martes, 15 de abril de 2008

Ajedrez y psicología (inglés)

Chess Psicology

One Lump or Two?

Sometimes a change in diet can be helpful in addressing stress. Tea and coffee are by far the most popular drinks at a chess tournament, considered so important that their availability is even advertised on entry forms alongside the round times and so on. Yet after drinking large quantities of caffeine - it is not unusual to see players down several cups per game, sometimes several games per day! - we leave ourselves susceptible to feeling jittery and anxious. Even calm, non-coffee drinking players experience these two unfortunate states as a game progresses, so the army of coffee addicts at the average competition are clearly not helping themselves. Moreover, it is not unusual for players to take what might be a longish walk out of the playing hall and then queue for a not inconsiderable period just for another hot drink - this in itself is a typical cause of stress!

An 'unhealthy' diet is also believed to contribute to stress, although being too conscious of this might prompt us to address our diet in a rather drastic fashion, which can result in the adherence of the new and improved diet being so filled with tension that it causes stress!


Most unwelcome demands on our attention are accidental or - on the part of tournament or match organisers unavoidable. However, the opponent is also capable of contributing to these inconveniences, unintentionally or otherwise (while chess might be considered a game of the fair its world has a large enough population to include in its ranks a number of unscrupulous types!).

'Nice,guys finis last.' Leo Durocher (1906-9 1), US baseball manager
'Last guys don't finish nice.' Stanley Keeley, US academic

We have all been put off by an opponent at some stage of our chess career, most often when the time control (or the actual end of our allotted time) is fast approaching.


Probably the most 'popular' and successful way of breaking the rules (and experienced at all levels), this is when a player with over five minutes remaining on the clock tries to exploit his opponent's time-trouble by executing a series of moves without writing any down on the scoresheet. The most common example involves following up forced recaptures with another move or two (or three or four and so on if the victim allows the cheating to continue). As a player foolish enough to drift into time trouble regardless of how much time 1 am given at the start of the game, 1 am used to this sort of behaviour and 1 am not afraid to nip the dirty tricks in the bud immediately by demanding that my opponent abide by the rules and record my move, pointing out his attempt to an arbiter or, if an arbiter is not present, asking for one.

I once had the unpleasant experience of being repeatedly blitzed by a very wellknown GM (I think he was once ranked number four in the world) who, not surprisingly, had used far less time than myself to reach a promising if rather complex position. His continued foul play and my accompanying complaints were ignored by the arbiter - who was, perhaps, too much in awe of my famous opponent's status in the chess world to notice he had failed to record a number of moves despite having well over an hour remaining on his clock- so 1 had to shout 'Stop Cheating ', whereupon he pulled a rather unpleasant face and set about the 'inconvenience' of belatedly abiding by the rules. Of course he continued to try to win the game in my time shortage rather than use his extra time, superior position and vastly superior ability... and was punished with what must have been an embarrassing defeat (which, for me, was a sweet victory!). Unfortunately, with a limited number of arbiters al ready doing their utmost to police the playing hall during the latter stages of a session we occasionally have to stick up for ourselves - don't
let your opponent cheat.

Other players prepared to venture beyond the boundaries of fair play in order to add a few points to their career tally might suddenly become clumsy during your time-trouble, knocking over a few pieces with a well placed sleeve or elbow (often when captures are taking place) yet nevertheless finding themselves pressing the clock before apologising and then kindly helping to properly place them - and all the time your seconds are slipping by! But the move is not complete - and therefore the clock cannot be pressed - until these knocked over pieces have been replaced.

The Clock as a Positional Tool

Knocking over the clock itself is a surprisingly popular trick, although this is a bit extreme. There are other unfair practices involving the clock. Picking it up to have a better look at the time situation is simply not allowed, while others use this fact to lean right over the board for a 'piece's eye view' - not only does this severely restrict your view of the board but it is also designed to delay your execution of your move by simply being in your way!

In my younger days - despite the fact that 1 first competed in chess events at the rather late age of ten, 1 was a time trouble veteran by the time 1 was a teenager when 1 was smaller and quieter, it was not unusual to experience gamesmanship