Tiger v Anaconda

‘But Kasparov is not a man to limit his goals or his spheres of action. Stocky and strong, with black hair already streaked with grey by the pressure of his life-style, Kasparov lives in perpetual whirlwind of activity. Naturally this is reflected in his speech, which is rapid in English and positively supersonic in his native Russian.

This immense energy is expressed in his chess. While Botvinnik was his teacher, Kasparov’s great chess hero is Alekhine, the master of attack who was world champion from 1927 until his death in 1946. Like Alekhine, Kasparov’s chess pulsates with life and danger.

Like Alekhine, and even more so that genius of attack Mikhail Tal, Kasparov loves to calculate variations. Playing chess with him is like facing a tiger: one chance and he’ll jump at your throat. Against Karpov the danger is much more insidious. He will gain control almost imperceptibly, and then you will find yourself in the grip of an anaconda.’

Jon Speelman, ‘King of the castle is ready to pounce’
Guardian, 8 October 1990

See also

Chicken or Cat?

Pen Portraits

Violence and intellectuality


The Living Game

Playing for Peanuts



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