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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What to do with an irritating chess opponent?

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hi everyone,

We found this nice informative and interestingly written article by Alex Mcfarlane (British Chess Magazine) and could not resist sharing it. Surely, there are all kinds of people out there - the fun ones and the down right upsetting ones. Talk of disturbing chess opponents and here's an arbiter's take on the whole thing. We would say - Must Read. Enjoy.

The Annoying Opponent
A very common question: What can a player do about an annoying opponent? What can be done varies with the type of disturbance and whether it is deliberate or not.
The obvious first course of action: get the Arbiter. Many players are reluctant to complain. This is a much better than to say nothing and get annoyed. It is inadvisable for a player to try to reprimand an opponent. This invariably leads to an escalation of the situation. The appropriate Law to deal with complaints of this nature is Article 12.6
“It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims, unreasonable offers of a draw or the introduction of a source of noise into the playing area.”
I put the offenders into categories:

  • ‘The Cougher and Sniffler’ – Coughing will obviously distract the opponent but should it be punished? Provided the player is following acceptable behaviour by putting a hand over the mouth and turning away it is difficult for the arbiter to do very much. Where it is a tickly cough an arbiter may provided a glass of water. I was reminded recently that on one occasion I gave a bundle of tissues to a GM who took the hint and coughed into them. The player who only coughs during his opponent’s thinking time, and particularly just as the opponent is about to move, should be penalised.
If an opponent is really aggravated by unintended behaviour he may have some compensation through a little additional time. Some believe that if time is given it must be two minutes. The time is specified only for a limited number of offences. For most transgressions the amount of time awarded is at the discretionary. The person who trumpets into his handkerchief and clears his nose can certainly be asked to do it away from the board. Similarly, someone who believes that his nasal discharge should defy gravity by using a sharp intake of air at regular intervals should be spoken to by the Arbiter. Again an Arbiter may offer tissues whilst pointing out that the noise is distracting.
  • ‘The Shoogler’ – A Scottish word to describe the person who has various parts of their body vibrating. Normally it is the legs but it can be any or all parts. It is seldom that the upper body movements of the player would be so extreme as to justify arbiter intervention. However, there are two regular problems caused by legs. Such actions may cause a squeaking noise or the table to ‘tremble’. In both cases I would expect the Arbiter to tactfully point this out, normally after the player has moved. The player is usually totally unaware of his actions.
  • ‘The Rattler/Clicker/Muncher’ – It can be irritating when an opponent continually presses the cap of his pen causing endless clicking. This is often a nervous reaction not a deliberate ploy. You should expect the Arbiter to ask the player to stop. Most players eat and drink at the board. This is not usually a problem. However, there are those who seem unable to differentiate between chess and a picnic! Players who crunch, rustle and stir drinks should expect to be taken to task. Biscuits and cans should be opened away from the board, teas and coffees stirred at the café counter. More difficult to locate and hence deal with is the spectator who jangles coins or keys in their pocket. This can irritate, particularly during time trouble.
  • ‘Anti-Social Behaviour’ – Drunken opponents are a rare. The actions of the Arbiter will depend on the degree of intoxication. Particularly bad cases can expect to forfeit the game. A more delicate problem is the player whose hygiene is lacking. An unpleasant odour can be a cause of distraction. In my experience complaints of this nature are raised after the game and are extremely difficult for the Arbiter. I once spoke to friends of the player and they had a quiet word. On another occasion I ensured that nobody had to sit too near a certain individual in consecutive rounds.
The perpetual draw offerer; there are no actual rules regarding frequency of ‘peace-offering’. The Laws state that draw offers should be recorded on the scoresheet as (=). If a player has failed to do so then any claim under Article 12.6 is likely to be unsuccessful. As rule of thumb, if you have had a draw offer declined it is normally considered bad form to make another offer until either the position has significantly changed or you have subsequently declined an offer from your opponent. Expect to be warned if you make three draw offers in about eight moves. A subsequent offer can be expected to incur a more severe penalty.
We have all experienced the opponent who insists on playing on in a totally drawn position. This is that player’s right and, unfortunately, if you continually offer draws, it is you who may find yourself facing the wrath of the Arbiter.
What constitutes a disturbance can be a very subjective. What is a major disruption to one player may pass unnoticed by others. For this reason Arbiters will usually want to witness and assess the alleged bad behaviour before taking any action. In most instances the first course of action by the Arbiter will be to issue a warning (sometimes this will be done quietly after the game). Repeat offences may incur further warnings if the action is deemed intentional, the penalties may even extend to the loss of the game if considered serious enough.
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  • At August 16, 2011 at 1:10 PM , Anonymous Alexis Cochran, New Zealand said...

    very nice article I have suffered that. What to do. But still chess is beautiful. It takes all kinds to make the world truly.


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