.
In one of the US Opens of the early 1970s, a chess player had just lost his game and, by himself, set up the pieces to analyze his game. A player sitting next to him told him to leave the playing area, that this was not a skittles room. Ignoring the player, the other person quietly replayed his lost game. The player again told him to leave. The lone kibitzer replied, “Who died and made you king?” The player then swept all the pieces off the other guy’s board with his hand. The kibitzer responded with a right hook that knocked the player off his seat. A fight then started, which had to be broken up by the tournament director.
In 1971, when Mark Taimanov (1926- ) returned to the USSR after losing to Bobby Fischer 6-0, he was banned from playing outside the country for several years and was stripped of his title ‘Honored Master of Sport.’ He was a concert pianist and was not allowed to give any more performances. He was also banned from writing any articles and was deprived of his monthly stipend.
In 1971, Rona Petrosian, wife of Tigran Petrosian (1929-1984), after her husband lost his Candidate’s match against Bobby Fischer, walked up to Petrosian’s second, Alexei Suetin and slapped him hard in the face for failing to give accurate analysis during the adjourned games of the match
In August 1971, Trevor Stowe, a chess antique dealer, was charged in court in London for indecent exhibition on display in his window. Each of the 32 pieces showed couples in sexual positions. Stowe had to pay $132 in fines and court costs.
In 1973, police arrested a chess tournament director in Cleveland and confiscated the chess sets on charges of allowing gambling (cash prizes to winners) and possession of gambling devices (the chess sets).
In 1974, the candidates match between Henrique Mecking and Tigran Petrosian was played in Augusta, Georgia. During the match, Mecking made a formal protest. He accused the former world champion of kicking the table, shaking the chessboard, stirring the coffee too loudly, and rolling a coin on the table. Mecking went to the arbiter twice to complain that Petrosian was breathing too loudly. Mecking kicked back at the table and made noises of his own. Petrosian responded by turning his hearing aid off.
In 1975, International Master Bernard Zuckerman was playing in the Cleveland international tournament in Ohio when he asked a noisy spectator to shut up. When the spectator continued to make noise, Zuckerman picked up a captured bishop and threw it at the spectator who wouldn’t shut up.
In1977, when Korchnoi and Petrosian were due to play their Candidates match, the arbiter put a pieces of board under the table so that neither player could kick each other.
In November 1977, Viktor Korchnoi was injured in a car wreck in Switzerland and had to postpone his semi-final match against Boris Spassky. Korchnoi suffered a broken hand and other minor injuries when his vehicle collided with a Swiss Army truck.
In 1978, grandmaster William Lombardy was attacked in New York City by a mugger who had a knife. Tendons in two fingers were severed and he underwent a long operation to repair the severed tendons.
In 1979, Patrick McKenna, a prisoner in Nevada, strangled his Las Vegas cellmate, Jack J. Nobles, after an argument over a chess game in which he lost. At age 67, he has been on death row for over 30 years. He was once considered as Nevada’s most dangerous inmate. He was denied the latest in a long line of appeals. (sources: Crime & Capital Punishment blog; The Pacific Reporter, 1986, p. 616)
In the 1980s, the Soviet Union banned cosmonauts from playing chess in space with each other (they can play against ground control personnel) after a fist fight once broke out between cosmonauts after one of the cosmonauts lost his game to the other cosmonaut.
In 1981, future grandmaster John Fedorowicz and grandmaster András Adorján got into a fistfight at the Edward Lasker Memorial on New York. Fedorowicz was upset that Adorján beat him when Adorján was drawing all his earlier games. Most of the blows landed not on each other, but on the tournament director, Eric Schiller, who was trying to break up the fight.
On May 26, 1981, Bobby Fischer was falsely arrested in Pasadena, California under suspicion of being a bank robber.
In September 1982, Boris Gulko and his wife were arrested for protesting at the Moscow Interzonal in Moscow. They were trying to immigrate to Israel. Gulko was beaten by KGB agents and was forbidden to play in top-level competitions.
On December 9, 1983, Hungarian GM Janos Flesch (1933-1983) died in a car wreck in Whitstable, England. He was returning from the Kasparov-Korchnoi match in London to a tournament in Ramsgate when he became involved in a car accident. He and his wife died in the crash after their car collided with a truck in foggy weather.
