Hereâ€™s another adjournment story, a real one this time. I was still at school when it happened (but was also a member of the local adult club just across the road, with whom we had an informal arrangement to use their facilities when needed).
It was the second round of an individual knockout event, early in December. The original game at my opponentâ€™s club the previous week had been drawn; so this was a replay at mine. By the call of time weâ€™d reached an ending with Q and several Ps on each side. Material was level, but as it happened my opponent was able to seal a move that won a P. This left level Ps on one wing and a one-P majority of his on the other. Promising for him, certainly, but no easy matter to win.
Weâ€™d arranged to resume at my club the following week. But he didnâ€™t show up, and Iâ€™d had no message to say he wouldnâ€™t. An obvious default? The competition organiser, who was there that evening, suggested I could claim it as one, but didnâ€™t make a firm ruling, leaving it up to me to decide. Like a twit, I didnâ€™t commit myself either.
As usual on such occasions, Iâ€™d stayed in town after school rather than go home and then come back in again, so it wasnâ€™t till much later that evening that I got home to find a letter from my opponent, spinning some yarn about a more urgent engagement that had prevented him from appearing as arranged. (Like many people in the late 60s, he wasnâ€™t on the phone .... and the mail was a lot faster and more reliable then. But why not leave a phone message at the school, under whose colours I was playing in the competition?) He revealed his sealed move, winning the P, and suggested I should concede the game without resuming â€“ claiming that he was too busy between then and New Year to come and play it off. I replied, also by mail, saying no dice, and suggesting a new date. No answer came, nor any other sort of communication.
At this point, of course, I should have at least tried to enforce the original default. (Thatâ€™s if it could have been construed as one â€“ he had tried to notify me, after all.) But I was still naive enough then to believe that people usually spoke and acted in good faith. It wouldn't have occurred to me that he might be trying to save himself the effort of playing a long and difficult endgame. Besides, I thought being hard-nosed about the thing could have caused unwarranted ill-feeling.
As it was, matters were allowed to slide until mid-January, by which time the organiser - himself also not on the phone! - was getting anxious. My opponent apparently proposed (not to me) a date for the resumption, but this time I was the one who was otherwise engaged. So I suggested the week after that â€“ only for the organiser to declare that was too late, the schedule would get out of whack, etc, etc. His counter-proposal was that the game be adjudicated.
The alarm-bells should definitely have sounded at that point. Again, why didnâ€™t I enforce the default? Well, it seemed (and somehow still does seem) too late for that, somehow â€“ but of course it ought to have been tried. Instead, like the artless clot that I was, I agreed to the proposal, believing the position was drawish enough for me to â€œget a resultâ€. I wasn't cynical enough to realise that the competition schedule was the real concern, not justice on the board. It wasnâ€™t till later that I found the position wasnâ€™t adjudicated by a master as Iâ€™d been allowed to believe, but by the previous yearâ€™s winner of the event, who could have been primed beforehand about the desired outcome.
And so, of course, a win was found for my opponent, and the competition timetable was saved in the nick of time from disruption.
If at times since I may have seemed over-zealous in applying rules of any kind, thereâ€™s your explanation.
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)