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Keith Marshall looks 
at some Chess Stereotypes
you may recognize! ...

According to my reckoning chess players can be divided into twelve categories listed below ...

Mr Average

Mr Average is the sort of player who plays obvious moves, he's the player who plays pawn to king four, mention e4 to him and he says "Oh I can't understand all that Russian stuff." So after 1 P-K4 P-K4, Yes this is a MUST, any other defence and Mr Average gets a sulk on for the rest of the game, no foreign muck like the French or Sicilians for this guy. 2 Kt-KB3 Kt-QB3 3 B-QB4 B-QB4, he reaches a position he's been in a thousand times, he now has a big think and comes up with 4 0-0 (safe) the game continues. "Want a draw?" he asks, "but we've only played seven moves," comes the reply.

"Well Grandmasters do it," he says, "Look I haven't come all the way from Greenland to agree a draw in seven moves, besides WE'RE not bloody Grandmasters.!" Anyway the game peters out into a boring old perpetual check after thirty moves, and in the after game analysis he points out several ideas that he could tried, ( they all seem quite good ) but didn't, anyway he goes home happy keeping his grade up at 104.

The Rabbit

This player is not as good as Mr Average, but is more interesting because he plays dangerous chess, you attack a piece of his , so he attacks a piece of yours. You sacrifice a pawn, he sacrifices a Bishop!. He's a good attacker, but he's never read a book about defending, the trouble is that when he MUST defend, he doesn't, and this usually ends in tears. Although on odd occasions he can beat players that Mr Average can't, because he gets such complicated positions that the strong players can miscalculate.! The funny thing about the Rabbit is that any post game analysis is a complete waste of time as even though a piece down he will insist his position is okay as long as he can get a couple of checks in.

The Specialist

This player can be dangerous as he's taken an offbeat move from the book usually 1 P-QN4 The Oran-Utan, or 1 P-KB4 Birds Opening, less common are 1 P-KN4 Grobs Attack and 1 P-QB3 Saragossa, and spends hours and hours analysing all the book lines, plus the fact if you go out of these book lines you come up against the old midnight oil moves he's prepared.!

The only weakness in this idea is the offbeat move is offbeat because it has a flaw,! otherwise it wouldn't be offbeat. This player can sometimes beat strong players ( with White ) but can also lose to weaker players because he sometimes beats himself in the opening. Besides this, everybody knows what his first move will be.! When he has Black you'll find that his grade will drop by a few points. If you're White play his own move on him and see what he thinks is the best line against it.!

As your playing this guy, usually Mr Tut comes up behind you and every time you make a move you get this tut tut in your ear. In my mind this tutting business condemns your moves, as if he's seen something better and you decide to do the same to him when you see him playing, the trouble is he never plays, just tuts.!

Mr Know-All

This player is a lot better than Mr Average, but can't challenge the expert, he knows all about the Openings and Endings, he can talk for hours on how swap off, when to swap off and what to swap off. He can tell you about weak pawns, Isolated pawns and even backward pawns. He can rant and rave about Lucena's winning position,

Philidors drawing position and even the Quasi-Trebuchet. (not a sword thrust) But in his big match against the expert he goes into an opposite coloured Bishop ending, with six pawns each, he's then busy going round telling everybody "I'll now use my technique of placing all my pawns on White squares,!! so as to restrict my opponents white squared Bishop." (He has the black squared one) Later on, after the game, you find out that the expert went round and simply knocked off all Mr Know-alls pawns. After this he doesn't talk about Bishops for two weeks.!

The Patzer

This player is by far the most dangerous, as everybody in the land,including himself, knows that he can't for the life in him play chess,!! even as a kid he never got any "A"s in his alphabet soup.! What he knows about Openings, Middle-game and Endings could be written on a pin head with a big red crayon,! and he couldn't spot a mate in one, even if his team mates were doing somersaults and shouting "Mate in one". So sitting down opposite this guy is a nightmare, If you win, everybody says "So what anybody can beat him" If you draw, he's doing cartwheels down the corridor and his team mates are buying him beer like they've won the lottery, while your team mates elect to give you the old dunce cap and don't talk to you for weeks. And it goes without saying that you would have to change your name and leave the country immediately if you lost!.

