Crime, Criminals, Arrests and Chess
By Bill Wall
In 1622, Gioacchino Greco (1600-1634) was robbed of all his money (5,000 crowns) that he won in Paris from playing chess while on his way to London.
On August 30, 1624, playwright Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) was arrested in London after producing a play, A Game of 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.
In 1793, Thomas Paine (1737-1809), author of The Rights of Man and Common Sense, was supposedly arrested in Paris for favoring the exile of King Louis XVI rather than his execution. Paine was scheduled to be guillotined, but his fiancée/wife intervened in a strange way. She frequented the Café de la Regence, disguised as a man, where Maximilien de Robespierre (1758-1794) frequented, and she defeated him in a game of chess. Robespierre challenged her again and promised to grant any wish if she won again. She again won and asked that her husband’s life be spared. Thomas Paine then was released from prison. (source: Ripley’s Believe It or Not, 1944). Another source says the lady was Jacqueline Armand, the fiancée of a duke who was about to be guillotined. A third source says that the lady was the wife of the Marquis de Merin, who was recently condemned to death by guillotine
Alexandre Deschapelles (1780-1847) was arrested for being involved in the French insurrection of June 1832. He was released after writing to the king that he was too old, too infirmed, and innocent. (source: British Chess Magazine, vol 36, 1916)
In April 1862, chess player Armand Edward Blackmar (1826-1888), of the Blackmar Gambit and Blackmar-Diemer fame, was arrested, fined, and jailed by Union General Ben Butler (1818-1893) and imprisoned by Union soldiers in New Orleans for publishing “seditious” (Confederate) music, such as the Bonnie Blue Flag (Band of Brothers) and the Dixie War Song.
In 1864, George Mackenzie (1837-1891), a former Captain in the Union army, was arrested for desertion from the Union army. He already fought with distinction on three battles. He was released in May, 1865, and moved to New York and started playing chess. By 1867, he was U.S. chess champion.
In 1866, William Henry Russ (1833-1866), or W.R. Henry as he was known, shot his adopted daughter four times in the head after he proposed marriage when she turned 21, and she rejected him. He then jumped into a river to drown himself, but the tide was out. He was arrested, but died 10 days later, lacking the will to live. The woman survived. His book, American Chess Nuts, was published in 1868.
In 1870, Joseph Henry Blackburne (1841-1924) was arrested in Baden-Baden as a French spy for sending chess moves in the mail. The British government thought they were coded secrets. It also turned out that Blackburne’s carriage driver was a French spy.
In 1875, Albert Ensor (1843-1883) was arrested for counterfeiting in New York. In 1873, he was the first Canadian Chess Championship. He was later arrested in Germany for gambling and in France for forgery.
In 1879, American chess player and journalist James Mortimer (1833-1911) was arrested for refusing to reveal the author of an allegedly libelous article. Once inside prison, he taught his fellow inmates how to play chess.
In 1891, William Steinitz (1836-1900) was arrested In New York as a Russian spy after someone in the telegraph company thought that his chess moves being sent over telegraph was code. He was held for 24 hours and released. At the time, Steinitz was playing Chigorin in Havana by cable
In November 1892, William Steinitz fired his private secretary, Arthur Williams, and hired a new secretary, Edward Treiter. Williams was to stay in Steinitz’s house in Montclair, New Jersey for a few days to help Treiter get his accounts into shape. Williams later broke into Treiter’s bedroom with a double-barrel shotgun and fired both barrels at Treiter while he was in bed. Williams then placed himself at the front door and threatened to kill anyone who attempted to leave Steinitz’s house. He was finally overpowered and arrested. Treiter survivied, but his left arm had to be amputated. (source: New York Times, Nov 6, 1892, p. 1)
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 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. (source: New York Times, Dec 3, 1906, p. 6)
In 1914, all the Russian chess masters were arrested at the Mannheim, Germany Congress when World War I broke out. The arrested players included Alexander Alekhine and Bogoljubow. Alekhine was released after 6 weeks. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sep 8, 1914, p. 9)
In 1918, Lorenz Hansen, a Danish naturalized citizen, was arrested by the Federal authorities, charged with using a secret code and spying. The secret code turned out to be the moves in a correspondence game sent by post card. (source: American Chess Bulletin 1918, p. 61)
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.
In 1921, British chess master William Winter (1898-1955) was arrested and imprisoned for 6 months for sedition. He was an active member of the Communist Party.
