August 20, 2002


Blitzed by Russia's pawn star : She's 18 years old, dark-eyed, raven-haired - and a grandmaster. Nigel Farndale takes on Alexandra Kosteniuk, the pin-up of world chess (Daily Telegraph, 14/08/2002)
Not long (enough) ago, the editor of the Telegraph bullied me into facing three overs from Shoaib Akhtar, the world's fastest bowler. The object of the exercise was that I, possibly the world's feeblest batsman, should describe what it is like to have a hard leather object hurtle towards you at 100 miles an hour. On Wednesday, in a similar spirit, the editor arranged for me to play a game of chess with Alexandra Kosteniuk, the women's World Vice-Champion - that is, the second best female chess player in the world.

The 18-year-old Russian recently took a game off the legendary Anatoly Karpov; she has been playing since she was five, when her father gave up his military career to coach her full-time; and she became a grandmaster at the age of 14 (indeed, she has written an autobiography called How I Became Grandmaster at Age 14).

All you need to know about me is that I can bat much better than I can play chess.

I've got no problem with smart, beautiful women. The wife and Margaret Thatcher are both smarter than me and both snappy items. But a fab babe who can whip you in chess is too much...
Posted by Orrin Judd at August 20, 2002 8:37 PM
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