Mr Stodge

With White its 1 Nf3 d5 2 g3 or 1 d4 Nf6 2 e3. Now if you're Black and want to win you've had it, because this player thinks that a minefield lays past the fourth rank, and will not cross it under any circumstance. So you castle King side and throw f5, g5, h5 and the kitchen sink at him, (After this one stodgy git actually said "I thought you were playing for a draw?") but to no avail, he soaks it up like a dried out alcoholic thrown into a vat of wine. Now you look at your position and find your men have simply charged too far forward, so you're open to a counter attack, but you should be all right , you're up against the stodge, and he hasn't made a threat since some school kid got a clip round the lug because he asked stodgy for a sweet, although he was 35 at the time. But what's this,? old stodgy doesn't look absolutely bored to tears any more, he's actually taking more interest in the position, than the scarf he's been knitting through most of the game. Yes, a piece comes over the fourth rank! Now its you who has to grovel, but as time goes on Mr Stodge becomes Mr Cocky walking round in between moves now, "Yes I always had a slight edge" he says to some passer by, you realise that your position is far worse than you thought and face a very nasty decision should you (A) Resign ? or (B) Play on in the hope of a blunder (Heart Attack), letting Mr Clever Cloggs really rub it in over the next hour? or (C) Leg it to the bar!!

The Book Merchant

A lot of players come under this heading, this is the guy who wants to win purely out of the Opening.? You're not playing against an opponent here,

you're up against a memory man.! This player can somehow memorise reams and reams of variations without actually knowing the slightest bit about the ideas or plans behind the Opening variation chosen, this must take a certain sort of skill, as my memory is like a shelf the more stuff pushed on at one end only means that other stuff falls off the other end. Anyhow this sort of player must be watched, as your favourite Ruy Lopez or Sicilian Dragon gets book whipped out of hand. Although at congresses the book merchant is no danger in the Minors as his opponents don't know enough book for him to get those certain positions. The Majors are no fish pool for this shark either because they come out of the book too early or have their own systems. That leaves the Opens, but the book merchant comes unstuck here as well, because as soon as he's out of the book he's absolutely crap at chess!. One funny thing about this player is after he's lost the game he's always determined to show you where you went astray in the opening.?

The Expert

People (only chess players) open doors for this chap, just because he can beat everybody you know it seems to give him power, people move out of his way to let him through, that is except Mr Tight Wad, who is the first to the bar "Glass of water with (free) ice and (free) lemon barman", he says, then its "Hey the chips and gravy at 90p,? how much just for the chips? "90p mate," snaps the barman, "just a plate of gravy then pal, I've brought my own bread, and get all the lights on in the chess room, I can't see to put my battery on charge." He then moans about the heating, the subs and the price of Kit-e-kat and wanders why you get thrown out of the FREE room six months later.? I digress, back to the expert, you'll find the know-alls and mouthy gits don't talk so much when he's around. "The entire line is rubbish!!" he says to some poor cringing fool who's dared to mention a pet line he's worked on for the past two years. Mr Average and the book merchant are to be found hanging round him, hoping for any snippets of information. "Try thinking before you move, not after," he says, Mr Average is spotted writing this down!. "Can I get you anything besides strawberries Sir"? Mr Crawly is heard to say before dashing off to organise a fan club.

After demolishing his opponent with some fine endgame technique, the expert seems quite willing to give advice to anybody who's listening. "Show me some of this endgame technique stuff, I've got five minutes before my bus," the rabbit says, everybody laughs except the patzer. The amazing thing about this player is, lets say he plays the Sicilian in serious games, in friendlys (If there is such a thing?) he can play the French Caro-Kann or Benoni and know more about these openings than some players who have been playing them for years.! If you find yourself up against this guy, try to get him drunk!

The Sacrificer

The name itself announces this player, no matter which opening you choose against him he will sac something early on and mess up all your nice plans of doubling up on the open file, or piling up on his isolated pawn, then just after you've pulled your position back into balance, bang another pesky sac, once again you've got to weather the storm before getting back into some sensible position. Now you're two pawns up, about to start your own attack, but no! a piece comes flying your way, putting you back on the defensive. Then after a lot of thought and plenty of defending you finally manage to get out of this latest melee, you're now getting geared up for some fun of your own, you bring a Knight onto the fourth rank with some attacking ideas in mind. Lo and behold he goes and resigns! after having all the fun too!

