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Chess Jokes

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I'm doing a Christmas article on chess jokes for ChessBase.com. Yes, yes, I know that just about all the chess jokes you've ever heard, particularly those reprinted regularly in chess magazines, are stupid. But there are a few decent ones and we thought it would be a light holiday piece.

Off the top of my head I know four: two ancient groaners, one not bad but still Reader's Digest level, and one cute one. I won't give them in full here, which would preempt tomorrow's article; the descriptions will suffice for those who know them not to post them. If you have one not included, post it. Give a source if you have it. It might be interesting to see how far back they go. My four:

1) The excruciating "chess nuts boasting in an open foyer" joke. AKA the only chess joke anyone seems to know and the joke you always know you are about to hear when someone says "you're a chessplayer right? I heard a chess joke the other day...

2) The dog playing chess in the park joke. Immortalized last year at ChessBase with a video of Alexander Roshal telling it. We're laughing with you, Sasha!

3) Dead chessplaying buddy returns as a ghost. Yes, there's chess in heaven. The bad news is...

4) The actually funny one. Mercifully short. Bc4 Italian. Bb5 Spanish. Ba6 Belgian! (Insert nationality or ethnicity to be denigrated. I heard it from a Dutchman, so Belgian.)


The correspondence chess joke with "j'adoube"? ("Complete Chess Addict", I think.)

I think I know the one about the dog playing chess.

And I heard about 3.Ba6 Belgian, and if I am not mistaken, I heard it from a Belgian. I think it wasn't to denigrate a nationality but to comment on the lack on top belgian players compared to other european countries.

Yes it's a common joke in belgium, we lacked an own opening so we invented this one.

How about this one: Each chess player gets two fun filled knights!

Here are three from my fun page:

Blindfold Chess
The real cause of Crop Circles. (JB)

Old chessplayers never die, they just spend forever contemplating the next move. (Erika Danko)

Cleanliness is next to godliness; godliness is next to chess; ches' is next to my heart. (JB and Erika Danko).

All of these "jokes" make me wonder if chess just isn't funny by nature, or if the players are just totally devoid of senses of humor.

I'm surprised you don't mention KxQc4 mate. There's also a (better, if you ask me) French version : RxDa4 pat. I heard both countless times.

Oh, and of course... an old one. 1972, in a gulag, people follow the Spassky-Fischer match through the radio, but one day a guard breaks it. So when a new
prisoner comes in, they ask him : "What happened in the world championship?" - "I lost". There's a whole lot like that here : http://chessfun.free.fr/blagues/menublagues.html in French, by international arbiter Stéphane Escafre. Quite a few can't be translated to English, though (many are puns on French words).

1972, in a gulag, people follow the Spassky-Fischer match through the radio, but one day a guard breaks it. So when a new prisoner comes in, they ask him : "What happened in the world championship?" - "I lost".

I hadn't heard that one before. It's the only really funny chess joke I've heard. I'm still laughing. Thanks ozhegan.

Inky, ozhegan: The really funny and ironic thing is that it was the winner of the 1972 match who was put in jail and tortured in his country, not the loser.

I heard one from an IM on ICC:
What's the difference between a professional chess player and a large cheese pizza?
The pizza can feed a family of four.

Jeff: Good one! I'm working on one involving Robert James Fischer and the standard joke question regarding how many entities of some specific type it would take to change a light bulb. World Champions? Chess professionals? Tournament officials?

I've always wondered if I could try to pull this stunt I thought up off. Any humor there may be I leave up to the discerning reader.

"I can beat anybody here with the odds of a pawn and a move!"

The Master looked at the Boaster quizzically. He knew Boaster was never stronger than a Class B player.

"I'll take you up on that offer - unless there's a catch."

"No catch, Mr. Master. There is a condition that I choose which of the pawns to remove."

The Master could not see how it would matter and agreed.

"Let's do it," said the Master and sat next to the Black side of the board.

As expected, the Boaster removed the KBP. But he didn't stop there. He also took off the KNP.

"Hey! What are you doing?" exclaimed the Master. "I thought the odds were a pawn!"

