Saturday, December 15, 2012

Got Your Bat Leth handy?

"DaHjaj SuvwI'e' jiH.  tIgwIj Sa'angNIS.  Iw blQtIq jIjaH."  
-  Today I am a Warrior.  I must show you my heart.  I travel the river of blood.

Qab JIH Nagil!  The Western Idaho Open came and went this last weekend and it was one of the best attended and most prestigious tournaments the Idaho Chess Association has experienced in nearly a decade.  The tournament featured over $1800 in prizes, a simul, scholarships, and three master level players (ja' chug):  GM Alex Yermolinsky, FIDE Master Nick Raptis, and National Master Joshua Sinanan.  Idaho chess is usually relaxed and casual between opponents, but I wonder if the outsiders perceived Idaho chess players as Klingons, ferocious in battle, but lacking in table manners.  Each round included breaches of etiquette and grace as opponents squared off with high rated players. Thankfully, nobody was stuck with a painstick for their transgressions. Being a Klingon myself, these were great lessons for me and the WRHS chess club members in attendance, as well as the other participants.

Here is a list of etiquette that "we" should consider :

  • It is generally considered proper chess etiquette to resign clearly lost positions. The proper time to resign should vary with one’s chess ability. Most beginners should probably play on until they are checkmated. But more advanced players should resign clearly lost positions when they are certain that if they were on the other side of the position, they could beat even a master.
  • During the game players should never discuss their game with anyone. Players are allowed to get up and walk around (e.g. to use the restroom or go out or get a drink of water).
  • Then one should shake hands with one’s opponent, and congratulate him or her for a good game.
  • Spectators should also, as a general rule, not go in between the aisles of play. Remaining on the outer periphery of the tables is commonly accepted as proper etiquette.
  • When observing a game, keeping at least 1-2 feet back from the table so as to not disturb the players is greatly appreciated. Never, under any circumstances, should a spectator touch the board, or even the table, while a game is still in progress.
  • Absolutely, under NO circumstances should you engage in conversation with your opponent or any of the players (whether their games are still in progress or not) at any time. Kibitzing and “chatting” is a distraction to your opponent, the other players near you, and yourself!
  • If you touch a piece intending to move it, you must move it; if you touch your opponent’s piece intending to capture it, you must capture it; and if you move a piece from one square to another and remove your hand from it, you must leave it where it is — assuming, of course, it is your turn to move and the move made is legal. If you knock over a piece with the cuff of your sleeve, or the back of your hand, say “I adjust” (or “j’adoube”) and restore the piece to its proper position.
  • One is allowed to wear headphones in order to listen to music, but it should not disturb anyone near you. If anyone asks you to turn down the volume, you should turn it down, or turn it off. You are allowed to ask your opponent to turn down the volume on his or her music. 

Spatial and Temporal Anomalies!  Hegh Bat! Round 1 surprised FIDE Master Nick Raptis.   His opponent Cody Gorman (11th grade) would leave the board for 15 - 20 minutes at a time and would not submit to the master's reputation or rating.  Mr. Raptis  would also leave the board for extended times and watch other games and I noticed one time that he was sitting with his eyes closed along the wall for quite some time.  I am sure Cody did not know what to think of this.  In fact, unbeknownst to Cody, Mr. Raptis was becoming frustrated and offended that Cody continued a lost game by leaving the table and the room without resigning.  Only to return and move again.  After the third time, Mr. Raptis protested with TD Jeff Roland (Arbiter of Succession).  I was able to observe that Cody was a Queen down with Mr. Raptis moving two more pawns up the board for promotion.  Mr. Roland placated Mr. Raptis by cautioning Cody not to leave the room.  But, the psychological battle continued with Cody playing out the game to it's fullest and resulting in FIDE Master Nick Raptis abstaining from mating Cody until the clock just about ran out.  The game ended on move 79.   The extra hour of  psychological warfare proved great drama for all of the players waiting for Round 2 to begin.

Should Black resign?  (Move 51 Black to move)
cha' Dich!  I am used to players looking at progressing games and wandering around the tournament room, but sometimes they get a bit too close for comfort.  It can be annoying and distracting especially if two players begin conversing about the game in whispers.  I found myself watching a game with a companion that began analyzing the game in an audible whisper to me.  I moved away from the game while a player glanced at us with a lowered brow with my companion following me and excitedly describing how white was going to win. Sto-Vo-Kor!

Who is going to win this one? (Move 28 Black to move)
Discommendation!  In a tremendous breach of etiquette, someone actually sat down at Table 101 with GM Alex Yermolinsky  playing FIDE Master Nick Raptis!   Both masters were visibly disturbed and eventually complained, but I am sure they recognized how excited all the Idaho players were to have professional chess players gracing the tournament.
Age of Ascension Ceremony!  Though players occasionally behaved like Klingons, it is important for organizers, professionals, and educators to encourage and teach expectations of behavior so that everyone can enjoy chess without frustration. After all, most breaches of etiquette are innocent, from naivity, or ignorance.  Painsticks are not necessary to correct these informalities!

Got Bat' Leth?  

Better hone up on your Klingon:  Klingon Imperial Rituals and Traditions

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