Organizers forfeited in favor of the opponent of Filipino Grandmaster Wesley So the chessers’ ninth-round round match late last week at the 2015 US Championships in Saint Louis, Missouri.
So was penalized after GM Varuszhan Akobian complained that the Filipino GM’s scribbling bothered him and that it was a prohibited act under any chess tournament.
What really happened, according to a report, was that “he [So] wrote on a piece of paper ‘Double check. Triple check. Use your time,’ instead of the official score sheet,” in a breach of FIDE rules.
So was said to be actually giving himself “advice.”
The Filipino wunderkind did not contest the ruling and, despite the report describing his blunder as a “rookie mistake,” he eventually finished third behind Hikaru Nakamura and Ray Robson in the $175,000 tournament that offered $45,000 to the top placer (12 took part in the men’s division and also 12 in the women’s division, which was won by Irina Krush).
Not bad for the reportedly “distracted” Filipino GM, one of the world’s Top 10 who is playing for the US Chess Federation after a perceived dispute with the Philippine Chess Federation.
Silence, at the least, is demanded of woodpushers while at official play, as it is of tennis players, especially when they are serving, whether game or match point.
It is not clear if that means absolute quiet, akin to hearing a pin drop on the chessboard.
Unlike chess or tennis, football and a number of other athletic disciplines are apparently more lenient in enforcing rules.
In football, for example, organizers do not sanction players for the usual shoving and pushing that is the norm when a penalty or corner kick is being taken.
For another example, this time in volleyball, nobody cracks down on players for noisily communicating with each other during attacks and counter-attacks.
Well, chess is not exactly spectator sport, unlike basketball, for instance, where fans are supposed to be boisterous but not rowdy and to be part of the excitement, not apart from it.
Well, again, and arguably, few would sit out usually hours-long chess matches and so whatever noise is heard can only come from the players themselves (one of them would turn out to be So).
Unsolicited advice for Wesley: Review the rules and review them well (if you did, you could have won the 2015 US Chess Championships).
Another one would be to try imagining yourself to be inside a courtroom where, even under pain of contempt, you forgot to turn off, practically kill, your mobile phone, fidget no end when you are supposed to look remotely attentive, statue-like, to what the judge is saying or drop a ballpen or a pencil on the floor for the plaintiffs and defendants to hear.
Rules are rules—on and off the chessboard or the golf course—and if you break them, you pay a heavy price for doing so.