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Dumb Chess News #1

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There exists a special category of chess appearing in the news. It's whenever there is a mundane crime that makes the news only because someone in the scene was playing chess at the time. This dull gem popped up yesterday on AP, and something like it appears in the news trawl every month or so.

Police: Men Brawl Over a Game of Chess

Slidell, Louisiana. - An argument over a game of chess ended with a fight in which one player rammed the other's head through a plate-glass window, St. Tammany Parish authorities said. Robert Talley, 34, was booked with second-degree battery and later released on bond, Sheriff's department spokesman James Hartman said.

Har har! A fight about a chess game! Hilarious! Needless to say, if they'd been playing checkers, cards, Nintendo, or just about anything else, this wouldn't make the news. That's because these things are "man bites dog" stories, something supposedly curious and abnormal. After all, aren't chessplayers quiet nerds you wouldn't expect violence from?

To casual and non-players, chess is another relaxing board game. Some know that it can be "hard" or that "it's for smart people." But unless you have played tournament chess (or watched your child play tournament chess), the furious mental stress chess can cause is unknown. 100%-information games like chess are different from games with dice or hidden cards. There is no luck or coincidence for your ego to hide behind. The simple fact that you know that while you play and after a loss can twist you into knots.

What is your most dramatic, traumatic, or thrilling experience as a chessplayer? That you have witnessed? I saw Ivanchuk jump off the stage and walk off into the crowd after losing to Ponomariov. But that's Ivanchuk...


A guy at my club tells the story of the time he was playing the local "prodigy" (every club has one, you know the type), and was giving him a good thrashing, when the kid just lost it...he tossed the remnant of his biggie coke from Wendy's into his opponent's face, then ran out. We never saw him again.

I remember a chess player named Michael Greco, at a Louisiana chess tounament hit his oppenent after a loss. Since M.G. was a karate athelete at LSU he was banned from chess and the USCF for life!

Most tramatic chess moment - this was the state high school team championship, back in the mid-70s. A really quite good player, whom we will call Fritz, resigned his game. His opponent (and all the spectators) then pointed out that Fritz had had a mate in 2. Fritz was a short, quiet fellow. He looked at the position for a minute, then quietly walked across the room and ripped a big pay telephone out of the wall with his bare hands and dashed it to the floor. The last we saw him that day he was being led out of the building by 2 security people.

When I was in high school during the Fischer boom in the 1970s, lots of students played chess at lunchtime. Of course, not all these new players knew all the rules of the game, and there were often arguments about pawn promotion ("You can't have two queens, you cheater!" "Yes I can, you idiot!"), castling, touch-move, etc. One argument (over en passant capturing, as I recall) led to a terrible fistfight, with the two opponents rolling over tables, spilling food, and in general trying to kill each other. This caused the school principal to ban chessplaying in the cafeteria on the grounds that it was too violent...

During a USCF rated tournament at a community college, I lost a game to a slightly higher rated player. I went from slightly ahead to lost in about 3 moves and couldn't understand why. It cost me winning a prize. I was so upset at my-self, I went into the men's bathroom and ripped a urinal off the wall by rocking it back and forth. Then I back-handed a plastic soap dispenser, cutting my hand and sending bits of plastic all over the bathroom, and pink soap all over everything. STILL not having gotten it out of my system, I went outside into the woods behind the campus, and began ripping small saplings out of the ground. Didn't help my mood at all.... Fortunately, I've matured...

I find the live kibitzing on important games on the ICC quite dramatic. I love seeing the comments made fast and furious from players around the world!

Best wishes
Challenge me for an online chess game at letsplaychess.com

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 27, 2004 11:52 PM.

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