A priceless excerpt from the commentary to game one of the 1986 World Chess Championship match between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, the first half of which was played in London. Kasparov and Karpov had been playing a dull and cautious first game, assessing each other's opening preparation and strength, neither player wishing to risk losing the first game of their match. The commentary, therefore, had been equally uninspiring, with the commentators forced to wander off into long stories and digressions in order to keep the attention of their television audience. Chess is not a spectator sport at the best of times, and chess commentators face a task only hinted at in the worst nightmares of Grand Prix racing or snooker. The closest comparison, pointed out by Tallroo, is cricket commentary, in which conversations about pigeons on the pitch, or what the commentators had for afternoon tea, are frequent.

The commentators had been regaling their fast-dwindling audience with some anecdote or other, when suddenly a rapid and complex series of exchanging moves took place over the board, and to the confusion of audience and analysts alike, in their efforts to catch up, they began to analyze a completely different position that the one visible on the TV screens. It took a while for them to realize this, and no one had any idea where their analysis had diverged from the game, or how to bring their commentary back to reality.

Cue entry of a respected International Master *. The commentators introduced him with much relief - "Here is International Master ______ straight from the floor, he will bring us up to date." The hapless IM, who may not have been aware that he was on a live feed, and who had been enjoying the bar a little too much, said with gusto:

"I'm so pissed I can't stand up."


* - Anyone who knows the name of this IM, please /msg me. Kidas suggested that it might actually be a grandmaster, the late Tony Miles, who had a reputation for being a heavy drinker, and was present for the 1986 match, but I haven't been able to confirm this.

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