Chess Tragedies

By Bill Wall


Caliph al Walid I (668-715) who was an Umayyad caliph who ruled from 705-715, was playing chess (shatranj) with one of his courtiers, who was a much stronger player than the Caliph, but was purposely making bad moves in order for the Caliph to win.  One day, the Caliph observed this and was highly offended.  He seized one of the heaviest chess pieces and hurled it at the courtier’s head saying, ‘May evil befall thee, base sycophant!  Art thou in thy senses to play chess with me in this foolish manner?’  An Arabic manuscript says that the caliph broke his opponent’s head with a blow with his firzan (equivalent to the modern Queen).

The Arab historian al-Masudi (896-956), writing in his travel diary in 950 A.D., described how they played and betted on chess in India.  Players would wager their fingers on a game of chess.  If a player lost, he would cut off a finger with his dagger, then plunge his hand in boiling water with special ointment to cauterize the wound.  Then he returns to the game.  Another loss would mean another loss of another finger.  Sometimes a player who continued to lose would cut off all his fingers, his hand, his fore-arm, his elbow, and other parts of his body.  After each amputation, he could cauterize the wound and return to another game of chess.

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 1495 the Inquisition saw victims of persecutions stand in as figures in a game of living chess. The game was played by two blind players. Each time the captured piece was taken, the person representing that piece was put to death.

Atahualpa (1497-1533) was the last sovereign emperor of the Inca Empire.  In 1532, the Spaniards sacked the Inca army camp and imprisoned Atahualpa.  While in prison, he was taught chess by the Spaniards and became very good at it.  Atahualpa advised Hernando de Soto in one game of chess that helped defeat one of the Spanish friars named Riquelme.  Popular tradition in Peru says that Atahualpa would not have been condemned to death if he remained untutored in chess.  Atahualpa was sentenced to death by 13 votes for and 11 against.  It was Riquelme’s vote that broke the tie that called for the death sentence.  The Peruvian people say that Atahualpa paid with his life for the checkmate that Riquelme suffered because of his advice.

In 1598, Paolo Boi (1528-1598), one of the leading chess players of the 16th century died in Naples. Historian H.J.R. Murray says he was poisoned in by jealous rivals. Other sources say he caught a cold when hunting and died as a result of it.

The Puritans were against chess and discouraged chess play. It was considered a sin to play chess.  (source: Victorian Web)

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.

This could have been a Shakespeare tragedy.  On August 30, 1624, playwright Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) was arrested in London after producing a play, A Game at Chess, that satirized the proposed marriage of Prince Charles with a Spanish princess.  The play was performed in the Globe Theater in London.  Its nine performances, from August 5-14, 1624, was the greatest box-office hit and the most talked about dramatic work of early modern London.  After Middleton’s arrest, the play was censored and was not allowed to be shown again.   Further performance of the play was forbidden and Middleton and the actors were reprimanded and fined.  Middleton never wrote another play.

In 1649, Tsar Alexei (1629-1676) banned chess in Russia. Players caught playing chess were whipped and put in prison.

Alexandre Deschapelles (1780-1847) was arrested for being involved in the French insurrection of June 1832.  He was released a month later after writing to the king that he was too old, too infirmed, and innocent.  Earlier, when he was a soldier, he was very seriously wounded on the battlefield against the Austrians and was left for dead.  He was covered with so many wounds, he was not recognizable.

Louis-Charles Mahe de La Bourdonnais (1795-1840), strongest player of the 19th century, died of a stroke.  He died penniless in London, having been forced to sell all his possessions to satisfy creditors.  He was only 44 or 45.

In 1848, the suppression of the Hungarian Revolution banned chess clubs in Hungary until 1864.  As a chess player, Johann Loewenthal was forced to leave Hungary.

On May 18, 1853, Lionel Kieseritzky (1806-1853), died penniless at a charity hospital (La Charite) for the insane in Paris.  A hat was passed around to collect money for his funeral but nothing was raised. As a result, he was buried in a pauper’s grave. Only one person came to his funeral, a waiter at the Café de la Régence. The location of his exact plot has not been found.

William Henry Russ (1833-1866) one of America’s leading compiler of chess problems, died in a hospital after trying to commit suicide. He adopted an 11-year old girl and proposed to her when she was 21. When he rejected him, he shot her four times in the head. He left her for dead (she survived), then tried to commit suicide by jumping into the river to drown himself. However, the tide was out and the water was not deep enough. He climbed out of the river and shot himself in the head. He died 10 days later in a hospital, lacking a will to live.  He was only 33.

In 1875, Albert William Ensor (1843-1883) was arrested for counterfeiting in New York.  In 1873, he was the first Canadian Chess Champion.  He was later arrested in Germany for gambling and in France for forgery.

In 1879, Carl Goering (1841-1879), a German professor, philosopher, and chess master, committed suicide in Eisenach, Germany.  He got sick with rheumatism in 1872 and was suffering from depression.

Tragedy struck Johannes Zukertort (1842-1888) when he was playing in a chess tournament at Simpson’s, a London coffee-house.  He fell unconscious while playing his game against Sylvain Meyer.  Instead of calling for medical help, he was carried to another site, the British Chess Club, a few blocks away.  He was then taken to Charing Cross hospital where they diagnosed the problem as a cerebral attack (stroke).  He never gained consciousness and died the next day.  At the time, Zukertort was in 1st place of the tournament.

On January 23, 1890 the New Orleans Chess, Checkers, and Whist Club was destroyed by fire.  The valuable library of the chess club and all the Morphy memorabilia were all destroyed.

In 1890, Walter Grimshaw (1832-1890), a famous chess problemist, committed suicide just after Christmas by cutting his throat with a razor.   He became despondent and his mind became “unhinged.”

On April 14, 1891, George Mackenzie (1837-1891) was found dead at a hotel in New York. A hotel worker called at his room and found him dead in bed. He had terminal tuberculosis before his death. The day before, he visited the Manhattan Chess Club and was arranging to challenge the winner of the forthcoming match between Blackburne and Gunsberg. William Steinitz reported that his death was from an intentional overdose of morphine. This rumor was started by a doctor who refused to sign a certificate for an insurance policy because the doctor had not been paid a fee.  During the Civil War, Mackenzie was arrested for desertion.

On May 11, 1894, Austrian-Hungarian chess master Alexander Wittek (1852-1894) died in a lunatic asylum in Graz.  He was diagnosed with a "paralytic mental disorder" the previous year.  One source says that he committed suicide but another cites tuberculosis.

In 1897, William Wilson, age 55, a prominent member of the Franklin Chess Club in Philadelphia and bookseller, was robbed and killed in his store.

In 1897, Norman Willem van Lennep (1872-1897), a Dutch chess master, killed himself by jumping into the North Sea from a ship at the age of 25.  His father had disowned him unless he gave up chess and found a steady job. 

On August 12, 1900, former world champion William Steinitz died in the Manhattan State Hospital on Ward’s Island. For months, he had been confined there, diagnosed as insane. He was committed by his wife.  In 1897, he began to have the illusion that he could talk on the phone without thread or elauricular and his secretary often surprised him waiting for a response through the invisible hearing aid.   He also used to approach to the window where he spoke and singed, remaining after waiting for an answer. The secretary informed about this to the American consul who suggested that Steinitz should be taken to a  sanatorium.  In 1900, he thought he could deliver electric charges, with the  help of which it would be feasible to move the pieces at willClaimed to be in electrical communication with God and could give him a pawn ahead and White pieces.


