|Posted on March 23, 2014 at 12:25 PM|
Board 2 was the eventful board, and it tested David Blower’s captaincy skills to the limit. He remained calm, and passed his first true test as captain with flying colours. I was really proud of my efforts. It was the last match to finish and Paul Wright eventually won to secure the win for Brewood.
At the time the score was Warley Quinborne 1-2 Brewood, and Paul Wright had about 25 minutes left of his time limit. This is where the fun began.
Andrew Davies and I had already finished our own matches, and had relaxed, going through variations in my own match. Stephen Micklewright had also already finished, and was walking round the room, looking at other matches.
A spectator from Warley Quinborne Chess club approached me to confirm if I was the captain, and after I confirmed that I was, the spectator told me that my player was not notating, and that he had about 25 minutes left on his clock. In my mind this was said more as a statement to me, and it was initially unclear (to me at least) that they wanted me to do something about it.
Anyway Andrew and I stopped going through variations in my own match, and now we had to both watch Paul’s match.
The spectator then had a private word with the Dudley League Division 3 captain of Warley Quinborne, but I had overheard it, and I asked for a clarification on what they wanted us to do. I was told that I had to get my player to notate. It is important to note that no spectator involved themselves directly in the match, they only approached myself as the captain.
David Blower: “Paul, sorry about this, but you do need to write down your moves. The opposition are insisting upon it.” Paul picked up his notepad, made a move, pressed his clock, and wrote down his latest move. But he had not made any effort to get his score sheet completely up-to-date. I could have been a bit more clearer in what the opposition were actually expecting Paul to do.
In private I was going “oh no” as I knew that Paul was never going to be allowed to get away with that. At this point Paul was told exactly what he had to do. He was to not make another move until his score sheet was completely up-to-date, and he had to get his score sheet up-to-date on his own time limit.
When I agreed to be the Dudley League captain the whole point was to give new members to the club, and especially junior players experience of competitive league chess. That objective had already being achieved. It was not meant to be for something like this, but I now knew I was going to have to deal with my first crisis as a club captain.
Paul Wright: “But there has been so many moves,” protested Paul. At least now Paul understood exactly what he had to do.
Unknown to me, and I only found this out after the match, Paul had the mistaken belief that he only had to notate for the first 50 moves in the chess game. The game had now passed move 65. There were too many moves for Paul to remember the sequence of moves on his own.
Paul’s protest was to no avail. He might not have liked what he was being asked to do but he was simply going to have to do it.
David Blower: “Paul can you remember your moves?” I asked this more in hope, than actually expecting a yes. But I needed to clarify the situation.
Paul Wright: “No.”
As captain you have to deal with the unexpected, and there was no time for a committee meeting about it, or to consult a FIDE rulebook, or look at some sort of website, I was clearly going to have to make some sort of instant decision there and then.
Everyone was watching me, to see what I would do. We had a massive problem on board 2. I took a deep breath, and took a gulp of my throat. I was thinking that I do not need this! But I was just going to have to deal with it as best as I could.
David Blower: “Andrew, sit here,” said as a short sharp instruction to Andrew. There was no time for an argument. Andrew sat down opposite the board.
I had firmly and instantly decided we were to reconstruct the game from move 1, on the adjacent board, the same board that I had played my original match on. The boards are all close together at Warley Quinborne, and having the exact position set up from where Paul had stopped notating, and then having him play the moves would be the only way he could bring his score sheet up-to-date.
As the captain I was trying to ask any questions I had to the Warley Quinborne captain. I would have preferred to have done it this way to make sure that Warley Quinborne were happy with what we were doing. My main question was about if the notation could be borrowed from the players, and I was asking direct “yes” and “no” questions.
But I quickly decided that this would be of no use, and that if I had any questions I was to ask Andrew Davies, who is a qualified chess arbiter. Afterall we only had 25 minutes. We were repeatedly told that our player was to bring his score sheet completely up-to-date and on his own time limit, but I had decided that it did not seem to matter to them, about how we did this.
On the board Paul was winning comfortably. I was going to do everything within my power to make sure we won the board, and therefore the chess match. I almost snatched the notation out of Paul’s hand.
However I could also sense Paul’s frustration beginning to build. In my mind I had already accepted mentally the 2-2 draw. This actually helped me to stay as calm as I did. I would count it as some sort of moral victory, but it would not mean anything to Paul. I realized that half of this battle was getting Paul to be calm. Otherwise we were going to have no chance at all.
David Blower: “Paul, stay calm.”
Andrew Davies: “Just sit there and remain calm.”
