For Benjamin Franklin, the conclusion was inescapable. Life is a kind of chess game.
Vladimir Lenin, a consummate tactician and strategist, very likely thought the same of revolution – perhaps with even stronger justification.
His own knowledge of chess was hardly cursory. Lenin’s exceptional ability to adapt to rapidly changing situations may have been grounded in his considerable experience and skill at the game.
His father was a serious player, as was his brother, Aleksandre, who authored chess problems that Vladimir delighted in solving. Lenin’s involvement with the game was a particularly passionate and sophisticated one.
Not a surprise given the tenor of the times.
A broad section of the Russian Intelligentsia had been attracted to chess.
An example is the novelist Tolstoy, who was a universalist in most things, but a confessed chauvinist in regard to the game itself.
During a match for the World Championship between the Russian Mikhail Chigorin and the Austrian Wilhelm Steinitz, he confessed sheepishly to rooting for the “Russian.”
Lenin’s chess coexisted for years with intense revolutionary activity, but he finally – with considerable regret – put the game aside. He had little choice. The Revolution was there waiting to be made.
Below is a win by Fabiano Caruana against Hkaru Nakamura from the FIDE Candidates tournament in Moscow.
Car. Nakamura 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4 . d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. N(b)d2 O-O 7. Qe2 Re8 8. Nc4 Nd7 9. Bd2 Bd6 10. O-O-O b5 11. Ne3 a5 12. Nf5 a4 13. Bg5 f6 14. Be3 Nc5 15. g4 Be6 16. Kb1 b4
Car. Nakamura 17. g5 b3 18. R(h)g1 bxa2ch 19. Ka1 Bxf5 20. exf5 a3 21. b3 Na6 22. c3 Bf8 23. Nd2 fxg5 24. Rxg5 Nc5 25. Rg3 e4 26. Bxc5 Bxc5 27. Nxe4 Bd6 28. Rh3 Be5 29. d4 Bf6 30. Rg1 Rb8 31. Kxa2 Bh4 32. Rg4 Qd5 33. c4 Black resigns