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"Stalemate."
July 4, 2013 8:16 PM   Subscribe

Greg Shahade, an International Master of chess, plays an impromptu blitz game with Samuel Sevian (age 10).
posted by SpacemanStix (50 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
10-year-olds are such dicks.
posted by darkstar at 8:25 PM on July 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


So's the cameraman who kept moving the camera off the board! What, you think I want a closeup of the little snot? I want to see his win!
posted by fatbird at 8:28 PM on July 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am no chess expert, but will this help?
posted by dr. zoom at 8:34 PM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Samuel Sevian, the youngest National Master in USCF history. So not just any 10 year old.
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 8:37 PM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speaking as someone who admires chess, but who plays so infrequently that I can't begin to imagine the level these guys are playing on:

Wow. That was an amazing four and a half minutes.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:51 PM on July 4, 2013


hahaha, that was terrific. what i loved so much was Samuel's initial disbelief that he's winning, and then the growing banter and the obvious pleasant camaraderie between the players - culminating in Shahade's ironic offer of a draw late in the game, shortly followed by Samuel's checkmate.
posted by entropone at 9:00 PM on July 4, 2013


I admire chess more than I understand it too. The one thing that blew my mind was how one lost piece seemed to be considered, by both players, a game making issue. It's like they both knew where it would likely end up.

Also, I thought that playing it through in good spirits made it more fun to watch. Samuel did have an attitude, but it all seemed like it was in good fun and Greg was willing to let him have his moment without acting as if it shouldn't have happened or something. That was some real class.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:12 PM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"This is on video?"
"Yeah"
"Thank you!"

Heh, that was fun.
posted by carsonb at 9:23 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Qb5!!
posted by schyler523 at 9:30 PM on July 4, 2013


First, if I worked for 7Up I would be signing that kid so fast (and buying the rights to that video).

Second, I'm so bad a chess that I was thinking "Wait, you knocked a piece over! Put it back so you know where it is!". But these guys don't need the actual physical pieces to know exactly where each piece is, do they?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:43 PM on July 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


That was amazing! I love blitz chess! Thanks for posting this!
posted by newdaddy at 9:49 PM on July 4, 2013


"Wait, you knocked a piece over! Put it back so you know where it is!". But these guys don't need the actual physical pieces to know exactly where each piece is, do they?

They'll have all the moves memorized that got them there. You could probably knock the board on the ground and they'd barely skip a beat.
posted by empath at 9:55 PM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Put it back so you know where it is

You know where it is, because you know how it got there.
posted by pompomtom at 10:04 PM on July 4, 2013


Completely enjoyable - thx.
posted by parki at 10:07 PM on July 4, 2013


That was terrifically charming, and props to Greg for being a good sport. So the kid's hopped on 7-Up. Everyone seemed so happy for him, including the IM, who really was trying to recover after his blunder. This made the win even more fun for everyone, because the kid REALLY was crushing him.

You see this? That's the moment where, all kidding aside, the kid had the very serious and very adult realization that, had he the vocabulary and the permission to say it aloud, "I've fucking GOT this." "Ok. Now to not make the guy feel so bad. I will make a stupid joke. How about, 'good game, huh?' Wait. That makes no sense. But it's ok. I'm fucking 10."

But you know what? Sam knew this already, and so did IM Shahade. You see this move right here? I'm not talking about 22. ...Ne5, I'm talking about HOW he moved his knight. That is the chess equivalent of a pimp walk. And you can see how confident Sam is, and how Greg deflates.

The best part, though, is that the kid WALKS AWAY after his win. The win is acknowledged, and he gets up and out of there. There is no best-of-three, or best-of-five. It's over: "there's no best of three, man. It's best of ONE. And I WON. BLADOW!" He's got all the trappings of an excellent blitz player, and I hate him for it.

Incidentally, losing at blitz is how I started to really get into chess. I still play, and still learn that even when I win, I lose. For instance, last time I played blitz was against "Chess Party" guy in front of Art Institute of Chicago. Won 2-1 blitz. Then the fucker asks me for $5. What? I won. "Donation." But I won. Right. "... yes." I still lost $5.
posted by herrdoktor at 10:30 PM on July 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Did you catch that he didn't just walk away... he took the white king with him. Trophy!
posted by carsonb at 10:42 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw, dang, he doesn't. Never mind. =\
posted by carsonb at 10:44 PM on July 4, 2013


I guess I'm the only person in the world who has this attitude to chess: it was a great love, now completely lost due to technology. I had a certain amount of natural facility for chess as a kid, and an abiding fascination with the game in my youth. I mean, I would find myself analyzing old games and not noticing that hours have passed and I've not eaten anything and it's dawn.

