The Stanley Random Chess Files

Distractors and Other Traditions

Stanley Random Chess has developed many fascinating traditions over the course of history. This article contains guest contributions from expert Nanashi No-Gombe to explain some of the more obscure of these traditions.

SR Chess Distractors

Nanashi No-Gombe recently published a monograph about the regulation of SR Chess. I share his opinion that the official regulation of SR Chess traditions has much improved the game, particularly the "Licensing of Distractors" provision that became mandatory since the Fourth SR Chess Convention of Lisbon, 1852. But perhaps Nanashi is best equipped to inform us about that, since one of his ancestors was present in person at the Convention, and was particularly adept at the difficult art of distraction. He describes the origin of this practice in connection with an exhibition game between GM Viktor Demetri Plaztov and the Gdansk All-Soprano Choir:

As everyone knows, Viktor always preferred to indicate his moves through charades. When he pantomined that his Bishop should take a particular Knight, this was accidently interpreted as a rather vulgar suggestion by his opponents. The resulting riot lasted for several days. Because of this incident, there was a subsequent attempt to ban the use of charades in SR Chess. A compromise was met when it was agreed that players who insist on using such tactics must supply a qualified licensed interpreter, or at the least cue cards.

The Fourth SR Chess Convention was significant because it was held during the height of the Great SR Chess Purge. Regional representatives were forced to travel incognito in order to attend, since Anti-SR Chess activists guarded most major ports and roads. My great-great-grand uncle, Nanashi no Takana, was able to make his way disquised as an emu. Because of the growing popularity of utilizing distractors, this subject was scheduled an entire day. In general there was great admiration for the practice of distraction, for many grandmasters had began their careers as distractors, but it was generally agreed that freelance, or un-declared, distractors were to be regulated. The enforcement of such regulation only applies to competition games. Private or exhibition games are still consider an open forum for the amateur distractor, or Non-rated Nuisance. For more information you might pick up "SR Chess Distraction for Beginners: Introduction and History" at your local SR Chess reading room. It has a fair number of diagrams demonstrating many of the classical facial expressions and hand gestures. But for the individual who is serious about distraction, I would suggest attending the Royal SR Chess Distractors Academy in Nuku'alofa, Tonga. It is a twenty-year course and guarantees the student the rank of Confuser Fourth Class upon successful completion.

The Poetic Amore

No-one is better equipped than Nanashi No-Gombe to recount the remarkable provisions of the Poetic Amore, which is rarely enforced: Under Section 45.a5^17 of Disability Exemptions for the Poetic Amore, a player with a history of allergy to pink and the proper affidavits from at least three certified phrenologists is automatically exempted from performing the Poetic Amore. Or if the player is simply unable to pronounce the word 'ululation'. It must also be noted that GM Petitfour Ralph Winston, who was known to break out in hives at the mere mention of the word 'pink', insisted on performing the Poetic Amore during his game at the 1899 Winter Regional SR Chess Challenge. The crowd, mostly Eskimo, were thoroughly entertained by his recitation from memory of over one hundred rather dirty limericks from various anonymous sources in Bantu. Unfortunately, upon completion he was immediately hospitalized with violently uncontrollable invective fits. Doctors later reported that his prolonged pink exposure could have been fatal if not for the fact that he was also currently suffering from a mild case of snow-blindness.

The Privacy Act

The very nature of the game requires that SR Chess be a public game. In fact, the European SR Chess Council adopted a resolution called "the Privacy Act" in 1826 that made the playing of private games (without the presence of observers) illegal. After an appeal from the BSRCF, a later amendment made some provisions for private games, but under the strict conditions that such games were never to be conducted behind locked doors, and that allowances always be made for the possibility of public viewing. Technically then, Private SR Chess does not exist. This is certainly not a regrettable development, since private games take away from the spirit of the game. The game is best played with an audience (usually with the strict prohibition of silence). SR Chess has the remarkable distinction of being one of the only games in the world that can be just as enjoyable for the non-players as for the players themselves!

Nanashi No-Gombe does well to capture the atmosphere of a typical SR Chess game:

There is nothing like playing SR Chess before a roaring crowd. Thousands chanting "Blood! Blood! Blood!" or "Block that Rook! Block that Rook!" And the spontanteous renditions of "Pop Goes The Weasel". Shivers run up and down my spine. In conjunction with BSRCF and its appeal of the 1826 Privacy Act, the Universal SR Chess Distractors Guild won the right to be present at any game, whether real or imagined. This necessitated the training of the Telepathic Corps of Distractors to assure their participation in the mental contemplation of SR Chess games.

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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