Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Fischer's Law

My reading material at the moment is Daniel Dennett’s book on evolution – Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. It’s a fantastic book dealing with both the philosophical and scientific aspects of Darwinism and ought to be mandatory reading for anyone obtuse enough to doubt the very real fact of evolution, or to try and substitute some form of creationsim. But enough politics; in a footnote in the book I found, oddly enough, a very interesting gaming reference.

The author claims (with what veracity I do not know) that a popular tactic of the famous US chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer was to deliberately make moves with no clear purpose in order to confuse and bamboozle his opponent. His hope was that by doing this, the other player would take much longer than normal in making his move whilst he puzzled over the meaning of Fischer’s’ play. This would eventually tell on the chess clock, either forcing rushed moves later in the game or even potentially run them out of time completely. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that for those of us who play chess at a less rarefied level, pulling off a stunt like this has the potential to yield rewards without having to rely on the artificial limitation of the clock.

What struck me about this particular piece of unorthodox genius is that there are a wide range of modern games in which this particular tactic wouldn’t work. Interestingly enough there is also an ancient game where it would have little or no application either – Go. Since many, many moves in a Go game have no obvious and apparent purpose anyway – I have been told that a good Go player should “feel” his moves as much as he thinks about them – trying to confuse an opponent with a random play is just wasting a stone.

On further reflection it occurred to me that allowing for the deliberate confusion tactics in the mechanics might actually be a worthwhile marker of what I would consider a game worth playing. I call this formulation “Fischer’s Law of Game Quality”. It can be crudely summarised thus – “Good games are those which allow a player to gain an advantage through making suboptimal moves by confusing his opponent(s)”. So what does it actually mean if a game doesn’t meet the rather rough specification of Fischer’s Law?

Firstly it means that the game has little, if any, social interaction associated with the game itself. Any game which has social elements combined with hidden information has set up bluffing as a viable strategy, and as long as bluffing is a viable strategy then the game obviously comes under auspices of Fischer’s Law. After all, what was Fischer attempting to pull off in his games if not a gigantic bluff?

Secondly it means that the game has to have limited player interaction. The definition of player interaction itself is pretty vague but for my purposes it usually means that a game has to have pieces on a board which manoeuvre and can contest control of board space with pieces from another player. The manoeuvre bit is important – Chess would qualify but Go would not – because without it it’s possible to be placing things on a board that don’t interact with those of your opponents. The vague definition of “control” is also important because it widens the definition beyond just direct confrontation combat games to include other mechanics such as area control and area majority.

Thirdly it means that the game cannot be one in which making optimal moves at every turn is important for play balance. If that deliberately provocative move is obviously deliberately provocative or if, in a multiplayer scenario, it hands a clear advantage to another player down the line then you’re just going to end up loosing and looking like an idiot. There are various ways for a game not to end up breaking this knock-on prediction of the law. One of them, clearly, is for the game to have enough random elements in it to make your sub-par move look like a gamble or an honest mistake instead of the clever sucker-punch it really is. Another is for the game to have a complex enough decision tree to make the analysis of whether it was really a poor move rather difficult and this of course is where chess falls in to line.

As I write this it’s suddenly occurred to me that what I’ve done is simply taken the three things I’ve previously identified as the markers which can differentiate a good Euro from a poor Euro and turned them on their head, identifying them from the other direction. However, Fischer’s law still serves a wider purpose. Firstly it encapsulates those principles much more neatly since from a one-line statement you can deduce the marginally more complex thoughts I had on the subject. Second it allows me to cast my net wider and identify bad Ameritrash games. The reason for this is that the law has a fourth aspect which I’ve yet to touch on – games with excessive random factors will fall foul of it because too much chaos means lack of meaningful strategy. And without a meaningful strategy it’s not possible to make a deliberately non-strategic move for the express purpose of confusing everyone else at the table. And of course, as I’ve long lamented, over-reliance on random factors is the biggest bane of the genre that we love.