In 1988, undercover police arrested a chess player at a park in New York City after he won a marked $5 bill against a cop posing as a construction worker during a blitz game. The chess player was jailed for 3 days, his medication was confiscated, and he had a heart attack. The arrest was finally tossed out by a judge. Five years later, the city settled the wrongful arrest lawsuit out of court for $100,000.
In 1989, during the French championship, IM Gilles Andruet and IM Jean-Luc Seret got into a violent fight over an argument whether Andruet resigned before Seret checkmated him. After the fight, Andruet needed 8 stitches and had to withdraw from the tournament, despite the fact that he wa sin the lead after 10 of 14 rounds.
In 1989, the police raided a chess tournament in Los Angeles. The L.A.P.D. vice officers raided a nightly chess tournament held at Dad’s Donuts. They cited three men for gambling after finding $1.50 on the table. The police staged the raid after an undercover detective tried unsuccessfully to join a blitz chess game. The detective then pulled out his badge and said “all of you are under arrest,” as the L.A.P.D. swooped in.
In 1990, grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov and his wife had their luggage stolen from the trunk of a car while he was having dinner at a restaurant in New York City. The next day, he was attacked by a gang and robbed of his money, airline tickets, and 10 years of chess analysis.
During the early 1990s, Rustam Kamsky, a former boxer and father of Gata Kamsky, would often go to chess tournaments with his son and threaten anyone who he perceived was disturbing the concentration of his son. In 1994, Rustam threatened to kill grandmaster Nigel Short at a restaurant during a Kamsky-Short chess match.
In the 1990s, Soviet Grandmaster Semion Dvoirys (1958- ) threw his shoe across a tournament hall in the Netherlands after he lost a game. He was known to beat his head on the floor with great force when he lost.
In the 1990s, grandmaster Maurice Ashley was mugged twice in New York.
In 1991, Arkady Flom, a 64-year-old grandfather was arrested in Manhattan after a young man sat down to play chess with him in the park. The young man played so poorly that Flom would give him pointers in exchange for $2. The young man agreed. They played for 20 more minutes and the young fellow paid his money. As soon as Flom put the money in his pocket, four NYPD officers approached him, slapped him in handcuffs and read him his rights. He was arrested for promoting gambling in the second degree and for possession of a gambling device, his chess set. He was jailed for 3 days, his medication was confiscated, and he had a heart attack. Five years later, he received a $1 million settlement in a false arrest suit against New York City as the judge ruled that a chess game was not “gambling” since it was a game of skill rather than chance and the chess board was not “gambling equipment.”
In 1992, Grandmaster Artur Yusupov returned to his Moscow apartment from a chess tournament to discover several burglars in his apartment. A struggle broke out and Yusupov was shot in the stomach. He was rushed to the hospital and was in critical condition, but survived.
In 1992, Robert Bryan, 55, of England shot Matthew Hay, 22, over a chess game. Bryan had ‘had enough’ after losing to Hay and was jailed for 10 years after admitting attempting to murder Mr. Hay by shooting him in the neck with a shotgun. (source: The Independent, Dec 9, 1992)
On September 8, 1992, police in New Rochelle, NY arrested a player who refused to put away a chess board and pieces at a library. Louis Taylor, 41, was reading a chess book and set up his own chess pieces and board in the library. A librarian told him to put his game away and pointed to the sign, “No Board Games.” When he refused, the police were called who cuffed Taylor and charged him with trespassing. (source: Reading Eagle, Nov 3, 1992)
In 1993, a chess player in San Antonio got so mad at a tournament director for poor pairings and bad tournament conditions at a hotel that he tore down and ripped up all the pairing sheets that were posted for the next day. The police were called and he was arrested. I had to bail him out.
In 1993, a person was shot and killed while playing chess with a friend outdoors in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was the first recorded killing of a chess player by sniper fire.
In 1993, chess was banned from American River College in California because of disruptive behavior on people playing in the cafeteria and library. Campus police ordered some chess players to stop playing chess. The players refused and the campus police confiscated the chess board and pieces.
In 1994, Martin Wirth, 37, of Fort Collins, Colorado, shot to death Vernie Cox, 24, on his birthday after the two argued over a chess game. Cox died of two gunshot wounds to the chest. Witnesses said that Wirth had lost a chess game with Cox, knocked over the chess board and some furniture, and then began to argue with his opponent. Wirth went across the street to his home and returned with a gun and shot Cox to death. (source: Boulder Daily Camera, Aug 16, 1994)
At the 1994 chess Olympiad in Moscow, the Macedonian team captain was beaten into unconsciousness and robbed twice. The first time, he was robbed of $7,000 inside a bank that was across the street from the playing center. A U.S. player was mugged, and robbers threatened his life if he did not come back the next day with more money. Other chess players reported that thugs pounded on their hotel doors in the middle of the night and threatened them.
