A Hero of My Time


An artist’s depiction of Pechorin.

Flirtation with princesses. Lightning-speed horse rides. Dueling on mountain precipices. Nothing is quite satisfactory for the enigmatic, troubled Grigori Aleksandrovich Pechorin of M. Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time. Pechorin’s story carves a trail of awe and adrenaline through the 1830s Russian Caucasus. More deeply, however, it thoroughly exposes a singularly interesting persona – that of Pechorin – who excites in almost everyone he meets a combination of fury, entranced obedience, and love. Deeper still, though, is the book’s subtle validation of the extravagant, disillusioned, and borderline-psychopathic Pechorin – and its endorsement of these qualities as viable in raising one to the status of a legend and even a god.

Then there’s the unbelievable sense of adventure.

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The Deep Dark Forest

This article is part of a series entitled 20th Century Chess Greats. See also:

  1. Mikhail Tal: The Deep Dark Forest
  2. Bobby Fischer: The American
  3. Tigran Petrosian: The Iron Fortress
  4. Mikhail Botvinnik: The Research Player

Mikhail Tal in his 1960 world championship match vs. Botvinnik

Chessmaster and once world champion Mikhail Tal was known for aggressive, even reckless attacking play.  He’d make sacrifices so novel and absurd that, even if there was a winning counterattack, which there often was, his bewildered opponent wouldn’t be able to find it.  In fact, Tal’s play produced positions so complex that neither side could fully calculate the repercussions.  Tal played merely on instinct, and more often than not, it prevailed.  To top it all off, he spent the whole game staring you down with his intimidating glare.

“Some sacrifices are sound; the rest are mine.” – Mikhail Tal

This is how crazy Mikhail Tal was: in 1992, he was hospitalized due to multiple organ failures.  But he snuck out of the hospital to play a blitz tournament in Moscow, defeated then world champion Garry Kasparov, and then returned to the hospital to die soon after!

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