Dealing with a crisis as a captain

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David Blower
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Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by David Blower » Sun Mar 23, 2014 5:18 pm

Your best and worst experiences please.

On Thursday March 6th I had to deal with an unexpected situation as a captain. I am biased, but I think I did quite well, enabling my team to win the match.

John McKenna
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by John McKenna » Sun Mar 23, 2014 6:10 pm

It was the end of a season and my team was leading the Minor Trophy in the Surrey League.
We had one match to play against our closest rivals Streatham & Brixton and if we did not lose it we were OK.
The 2nd team had gone to play away that night so we had been given a set of keys by their capt. the club sec.

Unfortunately they were the wrong ones and we could not play the match on the night.
Our opponents kindly agreed to postpone provided we went to them for the match.

When we went there, after a while, a veteran player of ours came up to me and said that he had been offered a draw and asked me if should he accept. I told him that it was too early and to wait and see how things developed on the other boards. He promptly lost and the team went on to lose the match so S & B won the silverware and promotion.

[I have a feeling of deja vu about what I have written above due to the tendency for forums to go in cycles.]
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by MSoszynski » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:20 pm

I remember my team all piling into the one car to take us to the neutral venue of a cup final. We didn't normally travel like that, and I remember thinking how convenient it was for all five of us to be together. Five? There's supposed to be six in the team! Several frantic phone calls later, as we drove along, I tracked down our missing team member. Oblivious, he had gone to our own club room as usual, and had to be seriously persuaded that it wasn't too late for him to follow us across town to play in the match. He turned up quite late only to face a much stronger opponent - whom against all odds he beat very quickly. My team went on to win the cup.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:36 pm

MSoszynski wrote: Oblivious, he had gone to our own club room as usual, and had to be seriously persuaded that it wasn't too late for him to follow us across town to play in the match.
County matches used to be fertile ground for this type of confusion.

There's a Bourne End in Bucks and a Bourne End in Herts. Both have been used historically for county matches, particularly Bucks v Herts, to the confusion of Herts players if not Bucks ones. There's also Hazlemere in Bucks and Haslemere in Surrey which has caught at least one player out.

But the original question was dealing with a crisis as match captain. There was one county match where the away team captain and some of his team contrived to miss the connecting train at a junction station. This was a problem as there was only one train an hour. Other members of the team, travelling by car had arrived on time and were persuaded to toss for colours so as to start the match with a limited delay. The problem was that other late arrivals had no real idea what board they were supposed to play on. After a while, it struck me that allowing them to see the team list, or even where the local players were seated, gave the visiting team an advantage in that they could pick a colour and opponent.

This was well before the invention of mobile phones as obviously the captains could exchange team lists over the phone in an emergency.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Mar 23, 2014 11:56 pm

I can throw in another one from a county match.

Play had commenced as usual when after about half an hour's play, a wife stormed in, angry at being left behind with a child, whilst husband went off with his cronies to play chess. She proceeded to rant against the assembled players until said husband ushered her outside. The opponent of the miscreant was evidently sympathetic, as an early draw was agreed.

Robert Stokes
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by Robert Stokes » Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:21 am

Even though I am the lowest graded player in one of the teams at my club, I am its captain only because I am the one willing to organise things. Some years ago, soon after I had become captain, one member of the team was a venerable member of the club in his 80s, who about 50 years before had been one of its founders. Furthermore, years before I joined, he had regularly won the club championship. (He died in his 90s a couple of years ago.)

The team was playing a local league match when this chap suddenly declared to his opponent, "That's obviously a draw so I'm going home." His opponent disagreed and wanted to play on. (I think they were down to a bishop and two or three pawns each.) The opposing captain asked for my opinion and reluctantly (in view of his revered status) said to my team member, "I'm sorry, but I think that if you leave the board then you are conceding the game." In fact, looking at the board, I thought his opponent had a reasonable chance of a win, but I didn't say that.

