Saturday, November 14, 2009

Moves Not Found In Nature

In my last game from the recently concluded Hauptturnier, my opponent Rubén Portugués arrived a little late. I had arrived early enough to select a reasonably well-lit board, position each piece in the center of its square, and point knights facing forward, as is my habit.

As we started our game, Rubén gently pointed out that my king and queen were transposed. That was easily fixed, of course, and then I proceeded to find more normal ways to mess up my position and lose the game.
(Matt -- fortunately, it's difficult to place the board the wrong way at the club!)

Also quite recently, I was playing some time-odds blitz against "The Captain". The relevant features of the position are below, with it being my turn to move:

As White, I played 1...h7xg6 (!) and pressed the clock.

The Captain pushed his clock button back down and protested, "Wait, wait, what just happened?"

I believe I tried to push my clock button back down, but then realized I had gotten "a little ahead of myself" after pondering 1 Bxg6 hxg6 or 1 Nxg6 hxg6.

Subconsciously I must have figured that, since I was breaking the laws of chess anyway by making his move instead of mine, I might as well keep both my minor pieces. :-)

Despite that incident, I rarely play blitz, and even more rarely agree to it against people for whom I consider myself no match. Quite a number of years ago, our club's Fearless Leader, Dave Vigorito, persuaded me, kicking and screaming, to play such a game with him between rounds at some tournament.

Dave played a knight move like the following:

(Or however he moved his knight, it was not an L-shaped legal move.)

With my 20/400 sight of the board (a far cry from Dave's 2400 sight of the board), I had no idea anything strange had occurred. As I sat there pondering my response, he eventually took pity on me and asked, "You're not really going to let me do that, are you?"

According to my recollection, my response was "Do what?"

At the 1988 U.S. Open tournament here in Boston, I played a well-known local expert. I'll call him "Truly Forgotten" because his name sort of rhymes with that, although I suspect he will never be truly forgotten by me (nor perhaps, by many other folks).

I was getting crushed on the board. I was also in time trouble and frazzled, and while it was his turn to move, "Truly" decided to adjust one of his pieces without saying "Adjust" or "J'adoube".

With my aforementioned 20/400 sight of the board, I incorrectly thought he had made a move, so I hurriedly made another one and pressed my (still-down) clock. Can you believe the nerve of this guy? He protested that I had made two moves in a row! ;-)

Even that extra move wouldn't have helped me in that position, and "Truly" duly ground me down. I'm happy to say, though, that I scraped a draw from him two years later.

The October-December 2009 Chess Horizons reveals that local player N.N. is still turning in strong performances. With my squib-tastic eye, it is almost unimaginable that I could be anyone's nemesis, but I am oddly 3-0 against this particular fellow from our early 1990's games. In our first game, after 72 b4 h5 73 b5 h4 74 b6 h3 75 b7 Bc7, we arrived at this position:

A small crowd had been steadily growing around our board for the last several moves. I could tell that N.N. had forgotten something about chess, and I don't quite buy the Chinese saying:
which says that although the players may be confused about what's happening on the board, the spectators remain clear.

The next moves were 76 b8=Q Bxb8, after which N.N. confidently announced:
Stalemate, I can't move.
Unfortunately for him, 77 Kf8 and 77 Kh8 are indeed moves found in nature. I pointed out, "You can move." and he resigned immediately.

Chess is indeed a difficult game!

No comments: