Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Twitching Legs

As explained in a previous post, off-the-board tricks also influence the result of a game.
Theatrics is one of them but others are really dirty, like shaking the table while your opponent is thinking.

Today’s game corresponds to the Candidates Semifinal match in 1974. It was the period when Soviet players dominated the world of chess. The contenders Viktor Korchnoi and Tigran Petrosian were both Soviet. Korchnoi won the match and from there on, a hostile rivalry arose between them. It is worth remembering that two years after this match, Korchnoi defected from the USSR.

It was a tense match from the very beginning. What follows is a detailed description of the first hostilities, as Korchnoi remembers it in his book “Chess is my Life”:

“During the first game, a dispute arose. In recent years Petrosian had acquired the terrible habit of twitching his legs under the table, usually beginning this about an hour before the time control.
The playing conditions were good, but the play took place in the centre of the stage in an old theatre… While my clock was going and I was thinking over my next move, Petrosian would sit in his place and cause the table to shake all over. ‘It’s impossible to play like this; shall we sit at separate tables?’ I said to him. This was probably a mistake on my part, and I should have directly notified the controller, but we were on friendly terms, and when it was my turn to move I didn’t feel inclined to get up and go over the controller. Petrosian stopped shaking the table, but after the game wrote a statement to the controller about my behaviour.”

And next, the game with interesting Korchnoi’s original annotations:

Fortunately for Korchnoi, Petrosian’s trick failed. Korchnoi was well prepared, he won the game and later the match as well.

Because of COVID pandemic, the Nairobi Chess Club site remains closed until further notice.
Nevertheless, our virtual club regularly organizes online tournaments and matches. More than 420 members enjoy that chance and new members join every week. New tournaments will start soon and there is Blitz every Saturday. Join now! Limited slots!.

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