A story of no Os

by Jonathan Speelman
11/20/2022 – At a tournament organized by the Grandmaster Association in Reykjavík back in 1988, there was no security in the snack area. Inevitably, this prompted interest in Garry Kasparov’s snacks: Toblerones. In fact, there was a massive temptation to half-inch the odd piece of his numinous nutrition. There was a crucial proviso, though. The pieces of Toblerone had letters on the side spelling it out and no one in his right mind would pilfer an O, thus positively demanding bad luck... | Pictured: Garry Kasparov with Alexander Nikitin

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Garry’s snacks

[Note that Jon Speelman also looks at the content of the article in video format, here embedded at the end of the article.]

Back at the end of the 1980s, Bessel Kok ran a Grand Prix of six GMA (Grandmaster Association) World Cup tournaments. There were about twenty players and each played in four of them.

I began really well in the first of these in Brussels 1988, but soon faded. Being a much more dangerous match than tournament player (better at not losing than actually winning games), I spent the rest of the Grand Prix in the middle at best.

The second tournament was in Reykjavík, and the hospitable Icelanders provided snacks for the players during the rounds in an area behind the stage. The tournament was won by a certain Garry Kasparov, and with no security in the snack area (definitely a distinct lack of armed guards in this most civilized of countries), there was inevitably interest in Garry’s snacks — which were Toblerones. In fact, there was a massive temptation to half-inch (pinch) the odd piece of his numinous nutrition, and it was not one which could always be resisted.

TobleroneThere was a crucial proviso, though. The pieces of Toblerone had letters on the side spelling it out and no one in his right mind would pilfer an O, thus positively demanding bad luck...

When I looked back at my games, I had imagined that Reykjavík was one of the many tournaments in which Garry splatted me, but in fact it was a surprisingly quick draw. I’m showing it today, together with a couple more of my Toblerone enhanced (but bagel-less) efforts. (I’m not sure now about round numbers, so have chosen the order without regard to that).

 
 

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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.
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