Johannes von Minckwitz (1843-1901) committed suicide by stepping in front of an electric car near Biebrich, Germany. He lost both arms and died May 20, 1901.  He was only 58.

David Janowski was addicted to gambling and was always short of funds.  In 1901 David Janowski (1868-1927) won an international tournament at Monte Carlo and lost all his first place money in the casino the same evening the tournament ended. The casino management had to buy his ticket home. In another event he handed his money to a friend and made him promise not to return it until after the chess tournament. However, the lure of gambling proved too strong and he begged for the return of his money. His friend refused. Janowski was so infuriated that he sued his friend.

In 1906, the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club was destroyed by the San Francisco earthquake and fire.  The new Mechanics’ Institute building was not built until 1909.

Harry Pillsbury (1872-1906), a world class chess player, died of syphilis, which he caught from a prostitute in Saint Petersburg about 10 years before his death. In March, 1905, he tried to jump out a 4th story window at the Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia. He was stopped by several nurses and doctors. He died at Friends Asylum in Frankford, Pennsylvania. His obituary in the New York Times stated that he died from an “illness contracted through overexertion of his memory cells.” He was only 33.

In December 1906, Nicolai Jasnogrodsky (1859-1914), a chess master, was arrested for swindling 10 citizens of Bay City, Michigan out of $10,000 to marry a rich rabbi’s daughter.

In August, 1909, chess master Rudolf Swiderski (1878-1909) committed suicide in Leipzig. He took some poison, and then shot himself in the head with his revolver. He had recently been convicted of perjury in connection with a love affair and he was to face legal proceedings.  Other sources say that he had an illness extending over a period of years and was discouraged by what he deemed a hopeless flight.  He died a week after his 31st birthday.

On September 11, 1913, Dr. Julius Perlis (1880-1913), died in a mountain climb in the Alps. During a pleasure trip, he went astray and spent the night on a mountain. He died of extreme exposure to low temperatures during a climb in the Austrian Inntaler Alps (Hochtor-Ostgrat). He was only wearing light clothing.  He fell asleep on the ridge and froze to death.

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.  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.

In 1918, chess master Ossip Bernstein (1882-1962), an advisor to rich bankers in Russia, was arrested by the secret Bolshevik police and ordered executed by a firing squad.  An officer reviewing the list of those to be shot recognized Bernstein as the famous chess master and spared his life.

On December 27, 1918, Carl Schlechter (1874-1918), leading Austrian player, died from pneumonia and starvation in Budapest, Hungary, during the war-imposed famine in Central Europe. He never mentioned to any of his acquaintances that he needed food or money. He was found in a room without any money, heat or food. He was buried in Budapest on December 31, 1918.  He was only 44.

In November 1921, chess master Norman Whitaker (1890-1975), his brother and sister, were arrested for stealing automobiles and collecting on the insurance.  Whitaker was convicted, but escaped.  He was arrested in 1925 and sent to the federal prison at Fort Leavenworth.

In the 1920s, public chess playing on Sundays was banned in Massachusetts.  A law was passed to make it illegal to play checkers and chess in public on Sunday.  (source: NY Times)

On January 31, 1924, Curt von Bardeleben (1861-1924) threw himself out of the second floor window of his boarding home in Berlin and died of his injuries.  Other sources say he fell out by accident.  Seeking some fresh air, he opened a low silled window and fell out.  He was living in extreme poverty at the time.

Chess has broken up marriages.  In 1927, the artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1978) married his first wife, Lydie, and went on their honeymoon.  One night, she glued all of his chess pieces to the chess board because he spent his honeymoon week studying chess.  They were divorced 3 months later.

In December 1927, Dr. Joseph Eljas, President of the Reval, Estonia Chess Club, was invited to a chess tournament in Leningrad.  As soon as he entered Russia, he was arrested by the Cheka.  The Cheka, claiming his notebooks, filled with chess problems, were a secret cipher.  He was charged for spying for a foreign power.

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 1929, Richard Reti was crossing the road and was hit by a street car in Prague.  He was taken to a hospital to heal, but developed scarlet fever while in the hospital in Prague and died.

In 1931, Lazar Zalkind (1886-1945), a statistician who composed many chess problems, was arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison as a “renegade and traitor to the working class.”  Krylenko forced his fellow composers to denounce him in the Russian chess magazine, 64.  He was due to be released in 1938, but was given another 5-year sentence in a harsher camp.  When he was released in 1943, he was told that his son, Boris, had just died on the Belorussian front.  Lazar was still not allowed to return home.  He died of a heart attackon June 25,1945 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, located in the Russian Far East.

In 1931-1932, Dutch Master Daniel Noteboom (1910-1932) attended the Hastings Chess Congress, held in December-January.  The weather was so cold that he caught pneumonia at Hastings and then died a week after the tournament on January 12, 1932.

On April 20, 1932, Edgar Colle (1897-1932) died in Gand, Belgium, after an operation for a gastric ulcer. He survived three operations for a gastric ulcer, but died after a 4th operation.

In 1932, chess master Norman Tweed Whitaker (1890-1975) was arrested for attempted extortion in a scheme to swindle $104,000 from a wealthy heiress by claiming to be in contact with the Lindbergh kidnappers.  Earlier in his life, he was convicted of several other crimes, including auto theft, sending morphine through the mail, and sexual molestation of a minor.  He served time in Alcatraz and was a friend of Al Capone there.

On November 11, 1932, Frederick Yates (1884-1932) died in his sleep at his home in London from a gas leak due to a faulty gas pipe connection. It was not suicide. A gas company official proved that no gas tap was turned on. It was ruled an accidental death. He was buried at Leeds on November 16, 1932.  He was only 48.

In July 1933, all Jews were banned from the Greater German Chess Association.  The penalty was arrest. (source: JTA)

In August 1935, Mrs. R.H. (Agnes) Stevenson, age 52, 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 forgot the propeller was rotating, stepped in front of the plane, instead of approaching the aircraft from the rear, and the rotating propeller hit her and killed her instantly, cutting her head in two. 

In May,1936, Nikolai Salmin (1907-1938?) was suddenly and unexpectedly arrested.  He was one of the top ten players in Leningrad.  The specifics of any charges against him could not be discovered.  He was found guilty and shot, probably in 1938.

In August, 1936, Lev Spokoiny, editor of the chess magazine, Shakhmaty v SSSR, was arrested as a Trotskyite and counter-revolutionary.  He was shot in October, 1936.

On September 10, 1936, Pyotr Izmailov (1906-1937) was arrested for "participating in a counter-revolutionary Trotskyist-fascist terrorist organization," and on April 28, 1937 he was sentenced to death and shot by a firing squad after a 20 minute trial. He was married to Galina Efimovna Kozmina, who received eight years at the harsh camp at Kolyma as "wife of the enemy of the people". In 1928, he was the first champion of the Russian Republic.  He played in the Soviet Championship in 1929 and 1931.

In 1937, Petr Moussory (1911-1937), an expert chess problemist, and his mother, were arrested and executed.

In 1937, Lazard Salkind (1886-1945), a well-known Russian chess problemist, was accused of being a Menshevik.  He was arrested and sent to the Gulag for 8 years.