In 1994, chess was banned in Afghanistan by Taliban edicts. Players caught playing chess were beaten or imprisoned.
On November 13, 1994, grandmaster Igor Platonov (1934-1994) returned home to his apartment in Kiev after a chess tournament, when two thieves ambushed him and murdered him. The killers were never caught.
In 1995, International Master Gilles Andruet, a former French champion, was murdered in Paris over gambling debts. He was found dead in a plastic bag.
In 1996 chess and other clubs were banned from some high schools in Salt Lake City, Utah. Most of the school board is Mormon which condemns homosexuality. Rather than let gay high school students form an organization, they banned all nonacademic clubs. School board members said federal law gave them only two options: allow all extracurricular clubs or eliminate them all. Some 30 clubs, including the chess club, are banned for 1996-97.
On August 20, 1999, Ken Horne, a Las Vegas chess organizer, flying home in his own airplane from the US Open Chess Championship in Reno, died after his aircraft crashed. He died along with his wife after the plane crashed into a house in North Las Vegas.
In September 1999, Laurence Douglas, 32, stabbed Craig Williams, 25, to death over a chess game in Poughkeepsie, New York. Williams beat Douglas in a chess game that had a $5 wager. Williams took a $5 bill from Douglas after the game and Douglas then stabbed Williams 16 times. Douglas was sentenced to 12 years in prison. (source: Associated Press, May 12, 2000)
In 2001, Christopher Newton, imprisoned for burglary, murdered his cellmate, Jason Brewer, 27, over a game of chess in a Ohio prison. Brewer would resign his chess game against Newton every time a pawn was lost or the position looked bad. Newton tried to tell him not to give up and play the game out, but Brewer refused. After a month of playing chess and Brewer always resigning early without playing out the game, Newton finally had enough and strangled Brewer. Newton was executed on May 24, 2007 by lethal injection on Ohio. He was the first murderer executed for killing someone over a chess game.
In 2001, the Oregon Department of Prisons prohibited chess books and magazines in the prisons because it “contained code throughout.”
In December 2001, John H. Smith of Massillon, Ohio was arrested on charges of molesting boys as a chess coach at the York-Franklin Learning Center. He had been a chess coach there since 1997. The parents of two boys later sued Massillon City Schools for allowing such a thing to occur. The school did not conduct a criminal investigation background check on Smith. He had previously been in prison for two years for gross sexual imposition.
In 2002, two players got into a fight at the World Open in Philadelphia when one of the players threw a basketball at another player between rounds.
In January 2003, grandmaster Svetozar Gligoric, age 79, was attacked in his sleep and beaten up by masked burglars in his Belgrade home. The armed robbers broke into his home at 3 am, beat and tied him up, the stole his money and jewelry of his late wife. They also took his chess trophies. Gligoric suffered a black eye.
On June 21, 2003, Simon Andrews, 60, of Falls Township, Pennsylvania, stabbed to death Jerry Kowalski, 56, during a chess game. Authorities said that Andrews was disturbed by Kowalski’s constant talking during their chess games. Andrews then pulled a knife from under a sofa-bed mattress and stabbed Kowalski in the neck. Andrews was sentenced from 15 to 30 years in state prison. (source: Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov 18, 2003)
On October 27, 2003, Essam Ahmed Ali (1964-2003), an International Master and Egypt’s top chess player, died of malaria after returning home from the All Africa Games chess tournament in Nigeria. The 60-year old head of the Egyptian chess delegation, Mohammed Labib, died of the same disease the next day. Both were incorrectly diagnosed in Egypt after becoming ill. Both were bitten by an infected mosquito that gave them malaria.
In 2004, the FIDE vice president, Zurab Azmaiparashvili (1960- ), was arrested by a group of security agents during the final ceremonies of the 36th Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Spain. He was approaching the stage to get the attention of FIDE President Ilyumzhinov about some awards that had not been given out when the security people stepped in front of him. The Calvia police said that he hit them, so they arrested him.
In 2005, Fair Haven Union High School in Vermont banned chess after the school banned all games. The administration said that they did not want to have students play cards in school, so they banned all games, including the chess club. Despite that, the school tied for 1st place in the Vermont State Scholastic Chess Championship in 2006.
