Coffee House Chess Tactics

Any kind of verbal or procedural distraction is permitted, pro- vided it is not actually cheating. Seizing a black-squared bishop, for instance, and banging it down on the opposite side of the board on a white square is going too far. Leaving a pawn half-way between two squares, pending a decision on future tactics, is rather more than careless. But staring very hard at one corner of the board, to divert your opponent's attention from the other corner where you intend to conduct some surprise manoeuvre, is quite in order.

Blowing cigarette smoke over the board is vulgar: but offering a light at a crucial moment of thought might be considered as much helpful as distracting. The same applies to studious inquiries about your opponent's health, financial prospects, or amorous entanglements.

As for kibitzing . . . that is a vocation in itself. The rule is that kibitzers must not speak or make any comment about the game in progress. But the judicious sip of coffee, the anguished roll of the eyes, the stifled groan, the knowing smirk- these are all part of the kibitzers' code designed to insinuate their own superiority to either player while annoying both. All this, reprehensible in the extreme, is part of coffee-house chess. So if you can't stand the heat, stay out of games which begin:

'You call that an opening?'
'I'm making it up as I go along.'
'Pin and win!'
'Knight on the rim, future looks grim.'
'Karpov found this move.'
'Ask him to take it back.'
'What kind of plan is that!'
'Against you I need a plan?'
'Always give a check, it might be mate.'