There are also very important exceptions to Fischer’s Law. Dexterity games ought to be exempt, as should party games and games based almost entirely on gambling. We should recognise this because these sorts of games are often awesomely entertaining! The other exception is to recognise that there are certain games which can fail to meet the demands of Fischer’s Law and still be excellent games – Puerto Rico is a great example which escapes by virtue of it having made the branches of its fairly simple decision tree fiendishly difficult to pick and choose between (and that’s the unique virtue of the game if you ask me). But there’s always an exception that proves the rule.

At this point I probably ought to point out that I’ve taken a vague notion that occurred to me while reading a complicated book late at night after too much wine and spun it out to a quite ridiculous degree. There are obvious problems with it not covered by my exceptions above, such as the fact that it in no way relates to the way in which the inclusion of an appropriate level of randomness can vastly improve an otherwise dull game. So have I wasted blog space? I hope not. I think that even if the idea is fundamentally fairly unsound it’s kicked up a few issues worth mulling over.

So. Chess, anyone?

44 comments:

Matt Loter said...

I wonder, is this an attempt by FA to throw us off for the next great post?

But seriously, this is one of the most interesting ideas about gaming I've read in a while. I still dunno if I agree, but it makes for stimulating thought and that in itself is worth it.

I think that without a doubt if a game allows wheels within wheels its generally a good one, and I especially like having that concept identified in a more concise way.

robertb said...

I assume we're not talking about feints or establishing multiple threats here; we're talking about a move that basically boils down to a 'pass' if all we're talking about is the state of the game.

I think this works in tournament chess because there _is_ a game clock. By the time your opponent has figured out that it was a suboptimal or null move, they've burned up a bunch of clock time. You've basically traded some tempo for some clock time. If there's no clock, I'm not sure what you're trading tempo _for_.

That's not to say that confusion doesn't have its place in gaming. I remember hearing some chess commentary by Josh Waitzkin describing an opponent whose specialty was placing you in such confusing situations tactically that it was easy to make a misstep and shoot yourself in the foot. But these weren't null moves per se, these were unusual, yet still dangerous board positions that might or might not have contained flaws.

And BTW, the Dennett book is a great book on the subject, at least a rank nonbiologist beginner like me thinks so.

Diogenes said...

I'm not sure I entirely buy the second criterion in its entirety, since I can think of a number of highly interactive area control games that do not involve maneuver at all but are pure placement games. I define interactivity as "your actions directly effect a opponents position in a way that changes how they can continue to play." If they can follow a scripted play sequence regardless of what you are doing with a significant chance of success then it is minimally interactive at best.

As to the value of pseudo-random play, the key issue is does that bluff cause the other player(s) to waste some resource in analyzing the play? In the case of a timed game, certainly, but if there is no time limit and absent some other factor such as risking a beating due to "slow of play by A/P" then it doesn't necessarily follow that allowing for such "Fischerian Play" is a true hallmark of a superior game.

robertb said...

After rerereading your post, I think I've actually come around to what you're driving at. To me, it looks like you're saying that to be Ameritrash, the game has to have enough hidden or indeterminable information in it to put a player in a spot where they can't tell the difference between bluffs, feints, or real yet hidden threats. Can I make another player waste some of his resources on my bluff?

I guess in the end though, it looks to me like it all boils down to "Does a game have enough hidden information in it to let me bluff?" Which I guess is as good as a place to split Ameritrash/eurogames apart as any.

J de said...

The possibilities for this kind of trick depend on information and risk. The confusion stems from a lack of information on the opponent's side.

It is not entirely dependent on complex decisions trees. Of course, in a chess tournament mid-game there are too many options to fully evaluate all the options. But if you do it in the opening moves, the variants are so well studied that the opponent will be able to make sense fo it. That´s why thes etricks generally work best with players who are not too experienced, but also not complete noobs, because the latter can´t even distinguish a suboptimal move.

Time plays a role in evaluation, but is also not necessary. I think it's not very far from a poker bluff, which only works because the opponent doesn't know what you have got in your hand (although he can estimate the possibilities), no matter how much time he spends thinking about it. So I´d go for the slightly more vague ´information overload´.

