Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen

No, I'm not referring to Alan Moore's graphic novel (nor the movie).

I'm talking of people who crowd around your board when you're playing your game.

Do they have an effect on your play?

Do you feel still continue to play your game as per normal or feel pressured to make a move?

Oddly enough, I find that I play faster with people crowding around my board. This has a tendency to lead to shallow play and calculation mistakes - a rather nefarious poison to my gameplay.

It's certainly given me some food for thought over the next few weeks and a problem (amongst many others) that I definitely need to rectify.

So, how do people cope with players crowding around your board?

Usually, I deliberately avoid eye contact with anyone in the crowd but the aura of "restlessness" of the surrounding can be quite discomforting.

Last night, I drew against the current leader in my group, Ian Dickson in the Norths Club Championship. I'm now trailing him by 1 point and he has a game in hand as well.

Currently I'm on +3-2=2.

I really need to do better. Next week is a bye for me, after which I'm facing Robert Pike.


  1. It's not so much feeling the pressure of having to move quickly when there is a crowd around my board. It's just the annoyance if they stand too close, or start bending over to see what the time on the clock is. Also I find it annoying when a couple of people in the crowd decide to have a conversation about what is happening in the game.

    Though I find most of the time when I do have a crowd around my game it's because my opponent and I are in time trouble. Then I worry more about what I may have missed in the haste to not lose on time.

  2. I hate it when people bundle up around my table when i am playing. I feel a discomfort since people tend to break in my comfort zone which starts to annoy me together with the fainted whisperings of the crowd.

    Gone is the silence, gone is the space around me, i hate it and my concentration becomes less since partly i am trying to solve the problem with the whispering (trying to block it out of my head) and the problem with my comfort zone (getting more space again). So yet it influences my game but enough to say that it makes me loose a the game? I dont know, more research for that needed.

  3. Polly, chesstiger: It seems that both of you have good points and it is indeed irritating to have people around the board.

    Maybe they should make it a tournament rule that you can stand and look although it's hard to enforce it unfortunately. :)

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  5. In a tournament last year I was playing someone rated about 200 points above me. I was in time trouble and trying to use my only threat, an advanced passed pawn, to counter his material advantage. At least half a dozen of his friends crowded around the board, one sitting in a chair right next to me. I lost on time with one move until time control and a mate-in-three on the board. I can't say for sure, but I probably did let the "crowd" distract me somewhat. Hearing them whisper remarks about what he should play wasn't helpful, for sure. I thought about speaking to the tournament director about the incident, but the time trouble was my fault, not theirs.

  6. Hello Valerio Tirri, thank you. Your website looks terrific! :)


    Actually, you are well within your rights to let out a loud "Shhhhhhhhhh!' or stop the clock and call the arbiter over that they're disturbing you or whispering out moves within earshot.

    I would do it if it gets to the point of annoyance.

  7. Sometimes, I pretend they're groupies to try to find inspiration.

    But usually I just use Zangief's spin move to knock everyone out of the way.

  8. When I was less experienced in tournament play I would hate having anyone watch. And I would react much as you do (and some who left comments). I would play quickly and get very irritated when I could hear people whispering about the game. It made me feel as if I was missing something obvious.

    But having been successful in tournament play I have been on the top boards late in big sectional tournaments. These boards always draw a crowd. I remember one game where a spectator was watching my game and running to his board to move quickly and run back in the last round of a big tournament. I have had crowds of 30-40 people watching my game. Eventually I was able to find peace of mind with spectators and now I am not phased at all when people are watching or speaking about my game. It just reminds me that the game is important and that I need to find the best mindset I can and continue to produce strong moves. There are many times where I will be so into the game that I will not even notice that people are watching until I get up to get a glass or water or something.

    The game is the only thing that you can control. It is important to maintain focus on the game at all times. If you allow yourself to get frustrated it is easy to lose concentration.

  9. Well luckily for me that rarely happens, see when you suck...

    Anyway good luck in your last game.

  10. LEP: Lol!! :)

    drunknknite: that is a really kewl advice! thanks for sharing it. I think it's terrific how you settle yourself down despite the crowds and to be able to focus with thorough concentration. i hope to be like that some day.

    wang: thanks for the well wishes, and no, you don't suck. :)