Thursday, 3 June 2010

Monkey Chess

A few years ago the illusionist Derren Brown performed a 'stunt' where he played 13 chess players (IIRC) (amongst them a number of GM's and IM's) in a simul and achieved a plus score. The trick to this however was rather simple, and already well known in the chess community. You simply pair up games of alternate colours (ie 1 white game and 1 black game) and then take the move played on the first board and repeat it on the second (eg White plays 1.e4 on board 1 and you then play it as White on board 8. When Black replies on board 8 you then play the same move on board 1). This way the players are actually playing each other and you guarantee a 50% score on each of the paired boards. His added wrinkle was to add a weaker extra player who he could beat, ensuring a final result of +1.
Until now I didn't believe this trick had a name, but I have recently seen it called "Monkey Chess". It is so named because it takes no chess ability at all to perform, and could be carried out by a proverbial monkey.
Over at the International Correspondence Chess Federations bulletin board there is a current discussion on this issue. In OTB (over the board) chess it isn't much of a problem (in teams events for examples) as it is quite obvious when it takes place, and in fact there are procedures in place to deal with such situations in such events as the olympiad (The games are moved out of sight of each other). But in correspondence chess such occurrences are not so obvious and in fact may happen without players being aware of it. Nonetheless I am sure that once a tournament is finished, and the game scores become available, such tricks would soon be discovered, and I assume sanctions would be applied.

1 comment:

ColonelCrockett said...

I'm going to post the fact that you have a chess blog to ... I hope you don't mind the free advertising. ;)