Gentlemanship, correct behaviour and tricking the opponent

Are we in for a boring week on the blog? I could use one after the debates on whether to say that if I did what you did, I would not be able to look my friends in the eye indicates judgement – which for some reason I do not understand, it does not.

Anyway, I had a thought experiment. If you are not allowed to win by chance in a “Mate in 105” position, but have to offer a draw after you have blundered your queen and the opponent has blundered his back in return; what then if we skewed the odds further in my opponent’s favour? We actually make the position a technical draw. We take the moment before the trick and then try to claim a draw, because it would be wrong to win that way.

Furthermore, in order to make people feel ok about voting yes to upholding the arbiter’s decision, we all voted for it. I even did it twice. If the remaining 7 votes were taking the piss or serious, I do not know. But here is the result:

So, what is the situation? We have the right to play on and not to play for tricks and should even consider suing if denied. Because if we actually make a trick, then we should leave by the back door and never come back. Am I summing it up fairly? For some people, yes. Others probably think like I do: we have a set of rules and as long as we stick to them, we are doing just fine. Chess is an artform, a sport and a science. But not all three all the time.





29 thoughts on “Gentlemanship, correct behaviour and tricking the opponent”

  1. I see that Jacob is bored with the Endgame book … Maybe could start working on “Kotronias on the KID” the sequel …or the GM repertoire on the Najdorf or helping John with Playing 1.e4 … or editing the GM repertoire on 1.e4 …

    “Chess is an artform, a sport and a science. But not all three all the time.”
    Well, I will just draw the general attention to quantum superposition :

    Quantum superposition is the term physicists use to describe the manner in which quantum particles appear to exist in all states simultaneously.

    Maybe chess is a quantic art… 🙂

  2. I voted to uphold the arbiter’s decision, but purely because the rules state that appeals against these 10.2 decisions aren’t allowed. Following the actual rules, the appeals committee had no choice but to uphold the decision, regardless of what actually happened.

  3. Jacob Aagaard

    I was not out to “get” anyone with this. I just wanted to see what would happen if I changed the angle we were looking on this a bit.

    @Remco G
    This is always an interesting question: are we evaluateing the arbiter or the game. I hope most appeal committees will choose to evaluate the fair outcome of the game.

  4. I’m not sure I understand “tricks.” Do you mean psychological gamesmanship?? It seems “tricks” as in “tricks and traps” are an integral part of chess—dangling a pawn before the greedy eyes of an opponent that turns out to be “poisoned,” etc.. I do think one can have a code of personal conduct that reaches beyond the rules. I treat everyone who beats me ( a vast group) with cheerful congratulations. When I win I am modest, magnanimous, and downplay the win (no s*t talking). I will NOT do “gamesmanship”—piece slamming, distraction attempts (like jingling change on a short putt in golf), etc.. I am even against the idea of grudges or hard feelings against those who violate my own personal standards. Marcus Aurelius made the point here (I paraphrase):
    “Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him. For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away. ” (Book IX) Or in Book IV—“To do harm is to do yourself harm. To do an injustice is to do yourself an injustice—it degrades you.” So, it is about self-definition imo, and gentlemanly conduct should be valued more than winning.
    As an aside, I also have a rule for online simos with titled players. I’m “old school” and believe that ANY title from FIDE or USCF, etc. is an accomplishment that deserves some respect. So, if I am in a drawn, or slightly losing (say down a pawn) position and the titled player offers a draw—I TAKE the draw, even if he is in time trouble. Winning on time in a simo seems cheap. I think time should be part of the game face to face therefore a time win is a win. I am new to chess so I have not yet had a face to face situation in which, eg, my opponent is in severe time trouble, and I have blundered incredibly—say lost a Queen. Can he checkmate me in the requisite time?? I HOPE I will resign in this situation and just take an honorable loss rather than the “cheap win.” Long wind—oops.

  5. @Jacob: but the 10.2 rule asks the arbiter to judge whether one player is trying to win or not, usually in time trouble so there is no notation. It’s a tough task, arbiters are human and not everyone will reach the same conclusions all the time. If you allow appeals on such a rule, then 1) one of the players will *always* appeal and 2) the same judgement will then have to be made by a committee that wasn’t even there. So it was decided not to allow appeals.

