Street-sweepers

Thanks to the wonders of Youtube, the other day I stumbled on a long video, showing the ICC commentary on one day’s play at the London Classic. Yasser Seirawan and Peter Svidler provided some four hours of game commentary, spiced up with their usual mixture of anecdotes. The result was great entertainment, as always. Svidler told one particularly wonderful story, regarding Viktor Korchnoi’s legendary rudeness towards opponents.

A few years ago, Svidler played alongside Korchnoi in the Russian club championship. On the day in question, Korchnoi faced a young GM, who came from a very obscure town, in the middle of nowhere, in deepest Russia (Svidler forbore to name the player, to save his blushes). A QGD soon led to a rather boring position, with a quiet draw seeming inevitable. Of course, this did not satisfy Viktor the Terrible, who took desperate risks to unbalance the position, but the only effect was to leave him dead lost. However, at this point, his intimidated young opponent seized the first opportunity to force a draw by perpetual.

After signing the scoresheets, Viktor Lvovich looked at his opponent, and in a loud voice, declared:

“Can there really be so little demand for street-sweepers, where you come from?”

“So, I am vondering, vhere does he keep his broom vhen he is playing?” (Photo: by kind permission of John Saunders)

As Svidler said, though, how can one get angry when one is on the wrong end of such a comment? “You should just frame it on the wall and show it to your grandchildren!”, said Svidler.

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