Another Master?

by admin on August 24, 2014

At Mike Splane’s latest chess party, which was held today, Juande Perea showed three of his games from the recent Kolty Club Championship, which he won in impressive style. Juande scored 5-0 in the games he actually played, plus he took two half-point byes for non-chess reasons, so he ended with a score of 6-1. Best of all, there’s a chance that he earned a USCF National Master rating as a result. That would be pretty amazing — two master certificates in two months for our little group! (Uyanga Byambaa was the first one.)

Juande has actually been master strength ever since he moved to California ten or so years ago. He had played only in Spain previously, and I think that he had a FIDE rating at least 2100 or so, which usually translates into a USCF rating of at least 2200. However, for whatever reason, his first couple tournaments in this country weren’t that great, and then he started having children and didn’t have any time for tournaments at all for a few years. So his USCF rating stayed below his true strength.

The games that Juande showed us today impressed me because they were so smooth. It seemed as if all he did was develop all his pieces, then move them to better squares, then even better squares, until his opponents were lost. Chess can’t really be that easy, but it sure seemed that way! As he made one natural move after another, Juande’s analysis often consisted of the sentence, “How bad can it be?” (He explained that this line comes from a movie that his kids like.)

We also talked a bit about draw etiquette. The subject came up because one of Juande’s opponents played a move in a lost position and then held out his hand. Juande asked if he was resigning, and it turned out that his opponent was actually offering a draw, which of course Juande declined, saying he would like to keep playing.

This is a curious way of offering a draw that I have witnessed myself on several occasions. It always seems to be young players who do it. Richard Koepcke, who is a TD and has seen it all, says that it’s a way that they sometimes trick their opponents in scholastic chess — they’ll hold their hand out, the opponent will shake it (thinking that they are resigning) and then they say no, it was a draw offer.

Maybe you can get away with this in a tournament where your opponent doesn’t know the rules, but Richard said that extending your hand absolutely does not count as a draw offer. If such a dispute comes up in a tournament he’s directing, he asks the other player if he understood the handshake as a draw offer. If not, then he tells them to play on. So the handshake trick should never work in a Koepcke tournament. Some of the other people at the party said that in international play, a draw offer must be accompanied by one of the three words, “Draw?” “Remis?” (French) or “Nichya?” (Russian).

Mike said that he considers it poor sportsmanship to offer a draw in a position that you know is lost. I would tend to agree. Also, I would add that it’s bad sportsmanship to offer draws multiple times when the position hasn’t changed very much. I’ve seen some of these play-a-move-and-stick-out-your-hand players do it three or four times.

However, funny things do happen. Mike told a couple of stories. One time, years ago, he had a position against a certain grandmaster I won’t name where he was a pawn up but thought he didn’t have any real winning chances. While his opponent was pondering his move for about ten minutes, Mike was looking at another game. Then the grandmaster made his move and offered a draw, which Mike accepted without even looking at what move had been played. It turned out to be a blunder that walked into a mate in three! When Mike pointed this out after they signed the scoresheets, his grandmaster opponent said, quite loudly, so that everyone in the room could hear, “You idiot! You agreed to a draw when you had a mate in three?”

I believe that calling your opponent an idiot in a loud voice could also be considered poor sportsmanship.

However, Mike got his “karma point” back twenty or thirty years later — just last week in the Kolty Club tournament. Like the aforementioned grandmaster, Mike offered a draw in a lost position, which his opponent accepted. Now as I just said, Mike considers it poor sportsmanship to do this, but in this particular game he didn’t realize he was losing. He hallucinated a defense that wasn’t there, so he mistakenly thought his position was tenable. But at least he didn’t say to his opponent, “You idiot!” later. In fact, he apologized for the improper draw offer.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt August 25, 2014 at 8:54 am

Speaking of “another master”, Josiah Stearman is ten years old and just made Master. You have blogged about Josiah before when he beat you despite it appearing that you had a great position. I had the pleasure of meeting Josiah when he came to Arcadia Chess Club the last couple of weeks. He has been trying to cram as many rated games as possible before his 11th birthday, which is at the end of August. The one rated game he played at our club he actually lost, which caused his rating to dip to 2199 (!), but I see he has since won another game to take it back up to 2200.

I played several blitz games against Josiah last week and boy, can he play fast. In one game he blew me out of the water in the opening and just outplayed me in another game. In the other two games he really showed his tenacity because, despite having lost positions, he created complications and forced me to spend so much time that I flagged. Thus, he won all for of the games we played!

To me it’s amazing, to have a Master aged only 10. Could be the next Bobby Fischer!


Rob Radford August 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Even standing on a table and shouting “Gegen diesen Idioten muss ich verlieren!” should be verboten.


admin August 25, 2014 at 10:22 pm

LOL — yes, this anecdote came up in our discussion too. But I didn’t know how to say it in the original German.


Mike Splane September 20, 2014 at 2:07 pm

FYI – Juande is now a master; he’s rated 2204, after winning the Kolty Club championship. That announcement earned him a big round of applause at the Kolty Club last Thursday night.


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