In 1937 chess study composer Sergey Kaminer (1908-1938) was caught up in the purges and was arrested. He was sent to the Siberean gulag.  He died on Nov 2, 1938.

In July, 1937, Vladimir Fridberg (1884-1938) was arrested.  He was sentenced 10 10 years in the Gulag.  He died soon after entering the Gulag.  Earlier, he had been elected to the central committee of the Chess Section.

In October, 1937, chess problemist Mikhail Platov (1883-1938) of Latvia was arrested in Russia after making a derogatory remark about Stalin.  There was no trial.  He was sentenced under Article 58 to ten years in a labor camp. He was shipped off to the Gulag in Siberia and died in early 1938.


In 1937, Nikolai Krylenko (1885-1938), Chairman of the Chess Section of the Supreme Council for Physical Culture of the Russian Federal Republic, was arrested in Russia and later executed on orders from Stalin.  One of the charges against him was that he had retarded the development of chess in the Soviet Union.  On July 29, 1938, Krylenko was executed in Stalin’s purges.  His trial lasted 20 minutes, he was then found guilty and immediately shot.

In 1937, Polish chess master Achilles Frydman (1905-1940s) had just left a mental asylum and was warned not to play chess. However, he played in the 1937 Polish chess championship and suffered a nervous breakdown. He could not finish the tournament after 15 rounds of a 21 round event. Reuben Fine, in his book, The Psychology of the Chess Player, stated that Frydman had run through the hotel without any clothes, shouting “Fire!” George Koltanowski, in one of his columns, wrote that Frydman insisted in walking around in the lobby naked. A Polish newspaper column reported that A. Frydman had caused many difficulties for the tournament management and for the players. Gideon Stahlberg had the room next to Frydman and could not sleep because Frydman would yell “check” and “checkmate” all night long. Najdorf blamed two losses on Frydman’s interruptions (Frydman would run to the phone after every move and make a long distance phone call). In 1938, during a tournament in Lodz, Achilles Frydman showed up naked to play Tartakower. Frydman was later put in a mental asylum in Kocborowo. In 1940, he was arrested by the Nazis in Warsaw and died in a concentration camp.

On May 30, 1937, Herman Steiner (1905-1955) was on his way back to Hollywood from the annual North-South chess match when he hit a car head-on. Steiner's passenger was Dr. Robert B. Griffith (1876-1937), who played Board 2 for the South (Steiner played Board 1). Griffith died in the car crash and the driver in the other car was critically injured. Dr. Griffith was a medical doctor for the Hollywood film industry. He was the physician for Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin.

In the late 1930s, many chess players and organizers were purged during the Great Terror for the crime of “formalism,” which meant indulging in chess for its own sake rather than for political ends.  Krylenko was one of those victims.

On November 21, 1937, Arvid Kubbel (1889-1938) was arrested for sending his chess compositions to the German chess magazine, Die Schwalbe.  He bypassed the USSR Chess Section’s Central Composition Committee, which had to approve all compositions for publication.  He was charged under Article 58 1a (treason).  Arvid was sentenced to 10 year of hard labor without right to any correspondence.  He was executed on January 11, 1938, en route to a Siberian prison camp.

In 1938, Pavel Neunyvako (1897-1940)  was the chairman of the All-Ukranian Chess Section.  He was involved in controversies over formalism in composition.  He was arrested and exiled to Alma-Ata.  He was later re-arrested and shot in 1940.

In 1938, three women, Mary Bain, Mrs. McCready and Miss Weart, returning from the US Open chess tournament in Boston were in a car wreck after their car skidded on slippery pavement and crashed into a telegraph pole.  Miss McCready suffered minor injuries; Miss Weart was pinned under the car and sustained a fracture to her shoulder; Mary Bain suffered a fractured vertebra which required her to be in a cast for eight months, bedridden for much of that time. 

On February 17, 1940, the several times New England chess champion, Harold Morton (1906-1940), died in Iowa after a car wreck.  His passenger, Al Horowitz (1907-1973), was seriously injured.  They were travelling together giving tandem simultaneous chess exhibitions across the country.  Morton was driving on the return trip from the west back to an exhibition in Minneapolis when he collided with a truck.  Morton was killed instantly and Horowitz suffered a concussion and other injuries.

In March 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) in Palmiry, Poland (north of Warsaw) and were later killed in a mass execution.  This included Polish masters Dawid Przepiorka (1880-1940), Achilles Frydmann, Stanislaw Kohn, and Moishe LowtzkyOver 2,000 men and women were executed there by the Nazis.

In March 1940, Moishe Lowtzky (1881-1940) was arrested in Warsaw.  That same year, he died in a Nazi concentration camp.  He was a Ukrainian-Polish chess master.

On September 23, 1940, the National Chess Centre, located in the Cavendish Square building on Oxford Street, was burnt down in London during The German Blitzkreig, which began on September 7, 1940 and lasted until May 21m 1941.  It had opened in September, 1939, with 360 members and expanded to over 700 members, despite wartime blackouts and rationing.  The Centre was managed by world women’s champion Vera Menchik.  It advertised “Large and well-appointed Air Raid Shelter on the premises.”

In early 1941, a member of a chess composition circle in Moscow was arrested.  He reportedly told his interrogators that the circle was often the occasion for anti-Soviet jokes.  One by one the members of the circle were arrested.  In November, 1941, Mikhail Barulin, executive secretary of the Central Composition Committee and the first Soviet Master of Sport of Chess Composition, was arrested.  He refused to sign a confession or denounce other chess problemists.  He died in prison in 1943.

Soviet master Georgy Schneideman-Stepanov was shot just after World War II began for the Soviets. He was falsely turned in as a spy by a fellow chess player, the Russian master Peter Romanovsky (1892-1964).  He was shot in the autumn of 1941 on suspicion of being a German spy only because there was a German general named Schneideman.

In 1941, Josef Cukierman, a chess master who won tournaments in Moscow, Poland, and France, committed suicide in France.

In June 1941, Estonian player Ilmar Raud (1913-1941) was found wandering in the streets of Buenos Aires and was arrested by the police.  A fight occurred while he was in jail, and he was later sent to a lunatic asylum, where he died on July 13, 1941, most likely of starvation.

On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany launched a massive surprise attack against the Soviet Union.  This broke up the 13th Soviet Championship, which was being held at Rostov-on-Don.  The Russian chess magazines 64 and Shakhmaty v SSSR were shut down.  Chess columns in many newspapers and magazines disappeared.  The Chairman of the USSR Chess Federation and most of the staff joined volunteer battalions and went off to the front.

On September 3, 1941, Alexander Ilyin-Genevsky (1894-1941) died during the siege of Leningrad by the Germans. He was on a barge on Lake Ladoga, east of Leningrad, trying to escape the city, when a German aircraft bombed the barge. He was the only one killed on the barge, which was displaying Red Cross flags.  He was only 46.  During World War I, he suffered from shell-shock and had to learn how to play chess for the second time.  During the Russian Civil War in 1918, his wife shot herself.  His second wife, uninjured on the barge, was so overcome with despair that she killed herself a few days aster Alexander died.

On October 2, 1941, Dr. Karel Treybal (born Feb 2, 1885), famous Czech chess master, died during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia (Bohemia-Moravia).  On May 30, 1941, he was arrested, imprisoned and later charged with concealing weapons for use by resistance forces and the illegal possession of a pistol.  He was condemned to death and shot on October 2 in Prague.