The Thinker

As you talk to your team mates about the opponents, everybody knows that the guy on board three ALWAYS gets into time trouble, and as per usual its you who has the job of trying to despatch him. The first thing he does is write down 6-5-4-3-2-1-0 against his last moves on the score sheet, this is to give himself some kind of countdown at the time control, followed by a few sets of brackets After moves ten twenty etc. to keep to a certain schedule, next he takes off his watch, puts it at the side of the score sheet and he's ready to play.! After playing a few standard opening moves, his eyes seem to glaze over, he's gone into think mode,! Nothing, not even the offer of a free beer can now break his train of thought. After some considerable time he stirs, moves a pawn and you reply by taking on c3 with check, his eyes seem to glaze over. What is he thinking about,? If he doesn't take back, he'll be a piece down! The clock ticks away picking up the flag, surly he has to move? If he were two Queens up he'd loose on time! He moves a couple of times and the flag falls. "The position's okay its the clock," he mutters, "Yes", you agree, "the clock." So in actual fact he hasn't lost at chess, he's lost to the clock, "Why don't you MOVE when you're so short on time,? Eh,? Why,? WHY,? his eyes seem to glaze . . . . . . .

The Junior

Yes the dreaded junior, or to give him his correct name Bratislava Pesticus, this is the scenareo, You're sat at your board and up skips some four and a half year old kid with a wry smile on his face as he looks at his next victim, you.! He comes at you armed to the teeth.!! a cushion, ( to kneel on ) Fritz eight embedded in his head, all the latest opening theory dripping out of his ears, and the half eaten mars bar in his hand looks like its been taken E.P His trainers look awesome,! and I'm not just talking about the ones on his feet, Its Fischer and Kasparov,!! who take up position directly behind him, after lifting him onto his seat. Well you haven't been in this situation before, what to play.? 1 e4, Is out of the question, you can't face 45 moves of pure book theory in the main line Sicilian.1d4? mmmm, that's no good either, as you don't fancy the idea of facing some new Fischarov move on move six in the Nimzo-Indian. You start to panic as you look round for a playable alternative, 1 c4 ? too positional, you'd be in Zugzwang after ten moves! wherever that is? You opt for a stodgy move, and meekly poke out 1 Nf3, he manages to reach the board with the aid of his cushion, and bashes a pawn down on g5!! stares you in the face, and dares you to take it! aaaarrrgh, Its such a shock it takes you a full 30 seconds to even FIND the panic button, you press it twice without even thinking, can I take it? I should take it? shouldn't I? does he WANT me to take it? why should I take it? God he's threatening to advance it, can I stop it.? Your mind wanders off, and for about ten seconds you consider following it! You start to think ( dream ) about the time you when you were a kid, and your dad had said "Nah then lad aahs ta fancy goin daahn ta chess club ta-neet ?" I'd have thought he'd lost his marbles, cos I'd rather have stuck my hand in the ruddy blender.! Just then as if from a far off distance a voice comes into your head disturbing all your thoughts, and bringing you back to reality. Your flags fallen mister." You look up force a smile, shake hands and walk away with nothing except chocolate on your hand. Yes we've all been there.

The Natural

This is my favourite player, usually in his mid fifties he's never read a chess book in his life!, but finds the right moves over the board. He's never seen a computer, and thinks Fritz is some German guy who's pretty good at chess. If you mention a mouse he's got traps and poison down before you can say "Queens Gambit Declined (Orthodox Defence)".

Against this player you'll need all your wits, after the first few moves he'll have a scrappy old position because he knows nothing about book openings, ten more moves and he seems to be making threats you haven't considered, and for some reason your pieces are in the wrong places, then after stopping a couple of threats you realise that you need two or three moves at once to feel comfortable. This is always a bad sign, and the fact is, he's winning! the reason,? He's been outplaying you at chess,! proving ability is better than a little knowledge!. If he could take on the book merchant's positions after twelve moves he could take on the best. This guy plays for the sheer love of it! and he's darned good at it!.

Keith Marshall. 

Keith is a guest contributor from Heckmondwike, In West Yorkshire and has sent in some info and a game at our request. All such contributions welcome from far and wide.

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