Saturday, October 27, 2012

Of Mice and Internet Chess

There are no takey-backies in big-boy chess. The chess I play is certainly not very advanced, but it's for-realsies chess. Hence: no takey-backies. Period. On the Free Internet Chess Server, via which I play Internet chess, now and again an opponent will send me a message asking me for a takeback. Luckily for me, I won't see that message during the game, because the interface I use with the Free Internet Chess Server allows me to choose a full-screen board which, during the games, completely blocks out the console containing all messages. It happens now and then that an opponent, waiting and waiting for a response while his clock ticks down, not sharing my no-takebacks policies, will send me a further message informing me that I am a **** for not granting the takeback request. These sorts of angry messages may continue for a while after the game is over. I never respond to abusive messages on chess servers, but if I were to respond I'd say something like this: "You're right, I'm a **** who never grants takeback requests. Please, tell everyone you possibly can. It'll be a win-win, because everyone who doesn't share my policy will now know that I'm a **** and carefully avoid playing me, while I will be spared reading tedious messages like yours."

Often the afflicted opponent will explain that what has just happened was a mouse slip. If I were to respond to these plaintive missives -- I don't, but if I were to I would say "I thought it probably was a mouse slip. You know what I do if I suffer a lot of mouse slips one after the other? I fix my mouse! Cause it comes under the category of my problem, just as this comes under the heading of yours." (Similarly, sometimes an opponent will ask to adjourn the game, saying that their boss is approaching. Naturally I won't grant the adjournment, as I won't see the message during the game, but I wouldn't grant it if I saw it. As regular readers of this blog know, in most things I'm decidedly pro-labor, but this would be one of those rare exceptions: I sat down to the game expecting to finish it in one sitting, it's usually a 5-0 blitz game, 5 minutes allotted per side, no increments, no extensions, no timeouts, no takebacks, no mercy! and if I have anything to say about it, no adjournments either, and my opponent's boss apparently expected him to be doing something other than playing chess. This one time I sympathize with the boss.)

Some time ago I discovered that I could disable the feature on the Free Internet Chess Server which enabled my opponent to hit one button and cause a "Takeback" button to light up on my board, which if I pressed would grant the takeback request. It was a good day when I disabled that feature. Now, I don't know whether the "Request Takeback" is not on the opponent's board when he plays me, or if it simply no longer responds. I suppose it might be different on different interfaces. And I don't care. I'm not there playing chess in order to be nice. Among other reasons, I'm there to vent some of my aggressive, less-than-nice tendencies, so that I might tend to be more nice when I'm not playing chess. It is said that precisely such an improvement in one's day-to-day behavior may have been the main reason chess was invented to begin with, back in India around the 6th century. Bobby Fischer said that the object of chess was to crush the opponent's mind. Like a lot of things Bobby said and did, that remark was a little over the top, but you get the idea.

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