I believe I have read about a chess champion of past decades – he played for the USSR, and was from the Soviet republic of Armenia – part of whose strategy was to distract and disconcert his opponent by engaging in physically disgusting behaviour: nose-picking, and a good deal more. What I read about the guy, included his name --which I’ve forgotten. I had in mind Tigran Petrosian, who was indeed a Soviet chess champion and from Armenia; but the Wiki article about Petrosian makes no mention of any “gross-the-opposition-out” stratagems on his part.
Does anyone know: did Petrosian engage in such behaviour, or was it someone else, or did I imagine the whole thing?
You might be thinking of Ukranian grandmaster Vasilly Ivanchuk, who is pretty well known for constantly and openly picking his nose during matches. I don’t think it’s a strategy so much as an unstrategic nasty habit, though.
Just from reading the thread title I thought this might have been Tony Miles’s famous 1. …a6 against Karpov, which I can imagine Soviet media reporting as a “disgusting ploy” - more likely of course is that they didn’t report it at all. Sorry I can’t help with the matter at hand, but I would be surprised if a top-level chess player was sufficiently distracted by such ploys as to impact his or her performance. On the other hand, Karpov was clearly affected by 1. …a6 (he went on to lose the game), which he really ought to have been able to cope with!
The other story that comes to mind is that of Kasparov not being a terribly polite opponent, I read once that he used to really grind his pieces into the board when making moves and try to stare out opponents. But not the same thing as what the OP describes.
Thanks all, for responses. I know that the guy concerned, was Armenian; suspect, though, that his name was odder (to non-Armenian eyes) than Petrosian. I recall that he and his distraction tactics are mentioned in Frederick Forsyth’s novel The Negotiator, which I don’t own nowadays. Getting hold of a copy, would solve the mystery for me !
Absolutely (and it worked a treat) - just saying I could imagine Soviet propaganda painting it as such. I also value your opinion of Kasparov over something I read secondhand (and could be misremembering anyway) - thanks for the input.