There is only a point of performing these tricks if it actually threatens the opponent. Making a suboptimal move which has no impact on others is just a suboptimal move.

It doesn't have to be direct interaction. Even in a multiplayer solitaire, you can make the other players uncomfortable by a high risk high return strategy.

E.g. a move that might indicate that you will be able to finish the game earlier than they, could force them into speeding up as well and changing to less profitable but faster projects.

Anonymous said...

The zeroth principle of Fisshcer's law:

Your opponent has to have already accepted the fact that you are much smarter than they are.

Other wise they will see your lame move for what it is.

Old Dwarf said...

I'm going to have too much wine &
reread this.

Thaadd said...

Old Dwarf said...

I'm going to have too much wine &
reread this.


Sounds like a plan.

I am a VERY bad chess player. I think of it as a game where you have to plan the future out in a dozen different directions. This is not my strong point.

However, I do enjoy games where Stratagy as such exist, and has enough variation that me playing to mess with people rather than win causes them to do dumb things. This is best when it causes me to win :)

'She should be doing this, but isn't. Perhaps there is something else going on. Does she have that objective card? Did she plan behind my back while I was out smoking?'

Hmm. Reminds me. Need to get a game of Colonial Diplomacy going during the holidays. Nothing like spreading holiday cheer by stabbing friends in the back.

Good article!

vialiy said...

I would not relate the Fischer thing to games. It really belongs to the meta-game. Fischer played on his immense reputation, he knew a random move from him would be seen by his opponent as being part of a very complex strategy. I cannot think of a strategy game where I would not be put off somewhat by a great player doing something I don't understand.

Mikoyan said...

The feint seems to work more in games where theme and conflict are more important than cames where getting along all nice like is important. It's kind of like keeping an American fleet in the Pacific. Granted, it might not be doing anything, but it keeps the Japanese honest.

I can't imagine a feint in Caylus that would work. Same with Puerto Rico.

But I forget, the three hours of Axis and Allies only comes down to that last die roll.

steinley said...

I thought this is an excellent post. I really agree with the line of reasoning about optimal play and the benefit of suboptimal moves.

I think that what people really mean when they say optimal moves is the optimal move on that turn for the state of the game; however, optimal move often boils down to things like "most common move" or "the accepted right move" and such because it is probably impossible to figure out the ture optimal move for any given turn.

Over the course of a game, a series of suboptimal moves each turn, might turn out to be optimal--once again though, this is impossible to prove. So this gets very muddy, but I think that it can be quite effective. Additionally, the usual random component in Ameritrash makes it easier to "disguise" the degree of sub-optimal move that you are making.

As an aside, I just wrote a very similar post on BGG about how the talk of optimal moves (aka, everyone's favorite annoying Puerto Rico player telling you what you should/shouldn't be doing) is a bunch of bullshit and how appropriate levels of randomness create layers of complexity, better games (both from a fun perspective and a mechanics perspective), and more rich stories....this is the exactly the kind of thing I would like to post here if there was a website that allowed such things (just thought I would throw my support into the ring).

Mikoyan said...

When "Mr. Your Move Sucks" tells me to do something, I usually look at him and do what I was going to do anyway. After that point, it's my goal in life to fuck with him.

simon said...

Ha ha, Matt, you're F:AT's games philosopher.

Well, I agree with you, but the problem with eurogamers again is: they just won't listen :(

StephenAvery said...

...making moves with no apparent reason...

That is my strategy in every game. If I ever do pick an icon, it will probably be a chaos symbol (probably on a tanktop ;)

Steve"Chaos"Avery

Malloc said...

This is interesting timing.

I was discussing yesterday on a chat the game citadels, I was saying i enjoy the game, but another chatter was running it down for being too random. His complaint was that in oder to stop someone he had to guess what role the chose. Now I wont go into his poor play, and timing of his attempt to stop someone being the real problem, but it was for me that very uncertainty that he was speaking of that provides most of the entertainment for the game.

