Ruth Ann Fay New NAPZ Director
ICCF has just concluded its elections for the four Zonal Directors.
Ruth Ann Fay, of the ICCF-U.S. office, joins her husband SIM
Max Zavanelli on the ICCF Executive board (Max is the ICCF Deputy
President and Development Director, in addition to his position as ICCF-U.S.
Secretary). I wonder if this is the first husband/wife combination to
serve on the ICCF Executive Board, previous called the Presidium? Congratulations
to Ruth Ann on her new job … she has served very well as Deputy
Director for some years. Retiring as NAPZ Director after four excellent
years of service is APCT member and good personal friend Ralph Marconi
of Canada. Thanks for your good work, Ralph! The North American/Pacific
Zone consists of these countries: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan,
Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, USA.
The other three zonal directors are: Europe - G-M. Tani (Italy),
Latin America - G. Toro Solis de Ovando (Chile) [who edged out
P. Salcedo Mederos (Cuba) by 7 votes to 5 votes], and Africa/Asia
- M. Samraoui (Algeria). All four are well-known and respected international
chess organizers who should serve ICCF and the cc community very well
Richard Pyle of Southern California sent me the following amusing
version of the Royal Game. After reading all the serious discussion
of chess ethics below, you may decide to try this form of the game yourself!
Richard says these rules were described "on the local country station
here in Southern California".
Pawns: shot glasses with shot of Snapps
Rooks: shot glasses with Amaretto
Knights: shot glasses with shot of Bourbon
Bishops: shot glasses with shot of Tequilla
Queens: glasses with 2 oz. Vodka and 4 oz. Orange Juice (&
Kings: glasses with 2 oz. Bicardi 151 proof Rum, 3 oz. Cola,
1 oz. Grenadine
To play, all standard chess rules apply with the following additions
- If you're going to move, and you must move, you have to drink a
shot of beer to start your move.
- If you touch a piece and choose not to move it, you have to drink
a beer before you can move another piece.
- If you touch your opponent's piece without taking it, or when you
can't take it (without announcing adjusting), you have to drink it's
contents (bartender will refill it so game can continue).
- When a piece is captured, owner of lost piece must drink its contents.
- When either side castles, a "Royal Toast" must be done by everyone
(including spectators). A "Royal Toast" is a 6 oz. glass with 2 ounces
Triple-sec, 2 ounces Grenadine, 1 oz Vodka, 1 oz Rum.
- When checkmate occurs, the winner drinks the contents of the checkmated
King; the loser drinks the contents of all pieces left on board.
"I thought you might enjoy reading this one on chess -- or use it for
Thanks, "Pyle-Driver". I enjoyed reading about this interesting form
of the game, though my doctor would never allow me to consider participating
myself! I would think bar owners would like to see this form of the
game catch on.
Kasparov vs. X3D Fritz … on TV!
In November 2003 there was another high profile man-computer match
in New York City. The first game saw Kasparov as White getting a clear
edge, but Fritz defended well and got the draw. Game two saw Kasparov
as Black defending a Ruy Lopez, appearing to get a slight advantage
with a possible King-side attack. At a critical moment in some time
pressure Kasparov blundered away a pawn allowing Fritz a direct attack
on his King. I turned on the TV to watch coverage of game three (of
four total games) on the sports network ESPN2. First I watched the end
of the previous program on team rope jumping. Then I got to see Miss
New York City speak the first move for game 3. Not only is the game
being played using a "virtual chess board" but the human moves are being
made using voice recognition. Kasparov sits in front on a computer monitor
wearing special 3D glasses, which gives him a 3D view of the chess board
(which he can adjust to the angle he wishes). When he decides on his
move he speaks it into a microphone and the computer interprets his
words using voice recognition software.
I just switched to Chess.FM internet radio (during a TV commercial
break) and heard GM John Fedorowitz commenting on the jump rope competition,
which he found quite interesting. I find it amusing that the match is
being called a world championship event. How will Kasparov respond to
being down by a point with just two games remaining? Will the blunder
in the previous game create special psychological problems for the past
Update following end of match.
Kasparov came through playing a masterful anti-computer game with White
in game 3 to level the match. Then, to the surprise of no one (except
the TV commentators), he played a solid, drawish line as Black to get
the 2-2 tie. I've seen a pre-publication version of an article by strong
cc competitor Bob Rizzo which should be published in a future
issue of Chess Life and I can recommend reading it. I must admit
that I found this "world Championship" event most interesting. Kasparov
showed very clearly in game 3 how a human player can outplay the computer
by maneuvering it into the right kind of position. He showed a very
human weakness in game two by making one critical error, possibly due
to fatigue. If you worry about your opponents using a computer to make
their moves you might gain some understanding of how to play against
the computer by carefully examining the first three games of this match,
where Kasparov had advantages. Don't bother with game four, though.
