The Stanley Random Chess Files

Famous Stanley Random Chess Scandals

Stanley Random Chess has had its share of scandals over the years, including various cases of match fixing. This article highlights some of the lowest moments in the history of Stanley Random Chess.

The Lancelot Layover and Premature Pawn Weighting

Despite being a legal move, the Lancelot Layover (a variation of the Guinevere Assault) is named after a player closely associated with match fixing, Thomas Malory Lancelot. Lancelot was so concerned about match fixing that he insisted on shuffling the pieces before placing them on the board, instead of afterwards as is usually the practice. Despite his apparent obsession with fair play, his own ethical standards were called into question numerous times, especially when he was indicted by the ISRCA Grand Jury for piece-tampering early in his career. When an alert adjudicator at the 1925 Swedish Open noticed that his pawns appeared to be prematurely weighted, it was discovered that the base of his pawns had been drilled and replaced with cheese. He was acquitted following an investigation, where he pleaded insanity. He did not deny drilling the holes and filling them with Swiss cheese, but claimed to have mistakenly confused his pawns with his wife's home-made bread rolls (known to be rather hard).

Since this time, however, regulations require that all pieces (and the players) are weighed by the adjudicator before the start of the game and conform to the limits prescribed in the ISRCA charts. Overweight pawns are confiscated, whereas overweight players are immediately placed under house arrest, placed in solitary confinement in a sauna and on a high-protein diet. An international match involving Hirasaki Nagamuchi, a former Japanese sumo wrestler, was once delayed by six years until he satisfactorily met the weight requirements. By this time his Mexican opponent had long since lost interest in the game, and only after Nagamuchi had played 1.a4 was it discovered that his opponent had been admitted as a monk in a nearby Hindu monastery two years earlier, and had no intention of completing the game, being more interested in Brahmin than bishops.

The Silent Knight Scandal

The "Silent Knight" is a common position today, but acquired its name as a result of a scandal involving Australian GM Joseph Farnarkle, who was playing a blindfolded simul as part of a Christmas Charity Exhibition Series at a local shopping mall in Sydney on December 25, 1929. The ASRCF (Australian SR Chess Federation) had suspicions that Farnarkle was cheating during blindfolded games, and had dispatched two undercover agents disguised among the crowd. When Farnarkle's six-year old son was over-heard loudly telling his father that the knight on f3 was a West Facing Knight, and not an East Facing Knight as he believed, the ASRCF agents were prevented from arresting Farnarkle by the large crowd that was in attendance. The crowd's alcohol induced merriment soon turned ugly as they took the law into their own hands. Entirely unappreciative of Farnarkle's efforts to cheat by having his son speak to him about the game, the audience virtually lynched the Australian GM. He was stripped naked, forced to swallow both his knights, gagged with his blindfold, and so forcibly silenced for two hours until police reinforcements were able to dispel the crowd. Appropriately, a West Facing Knight on f3 has since been termed the "Silent Knight", and is even said to have inspired a popular song of the same name.

The Ratchet Brothers and the Stuck Up Queen

As recounted by Nanashi No-Gombe:

One of the most notable cases of SR Chess fixing occured when GM Jimmy Joe Ratchet discovered after a game that his Queen had been glued to the board. Surveillance video proved that his opponent, and brother, GM Billy Bob Ratchet was responsible. Stills clearly showed him bringing in heavy equipment and excavating a tunnel from one of his Pawn's position to the opposing Queen. The result of this game between the Ratchet brothers was still considered valid, partly because Jimmy Joe never actually touched his Queen during the entire game. In fact, he was able to win the game by simply moving a single Knight around the field, whinnying and making clop-clop noises. This audacious strategy, called the JJ Ratchet Equine Bluff, has been attempted by many SR Chess masters but never successfully.

The Stanley Rascal

As recounted by Austin Lockwood:

The notorious 'Stanley Rascal' of 1924, Sir Cuthbert Farquar-Smyth, kept a supply of spare white queens up his sleeve during the international match between England and Romania. Amazingly none of the officials noticed until the end of the eighth week of the match, by which time it was too late and Sir Farquar-Smyth's results were allowed to stand.

Other Scandals

Regrettably these are not the only scandals that have rocked the world of SR Chess. One needs only think of the deplorable incident with the copper-plated pawns and the nine-volt battery at the 1946 Finnish Nationals, the case of the uncarved bishop at the 1962 World Championships, and the 1934 disqualification of Norwegian grandmaster Ola Nordmann for arriving at a tournament with excessive body-hair. Although perhaps not to the extent of other sports, SR Chess has also had its share of drug scandals, such as when Canadian grandmaster John Benson was stripped of his GM title and sent home in disgrace from the 1988 ISRC Olympiad, after testing positive to a banned performance-enhancing stimulant said to improve hand-eye coordination and lateral rook catapult control. Benson has since retired from SR Chess and moved to England, engaged in his new hobbies of bee-keeping, and building a collection of life-sized wax replicas of himself (his collection currently numbers 93).

SR Chess GM Gregory Topov

Posted Tuesday - 2006-04-04 - 12:07:25 EST
by Staff Reporter Verdra H. Ciretop in Toronto
All Rights Unreserved - Loof Lirpa Publishing
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