And then computers got good. Very good. I still beat them, until one day I did not. And then I lost all interest in the game. I stopped playing completely. Because to me, it was never merely about just a path to victory from a given situation. It was about two human beings and their thoughts and their strategies and the psychology behind the moves - for example, motivating a player to make a mistake, setting up psychological traps. It was as much about the human mind, as about the mathematics of the game theory. And once a computer can beat you, all that psychology flies out the window. I'm not interested in playing silicon chips - I want to play a human.

Oh then, why don't you go ahead and play humans? Well, because serious players prepare. And they use computers to come up with lines of play which they can then spring on you. But haven't they always prepared? Yes, but it was still humans doing so. Admittedly, I was always somewhat bothered by the Soviet approach of having a team of GMs back at the hotel room coming up with stuff to feed their champion player, because that made it suddenly a team sport, whereas I liked the approach of one mind against another, not brain trusts battling it out. And once computers entered the scene, I felt humanity drain out of it. And that removes the fun for me.

And sure, I should still be able to enjoy stuff like this little blitz which I'm sure is totally legit - but in the back of my mind, I know that at least some players have surely researched a line of play using a computer, which play they can then spring on their opponent, and it just removes the fun for me. I guess I like the analog contest, the sword fight, mano a mano, close quarters - and have no interest in drones fighting it out remotely, while the opponents sit in front of their videogame screens separated by continents. But that's just my hangup. YMMV.
posted by VikingSword at 11:09 PM on July 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blitz isn't played touch move?
posted by kenko at 11:10 PM on July 4, 2013


Best of the web.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:40 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


They'll have all the moves memorized that got them there. You could probably knock the board on the ground and they'd barely skip a beat.

three blind mice's chess story.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:45 PM on July 4, 2013



First, if I worked for 7Up I would be signing that kid so fast (and buying the rights to that video).


Watching the video and paying attention to how often the kid drinks versus the tilt of the can, I'm not completely convinced that 7Up doesn't already own the rights.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:53 PM on July 4, 2013


Blitz isn't played touch move?

In a tournament perhaps, but it looks like this was just a friendly game played during break time.
posted by Avelwood at 12:17 AM on July 5, 2013


Great video. I don't know much about chess and this video caused me to look into their ranking systems. I noticed that there was a separate ranking system for women - why is that?
posted by dazed_one at 1:33 AM on July 5, 2013


Blitz isn't played touch move?

That seemed strange to me. Even for a friendly game, and even for a 10 year old, there seems to be too much touching the pieces going on. Also they are knocking over the pieces all the time. By the way, it doesn't seem very surprising that a young player can beat an IM in a single Blitz game (even good players make mistakes all the time).

Enjoyable video nonetheless.
posted by faustdick at 2:30 AM on July 5, 2013


They'll have all the moves memorized that got them there. You could probably knock the board on the ground and they'd barely skip a beat.

I remember being amazed at this too, but it's really not that hard. Even in Go where you might have 5x as many pieces and what amounts to 8 chess games going on at once it's not too hard to recreate large sections of a game even for a middling amateur.
posted by DU at 3:16 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


wow do I hate scholastic chess
posted by thelonius at 4:31 AM on July 5, 2013


I remember being amazed at this too, but it's really not that hard.

It really isn't, at least if you care about something and learn the basic rules. That sort of story that someone can recite using causative context is probably the nuts and bolts of most recollection.

It's just that for many people the range of things they can sustain interest in isn't chess but is instead baseball or the history of weaponry or celebrity drama, or just gosh darn regular drama.

"I said, and then she said, and then I said" is pretty much exactly "I moved, and then she moved, and then I moved".

Also, Method of Loci aka, the Roman Room method.
posted by tychotesla at 5:21 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


What a cocky little shit.
posted by Decani at 5:54 AM on July 5, 2013


Great video. I don't know much about chess and this video caused me to look into their ranking systems. I noticed that there was a separate ranking system for women - why is that?