Checkmatey … Cartoon Star?
In my channel surfing I was stunned to find a TV cartoon focusing on
the participants of a chess tournament, in particular a character named
"Checkmatey." The cartoon was part of a series named "Fillmore!" on
the Toon Disney channel. Checkmatey was a rap-style rhyming artist who
celebrated his victories by bustin' some rap-style lines, to the delight
of his fans and disgust of his non-fans. He had a devoted fan club (mostly
teenage girls) and an equally devoted group opposed to his approach
to chess (one of them yelled, "Return dignity to the royal game!").
I liked their meeting room with posters like "Chess Rules!".
In the end Checkmatey learned to face his fear of losing to a superior
player in the final of the championship and to lose with dignity. He
summarized his loss by explaining, "His moves are way too slamin'".
I was impressed with the realistic depiction of chess moves and the
use of the chess clock. It is encouraging to see chess penetrate American
culture to the extent of being a normal setting for a cartoon. The hero
of this story was actually Fillmore, who solved the mystery of the disappearance
of Checkmatey just before the final. He said, "Don't mess with the mistro."
In this case he was referring to himself, though, after dismissing a
challenger to his crown in a Sloppy Joe Eating contest (he ate his opponent
under the table).
The Rules Define the Ethics (Once Again)
Last time I issued a challenge to readers:
"Come up with a concrete, unequivocal example of something, within
the narrow confines of the rules of chess, which is legal and yet
at the same time unethical."
SIM Robin Smith, a 2-time USA champion, sent this short, to-the-point
I should think murdering your opponent would qualify.
Neil Limbert, a BCCA member from Yorkshire, England, sent this:
You have asked for possible examples of unethical play within the
rules. I would like to propose that the use of Endgame Tablebases
may fit this criteria.
It is now possible to play 5 piece (sometimes 6) endings perfectly
accessing such Tablebases. In fact, you no longer have to buy Endgame
CD-Roms as access is now available, for free, on the Net (see Chess
However, imagine you have struggled in a game for several weeks/months,
a pawn down, desperately trying to draw. Suddenly, you reach 6 pieces
or less & your opponent will immediately know if there is a forced
win. In fact, he may have already consulted the Tablebase with a theoretical
position & traded down accordingly! You may have been wasting your
time for months.
Is this unethical or just good research? Is not a Test of individual
Endgame technique a crucial part of the game?
Here are some additional remarks by Stephan Gerzadowicz, now
living in Texas and involved with after-school enrichment programs for
students with poor testing results.
Of course I think I have been giving the asked for examples. But
here are a couple more, one CC, one OTB.
I think it is unethical to offer an "if" move that you know is not
the opponent's best move, hoping that by so doing he fails to find
that best move. Of course, he should still analyze with his usual
intensity, but he may be lazy - OR TRUSTING. I think the offer of
the second rate move is a form of deception.
I was directing a tournament. Dan was paired with Ron. 50/2. Ron
always got in time trouble. Dan scrawled his first three moves on
the score sheet, using four move lines to record them. Then he neatly
wrote the players' 4th moves on the line for move 5. And maintained
a model score sheet thereafter. Ron, in time trouble, stopped keeping
score. Dan left his score sheet clearly visible. When he recorded
Ron's last move on line 50 Ron saw that - and relaxed. His flag fell.
Dan called me over, said, "Gee, I didn't notice how sloppily I had
written earlier, but it seems that whatever the move line shows we
actually made only 49 moves and poor Ron has lost on time."
I knew Danny. His smile as he was talking told me that this ploy
was intentional. It was legal. It was unethical.
You say you "have considered … unwritten rules a very bad thing."
Sorry. We have them. Every culture does. They are called Ethical Norms.
They evolved because they make a society work better. Disregarding
them in any context is bad for society and our own psychology.
Don't you think Dan behaved badly? We encourage such behaviour when
we stress Legality, discourage it when we stress Morality.
Forwarded to me by Stephan Gerzadowicz are these comments from Edward
If you know your flag has fallen, but your opponent does not, offering
a draw is legal but certainly not ethical.
If during adjournment you realize the move you sealed is invalid,
offering a draw is legal but certainly not ethical.
If during adjournment you tell your opponent you sealed a stronger
move than you actually did and thereby gain his resignation or draw
agreement that is legal, not ethical.
