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Friday, April 10, 2015

The Wesley So Affair

    By now I reckon everyone is aware that Wesley So was forfeited after 6 moves in his game against Varuzhan Akobian after Akobian approached chief arbiter Tony Rich and complained that So was writing something down on a piece of paper underneath his scoresheet.
     Earlier in the tournament Rich had twice warned So about his habit of writing notes to himself even though they were not in any way "analysis." The second time So was warned that what he was doing was illegal and he was also warned that the next time he would be forfeited. Apparently So didn't believe they would do that to him, but they did. Even then he got a break...they did not have to warn him; he could have been forfeited the first time.
     I think it's a stupid rule that says you can't write down your move before you play it. The rule was put into place some years back because some whinning ninny claimed it constituted consulting notes which is, and always has been, illegal. 
     I can remember players writing down their next move then covering it with a pen so their opponent couldn't get a peek at it and then continuing to think. Sometimes they would changed their minds, cross out the move and make another one. Nobody thought anything about it. But note taking is wrong. I never saw anybody writing down variations though. 
     Apparently So wasn't writing anything that directly related to the game; supposedly he was writing himself encouraging notes and advice on a piece of paper under his scoresheet. Sounds innocent, but the fact remains it's against the rules and if you want to play in a tournament, especially one as big as the US Championship, you MUST obey the rules.
     Aside from that, So was wrong on another count...the rule that forbides you from annoying your opponent. I've been involved in a couple of those. Once the State Champion got irked and had some harsh words (actually he used some curse words) for me because while sitting at the board I was rocking back and forth and it disturbed him. I quit rocking. Another time my opponent kept grabbing the piece he wanted to move and "trying it out" by placing it on different squares without letting go just to see how it looked. When I politely asked him to stop, he ignored me. When I complained to the TD he told me that as long as the guy moves the piece he touched he wasn't doing anything illegal. Fortunately I was able to invoke the rule about annoying your opponent and he was forced to stop making trial moves.
     That's the second point. So was annoying Akobian by making notes. Akobian told the arbiter it annoyed him and I can understand that...it's a distraction. One site mentioned the fact that So was shocked because he apparently believed it was OK to take notes as long as they were not written on the scoresheet. I don't believe it. I think So knew he was not supposed to be taking notes or writing on anything. Really...what is the difference between writing notes on your scoresheet or another piece of paper?
     Apparently this is not the first time So has done this because one player said So had done it against him at the Millionaire Open. Akobian said he felt sorry for So (yeah, right!), but "this might be a good lesson for him. I've never seen anybody [making notes] like that before." I don't feel too bad for So myself. He knew the rules and was warned twice, but chose to ignore the warning and keep violating the rule. What else could he expect?!

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