Escape Artist


Positional, Aggressive, Calculating, Emotional

Escape Artists like quiet, positional play, but somehow seem to end up in tense, nerve-wrecking, and sharp struggles. Why does this happen? Because the Escape Artist, by threatening to grind his opponent down in quiet, positional ways, forces his opponent to counter-attack, sacrifice, and take risks. The Escape Artist often doesn’t prevent his opponent’s attack, but actually welcomes it and entices it. Then the complications and danger begin, and the Escape Artist’s phenomenal calculating power comes to the forefront.

“It seems that to me that in order to stay active your primary motive should be enjoyment.” – Jan Timman

Viktor Korchnoi (born 1931), seen by many as the best player never to become a World Champion, is the quintessential Escape Artist on the chess board. Playing quiet openings such as the French defence and English opening, he tends to increase the tension in subtle ways, often forcing his opponent to sacrifice. Korchnoi is foremost a calculating player, often looking for exceptions from the rules of positional harmony and always willing to call his opponent’s bluff. A player with enormous fighting ability, a large part of his success can be attributed to his great will to win. In other ways Korchnoi is an Escape Artist as well: in 1976 he defected from the Soviet Union, and in recent times he seems to have escaped old age as well, being rated in the top 100 of the world until the age of 75.

See other: Chess Personalities