On March 14, 2005, British International Master and Correspondence Chess Grandmaster Simon Webb (1949-2005) was stabbed to death in his kitchen by his son, Dennis, age 25, in Sweden after returning home from a chess tournament. His son was arrested after he tried to commit suicide by driving his car into a building.
On April 15, 2005, Garry Kasparov was hit over the head with a wooden chessboard while signing autographs. It was a politically motivated attack. The attacker said, “I admired you as a chess player, but you gave that up for politics.”
In 2005, junior champion David Howell of England (now a grandmaster) punched the organizer of the European Union Chess Championship when it turned out that Howell would not win a prize. It turned out that titled players were not eligible for junior prizes.
In July 2005, Canadian grandmaster Pascal Charbonneau and his chess-playing friends were mugged at gunpoint at the World Open in Philadelphia.
In September 2005, chess master Robert Snyder was arrested in Fort Collins, Colorado on charges of molesting three chess students of his. Two boys were age 13 and one boy was age 12. He later escaped and was featured on America’s Most Wanted in 2009. He was later captured in Belize after someone recognized him from the TV show. He was released from jail in 2008 and was supposed to register as a sex offender, but he never did. He was featured on America’s Most Wanted in November, 2009. A girl had recognized him as a chess teacher in her school in Belize and notified the authorities. US Marshals tracked him down in Belize and arrested him.
In 2006, Anatoly Karpov was working on a manuscript for a new chess book when it was stolen in Brussels. One thief distracted him while the other attacked from behind and stole his briefcase with the 300 page manuscript.
In July 2006, two chess players tried to smuggle cocaine in a wooden chess set in Trinidad, but were caught and arrested. The cocaine, which weighed 6.8 kilograms, was valued at $3 million.
On July 26, 2006, Jessie Gilbert fell from the 8th floor of her hotel while playing in the Czech Open in the Czech Republic. It was a possible suicide. A few days later, it was revealed that her father, Ian Gilbert, a director at the Royal Bank of Scotland, had been previously charged with rape, with Jessica Gilbert as one of the victims, but he was found not guilty. Hours after the acquital, Angela Gilbert, the mother of Jessie, was arrested on suspicion of threatening to kill her ex-husband. She was later released and lawyers decided not to proceed with the case.
In 2006, during the Turin chess Olympiad, UK grandmaster Daniel Gormally punched Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronian to the ground at a nightclub. The two got in a jealous dispute over 19-year-old chess playing beauty Arianne Caoili. Caoili’s energetic dancing with Aronian provoked Gormally to fight.
In 2007, a team of home-schooled students who won the 2006 Arizona Scholastic Championship was banned from the 2007 championship. Rules were changed to not allow home-schooled students from participating. Only public and private schools were allowed to participate in the event.
On January 5, 2007, grandmaster Farhad Tahirov, age 19, was kicked and
punched by a gang of eight thugs during the 82nd Hastings
International Chess Congress. He was robbed of a thousand British
pounds. It happened as we walked along
Harold Road in Hastings at about 8 pm.
In 2007, $73,000 was donated on behalf of a chess program and team at an elementary school in Washington, DC. It turned out that the school business manager who handled the funds was a thief. The business manager ripped off most of the $73,000 that was supposed to go to the chess program. The person used the school’s ATM card more than 100 times to steal from the chess fund. When the pillage was discovered, the school security and the police were immediately notified, but the authorities did little or nothing until an anonymous tipster told the D.C. government’s inspector general about the missing money. Before the plundering, the money was used to fund 12 Washington D.C. kids to Nashville to take part in the national scholastic chess tournament. The children of the chess team never competed in another tournament after the theft of their funds.
In February 2007, former FIDE president Florencio Campomanes suffered injuries from a car accident, and had to be put in intensive care. He was on his way to the airport after attending the FIDE Presidential Board in Antalya, Turkey.
On February 18, 2007, Teimour Radjabov had all of his possessions stolen from a hotel room while playing in the Morelia-Linares chess tournament in Mexico. The burglary occurred in Patzcuaro, Mexico only a few days before the start of the tournament. Radjabov and his father left for a quick dinner and returned to their room within 30 minutes. All of their valuable items were stolen. They reported the crime, but got neither help from the local authorities, nor even a police investigation.
