Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Friday, February 11, 2005

DGT Boards and Game Scores

Technology is a blessing - but a mixed one. Whether speaking generally or of particular technologies, it's often the case that benefits that accrue or balanced by unintended debits.

One technology that has certainly enhanced the lives of chess spectators is the DGT board, which enables live games to be relayed electronically - one doesn't need a human go-between to relay the moves to either a live audience (via a demonstration board) or one located on the internet.

Overall, this is a great thing for chess fans, but there is one minor drawback; at least to the system as it stands. To indicate the result of a game on a DGT board, the tournament director places one or both kings on certain central squares. For example, a Black king on d5 indicates that White won.

Unfortunately, this can lead to confusion. Suppose that Black resigns in the following position:

Here the arbiter places the king on d5 and then does something further (maybe it's removing the White king from the board, I'm not sure) to indicate that the king on d5 is result-indicating. This procedure leads to two problems, however. First, there's confusion for the online spectators: did Black play ...Kd5 and resign, or did he resign prior to that move? Second and more importantly, games are often recorded into various databases with the superfluous ...Kd5, thereby falsifying, if only in a minor way, the actual records of an ever-increasing number of games.

Sometimes the written error is obvious, sometimes it's subtle, but producing design alternatives to avoid the worry altogether seem quite simple. Here are two possible fixes: first, have very small switches or buttons on the side of the board. This could be done in a way that isn't prominent and doesn't adversely affect the board's aesthetic qualities. Second, whenever ...Kd5 (or the White counterpart) could be a legal move, have a back-up set of squares or even make it such that if the king moves to any open square it can't legally reach (except g8 or c8, to avoid confusion with castling).

I sent them a letter a week or so ago, and they seemed quite receptive to the points I raised. So I'd like to encourage any of you, if you're so inclined, to email them - politely! - just to keep the issue in the forefront of their minds and to let them see that chess players really do care about such things. (To find a suitable address, check out the link above and click on the "contact" link.) It's a small thing we can do to improve the future history of our game.


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