Need a new mouse...

Jul 25, 2013, 9:14 AM |
I had a clearly won position here before the mouse let go of a piece too early, resulting in a clearly losing one.  Luckily it wasn't a very interesting game - I would have found this much more annoying had the position been really complex and uncertain and either me or my opponent had blundered due to a mouse problem.

I had such a game a while ago.  The position was nice and complicated, each of us had good chances, and I ended up finding some tactic to get an advantage (unfortunately it was more than 4 weeks ago, so I can't post it), but then I dropped my queen one square short of where it should have gone.  That time it did annoy me.  I had been thinking quite deeply into a few different variations, my mind was completely focussed on trying to navigate through different lines while keeping a clear idea of the position, and I found a non-obvious move I was fairly sure was good.  When I made the move the position just looked wrong, all the wrong squares were highlighted, pieces were there that shouldn't have been there etc.  I suppose I was still in a mild trance state from doing all the calculations, so it was jarring and terribly irritating to come round and see this stupid position where the beginning of my beautiful combination should have been.

The first solution that comes to mind is to have a take-back button, but of course bad players would abuse it like they do on Yahoo and it would still have to be at the discretion of the opponent whether to allow it or not (like I said above though, it annoys me more to throw away an interesting position than to lose rating points or whatever).

My own site currently doesn't have a take-back button, but I like to think that there must be some way of detecting cases where the user has simply input the wrong move by mistake.  These cases would usually involve going into a losing position which looks ridiculous, e.g. placing a queen where it can be taken immediately by several different pieces with no compensation, and where there is another legal move only one or two squares away that would have been much more sensible.

My idea would be to offer the take-back button (still with opponent discretion) only in these cases.  Here are some false positives it would have to be able to detect:

- The user has left a piece hanging because they forgot it was attacked

- The user puts a piece on an attacked square without realising it is attacked (I often miss long horizontal lines of attack)

- The user makes an amazing move that looks utterly insane but actually wins (

One other problem is that it would probably have to involve an engine checking each move (although some preliminary checks could probably narrow it down considerably - no one wants to take back 1. e4) so on a busy server it would consume a lot of resources for arguably a completely overkill solution to a fairly rare problem.