"Quite so," replied Boaster. "So I must now remove one of my pawns." And proceeded to take off his King's pawn.

"Checkmate!" Boaster crowed after slamming down his queen.

"Can you buy an entire chess set at a pawn shop?" - George Carlin

Q: what do you call a chess player that keeps on blundering pawns in a tournament?

A: a classic patzer

Q: what do you call a chess player that keeps on blundering pieces in a tournament?

A: classical world champion

Not to be mean or anything, but most of these are just bad jokes. I personally like longer jokes with plots.

This story is true, but I'm changing the names.

Back in the summer of 1971 my former chess teammates Peter, Doug and I were just out of high school when we went to a chess tournament in Worcester, Massachusetts, about an hour from our town.

During a break between rounds Peter and Doug went out to lunch. On leaving the restaurant Doug ran ahead, only to be stopped, assaulted and robbed. When Peter caught up the two flagged down a police car.

The officer took some information but insisted that Doug needed to come with him to the station to file a report on the mugging.

Peter interjected, "Doug's playing in a chess tournament now. Can't he go to the station after the last round to file this report?"

The policeman replied, "What, are you in the tourney?"

"Yes," said Peter.

"Get in the car!"

"Uhh, bye." And Peter quickly walked away.

Later, Doug asked Peter why he'd been mouthing off to the officer. "Why did you say you were a lawyer?"

"What are you talking about!?"

Turns out what the policeman had actually said was, "What are you, an attorney?"




Walt, a further irony is that Peter Koretsky DID end up becoming a lawyer, didn't he? (Or is he a doctor?)

I remember your name because you (along with Peter) were on the Brookline (Ma.) High team that won the National High School Championship in either 1970 or 1971, I forget which year.

Were you still on the team when Trefler was on it? I recall seeing Brookline win a small h.s. team tournament (in Connecticut I think), drawing your match with Stuyvesant when Koretsky offered draws for all the boards.

That was some months after you won the Nationals. I.A. Horowitz published two games from that match in the NY Times, but he didn't have a clue and by that time he lacked either the will or the ability to even look for one.

Hi Jon. Peter Koretsky became a doctor. I didn't keep in touch with him but someone with his name continued playing in USCF events up until mid-2003... (The other name in the story is made up. Did Peter tell you about it? Maybe you remember a better version!)

Brookline won the NHS team championship in 1970. Then I graduated. Peter was a year behind me so I don't know what happened in Connecticut.

IIRC Alan Trefler had just joined the club my last year but wasn't yet strong. Within a year or so he began showing some real promise, e.g., at those 5-minute tourneys at the International Club.

Don't blame Horowitz for poor game choices. Peter probably submitted them to him. You've got to remember that we were a bunch of class-A players who snuck into first when the New York schools knocked each other out. Nowadays all the contending teams have at least two masters.

To A: The "Chess Catalog" humor item in C.H., years ago now, was my only effort in this area. I haven't played online in some months but I found playing as an unregistered guest in ICC got me stronger opposition than as a registered player in FICS -- go figure!


That final item you addressed to "A" makes a great tip, which I thank you for. I had a free 3-mo. ICC membership which I let lapse (on principle I won't pay to play on a server). I'd forgotten it was possible to play as a guest, so I will try that, with a hat tip to you.

While registered on ICC I found myself playing roughly half my games vs IMs or GMs simply by going in the 5-minute "pool", even though my rating was pretty low. So if I do even better than that as an unregistered guest, that would be fantastic!

Going back to Brookline High, when I said Horowitz didn't have a clue, I didn't mean those games shouldn't have appeared. They were actually good choices for the newspaper column. Although far from brilliant, they had plenty of instructive value for the average reader. But Horowitz didn't have a clue what to say about the moves; his comments were plain wrong.

For instance, for my game with Koretsky on Board 1, which ended in a 16 or 17-move draw, Horowitz dragged out the old "Grandmaster draw" phrase, then hastened to add that these players weren't Grandmasters, merely cowards. "One is afraid, the other dares not," he wrote.

