Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day Parade of Rambling Thoughts.

I am amongst the living despite not having written anything since April 16th.  It's not that I have done nothing in the last few weeks.  Actually I've probably have done too much.  Since my last post I've played in 5 cracktion tournaments, and I've played 3 rounds so far in the Westchester Chess Club Championship.  Long time readers might recall that last year I did not write anything about it until it was over.  That's because I didn't want to jinx myself.  Sad to say that is not an issue this year.  I'm doing a really crappy job defending my title.  I started out 0-2.  I finally won in the 3rd round, but time is running out as there are two players who are 3-0.

What follows here are a few observations on things I've seen or been a part of.

Click a Bic

Some chess players have really strange quirks.  Sometimes it's unclear whether they're even aware of what they're doing, or if it's an intentional routine to annoy the hell out the opponent or those sitting near by.  There's a fairly new member of my club who joined over the winter.  My first encounter with this guy was at the start of the club championship.  I was not paired against him, but he was sitting next to my opponent and me in the first round.  Like many players, he likes to write his move down first and then play it on the board.  Don't even get me started on the heated debate of 2006 over the issue of writing one's move down before or after it's been played on the board.  I don't really care one way or another.  However by the time my game was over I wanted to take the guy's pen and break it.

Every time he'd write a move down he'd click his pen several times to bring the point out, and after he was done he click it several times again to retract it.  he did this on every single move of his game.  I have to hear when he was writing his move down, and then he'd go through the same thing when he'd write down his opponent's move.  To go along with the pen clicking he'd hit the clock button several times every time he moved.  Naturally he has the Chronos clock with the noisy buttons.  Needless to say, since that round I've made it a point to sit as far away from him as possible.  If I have to play him him in a later round I may have to resort to noise canceling headphones.  I don't think I'll end playing him since I'm going to have win 2 more games to match his current score.

Not so secret admirer

Years ago I directed a tournament in small town north of me.  There was nothing special about the tournament.  I don't even remember how many people played, who played or who won.  In fact I kind of had forgotten about the tournament until a number of years a later a player who had played in it saw me at the Manhattan Chess Club.  He kept reminding me what a wonderful tournament it was.  He also kept telling me what a great tournament director I was. Between every round he talk about the tournament and express his admiration for my directing abilities.   I kept trying to change the subject or ignore him, but he just wouldn't stop. We ended out getting paired one round, and after 5 moves he offers me a draw.  I refused it and somehow within about 20 moves he managed to find a way to force a three fold repetition.

Every time I saw him he bring up that particular tournament, and if I had to play him he'd offer me a draw early in the game.  One game against him I played horrendously.  I was getting smashed,  he had mate in two and he offers me a draw.  I refused the draw and promptly resigned.  I'm not sure why he was so obsessed with only wanting draws with me, but I found it really annoying to the point of it being kind of creepy.  I got to the point that I asked the tournament director to avoid pairing us if possible.

Up until last month I had not played the guy since 2003.  He plays at the Marshall sometimes when I'm there.  He says hello to me, but we don't have long conversations. He doesn't bring up that tournament anymore, and doesn't go on about what a wonder director I am.  I knew given the length of the tournament and our equally poor scores that it would be impossible to avoid him.  I didn't even ask the director to try to avoid the pairing.  I figured after 6 plus years it was safe to play him again.  The game was pretty normal.  He was playing aggressively and didn't offer any early draws.  I thought perhaps he had gotten over the idea that trying to win against me wasn't a crime.  At some point during the game I had a major brain fart and just hung a piece for nothing.

In the position below he had just played 28. Bh3.