I think you hit on the same sort of thing. In your example Fischer was using this to cost the other player time. But the ability to keep one's intentions a secret is a key factor in many games I personally enjoy. The surprise attack in Diplomacy, the unexpected grab of a secret objective in Ti3.

I am surprised that you defend PR like that. It is clearly a game that suffers from non-optimal play. That is one of the reasons i am finished with it as a game I care about. It is only any good if all players play their absolute best, and then what are you doing other than running a complex game engine to its forgone conclusion?

All this aside, Matt that was on of the best articles I have seen poste on here.

-M

pat said...

Chess is at it's heart a wargame. Fischer would be the exalted Field Marshal. Part of war and wargames by extension is the feint. When Montgomery dreamt up market garden it cost Rundstedt valuable moments to digest what was happening and whether or not the attack was legit or a feint thinking that the "habit ridden" Montgomery would never have been so bold.

This "Fischer's Law" works well enough in a wargame where you need to factor in the reputation of your opponent and his/her history, the true aim of the move, as well as your own resources which include time in addition to forces.

I pull this shit all the time and it often bites me in the ass, but when it works it becomes obvious to all and it is usually very satisfying.

www.trashcanfun.com said...

The problem with Dennett is he falls into the Neo-Darwinist whirlpool of applying a biological theory to every science.

I can agree that the feint is a core requirement for any war game, which is what chess basically is.

You have to love a gaming blog where you are questioned with game theory versus unintelligible reviews which score a game low because the box is hard to open.

Matt Thrower said...

Which I guess is as good as a place to split Ameritrash/eurogames apart as any.

My intention wasn't to try and make an AT/Euro split here - I'm trying to get away from that sort of thing. Rather it's a split between what I judge to be good and bad games. There are good Euros which obey Fischer's law and bad AT games which bypass it.

I would not relate the Fischer thing to games. It really belongs to the meta-game.

Actually Vialiy, this whole post was just an attempt to get an edge in our Twilight Struggle PBEM game by making you paranoid about what I was up to :)

Ha ha, Matt, you're F:AT's games philosopher.

Well someone has to try and raise the tone around here!

I am surprised that you defend PR like that.

Well okay, I probably shouldn't have said excellent. But it is pretty good.

PR does have the optimal move problem, but only in the early game. The first 2-3 rounds are almost entirely predictable when watching experience players but after that, the random pool of plantations starts to affect strategy and things get interesting.

The thing that keeps PR interesting is the fact that it has a relatively simple decision tree on which the potential values are very had to differentiate. That means it doesn't take long for a new player to learn those moves which are clearly suboptimal while still leaving potential for interesting play that rewards experience and skill.

The problem with Dennett is he falls into the Neo-Darwinist whirlpool of applying a biological theory to every science.

Agreed. Some of the results are quite interesting. Others look like train-wrecks to me but he ploughs on with enthusiasm regardless.

The core book though, about the philosophical and biological implications of the idea is as clear-headed and comprehensive as anything else I've read on the subject.

kriz said...

Ooo...I like chess...I like reading about evolutionary theory...nice article.

I agree that the bluff only works if you cost your opponent some sort of resource, in this case time.

The best "Ameritrash" move I've seen in a chess game was one this guy I play chess with all the time showed me, he claims to have successfully used it in many tournaments. It's very devious.
When setting up the game, he "twists" his knights, setting them up in the unconventional way of facing the outside of the board rather than straight ahead. He has a certain set of opening moves that an experienced player will respond to in a certain way most of the time, where they end up pinning one of the knights in front of his queen with a bishop. He will then non-chalantly straighten out his knight. The other player, seeing an advantage by being a rule nazi, will throw up his hand for a judge at the tournament and demand he move his piece (since he touched it).

He then moves the knight up, and if the other player takes his queen, he can checkmate the player in 4 or so moves.

