Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jokes?

While reading the book H.E. Bird of Hans Renette I noticed not only that in the 19th century a lot of matches are organized but also many games are played offhand. At that time it was normal to visit a club and play an informal game against some random available player. This we don't see often anymore today. If you don't make any appointment with a player in advance then you risk not getting any game in a club. I often encountered that I left the club after a half hour to go back home as I wasn't able to find anybody free willing to play chess with me.

This sets the bar for newcomers of course a lot higher. I sometimes hear people getting rejected of a championship as the competition has already started. They need to wait for a couple of months to join any new competition. A sad consequence is that many drop out immediately after the introduction. Today we don't have enough fresh blood so this only accelerates the ageing of the club.

Likely the wide choice of tournaments explains the lack of interest in offhand games today. Most regular clubplayers don't want to play anything else than the tournaments and prefer to have a drink at the bar when they have finished their games. It is a pity as those offhand games are ideal to get softly introduced to our noble game. The score is not recorded and it allows you to experiment without needing to worry about the outcome. In offhand games it is not forbidden to talk or laugh during play at contrary as it often creates a positive ambiance.

On the other hand online there are still a lot of offhand games played. A distinction can be made between rated and unrated games but I don't consider this difference very important. An online rating has very little value as any serious controlling mechanism lacks. Personally I don't play tournaments online so you could argue that my online blitz are only offhand games. In any case I look at those games as fun so I sometimes just fool around with my opponents.
Mostly it are very weak opponents not resigning. Besides I recommended my son Hugo to continue playing till mate when he started in the youth-tournaments see resigning. Nowadays he has outgrown this phase as he does resign when he feels further resistance has become futile.

When a strong(er) player plays till mate then something is not ok. People need to respect their opponents and if they don't then they deserve to be teached a painful lesson.
I ignored on purpose many times mate in 1 to end the game by creating a series of queen-promotions. Honestly I would have preferred knight-promotions but this was too cumbersome. I didn't want to tire myself by first switching off the default setting of automatic queen-promotions and later after the game reset the toggle. A famous example of completely redundant knight-promotions is of course the online game between Crafty - Nakamura played in 2007.
Everybody loved it how the engine was ridiculed but such behavior against people does not get the same response. It is not because chess looks like a sadistic exam that we should behave like sadists. It is a grey zone of what can still be considered as a joke or what people feel as an insult. Besides accidentally the American grandmaster Gregory Serper wrote a couple of weeks ago an article at chess.com about all sorts of insults in chess. He strongly disapproves such offenses as it only harms chess.

Publicly we should for sure not get involved in such stupid jokes. You risk to get beaten by your angry opponent and not seldom such joke ends badly. The whole world laughed at Nakamura a couple of months ago when he was punished for his arrogance in Paris Grand Tour Chess when he promoted completely unnecessarily to a knight instead of a queen.
Last Stefan Docx asked me after finishing my 8th round game of Gent why the game lasted so long. At move 17 I was already an exchange and pawn up for which my 250 points lower rated opponent, had no compensation at all. Besides we both had still plenty of time on the clock as we only consumed a half hour. However even in such completely won situations, I stay focused. I will keep looking for the best moves and won't play faster nor play some silly moves. It is also one of the reasons when I almost never suffer of inexplicable mistakes often connected to not being fully concentrated see my article mistakes.
Initially I thought my opponent would resign after move 17 but I was not disturbed when he preferred to continue the suffering. However at the end things became really ugly as we still had each more than a quarter on the clock remaining. Also this wasn't the only thing which was not nice. Much worse was another bad joke my opponent applied during the game. However this is for a next article.

Brabo

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