Friday, 9 May 2008

After you've had a few

Is it possible to play decent chess after you've had a few drinks? For me, definitely not, but there are plenty of stories of chess masters still effortlessly winning while a little worse for wear. But I think there are just as many stories of alcohol affected players that have ended badly.
Nonetheless I once had an opponent who was having such a bad weekend that he decided to sink a few over lunch before the final round commenced. While his game started erratically, he sobered up as the game wore on, and finished his tournament with a win.
While reading a copy of The Guardian Weekly on the bus this afternoon, I noticed Leonard Barden made notice of the performance of one the teams in this years Russian Teams Championship. Apparently Tomsk (the defending champions) were fined for a "sports discipline breach". In the old days this was Soviet code for heavy drinking. In his column Barden presented the following game, lost by a Tomsk player, and said "Judge for yourself"

Najer,E - Belozerov,A [C43]
Russian Teams ICCF, 2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.dxe5 Nc6 6.0-0 Be7 7.Nc3 Bf5 8.Re1 0-0 9.Bd2 Nxd2 10.Bxf5 Nxf3+ 11.Qxf3 g6 (D)
12.Rad1 gxf5 13.Nxd5 Qc8 14.Qh5 Qe6 15.Rd3 Nxe5 16.Rh3 h6 17.Nxe7+ Qxe7 18.Qxh6 Nf3+ 19.gxf3 1-0


Anonymous said...

they fine was an exorbitant $10 i think!

that'll show them...

Nick Chernih

TrueFiendish said...

There's a sliding scale, I think. After imbibing two or three, the chess can improve as one is liberated from one's inhibitions, becoming bold, rosy-cheeked and just happy with the world. If one stops drinking, soon it is time for a little nap. If one keeps going, the chess quality, having peaked for about 3 mins and 12 secs, plummets to embarrassment levels. "On no, pawn takes queen? S**t I didn't see that!"

Kevin Bonham said...

It seems to vary by player, with most players much worse when drunk but about 10% seem to play better. Once at a party when not at all smashed by alcohol, I was brilliantly smashed OTB by a 1400s-ish player who was so *alcoholically* smashed that between moves he would wander off to the dancefloor, fall over and crawl back to the board - in this condition he played the best game I'd ever seen him play, full of spectacular combos. (I had earlier beaten him as normal in another game during which he was less drunk.)

My own chess is very suspect with even a small amount of alcohol in the system and I would certainly not drink on the day of a significant tournament game. Recently I lost a casual blitz tournament game by illegal move (Qd1-h4 in the opening) after one beer and a glass of wine with a BBQ dinner beforehand.