Because, for whatever reason, there aren't very many women who compete with men on an even footing. Please note that there is no barrier to entry for the "men's" list, although Judit Polgar is the only woman in the Top 100. The problem is largely cultural: not many women play chess at all, and the women who do play chess don't tend to take it as seriously.

The problem can also be seen in Go, where there are historically very few 9-dan women pros (four), and of those only Rui Naiwei has ever been particularly strong in general competition.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:55 AM on July 5, 2013


Hey just for kicks, is there a transcript of this game somewhere?
posted by newdaddy at 6:36 AM on July 5, 2013


Hey just for kicks, is there a transcript of this game somewhere?

yes, linked in the third comment in this thread.
posted by entropone at 6:38 AM on July 5, 2013


And sure, I should still be able to enjoy stuff like this little blitz which I'm sure is totally legit - but in the back of my mind, I know that at least some players have surely researched a line of play using a computer, which play they can then spring on their opponent, and it just removes the fun for me.

"Never play the board, always the man. You got to play the man playing the board. Play me. I'm your opponent. You have to beat me, not the board. Beat me."
posted by mightygodking at 6:59 AM on July 5, 2013


yes, linked in the third comment in this thread.

Thanks for this! Much better to be able to click through it.

I'm not sure I understand when the opening goes south for Shahade. He lets himself become pinned a couple times, he lets Sam retain a central pawn that is eventually pushed. He doesn't castle when his opponent does. Is there a single move that could be pointed to, to say "here is where he loses it"?
posted by newdaddy at 7:26 AM on July 5, 2013


One of the voices on the video says something like, "i can't believe an international master blundered on move 5." His pawn move, I suppose, weakens his position sufficiently to lead to the kid's bishop forking his king and rook. Shahade's attempt to recover opens up his left side, so when he's checked by the kid's queen, that screws up his ability to castle and it goes from bad to worse.

But I suck at chess so that could be wrong or missing the point entirely.

(and for the life of me i wouldn't have been able to predict that from that pawn move)
posted by entropone at 8:01 AM on July 5, 2013


I'm not sure I understand when the opening goes south for Shahade. He lets himself become pinned a couple times, he lets Sam retain a central pawn that is eventually pushed. He doesn't castle when his opponent does. Is there a single move that could be pointed to, to say "here is where he loses it"?
Yeah, 8.Bd3 just plain lost a piece. He was doing great until then. 8.Bd2 would have been fine.
posted by dfan at 8:14 AM on July 5, 2013


By the way, Greg Shahade publishes daily videos that are very good. Most cost a little money but about 10% are free and are clearly marked as such. They are mostly of him thinking aloud while playing online blitz or solitaire chess (playing over a grandmaster game and guessing one side's moves). It's really illuminating to see how an IM thinks about the game in real time.
posted by dfan at 8:25 AM on July 5, 2013


Actually, that kid was AMAZINGLY gracious for a 10 year old. I know a couple gamer kids that age who are much more obnoxious. I loved the other kids crowding around to watch with glee, too, and I thought Mr. Shadade was a good sport, too. You win some, you lose some.
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:14 AM on July 5, 2013


for the life of me i wouldn't have been able to predict that from that pawn move

You have to be mindful of lines into the king. 5d4 opens the a5-e1 diagonal, to which Black's bishop and queen both have access; that means that developing the queenside knight will leave it weak, as Black will be able to pin it and keep it out of the battle for the centre. White's move 7cxd5 is premature, because the pinned knight means White no longer has the numbers on d5, allowing Black to end up with a knight posted strongly on a central square.

Were it not for that pin, White's natural response to 7xcd5 would have been ...cxd5 rather than ...Nxd5; the fact that Shahade followed up by developing his light square bishop rather than neutralizing the pin with Bd2 suggests to me that he was still playing a rote opening line rather than watching what Black had actually done. By the time he noticed, his position was gutted and all Black needed to do to take the game was not screw up.

That, in itself, is really hard to do under time pressure. Fizzy drink assist or not, Sevian did extremely well to avoid overconfidence-induced blundering.

It never pays to underestimate a quick thinking ten year old :-)
posted by flabdablet at 10:33 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm sure White was expecting 7...cxd5, ending up in a position that is usually reached by a different order of moves (in fact, Black's pawn recapture on d5 generally comes from e6), in which 8.Bd3 is the standard move. Greg mixed up his move order, a very common problem in blitz (and not uncommon in long games either!). That said, he still would have had a perfectly playable position after 8.Bd2 (and in fact, in the database I have access to, White has gone 7-1 from that position).
posted by dfan at 10:46 AM on July 5, 2013


The one thing that blew my mind was how one lost piece seemed to be considered, by both players, a game making issue.