In November 1921, chess master Norman Whitaker (1890-1975), his brother and sister, were arrested for stealing automobiles and collecting on the insurance. (source: New York Times, Nov 27, 1921, p. 18) Whitaker was convicted, but escaped. He was arrested in 1925 and sent to the federal prison at Fort Leavenworth. (source: New York Times, July 16, 1925, p. 8)
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. (source: New York Times, Dec 8, 1927, p. 37)
In 1932, chess master Norman Tweed Whitaker (1890-1975) was arrested for attempted extortion in a scheme to swindle $104,000 from, Evalyn McLean, 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. (source: New York Times, Jun 29, 1932, p. 9)
In 1936, Pyotr Izmailov (1906-1937) was arrested and sentenced to death in the Soviet Union, accused of plotting to assassinate Stalin. He was executed in April, 1937. In 1928, he was the first champion of the Russian Republic.
In February 1937, 13 chess players were arrested in Danzig for talking Socialistic politics in between moves. The police charged them with trying to keep alive the forbidden Social Democratic party. (source: Decatur Herald, Feb 13, 1937, p. 3)
In 1937, chess problemist Mikhail Platov was arrested in Russia after making a derogatory remark about Stalin. He was shipped off to the Gulag in Siberia and died within a year.
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, Nikolai Krylenko (1885-1938), who headed the Soviet Chess Association, was executed in Stalin’s purges. His trial lasted 20 minutes, he was then found guilty and immediately shot.
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 September 1940, Menahem Begin (1913-1992) was playing chess with his wife when he was arrested at home by Russian troops (NKVD). At the time, he was an active member of the Zionist movement.
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.
In 1941, Ludek Pachman (1924-2003) was arrested by the Gestapo and interrogated for several weeks about incitement to anti-German demonstrations.
On October 2, 1941, chess master Karel Treybal was charged will illegal possession of a firearm (a pistol) by the Nazis and condemned to death. He was executed the same day in Prague.
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 1943, Austrian master Ladslaus Dory was arrested for sedition by the Nazis and sentenced to death. He was released from prison by allied troops in 1945.
In 1943, Akiba (Akiva) Rubinstein’s (1882-1961) son, Samy Rubinsten (1927-2002), also a chess player, was arrested by the Germans after hiding in a castle in the Ardennes, and spent a year in prison.
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 of Vancouver was cut with a knife by his opponent during a chess game, leaving a 4 inch gash in his forearm. His opponent, attacked Walter after losing a game and was later arrested. (source: Chess Review, 1951. p. 38)
In 1951, James Bolton, age 22, the New England chess champion, was arrested by the FBI for evading the draft. (source: New York Times, March 4, 1951, p. 60)
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 1952, famous bank robber Willie Sutton (1901-1980) was arrested by the FBI. At the time, Sutton was reading How to Think Ahead in Chess by I.A. Horowitz.
In 1957, two Poles, Alexander Piotrowski and Kazimierz Osiecki, were arrested for assault after they both got into a fight over a chess game, resulting in both players going to the hospital. The charges were later dismissed.
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, 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 Antarctica)
In June 1960, an American sailor, Michael George, got into a fight at a Greenwich Village bar, Chumley's, when a spectator criticized the sailor’s chess game after he lost. The sailor struck the spectator (Clinton Curtis) with a broken beer bottle, which cut his jugular vein. The sailor was eventually acquitted of murder and charged with accidental death instead. (source: New York Times, June 2, 1960)
In 1962, Theodore Smith was arrested for murder after stabbing to death chess master Abe Turner (1924-1962) at the office of Chess Review magazine. Turner worked as a clerk for Chess Review magazine. Smith stabbed Turner 9 times in the back, 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. (source: New York Times, Oct 26, 1962)
In 1964, International Master Raymond Weinstein (1941- ) attacked International Master Johan Barendregt (1924-1982) while in the Netherlands. Soon after the incident, he was deported back to the United States. There, he was detained in a half-way house, then arrested for murder after he killed his 83-year old roommate with a razor after an argument. Weinstein was judged mentally ill and was confined to the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Ward’s Island for the mentally ill.
In 1966, grandmaster Mikhail Tal was beaten up and hit on the head with a beer bottle during the chess Olympiad in Havana. He missed the first five rounds because of his injuries.
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 1972 he moved to Germany so he could play chess.
In 1970, chess player and organizer Claude Bloodgood (1937-2001) was arrested and sentenced to death for killing his stepmother. His death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1972.
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, the police raided a chess tournament in Cleveland, Ohio. They 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). Later, the charges were dropped.
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 January 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 63, he has been on death row for over 30 years. He was denied the latest in a long line of appeals. (sources: Crime & Capital Punishment blog; The Pacific Reporter, 1986, p. 616)
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.
In 1982, Boris Gulko and his wife were arrested for protesting at the Moscow Interzonal in Moscow. They were trying to immigrate to Israel.
