Sunday, December 30, 2007

North American Open, Part One


Hello, blog readers! I caught the red eye last night back from Vegas, where I had a poor performance but an amusing time. I'm too tired to tell you everything now, but hopefully over the next few days ....

So round one I'm playing GM Anatoly Lein. Things are not going well for me: I forget my opening preparation as usual and so I'm down a pawn for nothing with white after 15 moves.

But I'm distracted from this because two boards over, Dennis Monokrousis is a little worse against an expert, in some time pressure, and becoming agitated. His opponent writes his next move down, and Dennis blurts out, "You aren't allowed to write the move down before you make it. It's illegal." So I immediately look away because, of course, this is a hilarious thing to say and I'm in danger of laughing. Not only is it the stupidest rule ever, but Goichburg has publicly refused to enforce it at CCA tournaments and the USCF recently repealed the change anyway. Dennis's opponent contritely apologizes, which gets me thinking: "Exactly what would Anatoly Lein do and say right now if I were to tell him he couldn't write down the move before making it?" If you don't know Mr. Lein, he's a venerable if cantankerous old Russian dude who has been playing chess for at least sixty years. I happen to like him a lot, but it would be fair to say he doesn't suffer fools gladly. So my fantasy of his reaction amused me for quite a while.

And then something strange happens. I am completely lost by this point, but Mr. Lein is getting inexplicably low on time. The position isn't so complicated; I have a few pseudo-threats, but nothing really serious. When he has 50 seconds left for five moves, the clock dies. Just goes blank. Lein furrows his eyebrows, picks the clock up, shakes it vigorously, and it starts working again as if nothing happened. I just smile at him and nod. The game continues.

And then his flag falls on move 39 so I stop the clock and he asks me what I think I'm doing. I point out that he hasn't made forty moves, to which he replies, "But you haven't either." Of course, this was true, but since I still had some time, it didn't matter. Lein didn't seem entirely convinced, but there wasn't much he could do. Later, Alex runs into him as he's leaving the playing hall: "He kept saying 'We both flagged, I don't know why they are insisting that I am the only one who lost.'"

As funny as I found the whole thing, it's not a win I'm proud of. Lein both forgot to set time delay and managed to start his clock first (he was black), so the move counter said 41 when it was really still his fortieth move. Plus I was hopelessly lost. But obviously I don't feel too bad--as someone's ICC notes once pointed out "I am not responsible for my opponent completing his moves in the allotted time."

3 comments:

Dennis said...

Agitated? Intense, maybe, but surely not agitated!

I discovered that they had (mostly) changed the rule back a few rounds later, when my opponent disagreed with my claim. After consulting with the TD, I was happy to be the contrite apologizer. In any case, I side with Fischer and those who think it's note-taking - isn't that why people lobbied so hard for the repeal?

P.S. My last name is "Monokroussos".

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan said...

My understanding is that the main reason that writing down the move first was recently disallowed was not the note-taking argument in general but the fact that with a Monroi, entering your move means you can actually see the position, which gives you an unfair advantage. I have seen some tournaments with a "you can write down your move first unless you have an electronic device" policy.