Its hard to describe but its really awesome to see. If he would simply move his knight into this position, the other player would know something was up because he had left his queen open. But this way he tricks them into a false sense of security, and finishes them off.

KingPut said...

Damn that was good post. Keep wasting space Matt. This was the first F:AT article I’ve ever printed out so I could re-read while using the can. Your post may helps explain why I’m move up Ti3 to 10 rating while I’m only so-so on dungeon romp games. Arkham and Prophesy are fun for while but I’m drawn to games with more diplomacy, strategy, bluffing, etc. Your post may also explain why I’m getting blown on turn #1 while you’re able to take M.Rex and Hopes End on the turn #1.

vialiy said...

Thanks Matt for another brain-burning article :)
Regarding PR (a good example), in my mind the question boils down to this: if you see an expert player make a move that is not immediatly optimal, how do you react? I'm a novice at this game, so I would very likely adjust my strategy to the move. But what about a table with only expert players? If the set of optimal strategies in PR is such that a "Fischer" move can always be brushed aside by the others, no matter the reputation of the player, then it would be a weakness of the game.

ironcates said...

Thanks Matt for another great post. I've been doing some PBEM games recently and it's fun to throw out a bluff move that I wouldn't be able to pull off face to face and then let my opponent think I just screwed up on the interface.

I know it's not really on topic but since I see you're a fan of Dennett I have a few recommendations from the "other side".

For a friendly debate at Columbia on the works of Dennett and Dawkins check out.

http://veritas.org/media/talks/496

It's 'alright' but I enjoy this debate that cuts to the real philosophical meat of Does God Exist? I actually set this debate up at my campus.

http://veritas.org/media/talks/147

MWChapel said...

I must be the master at Fishers Law. Almost every move I make is sub-optimal...And sometimes I win(Mostly I do not)..But Sometimes my evil plan works!

Wargamer66 said...

The best "Ameritrash" move I've seen in a chess game was one this guy I play chess with all the time showed me, he claims to have successfully used it in many tournaments. It's very devious.
When setting up the game, he "twists" his knights, setting them up in the unconventional way of facing the outside of the board rather than straight ahead. He has a certain set of opening moves that an experienced player will respond to in a certain way most of the time, where they end up pinning one of the knights in front of his queen with a bishop. He will then non-chalantly straighten out his knight. The other player, seeing an advantage by being a rule nazi, will throw up his hand for a judge at the tournament and demand he move his piece (since he touched it).


That's a trick that only a poor player can pull off against other poor players. It *might* work on someone rated below 1200 who has very limited tactical vision.

wulfgar said...

Pat said: "Chess is at it's heart a wargame. Fischer would be the exalted Field Marshal. Part of war and wargames by extension is the feint. When Montgomery dreamt up market garden it cost Rundstedt valuable moments to digest what was happening and whether or not the attack was legit or a feint thinking that the "habit ridden" Montgomery would never have been so bold."

ummmm... just thought I'd point out that Market Garden failed. So while Monty's feint may have caused the Krauts to waste a few moments, it didn't make them waste enough apparently.

Ken B. said...

Your post may also explain why I’m getting blown on turn #1


WHAT SORT OF TI GAME ARE YOU GUYS PLAYING?!?!?


I'm not even sure to tell you whether you're playing it right or wrong.

pat said...

My point was it doesn't always work but by working unconventionally you may produce spectacular results.

Having Harzer and Harmel in the area for napping purposes threw a Darwinian monkey wrench into the whole equation.

mtlawson said...

Malloc, it's nice to see I'm not the only one for whom Citadels popped into their head when reading about Fischer's Law.

Citadels is ideally suited for this sort of ploy (as is Diplomacy), and I've used it to good effect there. When you're constantly wondering "just what the hell IS Mike doing?" and you have to make a stab in the dark as to what I'm up to, I've got control of the game.

--Mike L.

Mikoyan said...

Market Garden failed for a number of reasons but the plan was pretty solid and had it worked, it would have given the Allies a foothold across the Rhine about 6 months sooner. One of the main reasons it failed was that the Germans decided to "rest" one of their SS Panzer divisions at Arnhem. Light Infantry Vs. Armor = bad juju.