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 police officer 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, International Master James Sherwin, vice chairman of the GAF Corporation and president of the American Chess Foundation, was arrested on stock manipulation charges. He was found guilty in December, 1989. The appeals court overturned the guilty verdict in 1991 and he was released. The U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Sherwin was Rudi Giuliani, who spent over a million dollars prosecuting the case. (source: New York Times, July 7, 1988 and Dec 14, 1989)
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.
In 1990, grandmaster Artur Yusupov was shot in the stomach and seriously injured during a burglary attempt in Moscow. He had just returned to his Moscow apartment to discover several burglars in his apartment. A struggle broke out and Yusupov was shot and was in critical condition.
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. (source: The Independent, Dec 9, 1992)
In 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. When he refused, the police were called, who cuffed Taylor and charged him with trespassing.
From 1992 to 2006, Alexander Pichushkin (1974- ) went on a killing spree in Moscow. Pichushkin claimed he killed 63 people (48 confirmed) and his aim was to kill 64 people, one for each square on a chessboard.
In 1993, a chess player in San Antonio, Tim Trogdon, 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.
On November 13, 1994, Soviet grandmaster Igor Platonov (1934-1994) returned home to his apartment in Kiev when two thieves ambushed him and murdered him. The killers were never caught.
In 1994, the captain of the Macedonian chess team was robbed of $7,000 inside a bank in Moscow during the 1994 Moscow Chess Olympiad. He was later robbed again and beaten into unconsciousness. An American chess player was mugged during the event and the robbers threatened his life if he did not come back the next day with more money.
In 1994, Martin Wirth of Fort Collins, Colorado, shot to death Vernie Cox 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, 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)
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 June 1995, Gilberto Rodriquez-Orejuela was arrested in Columbia for illegal importation of 200 metric tons of cocaine over the past 10 years. He was known as “the chess player.”
In March 1997, two teenagers got into a fight over a school chess game. !3-year-old John Slack was in critical condition. His 15-year-old opponent was arrested on an assault charge.
In the 1990s, grandmaster Maurice Ashley was mugged twice.
In 2000, Laurence Douglas stabbed Craig Williams 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. (source: Associated Press, May 12, 2000)
In 2001, Vaughn Bennett, executive director of the Olympic Chess House, was arrested for unlawful trespassing onto the grounds of the U.S. Chess Center in Washington, DC.
In 2001, Christopher Newton murdered his cellmate, Jason Brewer, over a game of chess. 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.
In January 2003, grandmaster Svetozar Gligoric, age 79, was attacked 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.
In 2003, Simon Andrews of Falls Township, Pennsylvania, stabbed to death Jerry Kowalski 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.
In May 2003, Grandmaster Alex Sherzer, 31, was arrested in Mobile, Alabama for allegedly attempting to solicit sex from a 15-year-old-girl he met on the Internet and who was living at a juvenile detention center.
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 October 2004, the FIDE vice president, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, 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 himIn 2005, Canadian grandmaster Pascal Charbonneau and his friends were mugged at gunpoint during the World Open in Philadelphia.
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 Vladimir Akopian was arrested at Dubai airport having been mistaken for an individual of the same name wanted by Interpol for murder.
In April 2005, Grandmaster and former World Junior Champion Maxim Dlugy was arrested in Moscow and charged with attempting to defraud a metals plant in Russia of $9 million in bonds. He was transferred to a prison in Perm, central Russia. He faced up to 10 years in prison. All the charges against him were later dropped.
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.
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
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 April 2007, Garry Kasparov was among 170 people arrested during an anti-Kremlin rally in Moscow. He was freed several hours later (some sources say he was in prison for 5 days) after being fined $40 for public order offenses. In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ordered the Russian government to compensate Kasparov 10,000 euros for his arrest.
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, grandmaster Farhad Tahirov 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.
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 after a game. Lucov, a sore loser, 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, 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 after losing a game of chess. (source: KCRG News, Oct 13, 2009)
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 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 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 arrested and sentenced to 6 years in prison. (source: Susan Polgar blog, April 24, 2009
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 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 October, 2010, seven players were arrested for playing chess in a playground in Inwood Hill Park, New York. The chess tables in the park were off limits to adults if not accompanied by a child. The charges were finally dismissed in April, 2011.
In June 2011, a chess coach for a junior chess team in Port Elizabeth, South Africa was arrested in connection with child pornography charges.
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 December 2011, two Vietnamese men were arrested for gambling on chess at a local café. Gambling is illegal in Vietnam except in casinos. The two men had been gambling on chess since 2009, betting up to $50,000 per game
In August 2012, Garry Kasparov was arrested at a protest outside a Moscow court during the Pussy Riot trial. He was not there to protest, simply to attend. The police cornered him and dragged him into the police van and began assaulting him. Kasparov was in jail for five days.
In January 2014, an Italian man, Saverio Bellante, who had been living in a rented home in Dublin, killed his 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 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 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.