Ruy Lopez: Open to Rudeness

Ruy Lopez: Open to Rudeness‎

NM GreenLaser
34 | Opening Theory

As the game began, my opponent used the deliberately rude tactic of reading a newspaper during the game. The rudeness was not shown by merely reading during the game. After all, I myself had been a reader during games. However, I always read on the side of the board and only if there were no nearby players. In this case, my opponent was reading holding the paper over the board and the paper was The New York Times, a broadsheet. He was a big guy, but that was not an issue for me. What I was afraid of was letting his ploy affect me. I once drew a game with a master instead of winning because he slammed my clock too hard after a move. The clock was my property and even though I was cool and not angry, the distraction caused an error that allowed him to hold. In this case, all I had to do was to tell my opponent to stop reducing my view of the board, but I was worried he would anger me by his reaction. Another choice instead of or in addition was to get the tournament director, but that required work and could still allow him to provoke me. I remembered a game years earlier when I saw a senior master crushed by a master, perhaps because the senior master was reading Greek philosophy during the game. I also saw that when the newspaper was over the board, I could see the game, while my opponent could not. I decided to secretly laugh at him for trying to psych me out in a way that required him to in effect give me time odds. At the end of this game which was played at a rate of 30 moves in 90 minutes, I had used 58 minutes to my opponent's 97. I have also decided to not give his name, since he may be a decent guy (just as the clock slammer is) after all and naming him would make me appear to hold a grudge or to seek revenge by ridicule.

The opening gave me more cause to laugh. I played the white side of a Ruy Lopez and he played the Open Defense. I had just lectured on the Karpov-Korchnoi World Championship match, in which this variation was featured, at the Bronx Yonkers (now Bob Peretz) Chess Club. I was playing "Karpov," and I was sure not playing against Korchnoi.

I won the game, but the way I handled the psychological problem is not clearly correct. Chess requires intelligence and knowledge, but without character to apply these factors, a player should fail. It would have been easy to be distracted either handling the matter in another way or the way I did handle it. As the Delphic Oracle displayed, "Know thyself." 

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