Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

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Robert Stokes
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Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Robert Stokes » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:16 pm

I was recently playing in the minor section of a weekend congress. In one game we reached the time control and so had to set the clocks back 15 minutes. My opponent had about 6 minutes left and I had about 15 so I asked him if he wanted to change the clocks (because as the one with shorter time it was more critical to him that it was set accurately) but he said "No, you do it, but can you wait until I've been to the toilet?" (It was his move.)

I thought that was effectively asking for the clocks to be stopped while he went to the toilet so I ignored his request, changed the clocks and set it running. (If we had been using electronic clocks then it would have been done automatically without a break, anyway). When he returned he looked annoyed but didn't say anything.

Near the end of the game I had pawns on h4 and f4 with the king on g5 ready to shepherd them to the back rank. He had a lone king on b7. Despite the fact that it was an easy win for me he played on hoping that I would run out of time. We were both short of time (although I had a little more) but mating with K,Q against K is easy to do in a few seconds for anyone.

His flag fell first after three moves (edit - actually it was more than this) so I won anyway. He then said "I only played on because you wouldn't wait while I went to the toilet" and he refused to shake hands or congratulate me. I consider this bad sportsmanship and only done because being slightly higher graded he was annoyed about losing to me. What do you think?

Robert
Last edited by Robert Stokes on Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Joey Stewart
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Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Joey Stewart » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:43 pm

Yeah, well not bad sportmanship as such but somebody who is too used to playing casual chess. In leagues there is all sorts of rule bending like that, such as late start times, early finishes, clocks stopping, time controls not being properly done.

It is a good lesson to them that in a tournament there is supposed to be a competitive atmosphere and that such leaniencies are not to be expected, and he certainly had no right to be complaining that you merely enforced the rules as they were supposed to be.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:45 pm

Robert Stokes wrote: His flag fell first after another three moves so I won anyway. He then said "I only played on because you wouldn't wait while I went to the toilet" and he refused to shake hands or congratulate me. I consider this bad sportsmanship and only done because being slightly higher graded he was annoyed about losing to me. What do you think?
Robert
Long ago, it used to be the convention that clocks were stopped during Saturday afternoon county matches during a refreshment break.

The expectation now, and always in Congresses, is that clocks are never stopped unless there is a need to summon an arbiter or match captains to resolve a dispute.

It's almost, in fact it is, against the rules to leave the playing area without permission whilst on the move.
FIDE laws of chess wrote:The player having the move is not allowed to leave the playing area without permission of the arbiter.
Playing area isn't actually defined directly, but the context is established by
FIDE laws of chess wrote: The playing venue is defined as the playing area, rest rooms, refreshment area, area set aside for smoking and other places as designated by the arbiter.

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Jon Mahony
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Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Jon Mahony » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:24 pm

If I had been in his situation, I would have simply made my move, offered to change the clocks myself and nipped to the loo on the way to the arbiter’s desk to get a new clock - I imagine if your opponent had done this, you would have been less irritated.

It was a little cheeky to expect you to go to the trouble of going to the desk and having to whisper “Our clock isn’t working properly” to one of the organisers (Desks at congresses are invariably situated right next to the Open section in my experience) and expect a toilet break as well.

I agree with Joey, your opponent sounded like a man who was too used to playing casual and league chess - up north it’s not unheard of to stop the clock while one of you goes to fetch 2 pints from the bar! But at Congresses, you expect things to be more official.

I wouldn’t let it worry you, while most chess players are gents, some are arrogant, bad losers or just flat out loonies - if you’ve been playing a while your bound to run into one or two.
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:32 pm

Jon Mahony wrote:If I had been in his situation, I would have simply made my move, offered to change the clocks myself and nipped to the loo on the way to the arbiter’s desk to get a new clock - I imagine if your opponent had done this, you would have been less irritated.
I don't think he meant change in the substitute sense, just the normal wind back to change the recorded time. Usual practice is to stop the clock to do this, so it would seem as if he expected it to be stopped until he returned.

Congress practice can differ from more socially orientated leagues in this.

Ray Sayers

Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Ray Sayers » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:35 pm

Bad sportsmanship yes (refusing to shake hands after a game everybody knows is a no-no), but probably due to ignorance of the rules. Looks like he genuinely thought you would stop the clocks.

Anyone playing in tournaments knows you don't stop the clocks to go to the loo. It's interesting he managed to play enough competitive games to get a grading without coming across this situation!

