Chess Trivia

George Koltanowski (1903-2000) wrote over 19,000 chess columns for the San Francisco Chronicle during his lifetime.  He even included one of my chess games (a King’s Gambit) at an obscure tournament in Dayton. Ohio in the 1980s.  Koltanowski wrote the only daily newspaper chess column in the world.

There are close to 1,400 chess grandmasters in the world.  In 1950, FIDE recognized only 27 grandmasters.

Samuel Reshevsky (1911-1992) played 9 decades of championship chess.  Reshevsky played 11 of the first 12 world chess champions.  He never played Kasparov.  He defeated seven world champions – Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, and Fischer.

The longest mate with 6 men (including kings) is 243 moves.  With 7 men, the longest mate is 517 moves.  In 1929, Otto Blathy created a chess problem that took 290 moves to checkmate.

Yuri Averbakh (born on Feb 8,1922) is the oldest grandmaster at age 92.

Hou Yifan (born Feb 27, 1994) was world women’s champion at age 16, the youngest ever world champion.  She was world champion from 2010 to 2012 and is the current women’s world champion.  In 2006, at the age of 12, she participated in the FIDE Women’s World Championship, the youngest ever.


Pal Benko (born July 14, 1928) wrote an endgame and chess problem column in Chess Life for 45 years.


In 2012, the U.S. Amateur Team – East tournament had 294 teams, the biggest team tourney in the world.


The first African-American master was Walter Harris, who became a chess master in 1963.  He became a scientist at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.


In March, 2011, two chess pawns from President James Madison’s chess set were discovered by archeologists on his country estate in Virginia.


Lajos Portisch (born April 4, 1937) holds the record for most career victories in the Chess Olympiads – 121.  He participated in a record 20 Olympiads from 1956 to 2000.


Svetozar Gligoric (1923-2012) holds the record for most medals in the Chess Olympiads – 12.  He also won the championship of Yugoslavia a record 12 times. 


Bobby Fischer played Boris Spassky in a back room of the 1972 world chess championship in game 3.  A chess set had to be found that both players would agree to play on in this back room.  The chess set was only used once, and was later auctioned for $76,275.


Garry Kasparov’s picture has been on chess stamps of Armenia, Burindi, Central Africa, Cambodia, Chad, Comores, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Niger, North Korea, Russia, Rwanda, St. Vincent, Tajikistan, Togo, Surinam, Uganda, USSR, Vietnam, and Yugoslavia.


The two players closest in age that have played in a world chess championship match is Emanuel Lakser and Dawid Janowski.  They were born 6 months apart and played for the world championship in 1909.


Anatoly Karpov holds the world record in most books autographed at a book launch.  He autographed 1,951 books (Karpov, el camino de una volantad by David Llada) in one sitting in Mexico City 2006.


43% of Russians have played chess at least once in a year.  23% of Germans have played chess at least once in a year.  15% of Americans have played chess at least once in a year.


Magnus Carlsen was considered for a role in a recent Star Trek movie (Star Trek 2), but couldn’t get a U.S. work permit in time.  JJ Abrams, the producer, wanted Carlsen to play a role of a chess player in the future. 


There have been 7 instances that the player who won the first games in the world chess championship match went on to lose the match.