I must say Andrew and I had both remained quite calm in a moment of crisis. Obviously I am a bit biased, but I think it was true. Before Andrew and I started replaying the moves on the adjacent board, I had to give some sort of team talk to Paul during the match. I did not shout the following instructions to Paul, but it was said in a strict tone of voice, to make certain he knew what was expected of him.
David Blower: “Paul as your team captain, you are under instructions not to speak to the opposition player, and YOU MUST NOT PRESS YOUR CLOCK AT ALL. That is an order from me. You are to sit there, you are to remain calm, and you are to follow my instructions to the letter. Now I know your clock is running, but you are to remain calm. I promise you that me and Andrew will work through the moves as quickly as we can.”
Andrew Davies: “Get on with it, this is no time for idle chit chat.”
The adjacent board was set up, and Andrew and I started playing moves, using Paul's notation. Paul had not notated his game correctly though. This made playing through the game difficult.
Occassionally I would need to question the moves with Andrew. I had to be certain that these moves being played were correct. Comments such as: "that's not right, that's an illegal move," would be said by myself from time to time.
Paul was watching us play through the game the whole time. Occasionally he would join in with comments such as: "the bishop was to here, the knight was to there," etc. It was taking far too long on Paul's time limit, for us to just use Paul's notation on its own.
David Blower: “Andrew, can we insist his opponent gives us his notation.” On reflection I should have asked for both sets of notation from the start.
Clearly I was expecting a simple “yes” or “no” from Andrew. He came up with a belter of a line.
Andrew Davies: “The notation is not the opponent’s property until after the match has finished.”
I was thinking to myself: “the opponent’s property.” Please do not use complicated language like that!
Andrew Davies: (to Paul Wright’s opponent.) "Can we borrow your notation please?"
Andrew was polite, and Paul’s opponent gave us his notation. If he had not have done I would have insisted upon it anyway, he was to have no choice in the matter. It was the first time he had any involvement in this dispute. I do think us getting his notation, made him get involved, which probably helped us.
Both players ended up very tense with this whole process. Both sets of notation had mistakes in them. Therefore Andrew and I were having to consult both the sets of notation to get the moves right.
Paul and his opponent were watching Andrew and I play through every move of the match. We were still both having difficulty with the moves and occasionally both players were chipping in with: “no that was to there, that was to there” etc.
After move 30 a dispute about if a rook was on e1 to e2 was contested.
David Blower: "Hang on Andrew, let me just look at the notation." I went back as far as move 25 on a written notation list without taking the moves back on the board. It made little sense to me. I could not work it out. Neither could Andrew. And it was quite important to know exactly where the rook was.
Andrew Davies: (to myself) “start again.”
I do not need this. For the 2nd time in the evening I was looking at a chess board, open mouthed in shock. I had heard what Andrew had said, but at the same time my mind was refusing to accept it. I was shaking my head. I needed to clarify the situation.
David Blower: “You want us to start again?” I said to Andrew, asked in almost total disbelief.
Andrew Davies: “Yes.”
What else could I do? We needed to hurry up with this, but at the same time I needed to be certain that Andrew and I were doing everything right. There was no choice and the pieces were reset and we started again.
This was all within Paul’s time limit. Paul was watching us, I had honestly thought Paul was going to lose on time.
We started the game again, but this time we had both sets of notation from the start of the game. Unknown both to Andrew and I the notation from both sets of players had shown a dispute as early as move 5, earlier than the original dispute on move 30.
Andrew Davies: “Stop the clock.”
This prompted a bit of discussion. During the discussion I pointed out that Andrew is a qualified chess arbiter. His response is included mainly for comedic effect.
David Blower: “He is a qualified chess artiber,” I smiled.
Andrew Davies: "It’s at times like this, that I'm glad I am one."
I chuckled at this comment, but did not burst out laughing as there was still a serious duty to do.
The discussion continued, but Andrew told the Warley Quinborne captain firmly that we could stop the clocks. Looking back how glad was I to pick Andrew in the team, because on my own I would not have known that we could have done this. Thanks Andrew for your assistance in this matter.
Andrew Davies: “No there is a dispute with BOTH sets of notation, so we can stop the clock.”
Eventually the clocks were stopped. Clearly if Warley Quinborne wanted a game of chess under ALL of the FIDE laws of chess, they were going to get one. They were not going to be able to pick and choose the laws of chess that suited them.
Both sets of notation were incorrect in several places. Therefore it made common sense that the clocks were stopped, and I was trusting Andrew who is a qualified chess arbiter, that it was also within the rules.
David Blower: “Andrew now that the clock has stopped, can we go through this slowly to make certain we get it right?” It was said more as an instruction to Andrew, rather than a question.
We were told we could get to move 30 with the time limit off, at which point the clocks were to be restarted, as the original dispute had being at move 30. I did not want an argument, but I really wanted to win this chess match. With the time limit off I had time to think about the decision. It was accepted by Andrew and I.
