Chess: Tigran and the Tiger

Most nights, Moscow's Estrada Theater is alive and kicking with song-and-dance troupes. For the past two months, though, sellout crowds have packed the old hall to watch two men sit for hours at a table, each exquisitely immobile except for an occasional flick of the wrist. A whole line of swiveling chorines could not have elicited more excitement than those flicks, for the event was the world championship of chess, the No. 1 sport and all-round mania of the Soviet Union.

The defending champion was wily Tigran Petrosian, the former street cleaner who swept through the ranks of top chess...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!