Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chess Poke Face Part Deux - Reading your Opponent

Chess Poker Face Part Deux: Reading your Opponent

Many comments in a past essay prompted me to think about how opponents vary in looking you in the eye and try to get a read. Trying to pick up on the Karma of your opponent is one of the fundamental things that makes OTB/OverTheBoard chess a way cool game. Similar to card games like poker, bridge, hearts etc.

Examples: Chris Williams tends to deliver bombs with a "take that" glance.

Denys Shmelov is constantly sizing you and your position up. In fact I think Denys' Pythonic Prophylactic Petrosian style is so cool. Shmelov realizes what you are doing but seems to be playing a different game, on a different frequency, on the same board!? Very disconcerting to a brawler like me who knows he will be forced to wrestle instead of box.

David Vigorito's eyes are moving everywhere and many times seems to be more involved in the games beside us than our game. Another thing Vigorito does is walk around the whole BCF hall and with a glance figures out what's going on at every board (the strong and weak), especially potential future opponents. In fact Vigorito will hesitate and look over any score of a position in order to understand why that particular position seems "different". Recently I lost a pawn early against Lawyer Times, and when the Vigorito fly by occurred, I could see wheels spinning: "This is odd, why?". No wonder he's the President of the BCF. I bet Vigorito would give a great simul.

Then there are some like Alexander Ivanov where it appears only the position behind his closed eyes matters, head aimed at the ceiling, having a root canalled pained face. Although past blog commenters indicate that occasionally opponents'' peripheral equipment of baseball hats or non-plastic chess sets bring static to Ivanov's Karma.

So some of these GM/IM/Masters have a super consciousness about what is going on with every aspect of the whole tournament which to us average players boarders on the surreal. Sometime in the future I'll give other examples of this concerning Jacob Rasin and Bobby Fischer. So while we plebeians* are straining to read one person there are people like Vigiitto who labor every second, use every sense, read everything, in fighting to get the tournament edge.

We are all self absorbed when competing in a tournament, but each of us casts our net to varying distances and directions to gather information as to what is going on. OTB is all about the sensations and excitement. You can't get those inputs and feelings playing on the internet. In fact my experience is that anything greater than a "thank you" or "good game" via Internet is usually something stupid.

What are some of you experiences concerning eyeball to eyeball chess?

Please Comment.

Thank You

Mike Griffin 04/14/2009

*plebian: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plebs

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