As it was, I think the British Armored group was about 1 or 2 miles from Arnhem when the Paratroopers surrendered.

RobertB said...

The problem with Dennett is he falls into the Neo-Darwinist whirlpool of applying a biological theory to every science.

I could very well be misremembering things, but I seem to recall several passages (maybe even a whole chapter) about reductionism vs. greedy reductionism (he's against it :) ). In fact, if I recall correctly he told the Bobby Fischer story specifically to point out the danger of looking for a purpose for every characteristic of an organism. Elephants aren't heavy for any evolutionary reason like keeping them from getting blown away by strong winds or for making it easier to squash crocodiles - they're heavy because they're humongous animals made mostly of water. That's a dumb example but you get the point.

Dennett also takes shots at some extreme positions based on evolutionary psychology and sociobiology. In his view, the reality of what makes us tick as individuals and as societies lies somewhere between the extreme Skinnerist 'everything is driven by evolution and biology' and the Lockean blank slate. To look for evolutionary explanations for everything is the same as looking for Marxist solutions for everything - you're running into that hammer/nail problem, and extending these notions into places where they probably shouldn't go.

Oh, and to prevent a _complete_ threadjack, insert obligatory Caylus/fat bearded euro player joke here.

robertb said...

That's a trick that only a poor player can pull off against other poor players. It *might* work on someone rated below 1200 who has very limited tactical vision.

It _is_ hilarious though. You'd have to be the most embarrassed guy on the planet if you fell for it.

My brother got me one time playing _Car Wars_. We were playing by the 'roll for who sets up start position' rule, and designing our own cars with some predetermined point value. I won the roll and stuck him about six squares in front of me. BWAHAHA he's hosed now! He unveiled his car, and it had nothing on it but a ton of armor in the rear and a big honking laser pointed straight backwards. Two shots later I was a burning wreck.

rooboy said...

>>WHAT SORT OF TI GAME ARE YOU GUYS PLAYING?!?!?

>>I'm not even sure to tell you whether you're playing it right or wrong.

Well, obviously it can't be all wrong ... malloc is watching us, after all. ;)

kriz said...

That's a trick that only a poor player can pull off against other poor players. It *might* work on someone rated below 1200 who has very limited tactical vision.

I don't think so. This guy is rated 1750, I'm rated unofficially about 1600 and could see myself falling for it if I was a rules nazi. Ive played plenty of anal, whining players rated highly who would fall for this.

The mate is not easy to see coming, and the key is that they often wont even look for it.

Its definitely a gamble though.

Jur said...

For the interested in the evolution-creationism struggle:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/
For hardcore evolutionary science and political development

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/
for political developments in a broader context

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/
for science and politics of one of the more outspoken evolutionists

Some of these sites are likely to anger conservatives, christians or republicans or combinations thereof.

There's loads more, and loads of creationist sites (like the Discovery Institute).

(J de)

Jur said...

Having replayed Operation Market Garden twice as a map game with over a hundred players, I´d say that OMG could have worked:

If the allies had accepted the intelligence of strong German armoured forces in the area (and a general recovery of the Wehrmacht) and changed their plan accordingly, taking more risk to get all of 1st Para on the Arnhem bridges, rather than one batallion.

and the Germans hadn´t shown great talent for improvisation and recognised the lynch pin: Nijmegen.

In both games the Allies (with hindsight) came up with a bolder plan and the Germans forgot about Nijmegen. In both cases Guards Armoured was in Arnhem in a week.

Jur said...

Matt is right that Fischer's Law distinguishes good from bad rather than AT from Euro. Take wargames:

I find the lack of Fog of War (ie information) a problem in most counter wargames. You know too much about position and strength of your opponents forces.

Columbia's block games are a good antidote, but are more difficult to apply in tactical games.

(Matt, great post. This would just have gotten lost in the mass posting on BGG, so you deserve a platform of your own)

Wargamer66 said...

