Chess has its strange but true stories, just like any other subject. It just seems stranger with the characters we run into with chess.
In the 1930s, the California School of the Blind defeated the California School of the Deaf. Who says you need to see the chess board.
When John Quincy Adams was President of the United States, he purchased an expensive ivory chess set and board with his own money and had this set in the White House. However, when he was running for re-election, his opponent, Andrew Jackson, claimed that Adams had wasted money and used public funds to buy gambling equipment (the chess set). I don't know if this affected the election in 1828, but Jackson won the popular vote and the electoral vote that year (won 178 electoral votes to 83 electoral votes for Adams).
Weaver Adams, an American chess master, once wrote a book called WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN. Right after publication of his book, he played in the 1940 US Open and did not win a single game as White. In fact, he won every game as Black, lost three games as White and drew one game as White.
Some chess players can even play other sports. Grandmaster Simen Agdestein of Norway also played professional soccer. Grandmaster Paul Keres played in the finals of his home town Tallinn, Estonia tennis championship and played in the Estonia tennis finals. Sir George Thomas of Britain won the British chess championship twice. He also won the British badminton championship seven times and was a quarter-finalist in tennis at Wimbledon.
Aladdin really did exist. He was one of the strongest chess players of the 14th century.
Alexander Alekhine was so hated in the Soviet Union that his name was frequently left out of news articles and Alekhine's Defense was renamed the Moscow Defense.
Colonel Alexander won the British championship in 1938 and 1956. During World War II, he was a colonel in the British Intelligence and a code-breaker who helped break the German Enigma code. He was prohibited from traveling to any country under Soviet control, which limited his over the board chess play. He thus took up correspondence chess.
Perhaps the only modern king that played in chess tournaments was King Alfonso XIII of Spain. He was king of Spain from 1886 to 1931 and participated in several Spanish chess tournaments in the 1920s. His grandson, Juan Carlos, is now king of Spain.
In the 1930s, one chess tournament in the Soviet Union, the Trade Unions chess championship, had over 700,000 entries.
Chess was the first sport to have a national sports organization in the United States. The American Chess Association was formed in 1857. Baseball was organized as a national sports a few years later.
In 1958 International Master Frank Anderson of Canada was to play in the final round of the Munich Chess Olympiad. But he became ill and could not play. He had to play one more game to meet the minimum requirements of a Grandmaster. Even if he had played and lost, he would made the final norm necessary for the GM title. But he missed the game and the title, and never became a Grandmaster.
Atahuapa was the last Inca emperor of Peru. He was taken prisoner by Pizarro and his men. While in prison, he was taught how to play chess by his guards and became very good at it.
In the 1978 World Chess championship in Baguio, Philippines between Karpov and Korchnoi, the organizers forgot to get a Staunton chess set, the standard for FIDE events. Someone had to drive back to Manila, 150 miles away, and buy a Staunton chess set. It arrived 15 minutes before the first round.
Curt von Bardeleben was the strongest German player of the 19th century. But in 1924, at the age of 62, he committed suicide by jumping out of an upper window of his boarding house in Berlin where he lived in poverty and had no friends.
In 1938 Jack Battell lost all 11 games of the Marshall Chess Club championship and gave up tournament chess for correspondence chess. In a few years, he was the highest rated postal player in the United States.
More next time!