Here is the tale of the "Chessboard Killer" - a bad man by anyone's standards.
But does anyone else feel just a trifle sorry for him that he didn’t get to cover those last two squares? Still – 64 is a big ask considering he was working alone and was more than likely spaced-out on industrial strength vodka for most of the time. One can only admire his application – lesser men might have lost interest after a few pawns and the first couple of bishops.
But the Russians are a dedicated bunch when it comes to unhinged lunatics. I have been on Wikipedia and discovered that Alexander Pichushkin is merely the latest in a rich history of serial killers.
Here is just a selection of the shady devils:
Gorsky was inspired by Pichushkin’s case but hampered by a crippling dyslexia. He used his position as a jobbing waiter to prowl the kitchens of fine Moscow eateries. Some of his victims were asphyxiated with over-ripe stilton as they sat back, gastronomically slaked. Others were force-fed brie until their arteries hardened and they expired from cardiac arrest. Admittedly this took longer. If he was in a hurry, Gorsky would simply slit their throats with an exquisite Carl Mertens cheese knife.
It was this more abrupt and economical form of slaughter that ultimately caused Gorsky’s downfall. Aroused by splitting open a patron’s jugular moments earlier, he forgot to wipe his knife clean and used it to cut the police commissioner’s Roquefort.
At his trial, Gorsky was quizzed about why he always left a slightly mouldy radish and some bits of celery on the victim’s person as a grizzly calling card. “It’s a symbolic gesture,” he said defiantly. “You always leave those bits when you order the cheese, don’t you.”
This guy was actually cited by Pichushkin as a major influence on his own work. But Davidov went one step further and kept a man-sized cribbage board in his basement.
He then relentlessly targeted amputees – luring them back to his home with promises of fetish parties and wheelchair basketball before butchering them in his kitchen. He was careful to dissolve his victims’ flesh in acid, before triumphantly shoving their prosthetic limbs into the holes on his cribbage board.
Davidov’s output was prodigious. At one point he actually ran out of viable subjects for his horrific parlour game. In his diary he lamented the hours of fruitless hanging around outside specialist rehabilitation centres and army hospitals. In the end, he moved into the adult entertainment industry and began offing the surgically enhanced actors. When police finally discovered his gruesome haul, they noted that the last eight holes were crammed with breast implants and rubber penis extensions. But as he noted in his diary, these final conquests were too bothersome and he found one-legged targets less labour-intensive as “they didn’t tend to run away so quickly.”
His incarceration was a black day for the tabloids who had thrived during his spree with terms such as “Pegging out” and “one for his nob” highly conspicuous in the headlines.
Romanov’s bizarre bloodlust first materialised when he attended Stalin’s funeral as a small boy and a man with a large moustache (who bore a passing resemblance to the deceased dictator) impeded his view of the procession. Outraged, young Yuri leapt upon the startled mourner and attempted to gouge out his eyes.
This incident warped Romanov’s teenage years, which were spent in a youth detention centre, and created in him a pathological hatred of authority figures, or, more specifically, those who looked like authority figures. This meant Russia’s key politicians, statesmen and leaders could relax and go about their business, but manual workers with massive birthmarks on their bald bonces and old, silver-haired drunks were often shit out of luck.
Such was his legend, shortly before his capture and imprisonment in 2003, a Moscow man who had the waspish features and frigid glare of a young Vladamir Putin had extensive face reconstruction surgery to avoid what he was certain would be a hideous death at the hands of Romanov. A month later, with Romanov safely behind bars, he sued the government on account of having to live out the rest of his days looking like David Gest.
This psychopath strangled a dozen young women at a number of brothels on the outskirts of St Petersberg using a silk rope. The police, by now sticklers for the added sensationalism and gravitas of alliteration in their murderers’ monikers, started spoiling crime scenes by replacing the actual murder weapons with luxury curtain cords because it sounded better.
After this misinformation was leaked to the press, Maximov was allowed to go on killing, as vigilantes scoured the city looking for shifty home furnishings salesmen. Tragically, an entirely innocent curtain-peddler was lynched in his home by angry mob on the very night that Maximov went beserk in a nearby cathouse – gleefully daubing “Imbeciles! You have the wrong man! Mwahh-ha-ha!” in whores’ blood across the walls.
Maximov himself was only apprehended when he big-headedly changed his modus operandi. He was spotted browsing a department store for some nice beige drapes with sturdy ties, and shot dead by a police sniper hiding in the lingerie section.
Something of a munter, Orlovsky was embittered by schoolyard taunts and a devastating lack of interest from the female inhabitants of Volgograd. This resentment spilled over into gruesome violence when a girl he had a crush on announced her engagement to a famous male model. On the night of the wedding, Orlovsky drugged the complimentary champagne in the bridal suite, waited until his beloved was unconscious, then beat his rival to death with a rolled up copy of Tatler.
From then on, Orlovsky continued to target irritatingly handsome men and he could often be found hanging around gyms and fashion photo-shoots and international language schools. Winning their trust by flattery and promises of movie stardom, Orlovsky would then lure his victims to a disused film studio where he tied them up, tortured and murdered them, before laying their bodies out in the stereotypical poses favoured by magazine editors.
Police, called to the site after complaints about the smell, were at first flummoxed by the macabre sight of these mutilated corpses – their limbs twisted into bizarre “looking-at-watch” or “tousling-the-hair-of-a-rosy-cheeked-infant-while-gazing-whimsically-into-the-middle-distance” shapes. It was only when Orlovsky was caught trying to slip a mickey to Brad Pitt at the Russian premiere of Troy, that the case was finally solved.
Orlovsky was, of course, found guilty of multiple homicide, but he was sensationally spared jail and awarded the key to the city in an unprecedented act of clemency by a jury of ugly bastards.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Western culture began to seep into the Russian psyche. Channel 4 quiz show Countdown was particularly popular, and Siberian oddball Kalinin developed a murderous obsession with it.
Eager to re-enact the puzzles authentically, Kalinin kitted out a grotty barn in the rural hinterland to look like the studio. He painted it a lurid purple and installed an eerie waxwork of Richard Stillgoe in a pig trough labelled “Dictionary Corner”.
He then kidnapped a succession of young prodigies and autistic kids, and made them dress up as regulars from the show: Carol Vorderman, Rick Wakeman – even the lovely Susi Dent. Kalinin himself would preside over affairs dressed in the ill-fitting suits and garish ties of the late Richard Whitely and film the whole sordid spectacle – complete with tired jokes and banter with his terrified victims.
The “contestants” were warned that only correct answers would save them, and they were bombarded with increasingly fiendish maths and anagram conundrums. Kalinin would hum the Countdown music maniacally before the inevitable death knell: “”Da-da, da-da, da-da-da-dum – Bong!” at which point he brained the losers with a large spade and buried them in his back garden.
His reign of terror was only ended when he was traced to his lair and caught red-handed after bidding 50,000 roubles on eBay for one of Giles Brandreth’s jumpers.
Very effective but lacked imagination.