I'm not sure what I was thinking about, but I thought moving my rook to g6 would take care of defending my knight on g4.  I think I just forgot that he now had three attackers including a minor piece on it.  When it was just the rook and the queen hitting the knight it was safe just being protected by the other knight.  Having a piece of equal value added to the attackers changed the situation.  However some how I missed that and simply defended with 28...Rg6.  I was rather surprised that after 29. Bxg4 Nxg4 30. Rxg4 Rxg4 31. Qxg4, I was down a piece.  He's also threatening mate, but that was easy enough to stop.  We played a few more moves, and he offers me a draw.
What is with this guy and his stupid draw offers?? Once again I refused it.  I could have taken it, but it wasn't going to help me in the tournament, and it wasn't going to impact my rating.  I don't like taking a draw I did not deserve.  I'm down material it's a simple win for him.  I just can't stand it when somebody does something like that.  We played another 8 moves and I ran out of time.  He actually made the time claim.  I told him afterwards that I did not need his charitable draw offer and stop doing it.

Obnoxious kid gets away with one.

For once I was not involved with this one.  The story was told to me by his opponent.  I have played the kid in question.  He's one of those annoying kids who slaps the pieces down in a haphazard manner and then ends out adjusting it on the opponent's time.  Or he doesn't adjust it and the opponent has to do it himself.  One tournament he got a bye and a friend of mine ended out being a house player and played him.  The way my friend tells it, early on the kid is looking for a draw since he's much lower rated then his opponent.  Later he wins a piece and now he's all cocky about his chances of winning the game.  We all know what happens when one gets a little cocky.  Sure enough he blunders his queen.  Now he's down a queen for a piece.  He starts in with the repeated draw offers.  "Draw?" with his hand extended for a handshake.  It's kind of comical seeing these kids who make a draw offer and leave their hand out waiting for an answer to the offer.  I've seen kids wait with hand out for a couple of minutes while the opponent mulls over the draw offer.  What's with that?  Do they think if the opponent touches their hand by accident they can claim that the opponent agreed to the draw?

Getting back to my friend's game. He kept refusing the draw offers, but he's one of these really nice laid back people who won't tell an opponent to knock off the crap.  Unfortunately it doesn't pay to be so nice.    Eventually he gets annoyed and distracted by the repeated offers and blunders his queen.  He doesn't even get the piece back.  He eventually loses the game.  When he's telling me this story on the way from the tournament I tell him, that he can't let the opponent get away with that nonsense.  He has to tell him after the second draw offer, not to make anymore offers.  Now since he got away with it, he'll try it on someone else.  I dare him to offer me more then one draw. 

That's all for now.  I will post some games this week.  Look out for a Wacky Wednesday miniature.  Unfortunately I was the victim of that one.  I have some other interesting games to share, and thoughts on what's up the road for me chesswise and otherwise.


joco said...

Dear Polly.

I love it.
And will enjoy going through the rest of your blog. Grateful to Mr.Toad who quoted a paragraph in one of his comments to me.
BTW, is there a rule against knitting during the game?
Metal needles of course. The resulting garment will be crooked and uneven, but that's not the point :-)

denopac said...

Loved this post. It's nice to know I'm not the only one annoyed by pen clickers and serial clock thwackers. I've found though that if you say something to them about whatever their particular habit happens to be they usually try to improve. In fact years ago when I was relatively new to tournament chess a player at an adjacent board complained to me about the way I was hitting the clock (all analog in those days). I realized that he was absolutely right and I've never thwacked a clock like that since!

Polly said...

Joco: There was a discussion on the USCF forums about reading at the table during a game. Somebody also mentioned that she likes to knit while playing. There is nothing in the rules prohibiting knitting per se, but I suppose somebody could invoke the annoying behavior rule if it really bothered them.

chesstiger said...

I cannot understand that ipods and other devices are allowed in the US as its stated in the rules that one may not get outside help.

Who says that one doesn't have ones opening repertoire on the ipod? Who says the ipod doesn't distracts the opponent? If a cellphone makes a noise one is forfeited, so why not by an ipod? Who says the opponent or other players around you dont hear it even when you hear earplugs?

I guess its the same with those rating floors, as non americain i dont understand USCF rules at all.

And yes, there are obnoxious behaving players at the board. But if they do something that is against the rules just pause the clock and let the arbiter decide what to do with it. Afterall its his responsebility to make sure playingconditions are optimal.