If I wasn’t in Costa Rica, I’d be heading to Quebec for a ringside seat for tomorrow’s grudge game between Nigel Short and Gata Kamsky in the Montreal Chess International. In the mid 1990s, Short lost a world championship semi-finals match to Kamsky by the lopsided score of 5.5 to 1.5. Short said that the match was the worst experience in his long chess career because he was subjected to unfair and terrible psychological warfare waged by Kamsky and his father.
The Kamskys suggested that he was cheating. “Never before had anyone accused me of cheating,” Nigel told me. “And they were doing this after I lost. That would make me the the worst cheater in the history of chess.” And then there was the notorious death-threat: Short said that Kamsky’s father got in his face and threatened to kill him.
The toxic match reared its ugly head last October when Short and Kamsky got into an Internet spat (Mig Greengard has a nice post on this). The online scuffle ended with Kamsky threatening to take it offline: “I don’t want to talk about it, but if you want to do something about this, we can settle this like real men, outside. I’ll be waiting.”
At the press conference in Montreal, Short dragged out all the old dirty laundry in response to a journalist’s question. The tournament organizers were apparently not happy; Kamsky, however, was not in attendance.
You can watch the moves of their game live, although unfortunately not their behavior, at the tournament Web site.