Thursday, May 29, 2008

Winning Is Everything, Right?

I basically lost my head and naturally lost my game playing on Board 1 for the U1400 NSW Grade Matches Round 2 last night.

However, an amazing incident happened. My opponent was from St George. He was slowly but surely going to win his game. We reached the position shown with White to play.

Suddenly, he moved his right hand, grabbed the g-pawn, moved it to g4, say,"Check!" and hit the clock.

I was stunned. Mainly because he had just completed an illegal move. I didn't know what to do at this point as clearly he made an illegal move, I told him that he can't do that and he realised to his horror what he has done. He then tried to take back his move but I stopped him and say,"You can't do that."

The arbiter (TD) Bill Gletsos was not around and had briefly left the hall and I tried looking for him and found him sitting on the sofa just outside the room chatting to my brother-in-law Steven. I informed Bill about the illegal move.

Bill subsequently told me that the correct procedure was to give me an additional 2 minutes. I told him that I do not know how to set the clock in this way.

So we both made our way back to the board and surprise, surprise, he had moved his g-pawn back and had instead used the Rook on e5 to capture my Rook on f5 and was acting like nothing had happened.

When questioned about it, he lied through his teeth and said,"Yes, I played Rook takes Rook."

At this point, I was so disappointed with his response. He was in a totally winning position and there was really no need for him to do this kind of thing.

Can you imagine that, a player playing on Board 1 with a rating of 1360++, playing against an unrated player (me) in the Under-1400 Grade Matches just didn't want to own up that he made a mistake.

The incident was resolved after his team captain spoke a few brief words to Bill and the clock was adjusted and the game continued.

I resigned a few moves later.

Lest it be known, I have no qualms about losing. I played like crap and thoroughly deserved to lose and I applaud him for his good play.

The reason I didn't know what was to be done was because this was the first time it had occurred to me. I take part of the blame in not knowing what I should have done.

My brother-in-law Steven subsequently told me that what I should have done, is to ask a fellow player to keep watch over the board while I go look for Bill and to make sure my opponent recorded the move on his scoresheet so there is no denial in the future.

I will keep this in mind.

I am just thoroughly disappointed with my opponent's behaviour. This isn't some multi-million dollar competition. It's just a game for crying out loud, playing for some silly rating number that does not make you a better human being or a worse one should you win or lose.

After the game, nevertheless, I gave my opponent a little hand on the shoulder and congratulated him for his win and told him that there was no need for him to do what he did because the penalty was only adding an additional 2 minutes on my clock.

It was only after the game when I asked Steven if I should have approached Bill in this instance and he told me that what I had done was correct. But what I also did wrong was to leave the board unattended and didn't wait for him to record the move else it was a my-word-vs-his word thing. Steven told me that my opponent's team captain didn't believe him either and which was why my clock was adjusted.

Just in case you're wondering, my opponent isn't some young kid. He's easily over 40 years old.

This was my first game in a Grade Match. Now I know the kind of players I can expect from St George. Btw, he never did apologise for his behaviour.

Welcome to the world of competitive chess. Win with grace and lose with dignity indeed.



  1. Interesting. It is not always possible to get a person to watch the game and it is usually not necessary. The correct procedure is get the other person to find the arbiter together. If he doesn't do that, stop the game and refuse to make a move.

  2. ted: unfortunately, i was not aware of the proper procedure for this as this was a first for me.

    thank you for your insight and will remember your input.

    all in all, it was an invaluable experience learnt.

    i bear no ill will towards my opponent.

    the funny thing was: i kept reassuring him not to lie about this chain of events and that the only penalty was 2 minutes added to my clock but he didn't say a word.

    i can now begin to understand why some of my fellow chess bloggers (eg. Polly) are dismayed at some of the behaviour exhibited by young kids but i definitely expected better from a mature player.

  3. you have the biggest heart of all chess bloggers in our circle, and i am very proud to know you, that is what i am left with. such a beautiful, lovely heart.

  4. I am in complete agreement with "transformation." :)

  5. LOL, now you learn what battle-hardened means:)
    Some people have developed the habit to evade the consequentes of their acts. Its just like a chess habit: faster than your thoughts. I'm sure he was annoyed with himself afterwards.

  6. "The correct procedure is get the other person to find the arbiter together. If he doesn't do that, stop the game and refuse to make a move."

    Suppose he's brazen enough to change the pieces right in front of you? I'm entering a big money tourney soon and am a bit worried about cheaters. I suppose waiting for him to record the illegal move would help your case as then he'd not only have to move the pieces but also scratch out the old move which may leave a conspicuous mark.

  7. dk, greg: thanks for your kind comments.

    Temposchlucker: i think he probably regretted it after the incident. since then, i start to wonder if i did the right thing and then i realise that if the tables were turned, there's also a fairly good chance that my opponent might make the same claim.

    a bit sad, really, that it has come to this.

    likesforest: actually, that was what my opponent tried to do. he tried to changed the moves in front of me and then to replay the correct move.

    that's the inherent problem with chess. it boils down to 'i-say-you-say' and if you throw in a couple of prize money and pretty soon, ethics can go out the window.

    i think what my brother-in-law advocated was correct and that was make him record the moves first. however this also brought up the point where I know in the US, it is allowed to write moves in advance (this is a no-no here).