Thursday, March 19, 2009

What Would You Do?

I played in a tournament recently. My second round opponent was a teenage kid. We both had won in the first round. It was a small tournament at a local club. The tournament director calls out the pairings, everyone finds their opponent, and finds a place to play. Often people leave their equipment set up, and just play in the same spot every round. Neither my opponent or I had used our own equipment in the first round. I took out my equipment and got all set up. My opponent comes and sits down at the board. Before I could even extend a hand and exchange the usual pre-game pleasantries, he says "Anytime you're ready.", and presses my clock. He doesn't even ask me if I'm ready to start. I was a little taken aback by his rudeness. Note: If you don't think this was rude then don't bother to read any further.

I was tempted to stop the clock and say "No I'm not ready. What about shaking hands and giving an appropriate greeting?" However since I had filled in all the information on my Mon Roi, and was ready to play I didn't say anything. I didn't feel like being confrontational before the game even started. I thought maybe this was his way of trying to psych me out, and I wasn't going to indulge him in his little mind game. I just made my first move and pressed his clock. I didn't give his behavior any more thought at the time, and played a very interesting game. We reached the position below:

Position after 38...Qg5

I played the very natural looking 39. Re1. Actually 39. Bd1 f5 40. Kh2 Rb8 41. Rf1 Qf6 42. Kh3 gives me some interesting play. My opponent played 39... f5. I had debated between 40. Qe3 and 40. Re5. After 40. Qe3? he played 40... fxg4. I was mentally kicking myself in the butt because I totally had overlooked the in between move of 41...gxf3+ if I play 41. Qxg5. I'm losing two pawns because of 40. Qe3. I'm thinking to myself I should have played Re5. The problem with the mental beat down is one is prone to making more stupid moves. The game continued 41. Bd1 Qxe3 42.Rxe3 Bxh5 43. Nxc6? I made this move way too fast. I thought I had found a way to get my material back. 43...Nxc6 44. Rxe8 I'm thinking that I've won the exchange, but I had forgotten about the bishop on h5. 44...Bxe8 0-1

I should note that 40. Re5 is not as good as I thought it was going to be. My best response is 40. Kh1 fxg4 41. Bxg4 Bxh5 42.Rg1 Rf8 43. Qxf8 Qh4+ 44. Kg2 Qxg4+ 45. Kh2 Qh4+

After he took my rook, I knocked my king over, said "Good game". I also said something about feeling stupid about forgetting about his bishop on h5. He just got up and walked away. I don't even remember if we shook hands before he walked away. I thought that was kind of rude. Usually after a game people exchange a few comments about the game, help clean up the set, go post the result together and perhaps if there is time, go analyze the game. Sometimes the player who loses doesn't want discuss the game, and may just leave after putting the pieces away. I can understand that. I sometimes have games where I just want to be left alone. However, I would never blow off the opponent, be disrespectful or a poor loser.

I couldn't help to wonder what he would do if he lost. I found out after round four. He was 3-0 going into the last round. He was paired against the highest rated player who had lost in round 2, and had a 2-1 score. If he draws or wins the last round he wins clear first. He loses the game to his 12 year old opponent. His opponent is a talkative young kid. The kid means no harm, but if the teenager is not willing to engage in conversation after he wins, one can imagine how he's going to act when he loses. He told his opponent to shut up, and called him a little faggot.

I didn't know about until it was mentioned to the tournament director after the last game had been completed. I told the director how he had behaved before and after our game. The director said he lacks interpersonal relationship skills. That's putting it mildly if you ask me. The director did say he was going to deal with him, and perhaps not allow him to play in the next tournament. Hopefully the tournament director will discuss this with him since he's a member of the host club.

I had mentioned my encounter with the kid to my husband while we were having dinner later. My husband doesn't play chess. In his opinion I should have stopped the clock at the start and said something. He felt I was letting inappropriate behavior slide by ignoring his lack of pre-game etiquette, and that I was doing him no favors by not saying something. The inner mentor/coach/teacher wanted to say something, but the chess player who doesn't want the opponent to know she's annoyed by him didn't want to say anything. I may not have even said anything to the tournament director, instead just chalking it up typical teenager nerdiness. But but when he called the kid that came with me a little faggot that was over the top, and I felt the matter needed to be adressed.


chesstiger said...

If that boy was a member of my club he wouldn't be anymore after such stunt.

The not giving a handshake and exchange some pleasantries like good game or may the best one win is oke but calling somebody a fagot ... that's way over it.

Anonymous said...

I think I agree with your husband that the right thing to do in that situation would be to stop the clock at the get-go and advise the kid that you were not ready and that the right thing to do is ask before starting the clock. However, in reality, I probably would have let it go to avoid a possible unpleasant confrontation.


Anonymous said...

BTW, after 39 Re1, why couldn't he have replied 39...Bxh5?


tanc (happyhippo) said...

39... Bxh5
30. Ne6 and the Black Queen has only 2 moves to stop the loss of the bishop.

30... Qg6 allows
31. Nf4 winning the Bishop

30.... Qg8
31. Nc7 attacking Rook and Knight. If Rook moves the Knight is lost with 32. Rxe7+.

Polly, I've met many an obnoxious kid in my 1st year of competitive chess last year.

It's the adults who are worst sometimes. I don't really care if a kid is prat. I just do my best to try and take revenge over the board instead.