    And there’s no leeway. Rule 12.10 says “In the case of Article 10.2.d […] a player may not appeal against the decision of the arbiter.” Can’t get clearer than that, if you ignore such a clear rule then all bets are off.

    So the committee has to say “sorry, this isn’t something an appeal committee can change, the arbiter’s decision has to stand regardless.” Although that’s extremely hard to do for committees anywhere.

  6. If you’re asking what discussion the _arbiter_ should have made, then it’s much more obvious: he should say he postpones his decision (basically always the safest option for an arbiter), and then only allow the draw if the defender makes a lot of moves in his remaining time and convincingly shows that the defence is trivial.

    If he says “I’m afraid he’s going to trick me” then that’s an obvious argument that it is still *possible* for him to be tricked, and that the claim should be refused. But the arbiter shouldn’t say that until after flag fall.

    So I think the arbiter messed up completely and that the appeals committee should have declined to discuss the appeal.

  7. @ Remco G Sounds like a very valid point, and a prudent way to do things. The law imitates this—in that appeals courts are reluctant to re-litigate facts that the fact finder (lower courts) would be in better contact with. It is a very good point that there is often no evidence (players stop writing moves at 5 minutes). Appeals should be on matters of law not fact. Of course, the fact/ rule line can be blurry, BUT I think when the stakes are a chess game (and not a life or fortune) it is pragmatically better to simply let the arbiter’s judgement stand, despite some injustices in practice.

  8. Jacob Aagaard

    @Remco G
    I think the arbiter is clearly not using his judgement, but going against it. His judgement is in the wind. I think it is possible for the appeals committee to step in and say that they will ensure a fair end to the game. Especially when the arbiter clearly got it wrong.

  9. If we are going to continue further down this road, I think at some point we should establish the value of a “cheap win” as opposed to a “real win.” In fact, we could get even more granular by including/excluding the modifier “time trouble.” Thus, the possible results of a chess game expand considerably. Some examples:

    1 point — beautiful win executed against maximum resistance from opponent in a game where the only mistakes are evaluated by the current TCEC (I know, we could debate that part) world champion engine as causing an evaluation change of less than 25 centipawns.
    0.9 points — beautiful win as above, but the losing side has less than ten minutes thinking time when the final evaluation change occurs
    0.6 points — a draw as Black in which no significant evaluation changes occur after move 10
    0.55 points — a draw as Black with multiple significant evaluation changes
    0.45 points — a draw as White with multiple etc
    0.4 points — a draw as White in which no significant etc
    0.85 points — losing a beautiful game in time trouble, because, hey, you helped someone win a beautiful game and played really really well up until that part where, you know, you didn’t
    1.2 points — beautiful loss executed against maximum resistance from the opponent in a game where the only mistakes are evaluated by the current TCEC world champion engine as causing an evaluation change of less than 25 centipawns. You put in all that work, and didn’t even win the game! That sacrifice is worth some recognition.
    0 points — winning a game as a result of the opponent’s blunder. Also, you should auto-flagellate until that evil win-at-any-cost attitude is eradicated.
    -1 points — winning a game as a result of the opponent’s blunder in time trouble. Also, it is permissible for any witnesses to this heinous crime to kick you in the face for thirty minutes following the game.
    Unscorable — if you yourself blunder, you do not receive any points, but are immediately taken on a palanquin to the “Blunder Room” where a woman or man (your choice) holds you in their lap, strokes your hair (or scalp if you have no hair) and speaks to you in soothing tones while Enya plays in the background and the lights oscillate from one relaxing shade to the next in a gentle rhythm synchronized to your gradually slowing heartbeat.

  10. I was clear that this was “a personal code” beyond the rules. I am aware that in contemporary society there is a great emphasis placed on winning. I simply disagree. I feel the same way about contemporary soccer (your football)—players who fall in the box in excruciating agony when they are unhurt to draw a foul—well, imo unsportsmanlike conduct. Who wants to win on a penalty kick that is more Oscar than foul?? No need to change the points—go ahead and cry for the arbiter because a cell phone rang and its in the rules. Several times my opponents have violated the touch move rule. I still did not call an arbiter. I suppose I was raised not to be a “rule lawyer/ tattle tale.” I just would be embarrassed to tell my wife or kids when asked “How was your round one game??” “Oh fantastic, his cell phone rang twice so I got a forfeit!!” No thanks, play on.