In 2007, two players got into an argument at the Village Chess Shop in New York during a chess game. One player was using his piece to knock off the other player’s piece rather than using the hands to remove a captured piece. One player than picked up the wooden board and hit the other player in the mouth, which drew blood. The police were called. The player that was hit was pressing criminal charges and vowed to sue.
In 2007, the Rochester Chess Center was the official vendor at the World Open in Philadelphia. They had 21 expensive chess clocks stolen during the event. It was later discovered that some of the chess clocks were being used to pay off gambling debts from backgammon and poker at the tournament.
In 2007, GM Maxim Sorokin (1968-2007) died in a car wreck on his way from Elista, Kalmykia to Volgograd.
In December 2007, the tournament director’s laptop was stolen at the 34th Eastern Open in Washington, D.C. It had occurred shortly after round 3, when the 6-month-old laptop was stolen from the director’s room. Generous chess players at the event contributed $600, which was matched by a generous donor to pay for a new laptop.
In January 2008, Zachary Lucov was playing chess with Dennis Klien in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, when a scuffle broke out. Luco pulled out a gun and Klein was shot in the elbow. Lucov was arrested for aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. source: Tribune Review, Jan 25, 2008)
In 2008, grandmaster Leonid Timoshenko had a precious diamond he was carrying stolen. The diamond was part of a trophy won by the Ukrainian National Chess Team in the 2008 Chess Olympiad. The diamond and trophy was in his checked bag on the airplane, but when he landed, his bag was open, the trophy was broken and the diamond was stolen. He was forced to check the cup into baggage at Frankfurt on his flight to Kiev. On the previous flight from Dresden, he was allowed to take the trophy onboard as a carry-on piece.
In 2008, a man was arrested by Boston police on a warrant of receiving stolen property. He was supposed to have been running an extracurricular chess program for elementary school students, charging $63.50 per student, but it was a scam.
In October 2008, David Christian of Iowa City got in a fight with Michael Steward while playing a game of chess at the rooming house where they both lived. He was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Christian choked Steward to death. (source: KCRG News, Oct 13, 2009)
In October 2008, an antique chess set from the 17th century was stolen after thieves broke into a Brisbane home. The 32-piece chess set was a hand carved ivory chess set made up of eight individual sections of ivory.
In November 2008, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was in a car accident in Moscow. He suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. He was on his way to the airport to attend the opening ceremonies of the Dresden Chess Olympiad.
In December 2008, a man was so upset in losing a chess match, that he threw his opponent out the window. It happened in Gloazov, Russian Republic of Udmurtia. 43-year-old Aleksey Valentikhin lost several games to a 60-year-old pensioner neighbor. He got so mad that Aleksey threw his opponent from his second floor window. The pensioner broke several bones and later died. Valentikham was sentenced to 6 years in prison. (source: Susan Polgar blog, April 24, 2009)
In January 2009, a heated argument erupted at a Dubai chess tournament between an Iranian chess master and his Asian opponent. The two then got into a fight after the Asian opponent said he was good in karate.
In January 2009, a Bridgeport, Connecticut man was stabbed with a plastic snow shovel after a dispute arose over a chess game.
In February 2009, a man killed a friend with a sword after a chess game in Alameda, California. An argument broke out during their game, and the two started wrestling. Joseph Groom retreated to his bedroom and returned with a sword, which he used to stab Kelly Kjersem once. Kjersem later died. (sources: Oakland Tribune, Feb 5, 2009; Mercury News, Feb 4, 2009)
In 2009, a chess player who had just finished a tournament at the Marshall Chess Club was mugged after leaving the club.
In July 2009, Gregory Alexander, an assistant to GM Susan Polgar, was arrested in San Francisco for computer fraud and aggravated identity theft in stealing email messages between USCF board members.
In 2009, thieves stole bags from chess players during the World Open in Philadelphia. The players would set their bags down in an area with computers attached to the Internet for hotel guests to use. Thieves would then make off with the bags.
In September 2009, Grandmaster Vladislav Tkachiev was playing in the Kolkata Open. He appeared for his round 3 games in an intoxicated state, fell asleep at the board and forfeited his game.
In October 2009, David Christian of Iowa City, Iowa, was arrested after killing his neighbor, Michael Steward, after the two got into a fight over a chess game. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In 2010, someone fired a shot at The Chess Club in Syracuse, New York. A 16-year old boy received a gunshot wound to the foot.
On March 17, 2010, Anthony Beaver, age 19,
was shot and killed while being robbed in Atlanta. He had been chess
champion of his high school and won the 2009 Clayton County Chess Championship.