In November, 1941, Viktor Korchnoi's father was killed in battle east of Leningrad. He was part of a volunteer defense unit.  Korchnoi survived the siege of Leningrad.

In 1941, Leon Schwartzmann (1887-1942) was arrested in France and was transported to Auschwitz concentration camp.  He died there on September 3, 1942.  He was a Polish-French chess master.

In 1941, Simon Rubinstein (1910-1942) was sent to a concentration camp.  He died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1942.  He was an Austrian chess master.

In 1941, Emil Zinner (1909-1942) was sent to the Nazi Majdanke concentration camp outside Lublin, Poland.  He died there on July 8, 1942.  He was a Jewish-Czech chess master.

In January, 1942, Samuil Vainshtein (1894-1942) died of starvation in Leningrad.  He was a Russian chess master, organizer, publisher and editor.

In 1942, Dr. Leon Monosson (1892-1943) was deported from France to the Auschwitz concentration camp.  He died there on Feb 17, 1943.  He was a Belarussian-French chess master.  He was Paris champion in 1935.

On March 7, 1942, Sergey Belavenets (1910-1942), former Moscow chess champion, died in combat at Staraya Russia near Novgorod.

On April 18 1942, Karl Leonid Kubbel (1891-1942), a chess problemist, died of starvation during the siege of Leningrad.  He was only 51.

In 1942 Ilya Rabinovich (1891-1942), Russian master, was evacuated from Leningrad, but died of malnutrition in a hospital in Perm, Russia.  He was a few weeks from his 51st birthday.

Samuel Reshevsky lost the US championship due to a stupid mistake by the tournament director.  In 1942, Arnold Denker (1914-2005) beat Samuel Reshevsky (1911-1992) on time in the US chess championship.  While spectators watch, the tournament director, Walter Stephens (1883-1948), mistakenly declared that Denker’s time had expired.  Stephens was looking at the clock backwards and refused to change his decision, which ultimately gave Reshevsky the title.

In August, 1942, Alexey Troitzky (1866-1942) died of starvation during the siege of Leningrad.

In August, 1942, Vladimirs Petrovs (1907-1943) was a Latvian chess master.  He was arrested on basis of a denunciation.  He was accused of making disparaging remarks about the falling standard of living in Soviet-ruled Latvia, where he was from.  He was sentenced to 10 years under Article 58 (treason), but died shortly after arriving at a labor camp.  He died of pneumonia at the Kotlas Gulag on August 26, 1943.

In 1942 Ilya Rabinovich, Leonid Kubbel, Mikhail Kogan (chess historian), Samuil Vainshtein (chief arbiter), and Alexei Troitzky starved to death during the siege of Leningrad.  Peter Romanovsky somehow survived, but his wife, their three daughters, and their housekeeper all died of hunger and sickness.

In January, 1943, Abram Szpiro (1912-1943) was arrested by the Gestapo in Warsaw and transported to Auschwitz concentration camp.  He died there on February 16, 1943.  He was a Polish chess master.

In 1943, Wilhelm Orbach (1894-1944) was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp.  He died there in 1944.  He was a Jewish German chess master.  He won the championship of the city of Frankfurt in 1925.

In 1943, Austrian master Ladislaus Doery (1897-? ) was arrested for sedition by the Nazis and sentenced to death.  He was released from prison by allied troops in 1945.

In 1943, Endre Steiner (1901-1944) was sent to a Nazi concentration camp near Budapest.  He died there on Dec 29, 1944.  He was a Hungarian chess master and the older brother of International Master Lajos Steiner (1903-1975).

In 1944, Hungarian chess master Kornel Havasi (1892-1945) was sent to a Nazi concentration camp.  He died of exhaustion on January 15, 1945 in Bruck/Leitha, in lower Austria.  He had to work there as a forced laborer for the Nazis and died along with 155 othe Hungarian Jewish slave laborers.  He won the Hungarian championship in 1922.

In 1944, Salo Landau (1903-1944) was gassed by the Nazis in a German concentration camp in Poland. He was sent to a forced labor camp in Graditz, Poland and died sometime between October 1943 and March 1944. His wife and daughter were sent to Auschwitz, where they were gassed and died in 1944 in an Auschwitz gas chamber.

On June 26, 1944, world woman chess champion Vera Menchik-Stevenson (1906-1944) died in a German bombing of London. She died along with her sister, her sister’s husband, and her mother. She died in Kent after a German V-1 rocket hit her home (the bomb shelter in the garden remained intact). Her sister, Olga Menchik-Rubery, was world woman chess challenger in 1935 and 1937. At the time of her death, Vera was serving on the editorial staff of Chess magazine as games editor.

In 1944, the Nazis invaded Hungary and began deporting Jews.  Chessplayer Roman Frydman survived because he could play chess.  Roman, a lawyer from Warsaw who went to Hungary, was taken to a Gestapo officer for interrogation, but when he arrived, he notices the officer had a chess set in his room.  Roman’s brother had been a Polish chess champion before the ware, and the German had once played in a tournament with his brother.  The German challenged Roman to a game of chess, saying, “if you win, I will save your life.”  Roman played – and won.  From then on, the SS officer kept him imprisoned in Gestapo headquarters as a chess partner.  The Frydman family survived, but the majority of their Jewish friends died in the Holocaust.

On January 14, 1945, Dutch chess master Arnold van den Hoek (1921-1945) was killed in an allied bombardment at a German defense plant.  He was deported from the Amsterdam in 1943 and did forced labor at Watenstedt, a suburb of Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany.

On April 17, 1945, Klaus Junge (1924-1945), one of the youngest German chess masters, was killed in action at Welle, Germany. As a lieutenant, he refused to surrender and was killed by Allied troops in the battle of Welle on the Luneburg Heath, close to Hamburg, three weeks before World War II ended.  He was only 21.

Miguel (Mendel) Najdorf's (1910-1997) entire Polish family died in German concentration camps during World War II.  The family lived in Warsaw and Najdorf was born in Warsaw.  Najdorf lost his wife, child, father, mother, and four brothers in concentration camps.  If he had not gone to Buenos Aires to participate in the Chess Olympiad, he would have perished also.

When World War II broke out, George Koltanowski (1903-2000) of Belgium was in Guatamala, Central America. He then came to the US and became a US citizen. Many of his family members, including his mother and brother, died in concentration camps.  Koltanowski survived the Holocaust because he happened to be on a chess tour of Central and South America.

Members of the Polgar (Judit, Sofia, Susan) family perished in the Holocaust.  Their grandmother was a survivor of an Auschwitz concentration camp.

Larry Evans learned chess from his older brother. His brother was later killed in action as a bomber crew member during World War II.

