Serious pursuers rarely bluff
Saturday, July 4, 2009 3:01 AM
By SHELBY LYMAN

Outward deception and concealment aren’t congruous with competitive chess.

There is little to hide, as most of what happens besides the move is inaccessible in the opponent’s head.

As the master of chess epigrams, Savielly Tartakower famously noted, “Only the strong player knows how badly he plays.”

Mikhail Tal, “the Magician From Riga,” was worried early in his career by the soundness and uncertainty of his creative play. But he finally realized that it was to his advantage that his opponents were even more unsettled than he.

Often, strong players won’t directly challenge a surprise and unclear move by their opponent, preferring to avoid a head-on response. The premise is that if their respected adversary has made the move, it’s probably OK.

In fact, grandmasters rarely bluff with a deliberately unsound play. It’s a matter of personal integrity and reputation in the chess community.

And if their bluff is called, they risk an embarrassing defeat.

Source: Columbus Dispatch

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