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Chess can be such an emotional game, when your intelligence is paired up against your opponent's.

It's great fun at times, but at other times, it seems like we get too sensitive. More so than, say, basketball or even billiards.

I'm asking because I recently faced an opponent on chess.com who, after I offered and he naively accepted a series of gambits, very rudely typed a chat message. Now, we've never even met or played before. And this is a game, is it not?

So my question is: is there chess etiquette somewhere?

  • My son plays inter-school chess. In one particular game, his 13 year-old opponent made a foolish move and lost his queen. The player realised immediately, and my son extended grace to him, and let him retract. His opponent extended no similar grace to him about 10 moves later. It's debatable whether a retraction should have been granted in the first place, but it's a nice illustration that sportsmanship is often more valued when it is to one's own benefit. – user348 Jun 24 '12 at 2:26
  • Hmm, is that sportsmanship to grant someone a queen? I dunno, well it's being very nice for sure :) – Adel Jun 24 '12 at 3:18
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Yes, you're right - there was a great lack of etiquette in your opponent, but it wasn't chess etiquette, it was simply general etiquette.

I think you'll find that in every area of competition, there are several contenders who have a problem with etiquette. It's not just chess. You don't need a different level or standard of etiquette for chess than for other games; it's simply that good sportsmanship is more necessary in chess than in some other games, since it's a competitive game.

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I would say that the chess community does very well in terms of sportsmanship as compared to other competitive endeavors. I think it's a mistake to compare the behavior witnessed in online chess with the behavior witnessed in basketball or billiards (incidentally, two of my other most favorite kinds of competition). I'm sure that anyone who has played any significant amount of online chess has been needlessly attacked at some point (I know I have), but the relative anonymity of the internet is the culprit there far more than anything specific about chess.

I have seen some bad behavior when playing over-the-board chess, but in my experience at least, it is far less frequent and far less severe than typical bad behavior on the basketball court, or in the pool hall. Purely anecdotal, I know, but I still think it's fair to say that etiquette is as alive and well in chess as it is most anywhere else, so long as the participants have to show their faces, or attach their real names and reputations to what they do.

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