It usually is. Chess is all about balance, and if you're a piece down you really need to have used that piece to buy positional advantage strong enough to stop your opponent crushing you by attrition.

There's a useful opening called the Stonewall that sets White up to sacrifice a bishop for a pawn in order to gain just such an advantage. In some continuations of that opening, White ends up several pieces down before forcing Black to checkmate.
posted by flabdablet at 10:53 AM on July 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks to all for your comments on the game itself - all very helpful.
posted by newdaddy at 11:46 AM on July 5, 2013


A piece is typically an overwhelming advantage among people who can actually play, yeah. There are some exceptions to this, however. The first one you learn is usually the idea that a rook pawn which will queen on a square with a color other than that controlled by a lone remaining bishop isn't enough to win; this is because the superior side's bishop and king and pawn are unable to drive the defending king out of the corner with the square that the pawn queens on. This useful fact provides a losing player with hope, since all he needs to do to save the game is sacrifice his last piece to produce such a situation.

Chess is filled with odd little exceptions like that. Rook and 2 pawns versus Rook is normally an overwhelming advantage. But, if they are rook and bishop pawns, the weaker side can draw (this is my favorite, I have saved a bunch of games this way).
posted by thelonius at 11:54 AM on July 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love that these two are pretty clearly having a good time. Chess is a game! It's fun!
posted by capricorn at 6:46 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cool video. Mainly it's a bizarre mistake by Shahade. For some perspective: to get as highly rated as he is you'd have to start chess as a child, play constantly, have coaching, and study a lot of books. Some people might never get that high. Others wouldn't until well into adulthood. (The occasional preternaturally gifted kid hits IM, but 2400+ is nearing GM level.) What makes the game odd is that his move 8 is a super amateur mistake--like, a hobbyist club player ought never to make that mistake. If I were at all focusing I would never make that mistake, and I'm lightyears away from touching Shahade's level. Maybe he was cocky about playing a little kid, I dunno.
posted by pdq at 8:21 PM on July 5, 2013


I admire chess more than I understand it

Then you really, really want to go and create a user account on FICS. You're pretty much guaranteed to find an opponent at your own level, your games all get recorded so you can take them apart afterwards or skite about particularly pleasing ones, and there are useful automated tutorials available to help your play improve.
posted by flabdablet at 8:31 PM on July 5, 2013


You're pretty much guaranteed to find an opponent at your own level

This is a great thing about chess - you can always find players about as good as you are, and you will have an exciting and interesting game.

I got obsessed with trying to improve after I discovered the thrill of rated play. I don't regret that, but it got to a point where I lost sight of the idea that chess is a board game that is supposed to be played for fun, and I had to step back from the quest for greatness.

I've played guys like Shahade. I beat an IM in blitz once. He was drunk. But typically, it's just murder. Like, put in zugzwang, in the middle game, with all the pieces still on the board, murder. And they are considered to be mediocre players by the top American GMs, who themselves are deemed to be idiots by the elite players, and those just below the elite, in Europe. The chessic food chain just keeps on going! Eventually serious players have the choice of accepting their level on it, or giving up the game.
posted by thelonius at 9:33 PM on July 5, 2013


Like, put in zugzwang, in the middle game, with all the pieces still on the board, murder.

Once you give up trying to be the best player in the world, and just work on being a better player than you were yesterday, getting the opportunity to experience a truly elegant beatdown becomes a pure joy.

Travelling around Australia, I used to enjoy occupying a pub table with a board set up in front of me and waiting for somebody else to walk up, sit down and make White's first move. Met a lot of interesting people that way.
posted by flabdablet at 10:12 PM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


What makes the game odd is that his move 8 is a super amateur mistake--like, a hobbyist club player ought never to make that mistake. If I were at all focusing I would never make that mistake, and I'm lightyears away from touching Shahade's level. Maybe he was cocky about playing a little kid, I dunno.
He was making his opening moves super-fast on instinct to save time for later, and he got his move order mixed up. It happens in blitz.
posted by dfan at 6:07 AM on July 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone said, what's impressive is, the kid kept his nerves and avoided the counter-blunder.
posted by thelonius at 2:04 PM on July 6, 2013


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