The Good and the Evil Inherent in Clock Punching Monkeys
I was titillated to read in a recent CLO Irina Krush’s protest against Anna Zatonskih’s blitz tactics in their US Women’s title playoff match.
Her open letter ends,
“To conclude, I will state that sharing the title would be an acceptable outcome for me, but I would certainly welcome any initiative to decide the title in over-the-board games, with real time controls that don’t degrade the participants into clock punching monkeys.” (emphasis mine).
The bold-faced phrase brings back rich, nostalgic memories. Turn back the clock to 1975 and the scene is the Silver Spring chess club, managed by Larry Kaufman and frequented by such personalities as Diana Lanni, me, future IM Steve Odendahl, and other riff-raff. Since we were young and highly immature, Steve and I invented a game that was solely to reward the clock-punching monkey. The game was called “Clock”. It is fun for all ages and invariably reduces the participants to gasps of laughter, unless of course one of the players is Ray Keene or some other dour type. I want to stress a chessboard and pieces are not needed! Here is how you play:
The Immortal and Skillful Game of ‘Clock’
- Set the clock to one minute each (this was the old fashioned clock that ticked, but I imagine you could subject a Chronos to this too).
- ‘White’ bangs his or her fist on the table then bangs the clock to start the game.
- ‘Black’ must bang his or her fist on the table and only then can he or she bang the clock to start the opponent’s clock.
- In response, now ‘White’ must bang his or her fist on the table before he or she can hit the clock.
- And so on, alternating steps 3 and 4, until somebody flags.
No Chess Involved! Any hit of the clock without first banging the fist on the table is an immediate forfeit!
Overturning: A Nuance of the Game
The 1975 version of the game naturally resulted in the clock often overturning and sitting on its side. It was unclear who should right it and clearly in such a thrilling game neither player really wants to right it. I suggest playing with the clock in an enclosed case so it can’t overturn.
A Surprise ‘Clock’ Spectator
In one uproarious ‘Clock’ incident, the clock had just overturned and both players were howling loudly. A small, dapper gentleman gave Steve and me a pitying glance. And this was the first time I laid eyes on surprise club visitor GM Lubosh Kavalek.
Enjoy your game of Clock, everyone! For extra thrills, play with a digital clock and set it for 10 seconds each, or try a game of “Clock Odds” to test the speed demon in your neighborhood!
Krush didn’t leave sleeping dogs lie and wrote an awful “final letter” to US Chess online. The bad sportsmanship meter is now in the red zone on this issue. Poor Anna Zatonskih could not, and should not, respond to this nasty Krush tirade. Simply change the format going forward if it’s so upsetting!
Happy Post Post-Script
Anna Zatonskih righted the boat with a well-conducted interview. Hurrah for Anna Z. All is well.