I want to share some memories about the times, when breaking news on radio at 8am were not about another crisis, but about the result of chess game between Korchnoi and Karpov.

Chess was largely popular, people played at home, in the clubs and parks, at work – I remember playing blitz at lunch time ( sometimes my usual opponent and I secretly ate earlier and played the whole hour).

When I began to work after university, I got into a big institute, where there were more than 20 rated chess players. A few times the management invited leading GMs to visit us.

I became acquainted with one young chess player, who told me an amazing story how just a few months before I came, Mikhail Tal was there.

My friend was lucky to play in simul. Tal was smoking and moving pretty fast making his moves. The guy was able to hold his own for quite some time, then what happened was something like at a war’s front-line, when everything is very quiet and you raise your head just a bit from the trench to check what’s going on. At that moment a sniper hits you in the head.

He made one non-cautious move. Tal came, spent a fraction of a second to sacrifice a piece and went further. After a few moves my friend realized that Tal queens ahead of him and the game was over.

Another time, I was present when GM Mark Taimanov was invited.

He was a super-elite player and a world class piano performer. He was asked about Fisher (it was already after Fisher forfeited his match with Karpov). To my big surprise, despite losing to Fisher 0:6 in the Candidate match and negative hype in the Soviet mass media, he found only good words about him. He said, Fisher is a great player and all GMs are obliged to him for attracting a lot of attention to chess and raising it’s prestige.

Thanks to Fisher, he said, prize funds rose essentially and at least the best players can make a decent living.

Explaining why he thinks Fisher didn’t play with Karpov, he said that Fisher was a person to whom chess was the highest intellectual activity possible; he divided all the people into 2 categories – playing or not-playing chess. When he won the chess World Championship, it put a huge responsibility on his shoulders – to be a number one in this number one thing. So when that “dark horse” Karpov appeared, defeating all the candidates, maybe Fisher wasn’t sure that he would be able to play as well as he has to (he didn’t play after 1972). Taimanov’s opinion was that Fisher actually didn’t want to play, so he made non-realistic demands.

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