Black castles through check. White realizes this but instead of pointing
out the illegal move, he launches an all out attack. Eight or nine
moves later, White realizes that the has sacrificed too much material
and that he is losing. NOW he points out the illegal castling move
and has the game returned to the position before that move. Legal,
not ethical. (This one could be OTB or CC.)
Internet cc guru SIM John Knudsen contributed these comments:
The only rule that I can come up which clearly involves questionable
ethical practices is the ICCF's "phony day rule". It states that even
if you receive an email one day (and start analyzing the position)
you can claim that you received the email the next day. In other words,
regardless of the actual circumstances, you are being encouraged to
engage in a falsehood with your opponent. This rule was intended to
cover time zone problems regarding email transit time, but has become
simply an extra day's reflection time per move. Taking the extra day
each day is perfectly legal, but could be highly unethical, depending
upon the actual circumstances. It could in fact be a bold-faced lie.
I would also like to comment on Stephan Gerzadowicz' stimulating
piece in the November/December column. Stephan's basic problem in
logic is that he seeks to apply his own high standards of ethics to
others. Some situations have absolutely nothing to do with ethics.
The given cc scenario is a good example of ethics only being remotely
germane to the situation. Whether a player insisted that a clerical
error stand or not is a personal choice - in fact, some playing rules
prohibit a legal move once made being changed in any way! So you could
in fact have a situation where Stephan's behavior was unethical, because
it violated the playing rules. Yet, from Stephan's higher plane of
existence (for lack of a better phrase to use) it is the most honorable
and noble course to take. Complicated ethical matters seldom have
I believe that Stephan and I have something in common, a great respect
for Henry David Thoreau. My favorite Thoreau work is "Walden". As
you know, Thoreau went into the woods, built a cabin, and contemplated
life in general. In Walden, Thoreau writes:
"When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I
lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a house which
I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord, Massachusetts,
and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there
two years and two months. At present I am a sojourner in civilized
What Thoreau fails to mention is that he used to pop into Concord
for supper at a friend's house, or just to visit with a friend, when
the solitude got to be a bit much, during his time in Walden Pond.
Was it unethical for Thoreau to not mention this in his book? Was
it unethical for him to make it seem like he was out of touch with
civilization (more or less) for two years and two months? Does it
make the book Walden any less brilliant for the reader to know this?
I mention this only because I think many things have less to do with
ethics, and more to do with choices, in conjunction with the playing
rules. For the avocation of correspondence chess, the playing rules
must be the ultimate judge of ethics - everything else is a personal
choice or prejudice, one way or the other.
Lyle Cherner (Arizona) sent the following:
I will tell you why I no longer allow any opponent to take back moves
- It is against the rules. Once a move is transmitted it cannot
- Nice guys finish last
- It is against my religion
- Winning is everything
Ok, those are NOT the true reasons. While I have allowed take backs
in the past, I no longer will, and here is the real reason. There
is no telling what effect it can have on a tourney. The last time
I did it, I was playing in an email clubs "World Championship". Nine
player with top 2 advancing to the next round. I was 7-0 and guaranteed
advancement. The last game I was playing was against a fine opponent
and it was a truly fun game. I was struggling to hold the position
and really enjoying the game. Each move was tough, and each receipt
of move was enjoyable, and painful. He then sends me an out-and-out
blunder that is mate in two. It was obvious that it was either a typo
or he had a wrong position.
I allowed him to correct the error, and as expected I lost the game
in another month or so. It was no big deal to me; I had already qualified
to the next round. What bothers me to this day was the effect of the
take back. My 'friend' finished 2nd and also qualified......by a 1/2
point. By allowing the take back I inadvertently decided who qualified.
I cheated the #3 player out of his rightful place in round 2. These
things also can happen in any tourney. By taking moves back, you can
decide who wins money, or prestige. Even when nothing but pride is
involved, you can really hurt someone.
Robert C. Woodworth of Omaha, NE sent the following"
Example #1 - When playing OTB in rated tournament chess and when
it is your turn to move, constantly touching and appearing to move
your pieces (with no verbal warning) which legally cannot move but
for which there is no touch-move penalty for doing so (e.g., rooks
at the opening phase of a game).
Example #2 - In correspondence chess, always sending your opponent
a legal but absolutely, totally ridiculous "if-move" which he will
never accept but will annoy him considerable.
In conclusion, I don't endorse the above two examples of poor gamesmanship
but strongly believe there should be some penalties for doing so!!
Rob Wright of Ashland, KY wrote:
There seems to be some confusion of issues. The rules of chess are
absolute laws, and, therefore, not subject to ethical consideration.
