The Stanley Random Chess Files

The Poco Manica and Grande Tavola Effects

Stanley Random Chess has developed many fascinating traditions over the course of history. This article introduces the Poco Manica and Grande Tavola Effects, which are closely associated with the tradition of l'échange de conseil.

The Poco Manica Effect

Already in the early nineteenth century, it was noted that some players (particularly those involved with SR Chess game fixing) were using the "l'échange de conseil" as an opportunity to deliberately disturb the arrangement of pieces on the board, using their sleeves to adjust the position to their advantage. This abhorrent practice became known as the "Poco Manica Effect," and was particularly favoured and prevalent in gambling circles. Players of questionable heritage and inferior skill became especially proficient in developing special tricks in order to accomplish the effect. Especially noteworthy were the different manoeuvres involving cuff-links and shirt sleeves, including the development of magnetic cuff-links and over-sized shirt sleeves with buttoned chains.

The influence of "Poco Manica Effect" on clothing fashion was inevitable, particularly in countries where player uniforms were mandatory. In order to discourage deliberate attempts to use the "Poco Manica Effect" to seek an unfair advantage, at the recommendation of the SR Chess Improvement Commission, a Royal Uniform Decree was issued that restricted the size of shirt sleeves and cuffs to carefully defined limits. All players entering the tournament hall were subject to an examination by a "Uniform Inspector" before competition, where the provisions of the Royal Uniform Decree were strictly enforced. Although "Uniform Inspectors" have resisted unionization, they remain a strictly regulated profession, requiring impeccable credentials, extensive playing experience, a thorough criminal check, and the completion of a sixteen year program at the Conservatory of SR Chess in Berne, Switzerland. Of historical interest is the fact that in Europe, for a time, short sleeves were mandatory, but this provision was stricken on account of the difficulties it created for those playing outdoor games. The narrow sleeves and distinguished cuffs usually worn by SR Chess players today preserves the traditions of the Royal Uniform Decree, and consequently the "Poco Manica Effect" is rarely seen in modern competitive play.

The Grande Tavola Effect

In contrast to the "Poco Manica Effect" is the more legitimate "Grande Tavola Effect". This is when a player disturbs the arrangement of pieces on the board by accident. Note that the only real distinction between the two effects is the intention and the result (I am indebted to my good friend Nanashi No-Gombe, from whom I learned much about the precise distinctions between the "Poco Manica Effect" and the "Grande Tavola Effect"). Two important conditions must be met before a "Grande Tavola Effect" can be accepted and declared by an adjudicator. Firstly, no playing piece must remain in its original position, and secondly, the resulting position must not advantage the player who caused the effect. In the event that the tournament adjudicator accepts a "Grande Tavola Effect", he effectively proclaims an entire-board STAR move.

The "Grande Tavola Effect" has on occasion caused surprising results in tournament play. The most recent incident involved GM Edgar Mildew of Great Britain several decades ago, in an international match against German GM Karl Marx, a third cousin of the famous Marx Brothers. With the championship at stake, GM Marx was easily winning the game, despite giving up a slender material advantage. He announced a 23 move forced mate (which would win the game and the title) by thunderously announcing "Mein Sieg" (My Victory), and thumping his fist on the table. When all the pieces settled back onto the board, it was discovered that the resulting arrangement classified as a legal pattern under VH Conditions. The tournament adjudicator announced a "Grande Tavola Effect", and the entire-board STAR move allowed GM Mildew to create a Forced I.M.R. on the next move. Marx was shortly afterwards admitted into a mental asylum, and is rumoured to be working on publishing a novel about the game under the title "Mein Sieg", and its sequel, "Mein Kampf".

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
Text may be freely copied & redistributed

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