The man involved rang me up the next day to apologise, said he was just very tired and wanted to go home. He thought that a draw was a reasonable conclusion but agreed I was right to make him concede. He withdrew from playing in competitions and came to the club for a few more years for social games only, until his health really started fading.

I suppose this doesn't really qualify as a crisis but it did put me on the spot at the time.


Ian Kingston
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by Ian Kingston » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:34 am

Perhaps not a crisis, but I once put together a team for an away match in the Derby & District League, but failed to notice that I was looking at the draft fixture list, not the final one. We arrived a full week too early.

We dealt with it by going to the pub.

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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by LawrenceCooper » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:57 am

Twenty plus years ago I arranged a Stafford match on November 31st :oops:

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by Alex Holowczak » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:25 am

I once turned up for a school match, only to discover that the captain hadn't left the key to the filing cabinet containing the chess equipment behind. So I had to run to his bus stop to get the key off him before the bus departed. Fortunately, we met halfway.

During a schools tournament in Solihull, I returned after a round with the last player to finish, and saw the rest of my team in their waiting room; a brand new State of the Art facility just built by the school. The team had managed to lock itself in. I summoned our member of staff, and after he shouted at them for a while, he then realised the incident was genuine and he went off to apologise to the organiser and ask him to ring up the Porter. It being Saturday, the Porter was busy shopping at the time. He arrived reasonably soon after, and forced the door open and set the rest of the team free just in time for the next round. The tournament moved venues the following year.

Richard Thursby
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by Richard Thursby » Mon Mar 24, 2014 9:43 pm

Hmmm, where to start?

1) Player suddenly remembering their GCSE art exam is on the day of the match and unable to find a replacement at short notice (we still won comfortably).
2) Opposition in school match phoning up because their potential board 1 was concerned the match would be graded and the adverse effect on his grade if he lost and having to find our board 1 and ask his opinion. He didn't play and we narrowly won. The match wasn't graded.
(Both these examples from National Schools' competition)

3) (Not as captain) Turning up in plenty of time for a home match approximately the same time as the opposition captain with no sign of our captain who had the key for cupboard. Opposition captain and I become increasingly irate/agitated. Home captain eventually arrives at approximately the scheduled start time (and obviously we don't start on time because it takes a little while to set everything up). I now play for said opposition captain.

4) Having to play simultaneously, "look after the club, captain a match, wonder where your bottom board is and play a game of chess". When I then put in the only other person in the venue not playing in a match on the vacant bottom board, it made him ineligible for lower teams, which didn't please at least one club official.

5) Players turn up for a match, nobody seems to be completely sure of the team/board order and there are nine names floating around for an eight board match (normal captain not present/playing). Eventually eight turn up and start play. Player nine arrives about five minutes after we started, and leaves thirty seconds later having been told his services are not required (he would have been about board 3 or 4).

I have just remembered that 4) and 5) involved the same teams.

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David Shepherd
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by David Shepherd » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:33 pm

In one match I played in (whilst still at school) our team captain had to decide what to do when a disturbance broke out in the pub below. Both captains discussed what to do and decided all we could do was lock the door and carry on the match, (there were no volunteers for checking out what was happening). When we left I seem to remember there wasn't much glass left intact in the pub including the windows), and there was a reasonable amount of blood around too :( I haven't got a clue what happened in the match but I don't think there were too many quick finishes.

Ian Thompson
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by Ian Thompson » Mon Mar 24, 2014 11:41 pm

Someone throwing a brick through a high up window, showering one of the players with broken glass.

Fortunately, the brick didn't hit anyone and no-one was injured.

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Rob Thompson
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by Rob Thompson » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:16 am

As a captain for the university team I didn't change my habit of arriving late. This lead to me having a rather large colour imbalance over the season as the team elected to take all the whites amongst themselves before I arrived...
True glory lies in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Mar 25, 2014 1:57 am

The Olympiad was held in Lucerne. Some years later it was held in Lugano. One of the teams went to Lucerne.