A Queen may never move like a Knight, which may never move like a
Rook, which may never move like a Bishop. If we change these absolutes,
we are no longer playing chess, and the question of chess ethics become
meaningless. Questioning the rules of the game is like questioning
the "cattiness" of a cat; neither is a profitable investment of thought.
However, the issue of the rules of a particular chess organization,
which goes beyond the rules of chess, is another matter. Most postal
organizations permit consulting books, magazines, data bases, and
other such resources, but not asking the opinion of another player.
Are not the aforementioned legal references anything but the opinions
of other players? I'd never ask my buddy Joe what move to make in
any given position, but I'd seriously consider making the move that
Lasker or Taimanov recommends. This is legal, but is it ethical? Many
cc groups forbid the use of chess engines to generate actual moves,
yet they permit the use of data bases which can tell me that in 85%
of the cases such-and-such a move resulted in a win for White. Again
perfectly legal, but is it ethical?
I wish to comment on something previously written. Mr. Gerzadowicz
gives an example of a second baseman tagging a base runner so hard
that it knocks the runner's teeth out-perfectly legal, but not necessarily
ethical. If I am given the opportunity to capture an opponent's Knight
with a Pawn (a "soft tag") or with a Queen (a "hard tag"), and everything
else being equal, am I unethical for making the Queen move? Both are
legal. When given the opportunity to promote a Pawn to either Rook
or Queen, and either of which would checkmate an opponent, is one
move more ethical than the other? Chess is a violent game by nature,
and moves that exert maximum force or minimum force are not a question
of ethics but of esthetics. Or is it? If I am facing a particularly
weak opponent, who has maneuvered himself into a hopeless position,
and I am able to enforce mate in 5 moves with an ugly yet effective
combination but choose instead to continue the game for 20 moves so
I may enforce a pretty little mate with my KB-Pawn, have I been ethical?
Legal yes, but making my opponent waste money on the additional but
unnecessary postage may not be the kindest thing to do.
GM Tunc Hamarat (Austria), who is battling it out with I. Samarin
(Russia) for the 16th World Championship, contributed the following
remarks on the cc message board:
My short golden rule is as follows: The ethics in chess is in our
heart and not in rules.
As an example: Any player who has some big problems should be helped,
let's say not considering his time taken for this bad time for him,
although this is against the rules.
This is my subjective opinion, of course, and most of the people
beginning with Kasparov will joke with such a behaviour.
So I cannot give an answer to this question !
It is hard for me to give clear, unbiased conclusions since I started
this discussion by taking a strong stand on one side of the question.
However, my attempt is to remain open to examples of unethical behavior
which is clearly legal. There are some very interesting examples above,
some not very convincing, some that make me wonder.
I particularly like Gerzadowicz's real-life example of the player who
intentionally numbered his moves incorrectly in an OTB game, expecting
his time trouble prone opponent to use his numbering to dictate his
actions. This may separate the hard-core "rules define ethics" people
from the hard-core "rules do NOT define ethics" people. Was this player
clever to exploit his opponent's known weakness? Or was he a jerk who
will set his ethics aside to win a game by an underhanded, unethical
What about Robin Smith's humorous example of murdering your opponent?
This is clearly an illegal and immoral act which anyone would consider
unethical. However, in a strictly chess sense, would this technically
be considered illegal? There would be no problem in APCT, since the
rules of play start with this statement: "The following rules of play
apply to all APCT events, and are intended as general guidelines. They
do NOT cover all game situations. The judgment and decision of the Tournament
Director shall be invoked when no specific rule is applicable." If you
were the tournament director, would you have any problem determining
the legality of murdering an opponent to get the point?
The ICCF rules aren't so clear. I found this in one set of ICCF rules:
"any matter not covered in them shall be decided by the Tournament Director
according to the principles stated in the Preface of the FIDE Laws of
FIDE Rules, Article 12: The conduct of the players
12.1 The players shall take no action that will bring the game of
chess into disrepute.
12.5 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner
whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims or offers of a draw.
I think a TD might reasonably apply either of these rules to murdering
your opponent. If my opponent murdered me, I might be highly annoyed!
I could also accept the argument that ending a game of chess by murdering
your opponent could be interpreted as bringing chess into disrepute.
A number of other actions that may not clearly be covered by the rules
of play could be interpreted as illegal by a tournament director, such
as repeated offers of a draw or giving ridiculous "if" moves. I had
a single unpleasant occurrence in the ICCF Champions League event. I
gave an "if" move that was clearly inferior. My opponent found a much
better move leading to a win (my "if" move would allow me to draw).
However, it was unintentional! My opponent analyzed the position better
and thought I was trying to trick him. Though not illegal, he interpreted
my "if" move as an unethical trick and complained about it. We eventually
settled our differences and continued peacefully, but this does show
the dangers of assuming the worst of your opponent. ICCF has a motto
which covers this type of situation … Amici Sumus (We Are Friends).