Only after making these non-sequitur comments of his own, did Horowitz then insert a direct quote from Koretsky that shed some light on what was actually going on. Peter said that although material was equal in the final position, post-game analysis showed Black was in a hopeless straitjacket and even with BEST defense would inevitably end up down two pawns with no compensation by 4 or 5 moves later. (That is why I was stunned to hear Peter offer me a draw, and gratefully accepted it although I out-rated him by something like 600 points.)

Horowitz not only didn't give any of Peter's analysis (which actually was mostly mine and Kopec's) to back up Peter's statement; the columnist, who had played in the U.S. Invitational Championship only a year or so earlier, didn't bother to provide any analysis of the position himself.

Mig --

I really enjoyed that little exchange on the National High School tournaments. That was when many of us played, before going on to professional careers and becoming inactive.

For one of your blog topics, what about High School tournaments. I bet we'll all get to hear some great stories from the guys who were there.

what's the punchline to joke three? "there's nobody to play"?

"..you've got black against Capablanca on Tuesday."

"Go is to western chess what philosophy is to double entry accounting" (from Shibumi) :)

Two chess players are playing a correspondence game. White lives at the
South Pole. Black lives at the North Pole. The postal service is rather
slow and play proceeds at the rate of one move per year. After 15 years of
play, white makes a daring queen sacrifice, the consequences of which are
by no means clear. A year later, as he sees the postman returning, he is
very excited. He thinks "Will black take my queen ?", "Is the sacrifice
sound ?". He tears open the reply and sees "Jadoube".

(Stolen from my friend graderguy:)

Ok, ok, I have a chess joke for you.

How do you move your King back through time?

Easy, move him to B4.

Is that funny?

I heard a joke I thought was quite good...

In the early sixties, some Soviet grandmasters visit Cuba. One day Korchnoi is scheduled to give a simultaneous exhibition with about 60 players, hand-picked by the Cuban government. Just before the exhibition is about to start, Korchnoi is approached by a nervous Cuban official.

"Mr Grandmaster, among the people you are about to play today is the Minister of Agriculture, Ernesto "Che" Guevara. He is a keen player but perhaps not so strong, especially compared to you, Grandmaster... I have been ordered to tell you that he and the entire Cuban people would be very honored if he would be able to obtain a draw against you..."

After the exhibition, Korchnoi comes back to the hotel, where he is met by Tal. Tal askes him how he did.

"No problem, I won all 60 games, it was easy."

"All 60? Against Che Guevara as well?" Tal asks in disbelief.

Korchnoi smiles and says "He has no idea of what to play against the Catalan..."

Hey, here's another great joke:

"So I was having dinner with Garry Kasporov - Problem was, we had a checkered tablecloth and it took him two hours to pass the salt!"

This is the best joke I've read so far that is about chess.

and since you're collecting them - you might want to take a look at http://www.finitechess.com/jokes.htm

Hey, here's another great joke:

"So I was having dinner with Garry Kasporov - Problem was, we had a checkered tablecloth and it took him two hours to pass the salt!"

This is the best joke I've read so far that is about chess.

and since you're collecting them - you might want to take a look at http://www.finitechess.com/jokes.htm

Q: What does Bobby Fischer have in common with Chuck Knoblauch?

A: e4 all the time



"Chess is war." -Bobby Fischer
"War is hell." -Gen. Sherman
"My chess has gone to hell." IM. A.Patzer

Chess Dhamma
Chess is suffering.
Suffering arises from mistakes.
No mistakes, no suffering
Quit chess.

bad news is u're black against 'insert dead pro player here' on saturday.

With the risk of being permanently banned ...

Why couldn't the actors have a game of chess?

The director was on the set.


This isn't really a joke, just a true anecdote but..
apparently in a simultaneous display Blackburne appropriated and swallowed an opponent's glass of whiskey, saying that "he left it en prise and I took it en passant". Cool.
Btw, CO, that was clearly a high ranking director. He was on the Board...

Was the movie "Five Easy Pieces?"


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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 24, 2004 6:55 PM.

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