Old enemies

Wednesday 3rd September 2014, 2.45pm (day 1,105)

Giant chess, 3/9/14

It began in 1964. The prison camp in the Urals, when chess was their only distraction, and they could suck the damp off the pieces to stay alive. Igor (on the left in this shot) was a double agent; his opponent, still known only by the codename “King’s Pawn”, had been picked up trying to infiltrate Tomsk dressed as a Mongolian sheep herder. The Cold War thawed and half a century later they still meet once a week on this field of combat, speaking only rarely, but both with an inner shiver as they recall the white hell of February in the Petropavlavravmavstok encampment.

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