This implies thinking the best of your opponent, giving her the benefit
of the doubt. So many problems would never occur if all cc players followed
this wonderful motto.
How about gamesmanship? The player who numbers her moves incorrectly
… proposed a draw after her flag is down … claims an extra day thinking
time on each move using the ICCF "phoney day" rule … proposing an inferior
"if" move … are these acts, assuming they are legal, unethical? Or are
The person who players by the rules and insists that her opponent do
the same thing, is in good company when we include all competitive sports.
The basketball player who steps on the line as she inbounds the ball,
the baseball player who hits a homerun but fails to touch a base while
rounding them, the American football pass receiver who inadvertently
goes out of bounds and then comes back inbounds to catch a pass … all
these players will be penalized for a trivial mistake. Yet it is a critical
part of competing to be able to rigidly follow these rules of play.
For example, allowing a take-back seems to me to be a non-issue. In
a non-competitive situation I wouldn't hesitate to allow it, but in
an official event I wouldn't let my opponent take back her move. A baseball
player doesn't strike out and say, "I was expecting a curve and you
threw a fastball … give me another swing." No serious sport allows such
excuses. No one expects the rules to be set aside to their team's benefit.
In American football we often use TV replay to examine the minute details
of a play to determine the accuracy of an official's decision. The decision
isn't an ethical issue … it's an issue of accuracy.
Have any of you been convinced? Do any of these examples fulfill the
stated objective? I'm still open to input on this critical question.
Critical? … maybe not. I summarized the discussion from the previous
two columns and posted the summary on the Internet asking the same questions
of my Internet readers, and I got very few submissions. I expected to
be snowed under with suggestions. Besides Mr. G. and myself and the
few others who have kindly shared their opinions and experiences in
this and previous columns (thanks to you all!), not too many people
seem to believe this is an earth-shaking, life and death type of issue.
When it comes right down to it, I like the view expressed by the world
championship contender Tunc Hamarat when he said, "The ethics in chess
is in our heart and not in rules." If you heart tells you that you must
apply certain unwritten rules to be an ethical player, then I suppose
you must apply these rules. We must all be faithful to our own ethical
selves. However, we should also be careful not to expect our opponents
to abide by our personal unwritten rules. A personal example … in ICCF
play I don't ever claim the extra "phoney day" allowed (described above
by John Knudsen), but when my opponents do I never question it. It is
legal, I just "choose" to apply the rule in the way I think it was intended
… to deal with the difference in time zones.
Dav Tarlecki's Opening Laboratory
I got an interesting letter from APCT'er Dav Tarlecki of La
Rose, Illinois, which I'll quote from below. Dav has been showcased
in "Games from APCT Play" and was a winner in the 2000 Best Games competition.
He wrote, in part:
Enclosed are some of my "Macheide" Opening/Defense games from APTC
… so that you can verify I do, indeed, invent "original" openings.
It was my intention to introduce my numerous "original" openings via
APCT tournaments, as I did with my Macheide O./D., but in June 2003
pain in my shoulders brought to my attention that "osteoporosis" had
returned to me. … The purpose of this letter is not to tell you my
troubles but, rather, to enlist your aid to enable me to introduce
my "masterpiece" openings to the world chess community. …
I am 69 years old, and I have more than 37 "original" openings needing
to be introduced (double that amount if you count their Black counterpart,
not mentioning about 20 to 30 more that are not of the same quality
as the first 37!), and considering that it takes a year or better
to conclude a section, I doubt if I have 37 more years to live! …
I seek no remuneration for my openings gifts to Chess, only the satisfaction
that I have returned some of the joy Chess has brought me. …
All the great chess players, the world champions, and other Grandmasters,
since at least the 1920's (probably before) had all been saying that
there are no more good openings/defenses to find (invent), for they
had all already been found (invented). Wrong!! My Paul Morphy, Caissa,
and Macheide openings/defenses prove them wrong, but my "Genius!"
O./D. proves them wrong in spades. My "Genius!" O.D. will live up
to its name! Many of my other openings children are equally brilliant
and beautiful and will make me immortal in chess history. Do you have
any "ideas" on how to introduce my openings??
Alas, considering my own age/health I'm not sure I can help, though
the first thing to comes to mind is to create Internet web pages to
publish this material to the chess world. This much material would take
a considerable commitment by a webmaster, though. Perhaps readers can
suggest practical ideas for publishing Dav's opening discoveries or
perhaps produce a volunteer to help him publish his ideas.