Thursday, August 4, 2011


This month, I am in pensive mode so I thought I'd share a few interesting and funny GM stories before I start to lose them.

1995 - Eugene Torre was in Singapore and had just won the Asian Inter-Continental Rapid Chess Championships. I was his escort and tried to help him get some local goodies for him to bring home. The first was durian. I told him that it was forbidden to bring it onboard but he was relentless. So rather than dissuade him, we managed to find a durian seller who would pack it airtight so that no smell would be emitted. That done, he needed cash to pay. So we went to a money changer.

I introduced Eugene to him and announced : " This is Asia's first Chess Grandmaster! You must give him a better rate." To which the friendly Indian money changer replied : " Yes, he is Asia's first, but not first compared to India's Visawanathan Anand". Both Eugene and I were red-faced after his remark.

1992- We had just landed in Singapore and I spotted GM Daryl Johansen of Australia who was on the same flight. I had played him in 1978 in the Christmas Festival tournament held at RI hall then, losing in 34 moves. We exchanged greetings and I asked him if he remembered playing me then. He gave a long hard look before he blurted : " Reversed King's Indian, right?" I was floored. " How could you have remembered such a game? After 14 years?" I loved his reply:


1985 - Miguel Najdorf was in Singapore in transit and gave a simul of 15 boards. He told us this story:

"I was playing in Saltojsbaden Sweden in the 1948 Interzonal. My opponent the next round was the Swede Gosta Stolz. He was sitting at the bar and he spotted me. He was already quite tipsy and asked me to buy him a beer. I thought to myself : Why not? He's going to get a hangover and that's alright with me. So I bought him one, he finished it real quick and asked for another. And another. Altogether I bought him 12 beers. He finally stopped, thanked me and went  to bed."

" The next day we sat down to play and in less than 1 hour I was totally lost! While I was sweating to try save my position, Gosta smirked and bent over: Draw? You can imagine my relief when he said that. But then he uttered after the scoresheets were signed :" Ah Miguel, I'll let you in on a little secret:.."