Sunday, March 01, 2009

Ban Walkabouts During Play

Article 8 of the official Laws of Chess reads: "In the course of play each player is required to record his own moves and those of his opponent in the correct manner, move after move, as clearly and legibly as possible, in the algebraic notation (Appendix E), on the ‘scoresheet’ prescribed for the competition. It is forbidden to write the moves in advance, unless the player is claiming a draw according to Article 9.2 or 9.3 [my emphasis]."

I don't know about you but I've always had a problem with that last bolded bit. Of course, I follow the rule, but prior to its introduction my method was to first write down a move before actually playing it. And yes, many a times back then I would re-examine the position, thought for a little more, then changed what I wrote. It is apparently exactly this kind of behaviour that the rule is designed to prevent for, as some would say, it's tantamount to cheating.


If it's a product of my own thinking process, how in the hec is it cheating? Honestly, it's a total joke.

Look - if there's one behaviour that we ought to stop, it's being able to walk around during your game. Forget the next move or correct plan in a Sicilian Najdorf? Problem solved: just look for a board with a similar opening. If that's not cheating, I don't know what is.

I predict that a couple of years from now, this will be next brilliant idea by FIDE. And they can thank me for it too.


Phil Bourke said...

This is very difficult to police, though hopefully the arbiters can spot the difference between a 'walkabout' and a 'scouting mission'!

The more painful one is seeing your opponent regularly leave to talk to the same friend. Is this friend helping with some advice?

Of course it all comes down to the players themselves, if you even think it is possible that your opponent is cheating, then any action will be suspicious.

Being a nicotine addict and one who also likes to get up regularly to stretch and move about, get a drink, etc, I would imagine a requirement for me to sit in the one spot for 2 hours would be a huge impost :)

Anonymous said...

Just in case you hadn't noticed, some people were writing down moves they had no intention of playing. It was a little distracting.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... I see your point and agree with your assessment of that letigiously trigger-happy author of the first rule, but ban my walk abouts??

I'm not buyin it.

(Though I bet the first time my opponent goes out for a latte' and comes back with a winning move, I will be in full support.)

"What's good for the goose, is..."

Anonymous said...

I too used to write my move first, double check my move and only then play it. This is how I was taught, and was told this was a good method to help to avoid blunders. Many famous Grandmasters also used this method.

Was quite shocked when a few years, I was told this was illegal.

The reason behind it supposely is its illegal to use notes, or make notes during a game. Writing down your move first is making notes to the game, with the purpose of helping you during play.

Yes I agree the walkabout rules should be looked at. Supposely , perhaps someone can correct me here, it is illegal to get up and go walkabout during you move ?!

Mark Weeks said...

The ban against recording your move before playing it was prompted by the introduction of recording devices like Monroi. When you record your move on those gadgets, you see the new position on the display. That helps you visualize it better. - Mark

Etaoin Shrdlu said...

This is all ridiculous. What ever happened to the old idea that chess is a game for gentlemen. And for ladies too.

Writing down a move beforehand gives no advantage, it just wastes time. It is ridiculous to prohibit it.

As to your walkabout concerns, I have always found getting up and looking at other players' games to be a pleasant and helpful stress-reliever, and frankly never in my life has it occurred to me look at someone else's game for guidance on my own. That's a nutty idea by the way, and sounds like a good way to lose. If I don't understand why someone else is playing a move, I really, really have no business copying it, even if it is a bloomin' grandmaster playing it.
Nuts to that bad idea too!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Etaoin Shrdlu - the sure way to lose a game is copying another player. How many times have players played an opening that they have never played before on the advice that their upcoming opponent is weak in this particular opening and ended up losing! I personally used to get up from the board after every second move. I have stopped this habit now as cheating has become more prominent and I dont want to give a player an excuse to acuse me of cheating. Sitting at the board for prolonged periods of time has done nothing to improve my chess and my results are pretty much the same. To echo Etaoin Shrdlu sentiments the only thing that will improve your chess is actually understanding the moves you are playing!!

Peter Long said...

I personally feel that players cannot walk around viewing other games as they can inadvertently see something that would help them in their games (the fact we make a move when we want to is one key difference between chess and most other sports).

I am all for a rest area to go to for a break however although if chess is to be a sport (I am not advocating this) we need to be regulated by timeouts during play such as limited toilet breaks, etc., all perhaps due to media contracts and live broadcast requirements!

Anonymous said...

As I understand it the rule against writing down your move first was advocated by Geurt Gijssen who considered that allowing prior writing down could amount to written analysis. He explained his views in detail in "An Arbiter's Notebook" on the Chess Cafe some time ago. There is some strength in the argument for this - that put by Gijssen - that writing down a move and later crossing it out and writing another, perhaps repeating the process several times, amounts to written analysis. I think writng the move first was a trendy thing like two-handed castling and banning it will soon make no difference. Most players didn't do it anyway.


Anonymous said...

I consider the practice cheating, particularly as how Dennis described it as I actually had to play in an Oz Champ event where my opponent did exactly what Dennis said - he wrote one move, then crossed it out and substituted another and then cross that out and wrote down a third, before then reverting back to his first move. And he did this for several moves in a complicated Sicilian middlegame! I was very annoyed about this - thankfully I still won after a very long endgame, but I still made sure I had a quiet word with the arbiter Gary Bekker afterwards.

Anonymous said...

I think walkabouts cannot be entirely forbidden. In tournaments you want to know how your competitors are doing - which could be forbidden. But in team competitions the situation on the other boards may well influence your own play, which I think is perfectly legitimate (it IS a team competition after all).

Of course strange situations can occur if the same opening appears on several boards ... . This happened once or twice in my practice and at least once in the German Bundesliga, when Anand-McShane and Hracek-Shirov were identical until move 14. Described by Shirov in "Fire on the Board II" (game 45) - "I wanted to try it [a possible improvement] against Hracek that day and not yet against Vishy" (who was on the same team as Shirov).

Etaoin Shrdlu said...

A final thought or two, btw, this was a very thought-provoking post!

On the scoresheet "gamesmanship" theme, um, what are you guys doing reading your opponent's scoresheets, anyway?

On the walkabout theme, you have a right to know how your competitors' games are going. Knowledge empowers. Forgive a war story. On the first instance in my life when I won a tournament, a swiss, I and the three other leaders had equal scores before the last round. The four of us were paired. I had white, played the first two moves slowly, (a Sicilian) then took a moment to see how the other game was shaping up. It was a poor close-to-the-vest positional thing. I decided I would win this thing or go down in flames. Wing Gambit Deferred. (I have matured since then.) My opponent got rattled, did not defend well, and I got a beautiful position, and a nice quick win. The other two guys very quietly drew. No guts, no glory.

Also, frankly, when possible, I like to look at how my friends' games are going. As I said earlier, for me, it really relieves stress. I don't mind saying that.

But I would utterly prohibit visiting the opening or endings book vendors' room during your games!!

Tom Chivers said...

If the rule wasn't in place, presumably I could write down all candidate moves and then cross them off as I work my way through them ---- ?