1992 the Olympiads were held in the Philippines.
Kasparov sat out the first round. There were none of the leading arbiters around, so he approached me. The USSR team list showed Kramnik as number 1 and Garry on some other board. Kramnik was actually board 6 that year. Once I realised Garry wasn't playing that round, I reassured him that such typos would be corrected. I also said, 'Perhaps the arbiters know something you don't.' Garry responded, 'Perhaps in a few years, but not yet.'

South Africa were finally allowed back in. Naturally they were anxious to play all 14 games. Their opponents weren't there for the third round. Wandering around I found another team whose opponents hadn't shown up, or possibly they had the bye.
It was nothing to do with me, but I secured the agreement of the Pairings Controller for these two teams to play. I brought the South Africans over and left them to get on with it, returning to my own duties. Thinking, 'That's a job well done'. Sometime later I returned to see how the games were going.
The match had never started. the captain of the other team decided they would prefer to score some points, rather than risk losing a match.

David Blower
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Re: Dealing with a crisis as a captain

Post by David Blower » Wed Mar 26, 2014 1:48 am

Being a little bit more specific.

On Thursday March 6th Brewood were playing an away match at Warley Quinborne in the Dudley Chess League Division 3, a graded resticted competition for those players under 115.

A spectator from Warley Quinborne approached myself to confirm if I was the captain of the Brewood team. After I confirmed I was the spectator told me that my player was not notating. At the time our player had about 25 minutes left of his time limit.

The non playing Warley Quinborne team captain overheard the conversation between the Warley Quinborne spectator and myself, and asked for a claficiation on what was going on. The spectator told the captain what was going on.

I asked for a clafication on what exactly Warley Quinborne wanted us to do, and then upon clafication that I had to get my player to notate, I told him he had to notate. But I did not specify directly he was to bring his scoresheet completely up-to-date and on his own time limit. So our player made a move, then pressed his clock, and then wrote down his LATEST move, without any attempt to get his scoresheet up-to-date.

The non playing Warley Quinborne team captain, upon seeing this, then directly involved himself, pressing the clock onto our players time, and ordering our player to notate, and that he could not make another move until he had. This was despite the fact that our players direct match opponent had not said anything.

Unknown to me at the time, our player had stopped notating after move 50, and the game was now on about move 65. To resolve the situation an adjacent board was set up so that our player could physically play through the moves. Our player took 19 minutes of his time limit to do this, meaning there was only 6 minutes left. He eventually won with more than 4 minutes to spare.

The option of borrowing the opponents scoresheet was not available here, because he had stopped recording in a situation where there was less than 5 minutes remaining on his clock.

The questions I have is:

Did the Warley Quinborne non playing captain have the right to insist our player had to do this, without a complaint first from the opponent?

I thought a game of chess is only ever between two players. If someone notices that a player is not notating, isn't it up to the opponent, and only the opponent to point it out?

Could we have claimed the game straight away as soon as the captain of Warley Quinborne (not the match opponent) pressed the clock onto our players time?

Does a non playing captain, only count as a spectator in this instance?

If I had said as captain: "Our players direct match opponent has not said anything to our player, a game of chess is only ever between two players at the board. Tough luck. If you interfere or tell your player, that our player is not notating, we will automatically claim the game due to outside assistance," would there have been anything that Warley Quinborne could have done about it as long as the direct match opponent said nothing.

The opponent was a junior player. Does a team captain have any different or additional responsibilities during a chess match, if it involves a junior player? (Something I need to think about myself, as I have picked junior players for my team.)

A lot of those questions are similar to each other. Thanks in advance for answers.

And there is no need to guess who Warley Quinborne spectator, or the Warley Quinborne captain is.

Lets just say it put me in a stressful situation at the time, and although I doubt I was perfect I dealt with it as well as I could in the situation which was my first time to sort out a situation as captain.

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