Prominent chess players lost during World War II included Polish master Isaak Appel (1905-1941), Hungarian master Zoltan Balla (1883-1945), Moscow chess champion Sergey Belavenets (1910-1942), Russian master Fyodor Fogelevich (1909-1941), Henryk Friedman (1903-1943), Polish master Achilles Frydman (1905-1940), Polish champion Eduard Gerstenfeld (1915-1943), Alexander Ilyin-Genevsky (1894-1941), Klaus Junge (1924-1945, Lev Kaiev (1913-1942), Mikhail Kogan (1898-1942), Josek Kolski (1900-1941), Polish master Leon Kremer (1901-1940), Arvid Kubbel (1889-1938), Leonid Kubbel (1892-1942), Salo Landau (1903-1943), Benjamin Levin ( -1942), Moishe Lowekl (1881-1940), Kiev master Moizhe Lowtzky (1881-1940), Moscow Champion Isaak Maisel ( -1943, Mikhail Makogonov (1900-1943), Olga Menchik (1908-1944), Vera Menchik (1906-1944), Latvian champion Vladimir Petrov (1907-1945), Mikhail Platov (1883-1938), David Przepiorka (1880-1940), Ilya Rabinovich (1878-1943), Vesevold Rauzer (1908-1941), Nikolai Riumin (1908-1942), Georgy Schneiderman-Stepanov ( -1941), Byelorussian champion Vladimir Silich (1906-1943), Vasily Solkov ( -1944), Endre Steiner (1901-1944), Mark Stolberg (1922-1943), Polish master Abram Szpiro (1910-1941), Karel Treybal (1885-1941), Alexei Troitzky (1866-1942), Samuil Vainstein (1894-1942), Boris Vaksberg ( -1942), Otaker Votruba (1894-1943), Heinrich Wolf (1875-1943), and Lazar Zalkind (1886-1945).

After World War II, Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) was not invited to any chess tournaments.  He was accused of converting to Nazi racial doctrines and accused of actively collaborating with the enemy.  He claimed that the Nazi articles under his name were rewritten by the Germans.  He was considered a war criminal by the Soviet Union and also by the French underground.

In 1945, Herman Pilnik (1914-1981) of Argentina was involved in a car crash on his way to Los Angeles to play in the Pan American Chess Congress.  Two other occupants of the car were hospitalized with broken bones.  Pilnik, who had lost his plane reservation, then drove by car to Los Angeles from Dallas, Texas.  He crashed his car into an unlighted and parked truck at night near El Centro, Arizona.  The car overturned with part of it hanging over the edge of a steep embankment.  Pilnik spent two days in a hospital in Yuma, Arizona and missed his first-round game against Sammy Reshevsky.  Pilnik arrived after a 3-day delay.

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.

In March 1952, Pal Benko (1928- ) 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 1952, there was an international tournament in Havana full of tragedy.  During the event, there was a revolution in Cuba.  The President who sponsored the tournament was deposed.  The Mexican entrants were recalled by their government.  The Cuban chess champion, Juan Quesada, died of a heart attack during the event.  His funeral was attended by all the masters participating in the tournament.

In the early 1950s, blacks were banned from chess clubs in Chicago.  Blacks were also not allowed to play in chess tournaments run by the Southern Chess Association. In the 1950s, a Louisiana law barred blacks from chess playing rooms in New Orleans.  This prevented blacks from playing in the U.S. Open chess tournament in 1954, which was held in New Orleans.  Several African-Americans tried to enter the event, but were refused.  In 1955, an African-American chess player, William A. Scott, was refused to be allowed to play in the Georgia Open chess championship. In 1959, Walter Harris, the first African-American chess master, was unable to get a hotel room where the US Open was being held in Omaha, Nebraska, because he was black.

In 1954, the Argentine Chess Federation called off the national chess tournament after a fight broke out between a chess player and the tournament director.

In July 1955, Nancy Roos (1905-1957) was in a car accident just before the U.S. women’s championship and had spinal injuries.  She recovered to win the women’s championship a few months later.

On November 25, 1955, former US champion Herman Steiner (1905-1955), age 50, died of a heart attack after a California State Championship game in Los Angeles. He was defending his state championship title and finished his 5th round game (a 62-move draw against William Addison). He then said he felt unwell, so his afternoon game was postponed. About two hours later, around 9:30 pm, Steiner had a heart attack while being attended by a physician.

In the 1958 Chess Olympiad, Frank Anderson (1928-1980) scored 84% before his final round.  In the final round, he became ill and was unable to play the final round for Canada.  He missed the Grandmaster title because of this missed game.  Even if he had played and lost, he would have made the final norm necessary for the GM title.

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.

In 1960, Mikhail Tal (1936-1992) was driving to the 14th Chess Olympiad in Leipzig, Germany when he got into a car accident.  He was unable to play the first 3 rounds, but when he did show up to play, he played board 1 for the USSR.  He won 8 and drew 6 games and only lost the final round, to Englishman Jonathan Penrose.  That cost him the gold medal for board 1, and he settled for silver.

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 freelance 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.

In 1961, Ernst Grünfeld (1893-1962), age 67, was playing in a chess tournament at Beverwijk in the Netherlands.  Grünfeld had lost a leg when in his early childhood and had an artificial leg. Despite his age, and this handicap, he spurned the organizers’ offer of a car, and insisted on walking the mile or so from where he was staying to the chess tournament hall each afternoon. On one particular day, he set off, but fell down in the road, and his wooden leg came off and fell into a ditch!  A distressed Grünfeld managed to get to a phone booth and ring the organizers.   The organizers contacted Max Euwe, who came on the line. Hearing of Grünfeld’s plight, he jumped into a car, and a few minutes later, he managed to rescue  Grünfeld and his wooden leg and take him back to the house he was staying at.  After a refreshing cup of coffee and a few minutes’ rest, Grünfeld was re-united with his artificial leg and driven to the tournament hall. Unfortunately, he faced the East German GM Wolfgang Uhlmann that day, and despite having White, the trauma took its toll on him. He lost in just 21 moves.

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 1962, Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) complained that the Russian prearranged draws against each other in order to conserve energy for play against him.  Fischer’s article “The Russian Have Fixed World Chess,” appeared in Sports Illustrated.  This led to the tournament system being scrapped in favor of a series of elimination matches.  Years later, Viktor Korchnoi, after he defected, accused Soviet players of cheating, of ganging up on Westerners in tournaments and throwing key games when necessary.  In 2006, research from two Ph.D. economists at Washington University in St. Louis offered strong evidence that the Soviets cheated during the world chess championships from 1940 through 1964.  Titled “Did the Soviets Collude?  A Statistical Analysis of Championship, 1940-64,” the study was presented at several academic meetings.  It concluded by saying, “We have shown that such collusion clearly benefited the Soviet players and let to performances against the competition in critical tournaments that were noticeably better than would have been predicted on the basis of past performances and on their relative ratings.”

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. Turner’s body was found by the building superintendent that afternoon.  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 1963, Mrs. Edvige Ruinstein, the wife of a chessplayer in Milan, Italy was granted a divorce from her husband on the grounds that he was so obsessed with chess that he refused to work and support their two children.

In 1964, chess master Raymond Weinstein (1941- ) was arrested for murder after he killed an 83-year old man in a nursing home with a razor.  He was judged mentally ill and was confined to Ward’s Island for the mentally ill.

In 1966, during the Chess Olympiad in Havana, Mikhail Tal (1936-1992) went out one evening to a local bar in the city. Apparently, he was caught flirting with a local woman, whose husband or boyfriend took exception. Tal ended up being struck over the head with a beer bottle. As a result, he missed the first four rounds of the event, and when he did appear in the tournament hall, it was with his head heavily bandaged.

On February 10, 1967, French master Pierre Rolland (1926-1967) died in a car accident.  He was French champion in 1956.

