The contributor of this note played a game of chess against an amateur player during a Blitz tournament in a local chess club based in Canton of Valais, Switzerland, on February 20th, 2023. The club is member of the Union valaisanne des échecs, part of the International Chess Federation. The game was tense and the contributor was losing, but with less than five seconds left to his clear advantage, he made a move that led to a check on his king. A friend of his opponent, having just finished his own game, who was watching the game, then unexpectedly took his friend's bishop and then the contributor's king and pressed the clock on his friend's side. The time left was only one second. The contributor was surprised by the spectator's behavior and questions whether it was appropriate. This article will explore the events that occurred during the game, the contributor's observations of the spectator's behavior, chess values and principles, and the consequences of the situation.
The Events that Occurred during the Game
During the game, the contributor was losing and aiming for the stalemate or the win in time. With less than five seconds left to his obvious advantage, he moved his king his black king in check to the diagonal of the white bishop, which was "hidden" at the other end of the board. The opponent did not see the move immediately, and at this point, his friend, who had been watching the game, violently grabbed the opponent's bishop, then the contributor's king, and pressed the clock on his friend's side. The time left was only one second.
Observations of Spectartor's Behavior
The contributor was surprised by the spectator's behavior, which was not in line with what they had experienced over 40 years of chess club life. He has never seen such behavior before, and usually, they would have had to press their clock to restart the time and courteously ask the opponent to play the move himself. If he had done so, the time would have run out and he would have won without possible discussion. However, such dreadful behaviour cannot be solved in this way. He preferred to leave the "victory" to his young opponent, who expressed many reservations before announcing the result while his friend was telling him that he had won, that it was over; .
Still more disgusted by a youth without faith or law, he preferred to concentrate the next day on the setting up of a communication strategy for the chess night organised next September in order to show the president that the older people have the necessary hindsight; unfortunately, this turned out to be short-lived due to the personality of the president of the club.
The contributor suspects that the spectator's behavior was the result of an uncontrolled adrenaline rush, possibly due to taking substances that accelerate thinking processes. The contributor points out that in other sports, for example tennis, the use of doping substances in intermediate to advanced players (B-0 level) is fairly common. They are eager to maintain their ranking, but their diet and training do not allow it; hence the doping-based cheating.
The contributor, however, did not dispute the rule that in blitz chess, one does not have to announce the check and can take directly. For example, in another club, he lost his first game against the president of that Crans-Montana club on the very same grounds.
Chess Values and Principles
Chess values and principles formally forbid spectators from interfering in the game. Even in blitz chess, spectators cannot take moves on behalf of the players. It is essential to follow the rules of the game to maintain its integrity and ensure fair play. The spectator's behavior violated these values and principles.
The contributor planned to notify the president and the official referee after the game for protecting the club and upcoming tournaments. If the spectartor was to do the same in a competition, it could have serious consequences. Cheating is not acceptable in chess or any other sport, and the contributor believes that it is essential to take action to prevent such behavior from happening again whether against the spectator currently playing in official tournament or the president protecting his "horse" without even asking about facts.
Subsequent discussions with the president of that club showed the dark side of the organisation, based for example by his reply via e-mail: "
So you are no longer admitted to our game nights or tournaments. If I see you in our playroom again, I will personally kick you out". The contributor felt relieved being excluded from such a toxic environment. He was proved right following other scandals in which this president got involved in.
In order to keep track of what will remain an anthological moment, it was deemed necessary to notify ex post the official referee of the blitz tournament. More than 10 days later, he reverted back to the contributor in a short e-mail with not very rational arguments giving the impression the feedback has been redacted or influenced by someone else, possibly the president of that chess club.
We, the chess players, must avoid that such actions, either from the players or from the "decision-makers", are reproduced within the great and beautiful chess community.