Friday, 4 September 2009

Drunk at the chess board

Pardon me if you have been reading too many chess stories on my blog in recent days but I want to say - definitely, in no uncertain terms, with a lot of conviction - that barring any unforeseen developments, this should be the last one here for some time.

Today, I just read an amusing story -- well, it's amusing to me anyway but it's certainly not amusing to the subject concerned -- about a rather well-known chess grandmaster managing the feat of falling asleep at the chess board in the middle of a tournament game yesterday. The event: the Kolkata open grandmasters chess tournament. The venue: the Alekhine Chess Club in Gorky Sadan, India. The player: Vladislav Tkachiev.

Oh, that guy Tkachiev. Know him? Formerly of Kazakhstan but now a French citizen. He has played in Malaysia before, you know, but that was in 1993. It was the expanded Asian team championship now encompassing the Asian side of the countries of the broken-up Soviet Union. The event was held at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and the untitled Tkachiev, then only 20 years old and rated 2380, seemed to have bowled over all the ladies at the event. He was already the type that could walk down the street with two ladies on his arms.

Apparently in Kolkata, the liquor had gone to his head. He turned up drunk at the venue, slept through his moves several times over and eventually had to be carried off.

The Indian Express newspaper reported: "The match lasted over an hour, with the French player repeatedly dozing off while contemplating a move. Each time he fell asleep, players around would try to wake him up with a shake of the shoulder. Some even offered him water, and Tkachiev, having briefly refreshed himself at the change room while his opponent waited, dozed off again and eventually had to be carried off."

Tkachiev’s opponent Praveen Kumar didn’t want to say much except: “I was given the point after the match, that’s all.” However, an Alekhine Chess Club official said that the incident was bad advertisement for the tournament and that a meeting would be held to take action against the French player.

All I can say is, the liquor had obviously left a bad taste, not only for Tkachiev but also for the organisers.

In the past, Tkachiev himself had admitted that he led a racy, if not hedonistic, lifestyle and found it difficult to cope with lengthy tournaments at long time controls. His passion is in blitz games where his real strength lies. Nevertheless, with a 2669 rating in the World Chess Federation's September 2009 rating list, the 35-year-old grandmaster is currently ranked 58th in the world. Not bad for a drunken master.

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