My Take on the Chess Bully

After reading Hugh Patterson’s article on chess bullies I decided to add my opinion and experiences to the topic. First, I do not spend much time in online forums so I rarely have to deal with trolls. Second, I do not go to chess clubs anymore and I am only recently getting back into playing OTB chess here in Colorado Springs. Third, as the drill sergeants in Army basic training told me, “Opinions are like @$$holes, everyone has one and most of them stink”. Therefore , I do not really care what a bully, jerk or troll thinks!

When I was a junior in high school I joined the chess club there. The seniors there had won the Southeastern (Region IV) High School Championship for the third time in a row and they were my chess heroes. The highest rated one at the time, Nick, would tell kids from other schools, “I eat kids like you for breakfast”. At the time I thought that was cool. Now, I see that as being rude. He would also take a Bishop that had been removed from the chess board and put the base of it to his mouth. Then, he would pretend to smoke that Bishop! I thought that was cool too!

In my senior year I was in the under 1400 section of the Region IV Championship and I was paired against some kid with a rating around 1000 points. I had White and I played the Max Lange Attack against him. He misplayed the Black side and lost quickly. However, during that particular game I decided to stare at him every time that it was his turn to move. At some point in this chess game he noticed this and said, “I can’t believe that I got so busted so fast!”. Although this may have been legal at the time that I played this game I no longer use the tactic now because it is against a strict interpretation of the rules that prohibit annoying your opponent.

In a recent chess tournament I went out of my way not to stare at a teenage girl who was my opponent because I knew that I would be playing her again at some time in the future and I did not want her to hate or fear me!

One of the chess coaches in the Tampa area was telling one of his war stories to a few of his students and I was listening in. According to the story, he was at the World Open and was playing Vasily Smyslov. (I have no clue how or why a sandbagging 1800 player would be paired against a former world champion!) Anyway, according to this story, Smyslov had a habit of taking a piece, slamming it onto a square, and then “screwing” it into that square. This became known as the “Smyslov Screw”. You can find some comments on the Smyslov Screw here: I have yet to have someone try that on me, but the link above gives some hints on how to handle that.

When I was running some open chess tournaments at the Brandon and Dale Mabry campuses of Hillsborough Community College, a chess expert and TD from another county came to one of these events and one of the first things out of his mouth was a comment about how people who cannot play chess well run chess tournaments! That is just plane rude and puts this expert into the bully category!

This photograph was taken during one of my HCC events.
Chess players at one of my chess tournaments that I ran at HCC

Although my OTB chess rating is still in the low 1500 range and I have been on a losing streak lately, I still have 41 years of rated chess experience and understand the game about as well as any 2200 rated player does. I am also a former US Army sergeant. If you try to bully me I can and may eat your lunch!

Mike Serovey