You don't have have to be a chess player to appreciate the implications of the Korchnoi-Karpov world championship match which was just played in the Phillippines. Karpov won, six games to five. The free world was rooting for Korchnoi because he had defected from the Soviet Union, and had nothing good to say about the Communist system.
The Kremlin was determined their boy would win. They sent a large entourage with him, including the usual secret police escorts, chess masters and a psychologist named Vladimir Zoukhar, whose role was to sit in the fourth row of the auditorium and do nothing but stare at Korchnoi while he played.
Korchnoi complained bitterly about this gambit and, after losing several games, he got the judges to move the psychologist to the back of the room. There he went on to win and tie the score at 5-5. But in the final game, the psychologist was back in his fourt row putting the evil ey on Korchnoi, and the Soviet defector blew the final match.
Whether Zoukhar used ESP or hypnotism or just plan psychology is anybody's guess. But he apparently succeeded in upsetting our guy.
If this was just a chess match Americans wouldn't have to give it a second thought.
But with the 1980 Olympics coming up in Moscow we have to start wondering if this was just a pilot project of the Soviets and whether there is a grand design underway to hex all our Olympics stars out of their gold medals.
It is possible that at this very moment the Soviets are training thousands of "spectators" to sit in the fourth row of the Olympics stands at evedy event to stare at our athletes. They could be learning to send out bad vibes to all those wearing the Stars and Stripes on their uniforms.
If the system works, our valiant men and women could be so distracted by this staring they could trip over themseleves in the track and field events, sink to the bottom of the Olympics swimming pool or fall on their faces during the acrobatic competitions.
The Zoukhar ploy must be taken seriously and the American Olympics competitors wear blinders, the kind that they put on horses so they won't see the stands. This might cause some discomfort, but if our people start wearing them now they would be used to them by 1980.
Another idea might be to put an "anti-staring clause" into the SALT talks, and warn the Russians that if they so much as look at our athleties when they're competing, we'll bring in our own starers who willput the whammy on their stars.
A third suggestion is that we train everyone competing for our side how to star back until the other sid blinks.
No one likes to bring the CIA into the Olympics picture, but if the Soviets are using psychological warfare to win chess matches, heavin knows how far they'll go to bury us when it comes to winning the games in 1980.
We have to bring the people at Langley in on this one.
I'm not being hysterical or overstating the danger of a giant Zoukhar conspiracy. It may have been just a coincidence, but when I applied to the Soviet Embassy for my Olympics tickets the other day, I was informed by the sports attache that every seat in the fourth row at every event had already been sold. It was rather strange since the box office at Lenin stadium doesn't open until June of 1979.