“There is a joke in chess circles that you don’t stand a chance of becoming world champion unless your name is Russian and starts with a K,” I write in King’s Gambit: A Father, a Son, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game. “Kramnik, Kasparov, Karpov, Kasimdzhanov, and Khalifman were all world champions during the past twenty-five years, and another K, Korchnoi, was the strongest challenger to the throne.”
And so Brighton Beach hopeful Gata Kamsky’s quest for the world title has at least alphabetic tradition on his side—not to mention 301 million Americans who have not seen a fellow countryman as world number one since 1975, when Bobby Fischer flaked out on defending his title.
Today, Kamsky drew with the Black pieces against Boris Gelfand of Israel in the second game of a six-game World Championship Qualifying match in Elista, Kalmykia. Yesterday’s game—the first of the match—was also a draw. Neither player has drawn blood yet. Both men are originally from Russia: Kamsky is from Siberia and Gelfand from Belarus.