  11. I guess the worst chess crime I have ever been guilty of was noticing that my opponent had entered an extra move pair on his scoresheet and not alerting him, partially because I thought it would be a little embarrassing to admit that I was looking at his scoresheet. He did end up losing on time because he thought he had hit move 40, although “luckily” he was already lost (-2) on the board so it was very unlikely to change the result.

    I do point out when my opponents fail to hit the clock, even if it happens more than once in a game. I’ve never had to enforce a touch move rule, though I would have no compunction about doing so if the touch was clearly intentional.

  12. No, I am not Mark Moorman, neither did I pay or ask him to write his last comment but he does proof my point. A lot of players are playing chess with a code beyond the rules.

  13. Jacob Aagaard

    @Mark Moorman
    I think you are messing up two unrelated issues.

    a) cheating and getting away with it

    b) exploiting mistakes within the rules

    Not related at all. And Brabo is off mark saying that this is about playing with a code beyond the rules. One reason I do not like football much is that it does not have a clarity on what is cheating and what is using the rules. For example, kicking an opponent and kicking the ball over the line can be “punished” in a very similar way…

  14. @Jacob Aagaard
    The preface of the laws of chess tell us:
    The Laws of Chess cannot cover all possible situations that may arise during a game, nor can they regulate all administrative questions. Where cases are not precisely regulated by an Article of the Laws, it should be possible to reach a correct decision by studying analogous situations which are discussed in the Laws. The Laws assume that arbiters have the necessary competence, sound judgement and absolute objectivity. Too detailed a rule might deprive the arbiter of his freedom of judgement and thus prevent him from finding the solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic and special factors.

    So even the rules commission admits that there is no such thing as 100% clarity of rules.

    Further in 09. Code of ethics is written:
    The game and concept of chess is based on the assumption that everyone involved / concerned observe existing rules and regulations and attaches the greatest importance to fair play and good sportsmanship.

    Nowhere is written what exactly this good sportsmanship is about. Fide states the following: “In most cases common sense will tell the participants the standards of behavior that are required.”

    Common sense is very vague and keeps the door open for many interpretations.

  15. @brabo
    Yes, I agree. My point with the poll was of course to show that although some people did not like the way I won the game; more or less everyone wanted me to have the right to win this way. In other words: there is no consistency when it is all based on emotions, which for this reason is a pretty poor way to judge others.

    Should I have been angry at Douglas if he had taken my queen? I think no one would say so, nor would anyone say that he should offer me a draw. With so small differences, it is simply unpleasant to make harsh moral judgements of other people.

  16. @Jacob Aagaard
    Everybody can read the laws of chess so the fact that you are right (in the technical sense of the law) is no surprise. The real question should be if there are situations where common sense can/ should prevail over the rules or not. I believe this is a very difficult question to answer.

    Some people will always follow blindly the rules as they find it easier to understand how to function and they also expect others do. However other people will dare to look beyond the rules and ask themselves continuous questions if this is indeed the most appropriate to do.

    Unpleasant things can sometimes be very good to learn from. Harsh moral judgements are a possible path to get understanding each other better as long both parties are listening to the arguments of each other.

  17. Am I the only one to be embarrassed by that “moral superiority” of some people?

    In a football match they won’t score a goal if the opponents keeper slips before catching the ball. They will stop playing and call the referee instead. Of course they will…

  18. Jacob Aagaard

    We could have another poll:

    a) Brabo has exposed Jacob’s lack of character
    b) Brabo is arrogant and his arrogance means that he holds his own opinion above that of others

    But maybe better not…

  19. @Thomas
    I totally agree, but I’m pretty sure Brabo will write a lengthy exposee proofing the futility of your statement. Anyay, I’m looking forward to a change of subject.

  20. @Jacob Aagaard
    I do not believe I am confusing things. My remarks on this thread need to be read in light of those on the “Internet Democrazy” one. I was simply saying that I play chess, and golf, and life with my own personal code of conduct and sportsmanship that may differ from the rules of normal conduct. I gave the example that this last Sunday I could have taken a win in a game I was losing because my opponents cell phone rang twice. I don’t like “cheap wins” based on such a rule, so I played on and got lucky and got a draw (he fumbled a winning endgame—must have been channeling me). I am not brabo—that is a weird contention.

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