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The KGB - Masters Of The Soviet Union

In December 1981, after General Wojciech Jaruzelski launched a military crackdown in Poland, the political outlook in that country and the rest of the Soviet bloc was grim. Polish security forces, backed by the Polish army, swiftly crushed the free trade union Solidarność, which had been functioning as a de facto alternative center of power in Poland since the late summer of 1980. Overnight, sixteen months of nascent democratization in Poland under Solidarność came to a decisive end.

The KGB - Masters of the Soviet Union

The KGB Plays Chess is a unique book. For the first time it opens to us some of the most secret pages of the history of chess. The battles about which you will read in this book are not between chess masters sitting at the chess board, but between the powerful Soviet secret police, known as the KGB, on the one hand, and several brave individuals, on the other. Their names are famous in the chess world: Viktor Kortschnoi, Boris Spasski, Boris Gulko and Garry Kasparov became subjects of constant pressure, blackmail and persecution in the USSR. Their victories at the chess board were achieved despite this victimization.

Former KGB Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Popov, who left Russia in 1996 and now lives in Canada, was one of those who had worked all his life for the KGB and was responsible for the sport sector of the USSR. It is only now for the first time that he has decided to tell the reader his story of the KGB's involvement in Soviet Sports. This is his first book, and it is not only full of sensations, but it also dares to name names of secret KGB agents previously known only as famous chess masters, sportsmen or sport officials. Just a few short years ago a book like this would have been unimaginable. Read this book. It is not only about chess. It is about glorious victory of the great chess masters over the forces of darkness.

The colonel had studied my character in advance, even saying he knew I was an emotional person. Once he cited a story I had written, saying, "That article you did on the KGB had to have been dictated by your CIA masters. You know too much." I got my information from books and interviews with Soviet citizens who had experience with the KGB. But no matter what I said, there was no way to convince him of my innocence. Gently he would present once more the planted evidence labeling me as an American agent. As brothers in the trade, he argued, we had to face facts. "I know you're a professional spy. I can tell by the calm way in which you conduct yourself." Another time, after Ruth had visited, he said that because she didn't weep and roll on the floor and was very tough with him in answering questions he was convinced we both were spies.

The now recurring information gap became acute during the 1986 World Chess Championship between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. The match was held in two equal halves, twelve games in London (organised by the present author) twelve in Leningrad, as St Petersburg was then still known. As a standard facility for the International Press Corps, within five minutes of the end of each game the London logistics team printed a complete record of the moves and the times taken by each player, together with key comments by Grandmasters and printed diagrams of critical situations in the game. Not only was this blitz report instantly available: it was also faxed to interested journalists around the world within a further five minutes. Nowadays, even faxes are ancient technology, but in 1986 they were at the cutting edge of global communications.

I risk nothing by penning philippics such as the above, but I am acutely aware of the irony that my fellow Grandmasters, of whom I write here, are risking life, limb and liberty by doing exactly the same. I salute you all. 041b061a72


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