When you play often enough on an online chess server, you start to see the same usernames popping up as your opponents. It makes for a weird social network. I recall a story where some Australian chess players met the famous Hikaru Nakamura at a tournament. Among them was a shy, timid junior called Moulthun Ly. At the introductions, Hikaru said something along the lines of “Moulthun… like “Molton”, from ICC?” The two had played literally hundreds of blitz and bullet games against each other online, and that sense of respect was transported from the virtual world to the ‘flesh’ (mainly because Moulthun had won quite a few of the games, I suspect).
In the last month I have played 60 games against user “ukchessbomber” on chess.com’s server. We’ve never chatted and I don’t know anything about this person, other than that they play from Wales and their opening repertoire needs a bit of work. Still, after so many games, one can get a strange sense of camaraderie. And now after one more game, I know one more thing: They’re a good sport, allowing me to play through to checkmate in one of the weirdest games I’ve ever been a part of. Black’s queenside pieces are literally boxed into submission, falling over each other in complete uselessness. On Facebook, I called it my “Trump administration” game, but without the political commentary, something like a ‘pieces in a box’ game would be more appropriate.
After 17…a6?? 18.a5!, believe it or not, Black can resign. I guess soon afterwards he or she realised the self-immobilisation. 25.Re8+ was admittedly cheeky, but I couldn’t resist. Ironically, chess.com’s computer analysis tool calls this move “Blunder! Black is winning”, with an evaluation of -4.9.
PS – My opponent’s sportsmanship was rewarded; he beat me soon afterwards.