Friday, 26 August 2011

Stop, thief!

An interesting titbit in the Chessvibes report on the French Championship. The tournament schedule had to be re-arranged after 230 chess clocks were stolen from the venue. The scheduled rest day (for the B,C, and D events) was moved to the day after the theft to allow the organisers to find (or recover) clocks (The report does not say if the clocks were indeed recovered).
Very annoying, although not unprecedented. While clocks are probably the most valuable pieces of equipment at a chess tournament, fencing them may turn out to be difficult, in that they have a very specialised use. Previous large scale thefts have usually been pranks or political statements. The Australian Junior in Adelaide a few years back had all the kings stolen between rounds, and while the culprits were never caught, the pieces eventually were. A few years before that, the ANU Open had a different kind of theft, with the large score tables disappearing the night before the first round. After about 45 minutes of examining security tapes, we finally worked out that the thief had cunningly left them in the tournament hall, but had hid them behind some curtains.
Overall I'm surprised (but at the same time pleased) that theft of chess equipment isn't that common. When digital clocks first came on the scene, the odd one or two seemed to go missing at the end of a tournament, but even this seems to have stopped. And I've never really seen boards or sets go missing in large numbers either.

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