In 1972, I followed the print media reports of the Fischer-Spassky match in Iceland. I was still a beginner at the game, so I didn’t really understand the moves I replayed that summer with my plastic pieces on cardboard eight-by-eight.
Six years later, my college buddies and I followed the titanic Karpov-Korchnoi struggle and I understood a lot more of what I was seeing in the newspaper reports. My friends and I were rooting for a man we had met the previous year. After Viktor Korchnoi defected from the Soviet Union, a 1977 American tour was arranged, and our University’s chess club partnered with a few student organizations and the local chess club to bring the man to give a talk and play forty of us at once in a simultaneous exhibition.
The 1980’s saw the heat ramped up in battles for the world chess title. I ceased tournament play by then–grad school and work calling. I lost interest in top-level chess. For awhile, rival organizations propped up different champions–like heavyweight boxing.
One of our grad students has rekindled my interest in chess. At least as a spectator. In the internet age, we can watch chess matches unfold live online. Having a view of the actual players is irrelevant. Watching the struggle between pieces on the board is fascinating enough.
Despite the 3:30AM local start, I enjoyed game three of the current world championship being contested in the title holder’s home nation. I missed game four–in the last century, they gave players a slower pace: three games a week instead of two days on, one day off. I tuned in this morning only to find the game had been played yesterday.
For chess fans, it’s really the best of times.