In April 2010, five chess pieces were stolen from the Christchurch Cathedral Square. The large public chess set was a popular attraction in Cathedral Square. The pieces were stolen over the Easter weekend.
In July 2010, Oakland school board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge was arrested when she refused to stop playing chess at the intersection of Broadway and 14th Streets.
In 2010, a chess game between inmates at the Indian River County Jail in Florida led to a fight. Christopher Brown was playing chess with another inmate in the cell block when Christopher O’Neal, who was watching the game, commented about the game on the other inmate’s behalf. Brown told O’Neal to shut up, but O’Neal ignored him and continued to discuss the ongoing chess game. The two then got into a fight. It took several detention deputies to break up the flight.
In October 2010, seven chess players were fined $50 for playing chess in Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan. They were playing on stone chess tables with a sign nearby saying that the chess tables were off limits to adults unaccompanied by minors. The charges were finally dismissed in April, 2011.
On August 11, 2011, two people
were stabbed at a Chuy’s Restaurant in Phoenix after
police say a person got mad over a game of chess. Officers at the scene said two people were playing a game,
but when one person won the game the other person, a sore loser, got mad and stabbed the winner twice. The
victim’s friend jumped in and tried to help, but he was also stabbed. (source: ABC 15.com, Aug 12, 2011)
On October 4, 2011, grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk and his wife
were robbed at gunpoint in Sao Paulo, Brazil as they were sitting in the taxi
form their hotel to the airport. Two men with guns took two suitcases and
a handbag and ran. They missed his laptop computer by his feet and his
passport in the inside pocket of his jacket, but got his wife’s passport which
was in the handbag. Ivanchuk said that the most
valuable item stolen was his chess set, which he had for many years.
In October 2011, Grandmaster Eduardo Iturrizaga, the top player in Venzuela, got in a car wreck on his way to the airport to participate in a chess tournament in Barcelona. He was unable to make it to the tournament.
In December 2011, chess gamblers were arrested in Vietnam. Gambling is illegal in Vietnam and several Vietnamese officials were arrested for betting on chess games.
In January 2012, a woman was arrested in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang for organizing gambling chess games for local officials.
In March 2012, customs officers intercepted a suspicious package at Sydney’s international airport. Police discovered that it was a chess set filled with bags of cocaine being smuggled in. Police then installed a listening device in one of the other chess pieces, and then delivered the package. Later, four men were arrested and charged with the supply of five kilograms of cocaine worth more than $2 million.
In August 2012, former world chess champions Garry Kasparov was beaten by police and arrested in Moscow outside the courthouse where the trial of the band Pussy Riot was taking place.
In 2012, chess master John Charles Yoos of Vancouver, British Columbia, was a victim of identity theft. A person with the same name and age had been charged with attempted murder in New York.
In January, 2013, Mike Anders, a chess equipment/book seller and popular area chess player, died when the plane he was piloting crashed into a house in Flordia.
In April, 2013, six members of the Melbourne Chess Club in Australia were returning from a chess tournament in Canberra when their car rolled off the freeway. Two of the chess players died. International Master James Morris (1994- ) was seriously injured in that accident.
On August 8, 2013, Russian Grandmaster Igor Kurnosov, age 28, was hit by a car as he was crossing the street in Chelyabinsk and died at the scene of the accident. He was one of the top 20 GMs in Russia, rated 2680 at his peak. He was run over by a car and was filled on the spot at 2:45 am.
In September 2013, police confiscated chess sets, chess gear, tables, and chairs along Market Street in San Francisco. Police said the games had begun to attract illegal gambling and drug sales, and were getting complaints by nearby merchants,
In 2013, a Chinese player murdered his best friend and then killed himself so they could play chess in the afterlife.
In January 2014, Tom O’Gorman was stabbed to death by his chess opponent, Saverio Bellante, over a late night chess game in Dublin, Ireland. Bellante then proceeded to cut him up and was reported that he tried to eat O’Goman’s heart.
In April 2014, chess master David Harris was arrested in Providence, Rhode Island, and charged with indecent solicitation and third-degree sexual assault. More investigation continues since Harris was involved with chess in schools. Police were still looking at his contact with other children that he taught chess to.
On June 15, 2014, several ax-wielding thugs went on a rampage in a Chinese chess hall in Hotan City, Xingiang. Four people were injured during that attack.