Eventually I was advised to let the players play through the moves themselves, as they would remember the moves that they had played. On reflection I should have done this in the first place. Paul and his opponent sat down at the adjacent board. This helped speed up the process, a very important fact after move 30 when the clocks were to be turned back on.
Andrew and I were watching the replay of the game take place. Eventually they got to move 30.
Paul Wright’s opponent said we were at move 30. But I wanted to check with Paul where we were.
David Blower: “Paul where are we in the game?” Paul pointed at move 30. “Ok” I said.
Andrew Davies: “start the clock.”
I was the nearest to the clock, and Warley Quinborne have digital clocks, something we at Brewood are going to do in the future, but we are not yet used to them.
Andrew Davies: “It’s the button in the middle.”
David Blower: “This button here?”
My finger was over the middle button, but I was not going to press it until I received confirmation I was pressing the correct button. Out of all the things, I did not want to press the “off” switch on the clock, or something else as daft as that.
Andrew Davies: “Yes.” I pressed the button on the clock. The time was restarted.
After I think 42 moves we reached as far as Paul Wright’s opponents notation allowed. He had stopped notating in the first place, because he had less than 5 minutes remaining in his time control.
We were now relying on Paul’s own notation, and that was it. If it was wrong we would not be able to do much about it. Eventually Paul got to move 50 which was as far as his notation allowed him.
Paul now had to fill in the missing moves, on his own time, with no help possible from Andrew and I. He might not have liked what he was being asked to do, but he had to do it. At least he had an adjacent board now set up to help him, so that he could play through his moves.
Eventually everyone from Warley Quinborne left us to it, including Paul’s opponent. A thought had crossed my mind. No one in the room knows what the notation is, and his opponent is not watching. How would they know if it was right or not? We did it right though, and in full open view of everyone. There was no secret to what we were doing.
Eventually Paul completed his notation, and the whole thing had took 19 minutes out of Paul’s time, by which time he only had 6 minutes left. As captain I had never wanted to win a chess match as badly as this.
Paul eventually got a queen, then promoted to a 2nd queen, and Paul had more than 4 minutes left when his opponent resigned. Everyone from Brewood had remained calm. I went to fill in Warley Quinborne’s match card for them, to confirm the result.
David Blower to Paul Wright: “Thank you for remaining calm, thank you for following my instructions, and thank you for winning the game.”
I was celebrating our win. Almost half an hour of pent up frustration at the whole situation had being building up. I had got emotional from the situation, and after our win, had celebrated as though we had won the league.
I was clenching my fist, smiling, and muttering the phrases: "Come on," "Get in" and "Get in there" as if I was some sort of professional footballer. I did not say this too loudly though mindful that there was another match still going on, in the same room. Everyone at the club knows that I enjoy it, if I have won a game of chess.
Just to remind you, that this moved us up into 5th in the league, and in the grand scheme of things was not too important.
David Blower: (to the rest of the Brewood team) “We’re leaving.”
I spoke to a couple of members of Warley Quinborne chess club before I left mainly to say we were leaving. The Brewood team left the building, having won 3-1. I had done the job I was required to do as the captain.
Andrew Davies said in the March 2014 newsletter that the relief afterwards was very colourful. I do not need to explain what was said in the car on the way back home. I am sure you can all guess. I had kept myself composed in the room when it had happened.
I was disappointed with my own defeat, but felt I had made up for it, before emailing the whole club once I got home to say I was a brilliant captain. This will make more sense now that you have read this.
The moment of crisis had being dealt with, and although I had never being involved in something like this before as captain, I will be better for this experience. I plan to be the captain next season.
Stephen Micklewright, Andrew Davies, and Paul Wright will confirm I really acted like a true captain in this unexpected situation. Phew! Amongst the other comments, both Andrew and Stephen said to me on the way home I had remained calm during the moment of it happening.
Upon reflection Paul Wright was breaking the laws of chess, but I would have preferred the whole incident to have being handled differently. I have emailed the club committee with the suggestion it is now discussed at the AGM. This will be more than to do with just the rules themselves, but also about what advice players can ask for.
The win had clearly meant a lot to me mainly because of my reaction to a crisis than the actual win itself. Although I have already thanked Andrew Davies I will repeat myself. Thanks to Andrew Davies with his assistance in the matter.
Paul Wright has since emailed me with some reaction, about the technical game of chess itself. I had not took much notice of the game itself before the incident as I was playing through variations of my own match with Andrew Davies.
"I think that my opponent was playing slightly better than me for most of the game, since I don't feel as if I played the opening and middlegame too accurately. In the endgame however, I believe that he made some mistakes which allowed me to get a victory."