In August 1969, Grandmaster Ludek Pachman (1924-2003) was arrested and imprisoned for his political activities in Czechoslovakia.  He was charged of defaming a representative of the Republic and supporting Dubcek.  He was sent to Ruzyn Prison on the outskirts of Prague.  He was later charged with subversion and up to 10 years imprisonment.  He was released in December, 1970, but was banned from chess in Czechoslovakia. 

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.  When former world champion Petrosian lost to Fischer, he lost his job as editor of 64 chess magazine.

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 1972, the wife of GM Larry Evans (1932-2010) was in a car accident.  Evans rushed to the hospital and was unable to play the last round at Lone Pine.

In 1973, the police raided a chess tournament in Cleveland, Ohio.  The arrested the tournament director and confiscated the chess sets on charges of allowing gambling (cash prizes to winners) and possession of gambling devices (the chess sets). 

In 1974, FIDE temporarily banned South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) from the chess Olympiad in Nice, France, due to their apartheid practices. 

In 1974, Claude Bloodgood (1937-2001) escaped from a chess tournament after he and another fellow inmate chessplayer, Lewis Carpenter, overpowered a guard watching over him.  They had received a furlough to play in a local Virginia chess tournament.  He was captured a few days later.  This ended any further chess organization in the prison.  Bloodgood was sentenced to death in 1970 for strangling his mother in 1969.  His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

On April 3, 1975, Bobby Fischer forfeited his world chess title to Anatoly Karpov because he did not like the FIDE conditions for the match.

In May, 1975, Paul Keres (1916-1975) died of a heart attack in Helsinki, Finland, while returning home to Estonia from the World Class Championship in Vancouver, B.C. He had just won the event despite a doctor’s orders not to play in the event due to the stress and his high blood pressure (he did not play in any tournament in 1974 due to health problems). His airplane had taken off from Helsinki to Tallinn when Keres had his heart attack. The aircraft turned around and landed back at Helsinki and Keres was rushed to the hospital and died.

On July 24, 1975, Nicholas Rossolimo (1910-1975) fell from a flight of stairs in Greenwich Village, New York and died of his head injuries. He had been giving chess lessons late at night.

On November 8, 1977, Viktor Korchnoi, age 46, was injured in a car wreck with a broken right hand and other injuries.  Korchnoi’s taxi collided with a Swiss army truck on its way to Zurich.   The car rolled over three times.  He asked for a postponement in his world championship semi-final match with Spassky.  Raymond Keene was also a passenger, but not seriously injured.

In 1978, grandmaster William Lombardy (1937- ) 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, Joseph Fielder, a chess player in Wisconsin, was killed in a car accident.  Every year, Wisconsin holds a Joe Feider memorial.

In 1979, Billy Watt (1959-1979), a promising and active chess player in North Carolina, died in a car accident in Taylorsville, NC.  His father started the Billy Watt Memorial in Statesville, NC, which I was the first director.

In 1979, after the Islamic revolution, chess was banned in Iran on the count of encouraging gambling, warmongering, and inattention to the five ritual prayers every day.  This ban was in effect until 1988, when the Ayatollah Khomeini rehabilitated the game.

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.  He has been on death row for over 36 years. 

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 May 1981, Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) was arrested in Pasadena, California because he matched the description of a man who had just committed a bank robbery in that area.  He was held for two days, and then released on $1,000 bail.

On January 25, 1982, UK master Duncan Wells (1964-1982) drowned in Rio de Janeiro.

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.

In 1983, Anna Akhsharumova was playing the final round of the Soviet Women’s Chess championship against her main competitor, Nana Ioseliani.  Anna won the game on time forfeit and should have won the title.  But the next day, Ioseliani filed a protest alleging a malfunction in the chess clock.  Ioseliani demanded a new game be played.  Anna refused to play, so the result of her game with Ioseliani was reversed by the All-Union Board of Referees in Moscow (the tournament itself was being played in Tallinn), thereby forfeiting her title.  Anna went from 1st place to 3rd place over this decision.

On December 9, 1983, 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.  He was only 50.

There was cheating in correspondence chess even before computers.  In 1985, Nick Down, a former British Junior Correspondence champion, entered the British Ladies Correspondence Championship as Miss Leigh Strange and won the event (and 15 British pounds along with the Lady Herbert trophy).  He then signed up to represent Britain in the Ladies Postal Olympiad.  He was later caught when one of his friends mouthed off about it and Nick confessed.  The whole thing had been cooked up by Nick Down and a group of undergraduates at Cambridge, where Nick was a student.  Nick returned the Lady Herbert trophy and was banned from the British Correspondence Chess Association for two years.

In 1986, at the New York Open, Pal Benko was playing Hungarian Grandmaster Gyula Sax in the final round.  If Benko won, he would have earned $12,000.  If Benko drew, he would only get $3,000.  Sax offered Benko a draw at a critical position.  Benko turned it down, blundered in time pressure, and lost.  He got nothing.

In 1986, Israel was banned from the chess Olympiad held in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). (source: JTA)

In 1986, Grandmaster Georgy Agzamov (1954-1986) fell between some rocks at a beach and died. He had just finished a chess tournament in Sevastopol and was taking a shortcut to go swimming. He fell off a cliff and got stuck between two rocks. Several people heard him yell for help, but he was too deep down in the rocks and died before a rescue team could get to him. At one time he was ranked number 8 in the world, with a 2728 rating.  He died a week away from his 32nd birthday.

In 1986, grandmaster Aleksander Wojtkiewicz (1963-2006) was arrested and sent to prison in Latvia for dodging the Soviet Army draft.  While in prison, he studied chess and found a novelty in the Sicilian Defense, Accelerated Dragon variation.  The new move was coined the “Prison Novelty.”

In 1987, Grandmaster Tony Miles (1955-2001) was arrested at 10 Downing Street in London after trying to get in after midnight to talk to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher about payments owed to him by the British Chess Federation.    He was eventually hospitalized for two months from a mental breakdown.

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 1988, Guillermo Garcia, three-time chess champion of Cuba, took 2nd place in the New York Open.  His $10,000 prize was confiscated by the Department of Treasury, invoking the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, because he was Cuban.   He never got the money as he died two years later.

On November 13, 1988, International Master Bela Perenyi (1953-1988) died in a car accident near Kistelek.  He was travelling to a chess tournament in Saloniki.  He was the fiancé of WGM Ildiko Madl.

Karen Grigorian (1947-1989), Armenian International Master, committed suicide by jumping from the highest bridge in Yerevan.  He was only 42.

In 1989, Brian Yamin was an honor student and promising chess player.  He was killed in an automobile accident in Indianapolis.  A scholarship was created in his name.

In 1989, the police raided a chess 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 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 was in the lead after 10 of 14 rounds.

Guillermo Garcia (1953-1990), a Cuban grandmaster, died in a car wreck on his way to the airport to catch a plane to play in the Chess Olympiad in Novi Sad.  He was only 36.

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.

In May 1990, top Russian Grandmaster Artur Yusupov returned to Moscow after taking second equal prize at the SKA tournament in Munich. Hence he was carrying quite a lot of money on the homeward trip. Shortly after he had arrived home, armed thieves came to his apartment and proceeded to rob him of money and other valuables. Although Yusupov put up no resistance, one of the thieves panicked and discharged a shotgun into his stomach.  For some time Yusupov was critically ill, but his energy levels were never quite the same after this traumatic experience, and he gradually fell back from his position as one of the top half-dozen players in the world.