Victory is always sweet when you have the added incentive. :)

tanc (happyhippo) said...

oops.. in the above post, the moves should read 40, 41 and 42. not 30, 31 and 32. apologies

Anonymous said...

You should mention his name - although in a couple days we can find out via the USCF crosstables online. But one time-tested way to adjust antisocial behavior is public shaming. He's young enough to hopefully learn to pretend to play nice, even if he is mentally incapable of actually being nice.

Polly said...

Anon: I'm not comfortable posting names of people that I criticize in my blog. I also chose not mention the name of the player who was called a fagot. I will let the tournament director and club officers deal with him. If anyone really wants to know they will eventually find the results and figure it out.

Anonymous said...

I think you handled it well. I agree about the psych out factor, and it is not your job to teach the kid social skills. However it was appropriate to relate your experience to the td.

Btw do people consider it rude not to say hello/good game in internet speed chess?

I think you should rename your blog Adult vs Kids.

Rolling Pawns said...

In our local club he would be banned at least for the next tournament, maybe forever. Such players, when they grow up, can do more harm, like accuse somebody of cheating, etc. Your behavior is kind of understandable, though mentioning your incident to the TD after the tournament definitely wouldn't hurt.

Polly said...

Anon 4:30: No need to rename the blog. Most of the kids I encounter at tournaments are polite and well behaved. I've seen plenty of boorish adults too. Like the adult tonight who wouldn't shake his young opponent's hand after losing on time. He waved off the extended hand and said something like "You won, I know."

Anonymous said...

Yes, I once saw an adult blow a won game and then sit there and let the full 2 hours of his time expire before making a move against a kid.

Re renaming the blog, I wasn't referring only to the rudeness, but just that it seems every time I read your blog it seems to be more about your adventures against playing some kid or other. Most of your posts seem to eventually come around to "...and so I got paired against the kid..."

Anonymous said...

What annoys me the most are players who refuse to help set up your pieces before the game. It's like they're not responsible for them or something.

Polly said...

anon: If they're at the table when you're setting up I agree! Though what can be annoying is you arrive at the board. Your opponent has taken out his set, has set up his side, but left your pieces in a pile for you to set up. Lazy?

GeneM said...

It does not matter whether the rude kid knows that his rude behavior made you feel uncomfortable, no need to hide that from him.

If you had refused his too-abrupt start of the clock, your refusal would have established your social power and reversed the discomfort onto him.

More importantly, you would have helped him learn social norms, and helped everyone else he will otherwise subsequently abuse.

Easy for us to judge now, whereas you had only seconds to think it thru.

GeneM , for FRC-chess960

Anonymous said...

Call Tony Soprano and ask him if he has any associates in teh area who could teach this brat a lesson.

Polly said...

Tanc: I think rude and obnoxious adults are more annoying then kids. Adults are old enough to know better then to be slamming the clock, or not being gracious after the game win or lose.

Anon: Yes, it does seem to come down to me playing kids, and the stories I tell based on those encounters. I guess I find the kids vs Polly encounters more interesting at times. Though if you go through the archives and read about my encounters with Steve C, Larry T., Gabor S, Ken C, Eric H, etc you will find I've had some interesting encounters with adults too.

Gene: It's a tough call. With some players it may have shifted the social discomfort back to them. I think with this particular player it may not have mattered either way. He came across like a lone wolf who has trouble relating to people.

His last round opponent is a very talkative kid, who likes engage people in discussion. I know, because I've had many long conversations with this particular kid debating the merits of everything from rating floors, study habits, resignations, openings, etc. He talked my ear off the entire drive up to the tournament. :-)

I'm not going to begin to analyze what issues may be going on in that kid's life to cause him to be so anti-social. It was obvious he couldn't handle Mr. Talkative and lashed out with inappropriate name calling.

Perhaps if a similar thing happens again, I will stop the clock and ask for a do over in the proper manner. In my 35+ years of tournament play I don't think I've ever had that happen before. Hopefully it will be another 35 years before I see it happen again. (I hope I still have my mental faculties, to still be playing in tournaments in 35 years.)

Pawn Shaman said...

You couldnt have know what kind of person he was from the non hand shake. He could have been painfully shy or something like that. Rude yes but you cant predict behavior by it. However, after that experience it should be mandatory shake every time.

Try staring your opponent in the eye while you put out your hand and keep a relatively emotionless face that says "hey Im dead serious and a little freindly." If possible or up against an intimidating person try to do it while your still standing and he is sitting. These are some of the techniques I use when approaching hostile patients. As its best to establish a no bull relationship rather than watch things get out of hand like with that punk kid.

Polly said...

Pawn: It was very clear that it was a kid with an attitude. Shy kids don't make a comment like "Ready any time you are.", and just press the clock. His tone of voice and body language was the give away.

It wasn't so much the lack of a handshake it was the abruptness. I have played an Orthodox Jew at the Marshall on numerous occasions. He will not shake my hand because I'm a woman. That's part of his culture and religion. However we always acknowledge each other at the beginning and end of the game.

There was another instance when I was playing someone who had recently had an organ transplant. He was not allowed to shake hands with anyone. The third time I played him after his transplant I didn't even try to shake hands. He stuck his hand out, and said "it's okay now."

One time I would not shake hands with my opponent at the start of game. That's because right as we got ready to start he sneezed hard into his hand. I did not want to make contact with what ever might be there. I said "Good luck" and we started playing.