Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Viva Two Hands

Chessbase's report on the Hypercube Blitz Chess Tournament contains some details about a minor incident between the current world's youngest GM, Anish Giri, and GM Vladimir Epishin. It seems that at some particular moment the young Giri executed a move by using both his hands and to which Epishin immediately filed a protest.

By some incredible chance, a photo was captured of that very moment. Here's what Chessbase had to say: "In the above picture Anish has the captured piece in his left hand, while executing the move of the capturing piece, his queen, with the right. He then went on to press the clock with his right hand."

Thus, it is clear and I'm sure most of us lightning aficionados have committed the same exact mechanics. That is, we pick up a "capturer" piece with the right hand, pick up the "capturee" with the left, then press the clock with the right hand to complete the move.

So on what grounds was Epishin protesting? No doubt he had in mind these two.

4.1 Each move must be made with one hand only.


6.8b A player must stop his clock with the same hand as that with which he made his move. It is forbidden for a player to keep his finger on the button or to "hover" over it.

There is also Appendix B5: "The arbiter shall make a ruling according to Article 4 (The act of moving pieces), only if requested to do so by one or both players."

Look, I don't mind rules myself, but frankly - the strict application of 4.1, in blitz, is nonesense. It's time that we adjusted the rules for blitz so that 4.1 isn't strictly followed. Here's a couple of arguments for it, and I swear I'm really serious.

The first is that using both hands allows for more accurate placement of pieces. An obvious benefit is that we minimise any confusion over which squares your bits are sitting. Secondly, two-handed play reduces the incidence of knocking pieces over. This is because a player is able to nicely grab a single piece instead of two. It's especially the case when capturing a taller piece. Try it, capture a Queen with a pawn, say, and you'll see what I mean. Finally, that using both hands generally only occurs during a time sramble tells us that it we're basically outlawing a behaviour that is, in fact, pretty rare. So why not simply rid our tournaments of one more reason for an entirely unnecessary dispute?

But, the singularly most convincing argument of all is that this is blitz! OK, so the guy moved with both hands. Who cares? I tell you who. Whining pussies.


Anonymous said...

I disagree.
It doesn't make sense to not follow the rules, simply because it's a time scramble. That would just mean that a player should feel free to use extra time to think early on in the game, because they know they can make up some time by breaking rules once their time is low.
If you want to be a good blitz player, you need to allow enough time at the end to be able to physically make your moves - and do it according to the rules.
If the rules are not followed strictly, time scrambles will usually end up being won by the player who is willing to bend/break the rules more. I'm not really a fan of giving an advantage to sneaky cheats.
Also, about taking a queen with a pawn, maybe you should try a different capturing method. Probably the easiest is to pick up the queen first and then just move your pawn to the empty square.
But I think the fastest is to use your thumb, index and middle fingers. Pick up the pawn with your thumb and index finger, move towards the queen from the side, release the pawn and grab the queen between the index and middle fingers. With practice, you can do this in one fluid motion, and it's very fast.
Capturing a piece by putting your piece over the top of it should be reserved for long games, or capturing smaller pieces.

Anonymous said...

I am an avid blitz player. I move physically execute my moves very quickly and always use one hand, even in time scrambles, to capture and to castle. And I rarely knock over pieces. If I do, I almost always fix the situation on my own time.

The simple reason that players should only be allowed to use one hand to move pieces, remove captured pieces, and hit the clock, is that if two hands is allowed, it is possible to hit the clock before the move is complete.

In other words, using two hands allows a player to make a move, or have one of their hands hovering over the chessboard (and blocking their opponent) on their opponent's time. This is simply cheating, especially in a time scramble. This is exactly why using two hands should NOT be allowed at any time.