In 1990, FIDE president Florencio Campomanes (1927-2010) barely escaped death as he had a car crash in Uganda.  The president of the Uganda Chess Federation sitting next to him was killed.

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, Robert Bryan of England shot Matthew Hay 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.

In 1992, Bobby Fischer was threatened with a fine and arrest for playing chess in Yugoslavia.  Playing chess in Yugoslavia violated George W.W. Bush’s Executive Order 12810 that implemented sanctions engaging in economic activities in Yugoslavia.  Following the match, the US Department of Treasury obtained an arrest warrant against him.  Fischer never returned to the United States for the rest of his life.

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.

In 1993, a person was shot and killed while playing chess with a friend outdoors in Bosnia. It was the first recorded killing of a chess player by sniper fire.

In 1994, chess was banned in Afghanistan by Taliban edicts.  Anyone caught playing chess were beaten or imprisoned.  Chess was banned from 1994 through 2001.

In 1994, during the Chess Olympiad in Moscow, the captain of the Irish chess team was mugged in the street by a gang of gypsy children and was only saved by an old lady, who waded into them with an umbrella, to such effect that one boy later required hospital treatment!  Another team captain unwisely visited the local bank to change several thousands of dollars in foreign currency, only for the bank, “coincidentally”, to be robbed at that very moment.  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, 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.

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.

Isaac Boleslavsky (1919-1996) died after an operation. He had slipped on an icy sidewalk, fracturing his hip.  He contracted a fatal infection while in the hospital. He was only 57.

In March 1997, two teenagers got into a fight over a school chess game.  13-year-old John Slack was in critical condition.  His 15-year-old opponent was arrested on an assault charge.

Alvis Vitolins (1946-1997), Latvian International Master, committed suicide by jumping onto the frozen ice of the Gauja river from a railway bridge.  He was only 50.

In 1998, David Hooper (1915-1998) was killed in a car crash in Somerset, England.  He was 82.  He was a former international player and author of several chess books.

Lembit Oll (1964-1999), an Estonian grandmaster, committed suicide by jumping out of his 5th floor apartment window in Tallinn, Estonia.  He fell into severe depression after he divorced.  He had just turned 33.

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.

On September 24, 2000, International Master Jaan Eslon (1952-2000) died from injuries after a car wreck.

On February 18, 2001, USCF Executive Director Dr. George De Feis was injured in an auto accident while attending the US Amateur Team East tournament in New Jersey.  He was in intensive care in Morristown, New Jersey and suffered a brain injury.

Sometimes our kids are not even safe with a chess coach.  In 2001, John Smith, was arrested for molesting boys as a chess coach in Masssillon, Ohio.

On Sep 25, 2001, five chess players died in a vehicle crash in India on their way to a chess tournament. 

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 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 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 trophiesGligoric suffered a black eye.

In February, 2003, a fire ripped through the Pennsylvania home of chess master journalist Alex Dunne.  His wife, Janet, and 2-year-old grandson, Ronald, were burned to death.  Alex Dunne was not home at the time.  His large chess library and computers were all destroyed.

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.

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 July 2004, Bobby Fischer was arrested in Japan, accused of traveling on a revoked American passport.  He was wanted by the U.S. government on charges of violating a ban to travel to Yugoslavia in 1992, where he went to play chess with Boris Spassky.

In March 2005, British International Master Simon Webb (1949-2005) was stabbed to death by his son, Dennis, 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.

In 2005, GM Alexander Stripunsky was in a terrible car crash just before the 2005 US chess championship.  He played his chess games wearing dark sunglasses to protect his left eye, which was badly injured in the accident.  He tied for 1st in the 2005, US chess championship, but lost to Hikaru Nakamura in the playoff match.

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, Alexander Pichushkin, 32, was arrested in Moscow for murdering 49 people.  He said he killed 61 people and was trying to murder 64 people, one for each square of the chessboard.  He said he was a great fan of chess and was dubbed the Crazy Chess Killer.  He said his killings were linked to moves in a chess game.

In 2006, WGM Lilit Mkrtchian was hospitalized after a car accident in Armenia.

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.

On July 26, 2006, Jessie Gilbert, a rising chess star, 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 acquittal, Angela Gilbert, the mother of Jessie, was arrested on suspicion of threatening to kill her ex-husband over claims she hired a hitman to murder her ex-husband.   She was later released and lawyers decided not to proceed with the case.

In 2006-2007, many forged email posts were made on the Internet targeting several U.S. Chess Federation members and candidates in the upcoming USCF election.    The fake identities were alleged to come from Susan Polgar, former world women’s chess champion and a board member of the USCF, and her husband, Paul Truong.  In 2009, both were removed from the executive board of the USCF.  Their webmaster, Gregory Alexander, was indicted by a federal grand jury on 34 counts of email hacking and one count of aggravated identity theft.

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.

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, GM Farhad Tahirov played in the 2006-2007 Hastings Chess Congress.  After the last round, having a couple of hours to kill before the prize-giving, he decided to take a walk along the Hastings seafront. Unfortunately, he passed by a particularly dodgy pub, frequented by various skinheads and other charmers, several of whom attacked and robbed him. He lost almost £1,000 in cash, plus a mobile phone and camera, as well as ending up in hospital for treatment to his injuries.

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. 

In 2007, Grandmaster Maxim Sorokin (1968-2007) died a week after a traffic accident while on his way from Elista, Kalmykia to Volgograd.  He was only 39.

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, Florencio Campomanes was involved in a car accident in Turkey that left him in intensive care.  He was on his way to the airport for a return flight to the Philippines after the FIDE Presidential Board meeting in Antalya, Turkey when the driver lost control of the vehicle.  The car overturned and plunged over the side of the road.  Campomanes was sitting in the back seat and not wearing a safety belt.  He was thrown from the car, which was badly damaged.  Campomanes was operated on for 7 and ½ hours to repair broken bones in his legs, hands, neck and face.

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 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, Philip Hogarty, age 19, was struck by a patrol car and died in Ireland.  He was rated as one of the best junior players in Ireland. (source: Irish Independent)

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.

On January 17, 2008, Bobby Fischer died from degenerative renal failure in a Reykjavik hospital.  He was 64.  He had a blocked urinary tract and refused surgery or medications that would have prevented an early death.

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 2008, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was in a car accident on the way to the airport to go to the 38th Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany.  He was unable to attend the opening ceremony.

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.

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.

In 2009, fundamentalist Muslim religious schools in Britain banned chess.

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 2009, Philip Hogarty, a strong chess player, was killed when he was hit by a police car while walking across a badly-lit road in London.  He suffered head injuries and died later that day.

In 2009, National Master Landon Brownell (1989-2009) died after a car accident near Bakersfield, California.  He was 19.  In 2006, he won the National High School Championship.

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.

