Friday, February 23, 2007

World Champions and their love lives

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

VALENTINES day has its origin in ancient Rome when the Emperor Claudius forbade marriages for young men believing that married men do not make good soldiers. A priest named Valentine, however, performed secret marriages for young catholic men.

The story continues that the emperor found out about this and Valentine was arrested and thrown into prison. However, Valentine wanted to convert Claudius to Catholicism and this enrage the emperor who sentenced him to death.

Morelia/Linares 2007 has a notable absentee—World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. At first I was rather surprised that he was not invited to play but the reason, I think, is that he is on a honeymoon. He just got married to a journalist for Le Figaro, a beautiful girl named Marie Laure. By the way, Kramnik is probably the handsomest world champion and the tallest!

Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900) in contrast was extremely ugly and contributed to chess what Newton did to physics: he made it a true science. However, he was not a lucky man. Later in life his wife committed him to a mental asylum and soon afterwards died a penniless and destitute man.

Emmanuel Lasker (1868-1941) who defeated Steinitz was not only one of the greatest players of all time but also had a doctorate degree in math and was respected as a scientist and philosopher. He married Martha Kohn and they stayed together until her death in 1939. He was a good friend of Albert Einstein who reproached him for wasting his time on chess.

Jose Raoul Capablanca (1888-1942), whom bobby Fischer considers the best ever, was divorced from his first wife whose influential family had him demoted to commercial attaché from ambassador at large. There is a story told that his second wife was such a stunning beauty that when she enters the tournament hall all the players would watch her. Capablanca, unknown to many, studied chemical engineering at Columbia University.

Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) is a legend whose combinational play is second to none. He was married four times to women much older than him. He wrote a thesis on the Chinese prison system while in law school becoming Dr. Alekhine.

Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-1995) also had a doctorate degree in Electrical Engineering and was world champion three times.He was married to an artist-a Bolshoi Ballet lead dancer.

Mikhail Tal (1936-92) became ,at 20 ,the youngest world champion and known for his ferocious attacking play. Sally Landau said of her husband that he was a romantic man. “He was a gentleman and would avoid any quarrel with me.”

Tigran Petrosian (1929-84) was also known as “iron” because of his impenetrable defense and safety above all else style of play .Rona Yakovlevna was not only a wife and life companion but also a person who played a great role in Petrosian`s life.
Tigran realized and valued it. When he lost to Bobby fischer ,his wife blamed his trainer.

Boris Spassky is known as the opponent of Bobby Fischer in the “Match of the Century” and a gentleman on and off the board. His 3rd wife, Marina, has been taking care of him since he had a stroke last year.

Anatoly Karpov has the most tournament wins of all time, winning 161 1st place finishes.His second wife, Natasha, was a former librarian and very supportive of her husband during his match in Baguio against Korchnoi and his marathon games versus Kasparov.

Garry Kasparov is the longest reigning champion in history and considered, with apologies to Bobby Fischer`s fans, as the greatest player of all time. He has been divorced from 1st wife Masha and allegedly divorcing second wife Julia.

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