The Stanley Random Chess Files

The Free Move and the Unlocked Board Identification Challenge

Stanley Random Chess has developed many fascinating traditions over the course of history. This article introduces some aspects about the Free Move.

The Free Move and Locked Board Patterns

Under the fairly recent (early 20th century) Second Left Amendment to SR Chess rules (Rule 56B, sub-section xvii, para 3, Revised Elementary Version), in the highly unusual event that a player has no legal moves, "the adjudicator shall grant the aforementioned player a `Free' move." This `Free' move is sometimes referred to by critics of this Second Left Amendment as the so-called `Cheat' move, although the term is misleading and entirely unfair to the player who plays this move. Before creating a position without any legal moves, a player must first create a Locked Board pattern, the difficulty of which cannot be underestimated. The "Free" move is an appropriate reward for achieving this remarkable effect, and under its provisions the player is permitted to move any piece to any square of the board. So it is obvious that because there is no legal move, such a Free Move is in fact fully legal.

The Unlocked Board Identification Challenge (UBIC)

Some are of the understanding that a `Free' move can only be played when the Arbiter and other player are not looking. But this misunderstanding is largely due the result of ignorance concerning the traditions associated with a Free Move. A long-standing practice requires both the Arbiter and the opponent to be blindfolded during the placement of the `Free' move. When the blindfolds are removed, both the Arbiter and the opponent engage in a "Unlocked Board Identification Challenge" (U.B.I.C.), to determine who can identify the free move first. An extraordinary Tea Break (referred to as the "Free Move Tea Break") is first taken to allow the placing of bets on the outcome, a practice that has been revolutionized by internet betting.

Since the inaugural U.B.I.C. in 1921 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, SR Chess periodicals have published detailed "Arbiter Statistics and U.B.I.C. Odds", which are closely studied by dedicated punters and gamblers. Statistically 55.6% of Unlocked Board Identification Challenges are won by the Arbiter, but some Arbiters are known to have greater identification skills, which oddly enough is usually directly proportional to their shoe size. Collector cards featuring particularly successful Arbiters in the U.B.I.C. have been issued by cereal box companies, and the limited edition collector card featuring Grand Arbiter Augustus Milverton of the UK is rumoured to be worth a million pounds. Due to legislation restricting rewards, the ISRCA is unable to award prizes to the winners of the U.B.I.C., although it is customary to give the Arbiter a case of beer should he win the Challenge. With the introduction of legalized betting in 1929, supervision of the application of blindfolds has been the responsibility of the trained tournament "Uniform Inspector." Blindfolds are usually tightened with a torque wrench according to the official specifications stipulated by ISRCA regulations, and calculated with a complex mathematical formula that includes as variables the competitor's weight in pounds, his current IQ, and the number of socks in his top drawer. A rigorous program of random drug testing is now also in effect.

Two Historic Examples of the U.B.I.C.

Two Spanish Arbiters were recently court-martialed and promptly shot after attempting to bribe a Uniform Inspector to allow them to use see-through blindfolds. Although it was first suspected that the Arbiters were guilty of illegal U.B.I.C. Fixing (a federal offense, strictly punishable with death), it was discovered following their execution that they had a history of alcoholism, and were merely trying to win the beer. Unfortunately time does not permit me to describe the other traditions associated with the Free Move Tea Break, including the table-top surfing contest, the bearded clam hunt, the great peanut spit, and the sale of roasted turnips and souvenir dental floss manufactured from grandmaster nose hair (each individually numbered and accompanied with an autographed certificate of authenticity). The Salvation Army band is also usually in attendance.

Mention should be made of the remarkable events that transpired at the 1952 Olympiad, when grandmaster Paddy O'Larry (who is half Irish, half German, and half Italian, and also rather overweight, but was playing for his adopted country Poland at the time) chose to decline his Free Move in favour of retaining the Locked Board Position. His lawyers later proved conclusively that although declining the Free Move is illegal, it becomes legal as a Free Move by virtue of it being illegal. So although the board was technically in an illegal position, it was in fact a legal move, even though no Free Move had been played. After spending 16 hours trying to discover the non-existent Free Move, O'Larry's Swedish opponent and the Arbiter both developed severe psychotic delusions, and O'Larry won the game by default after his opponent was judged mentally incapable of continuing the game, and admitted to a local asylum for the mentally disturbed where he still spends all of his waking hours pondering the position on a chess board. After his retirement from SR Chess due to undignified blood and an artificial pulse, O'Larry became a scientist and invented the circulation of blood. Later in his career he combined with Isaac Newton to invent gravity, which indirectly had a profound effect on the further development and play of SR Chess in the years that followed.

SR Chess GM Gregory Topov

Correction: I stand corrected on an earlier observation. Apparently I was misinformed when I suggested that gravity and the circulation of blood were invented by former SR Chess GM Patrick O'Larry. This is of course a ridiculous notion. They were in fact invented by his third cousin once removed, Larry O'Patrick. O'Patrick was a powerful man (reputed never to have lost an arm wrestle with his secretary throughout his scientific tenure) who showed scientific promise from an early age. His mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin that he built with his own hands, but he had absolutely no interest in SR Chess. I do apologize for the mistake, which was largely caused by relying on the corrupted secondary sources provided by Sir Walter Augustus Snozdorkle in his "Unscientific American". Nanashi No-Gombe also observes that "Patrick O'Larry and Larry O'Patrick were born conjoined. It wasn't until they reached middle-age that doctors risked seperating them, since this connection was through their mothers. Before this, and even years after, they were notorious for taking credit for each other's achievements."

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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