On April 21, 2009 Landon Brownell (1989-2009) died in a car accident in Tucson, Arizona.  He was a chess master and rated almost 2300.  He was the national high school champion in 2006. (source: USCF)

In 2009, the 2nd Gedeon Barcza Memorial was supposed to take place in Budapest.  Although the first round was actually played with 5 International Masters and 7 Grandmasters, it soon became clear that the main organizer did not have the money to play with the hotel or the players.  The Ramada Resort Hotel, where the players were staying and where the tournament was held, never received any money from the organizer.  On the second day, the hotel decided to close the playing hall.  The hotel manager said, “no money, no business.”  All 12 chess players were financially harmed and the top GMs were still waiting for their appearance fees.  The organizer blamed the situation on lost potential sponsors.

In 2009, a chess player who had just finished a tournament at the Marshall Chess Club was mugged after leaving the club.

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 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, Tyrone Lee, a long-time Chicago chess player, was killed in a car accident while traveling to Tennessee.

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.

On July 23, 2010, International Master Zdenko Krnic died from a hit-and-run accident.  He was on the crosswalk in Belgrade when he was hit by a motorcycle driver, who then sped away.  He was the Director and Chief Editor of Chess Informant at the time.  He was 62. (source: Spraggett on Chess)

At the 2010 chess Olympiad, the Yemeni team lost scored 0-4 after refusing to sit down across from the Israeli team.

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 players were arrested for playing chess in a playground in Inwood Hill Park, New York (Manhattan).  The chess tables in the park were off limits to adults if not accompanied by a child. 

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.

In October 2011, Grandmaster Eduardo Iturrizaga, the top player in Venezuela, 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.

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 2011, Rybka, the best chess-playing computer program in the world, was disqualified and banned for the plagiarizing of two other chess engines, Crafty and Fruit.  Its author, International Master Vasik Rajlich, was told to return all trophies and prize money back to the International Computer Games Association (IGCA), which governs the World Computer Chess Championships.  On June 29, 2011, after a 5-0 vote, Rybka was stripped of its titles, and Rajlich has now been banned for life in playing in computer chess championships.  The ICGA disqualified and banned Rybka and its programmer, Rajlich, from previous and future World Computer Chess Championships.  Rajlich has denied using other code, saying that Rybka is 100% original at the source code level.  Further allegations have been made that Rajlich violated the Gnu Public License (GPL ) based on a decompilation effort by chess programmer Zach Wegner.  The ICGA has demanded that Rajlich return the four replicas of the Shannon trophy (World Computer Championshop Trophy) and prize money of the World Computer Chess Championships of 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.


In November 2011, Quinton Smith, age 17, was competing in the K-12 Nationals in Dallas. During the tournament, he climbed to the roof of the Hilton Anatole (27 stories) and fell (or jumped) to his death. He laid on the ground for several hours while being attended by bystanders and police. He had lost his first four games and was given a bye in the 5th round.  (source: USCF)

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.

On March 2, 2012, Isaac Braswell, age 32, committed suicide a day after playing in a match in the Chicago Chess League (CICL).  He persevered through a lifetime of mental illness and poverty to be ranked among the top 60 players in Illinois. (source: Chicago Tribune)

In May, 2012, Shanker Roy, age 36, one of Bengal’s leading chess players, committed suicide. He hung himself from a ceiling fan using his wife’s long scarf. He had been suffering from depression.


On July 27, 2012, Ron Washington (1951-2012) of Chicago drowned in Lake Michigan.  He was swept into the water and caught in a rip current.  He was a popular chess player at the North Avenue Beach “Chess Pavilion.” (source: Chess Drum)

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 Florida.

In April 2013, six members of the Melbourne, Australia Chess Club were involved in a car crash while returning from a chess tournament in Canberra, Australia.  Their Toyota Tarago van rolled off the freeway near Winton in north-eastern Victoria, killing two of the players (Andrew Saint and Hannibal Swartz).  Two other players, IM James Morris and Dimitry Partsi, were seriously injured.In 2013, a Chinese player murdered his best friend and then killed himself so they could play chess in the afterlife.

On August 8, 2013, Russian Grandmaster Igor Kurnosov (1985-2013), 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 August 2013, correspondence grandmaster Mark Noble walked away from what could have been a fatal car crash.  A car failed to stop at a stop sign, hitting the front end of Mark’s car, just missing the driver’s door.

In 2013, GM Andrei Istratescu and IM Dragos Dumitrache were involved in a car accident on the way to a Zurich chess tournament and had to withdraw.

On September 9, 2013, Alexander Bitman was killed by a hit-and-run car accident in Moscow.  He was a chess master and co-developer of one of the first chess programs in the world.

In January, 2014, an Italian man, Saverio Bellante, who had been living in a rented home in Dublin, killed his unlucky landlord over a game of chess.  He was arrested for the killing after stabbing his landlord, Tom O’Gorman, multiple times.  O’Gorman was a minister.  Bellante told police that they were fighting over a chess game.  Bellante was then asked by O’Gormon to leave the house following an argument over a chess move.  Instead, Bellante found a kitchen knife and stabbed O’Gormon, then beat him over the head with a dumbbell.  Bellante was also accused of eating the heart of his victim.

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.

In August 2014, Candidate Master Kurt Meier, 67, a Swiss-born member of the Seychelles chess team, died on the last day of the 41st Chess Olympiad, held in Tromso, Norway.  His son was playing on the board next to him and tried to revive him.  Hours later, Alisher Anarkulov from Uzbekistan was found dead in his hotel room in central Tromso. (source:

In September 2014, an internationally ranked chess player, Thomas Elberling, age 11, was shot and killed by his father in a murder-suicide in New Jersey.  Thomas was ranked #5 in the USA for his age group.

In 2014, a man strangled another man, and then committed suicide, leaving a suicide note.  The suicide not indicated that he was lonely and wanted to have someone to play chess with in the afterlife.

In 2014, Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah, the Sunni grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared chess “haram” (forbidden by the faith).  He called it a waste of time and an opportunity to squander money.  He said that chess causes enmity and hatred between people.  It would be tragic to forbid chess in the Muslim community of 1.6 billion people.  Chess was banned in Iran between 1981 and 1988.

In January 2015, Erich Spielman, age 92, was struck by a car driven by another 92-year-old in England and died.  He was a chess player (winner of several club championships in Loughton) and the nephew of the famous chess player Rudolf Spielmann.

In March 2015, Stephen Dillard, a chess master, chess organizer (Vice President of the Kentucky Chess Association) and chess teacher, was stabbed by Ronshal Jenefor more than 140 times.  Jenefor claimed that Dillard had molested him.

In April 2015, a Dumont, New Jersey boy, age 10, jumped to his death after losing a game of chess at his school at Grant Elementary School. (source: NY Daily News)

In July 2015, Craig Woolcock of Wales killed himself after he quit his job as a customer services official to concentrate on chess, but failed to qualify for the British chess championship. The unlucky player suffered from mood swings. (source: Daily Mail)

In October, 2015, James Vernon, a 75-year-old public library chess club teacher was injured saving children from a knife attack.  He acted as a human shield against a public library attacker with two hunting knives.   The attacker, Dustin Brown, barged into the classroom where Vernon was teaching chess claiming he was there to kill somebody.  The children escaped and Vernon suffered several knife wounds.  The attack occurred at the public library in Morton, Illinois. (source: UPI)

In January, 2016, Grandmaster Ivan Bukavshin (1995-2016) died at the age of 20 of a stroke.  Bukavshin became U12 European champion in 2006, U14 European Youth Champion in 2008 and U16 European champion in 2010.  He took 3rd place in the 2015 Aeroflot Open in Moscow.