Reg Clucas
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Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Reg Clucas » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:47 pm

Ideally I suppose you should have explained to him that you aren't allowed to stop the clock, rather than just ignoring his request. But that's easy to say in hindsight - it can be quite offputting to receive such an unusual request, especially if you don't have time to think of a suitable reply - I imagine he didn't hang around long after making the request!

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Jon Mahony
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Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Jon Mahony » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:48 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Jon Mahony wrote:If I had been in his situation, I would have simply made my move, offered to change the clocks myself and nipped to the loo on the way to the arbiter’s desk to get a new clock - I imagine if your opponent had done this, you would have been less irritated.
I don't think he meant change in the substitute sense, just the normal wind back to change the recorded time. Usual practice is to stop the clock to do this, so it would seem as if he expected it to be stopped until he returned.

Congress practice can differ from more socially orientated leagues in this.
Thanks Roger - yes having re-read the original post I got the wrong end of the stick there :)
Anyone playing in tournaments knows you don't stop the clocks to go to the loo. It's interesting he managed to play enough competitive games to get a grading without coming across this situation!
He was probably just trying it on, certain players will try all sorts of off-board psychological tactics, intended to put you off your game.
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

Robert Stokes
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Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Robert Stokes » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:00 pm

When I said change the clocks, I meant wind them back 15 minutes.

I was told after the game that he was an experienced enough player to know that what he was asking was wrong. I agree that he was really just trying it on.

Robert

Graham Borrowdale

Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Graham Borrowdale » Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:42 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Long ago, it used to be the convention that clocks were stopped during Saturday afternoon county matches during a refreshment break.
Ah, the good old days. The strange thing was, there was never, as far as I can remember, any discussion of the games in progress during those tea-breaks. More likely a quick check on the car radio of football scores. It was never clear whether you should try to be on move during the break: more time to think but you would invariably lose your train of thought if you spent a while thinking but were then told to stop for tea!

Clive Blackburn

Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Clive Blackburn » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:52 pm

A very similar thing happened to me only 10 days ago at the Birmingham Rapidplay. We were using digital clocks and an incremental time control (20 mins + 10 secs/move) so there was no opportunity to stop the clocks.

I was a pawn down in a difficult ending, I had about 8 minutes remaining on my clock and my opponent had about 2 minutes. He then made a move and said to me that he urgently needed to go to the toilet and did I mind? I said that was fine but of course what he was implicitly asking me to do was to leave my clock running, as I would be perfectly within my rights to move as soon as he left. If I had done that then he would be critically short of time when he got back, or he might even have lost on time.

He was very grateful when he returned and saw that I had not moved and a few moves later we agreed a draw.

I think the situation could have been avoided because the round was only scheduled for one hour but what should a player who needs an urgent toilet break do if he is very short of time?

Would he be entitled to ask the controller to stop the clocks for a few minutes?

Barry Sandercock
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Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Barry Sandercock » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:29 pm

Surely the clocks should be left to run. If a player gets short of time, that's his fault. It's all part of the game.

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Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by John Foley » Wed Oct 17, 2012 7:35 pm

Getting down to the nitty-gritty, stress (e.g in time control) and going to the toilet are strongly correlated. Perhaps there should be a hygiene feature on chess clocks. Come to think of it, I have never seen chess clocks being cleaned. Presumably in happens during the match preparation. Shockingly, faecal bacteria are present on 26% of hands in the UK, per Queen Mary, University of London. Possibly a higher incidence for chess players according to my own informal survey. This is also an argument against automatic handshaking after a match. Perhaps the definition of sportsmanship should be updated - not least because of the gender bias.

Ray Sayers

Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Ray Sayers » Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:17 pm

barry sandercock wrote:Surely the clocks should be left to run. If a player gets short of time, that's his fault. It's all part of the game.
Yup, exactly how I see it. I mean, if you lose 5 minutes on your clock going to the loo earlier in the game before time trouble, you still lost 5 minutes. If your opponent wants to go to the loo later in the game then tough; he (or she) is losing their 5 minutes, just at a different point. Part of the game is judging when you can afford to get up and leave the board.

Clive Blackburn

Re: Do you consider this bad sportsmanship?

Post by Clive Blackburn » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:38 pm

Yes Ray I agree and since it was a Rapidplay event, there should be no need for either player to leave the board at all.

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