Last week’s question was: ‘Will the World Championship be held in New York this year?’ You believe it will, but there are a significant minority of doubters. As Mark Crowther astutely pointed out in a comment, AGON’s credibility depends on it being in New York, so they are likely to do all they can to make that happen. But sticking to the announced dates may be a different question.

And just in case anyone wrongly thinks asking this poll question showed hostile intent from me: I hope AGON manages to organize an exciting World Championship, in New York, on the announced dates.


This week’s poll question was brought to mind by the anti-cheating rules planned for next month’s Baku Olympiad: players will not be allowed to bring their watches or pens into the playing area. This would have bothered the younger me – “How can I play without my lucky pen?!” The newly-rational me is unperturbed. But superstitions are rife among chess players. For example, Karpov avoided washing his hair while he was on an unbeaten streak. And Karpov was usually on an unbeaten streak.

What about you? Do you have any chess superstitions? Instead of a simple Yes/No, I will offer a range of varieties of Yes.

8 thoughts on “Superstition”

  1. Lucky pen – the one I spare when I’m sure not to win. must tell something.
    pre-game ritual – touching each piece & pawn, turning bishops & knights. remember Miles and his watch ritual.

  2. I do position the knights to look at the left side of the white player, but it is a habit, not a superstition, I do not confer it with any supernatural power, it just looks nicer in my eyes.

    When I was younger I wanted to have lucky pens, but unfortunately it didn’t seem to work out, as I lost with them too, so maybe I’m just waiting for the right pen to appear…

  3. Quite some players (mainly Russian) don’t wash themselves properly, but I’m not sure if it’s out of superstition or just a cultural thing.

  4. Ray :
    Quite some players (mainly Russian) don’t wash themselves properly, but I’m not sure if it’s out of superstition or just a cultural thing.

    Don’t even think at bulgarian’s players sleeping at 4 in their car during an open…. 🙂

  5. I have both a couple of favorite venues where I expect to do well and a pre-game ritual of sorts, but I still voted “No”. The tournaments held in those venues are well organized, split into rating groups so I can avoid facing clearly lower-rated opponents (which tends to mess with my objectivity and effort), and mostly have long time controls. And my pre-game ritual is simply getting enough sleep, getting in some tactical exercises, and listening to some relaxing music (but not so relaxing I fall asleep!) shortly before the game. It all seems rational and non-superstitious, but maybe I’m fooling myself!?

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