I don't think so. This guy is rated 1750, I'm rated unofficially about 1600 and could see myself falling for it if I was a rules nazi. Ive played plenty of anal, whining players rated highly who would fall for this.

The mate is not easy to see coming, and the key is that they often wont even look for it.

Its definitely a gamble though.


Anal, whining players? Touch move is a part of tournament chess, and your friend is a huge wanker if he pulls stunts like this in a tournament... This sort of behavior gets you forfeited because making deliberate rules infractions to distract your opponent is highly illegal. Awful sportsmanship and bad ethics, but we see that stuff in chess a little too much.

Anyway, Matt, this was one of the best gaming articles I've read all year, keep up the good work.

Mikoyan said...

Do you guys have a post somewhere about randomnization? That seems to be the overwhelming factor of AT that repulses the Geeks. Heck, they don't even like it when someone does the unexpected in one of their vaunted games.

What led me to this is someone's "improvement" on Risk. Instead of rolling dice, they would basically play rock paper scissors. In his variant:
Each player gets to toss out up to 5 fingers. If they toss out the same number, the defender loses that number. If they toss out a different number, the attacker loses 1. The defender can flip up to the number he has (up to 5). If he has 2 or less, he can still do two fingers.

Anyways, I don't like this idea. It is stupid. It makes defending territory more risking that attacking territory and history tends to show the opposite is true.

But back to my original question....why the anti-dice thing?

steinley said...

mikoyan,

I posted this on BGG...I try to discuss many of the good things about randomization.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/27003

I agree with you. That Risk idea seems like a colossal pain in the ass, not mention ruining the whole "feel" of the game.

Matt Thrower said...

No article as yet, but you might have just inspired one.

In the meantime, here's my nascent thoughts on the subject:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/16704

kriz said...

Anal, whining players? Touch move is a part of tournament chess, and your friend is a huge wanker if he pulls stunts like this in a tournament... This sort of behavior gets you forfeited because making deliberate rules infractions to distract your opponent is highly illegal. Awful sportsmanship and bad ethics, but we see that stuff in chess a little too much.


Oh come on. Maybe its because I'm not a tournament player, but calling a judge over because someone straightens out a knight is anal. I think its bad sportsmanship to call a touch move on someone who is clearly just straightening out a piece, in order to win his queen. This type of person in my mind deserves this trap to be played on them.

It is devious, and not the type of thing I would take the time to learn how to pull off. I'd rather focus on improving my overall play.


Is the guy an ass for doing it? I don't know. It is a huge bluff though, and if it fails he leaves himself in a pretty bad position. It reminds me of Star Trek II (or is it III?) where Kirk reprograms the computer to beat the unbeatable computer simulation, and there's a big debate over whether he cheated or not.

Wargamer66 said...

Well, when you touch a piece, you simply say "adjust." Most people aren't anal about it at all, in fact in a recent tournament my opponent wanted the clock on the other side of the table and we changed things around even though the game was started. Your friend, by not saying "I adjust" is deliberately breaking a rule and trying to entice his opponent to call him on it, which falls under deliberate disruption of the game. This is poor sportsmanship, pure and simple. You think this stuff is all anal, but the reason these rules exist is because of people like your friend who look for ways to win beyond actually making good moves. USCF rules are in the chess section of any Barnes and Noble, so check for yourself.

steinley said...

Matt,

Nice post on randomness (the link you provided to the geeklist)...I think you are spot on. These types of ideas are really nice because they help develop a philosophy of gaming, etc.

kriz said...

Well, when you touch a piece, you simply say "adjust." Most people aren't anal about it at all, in fact in a recent tournament my opponent wanted the clock on the other side of the table and we changed things around even though the game was started. Your friend, by not saying "I adjust" is deliberately breaking a rule and trying to entice his opponent to call him on it, which falls under deliberate disruption of the game. This is poor sportsmanship, pure and simple.

Hmm...maybe you're right. In that case he probably is an ass.