Aug 28 2009

Taking Back a Move in Chess


“A man that will take back a move at chess will pick a pocket.”
- Richard Fenton (1837 – 1916)

CTRL Z Threadless Tee

CTRL Z Threadless Tee

So, when ChessCube Version 4 launched this week, it launched without the “take back” option. It’s back (some of you may be pleased to know), but we’ve certainly seen lots of debate around whether it shouldn’t even be an available option!

I asked for some opinions around ChessCube HQ, and John‘s thoughts are worth sharing:

When you take back a move in chess you have had a glimpse of the future and your opponent has not had the same advantage. Except in beginners’ games, it ought not to be allowed in my opinion.

Ultimately it can only harm the chess development of the player who takes back the move. Takebacks can also quite easily bedevil relationships.

The player who is asked for a takeback is placed in an invideous position. If she refuses then she risks being thought of as an ungracious person. And if she accedes then she has set a precedent which will be difficult to repudiate. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Much simpler to simply not allow the possibility at all.

Mouse slips? I have had a few and smarted most mightily for it. I’m much more careful with my mouse these days.

When playing games online, most players wouldn’t want to be at the mercy of their own mouse slips. It’s something we had to consider with the online games in the SA Open. For those games, even though the game was played online, each player also had a physical board to show their moves to the arbiter. That way, a request to take back a move based on a slip of the mouse could be verified against the board.

What do I think? Well, I’m quite the beginner myself, so I were to want to take a move back it would more likely be because I’d made the wrong one, rather than that my mouse had slipped. It would be better for me to learn to play the game without that “ctrl + z” option. For better players, I can understand the frustration of a mistaken move because of a sticky mouse. Take back remains for now.

What do you think?

[Image is detail of the "CTRL + Z" Tee by Ben Devens at Threadless.]