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This is where new PawnPusher ideas go to flower or wilt. If you want to contribute to any of these, please email me with suggestions. Thanks!

The Genuinely Funny Chess Joke Challenge

Until recently I thought there was no such thing as a funny chess joke. All I could find on the web were dusty old anecdotes, or dozens of variations on a painful effort with the punchline "chess nuts boasting in an open foyer". Then, out of the blue, I heard one that actually made me laugh. It was on the Terry Wogan radio show on BBC Radio 2, and it goes...

"I was having dinner with Garry Kasparov yesterday.
We had a checkered table cloth.
It took him 2 hours to pass me the salt."

Boom boom! Not bad.

So, in a quest to expand the genre that is 'the genuinely funny chess joke', I'm throwing it open to Pawnpusher readers. Send your suggestions to and if enough people respond I'll set a deadline, get together a panel of pawnpusher contributors as judges, and award the winner a Pawnpusher T-Shirt (yep, these really exist!)

[update - 12th March 2002 - ok, make that 2 funny chess jokes, http://www.edinchess.freeserve.co.uk/chandler/joke2.htm ]

[update - 26th April 2002 - and this one is passable]

A guy is on a long-distance flight. Sat next to him is Gary Kasparov.
Kasparov asks him whether he would like to play chess to kill time. The guy replies, 'Hey Gary, You think I don't know who you are?. I can't compete with a world champion?
Kasparov - 'How about if I play left handed ?
The guy thinks about this for a minute, then agrees. He is demolished in 8 moves, and is very upset throughout the rest of the journey.
On landing he meets his friend and says 'Hey! You know what! I just played chess with Gary Kasparov and he beat me in spite of him playing left-handed!'
His friend replies - 'Hey stupid!! Gary Kasparov IS LEFT-HANDED!!'

Hobby Horse

If we've proved that chess has a darker, weirder side, what about other hobbies that get classed as boring?

I think we need a page where enthusiasts for other so-called 'boring' pastimes (stamp collecting, trainspotting, morris dancing etc) can show us the fleshy underbelly of their hobby.

I'll start the ball rolling, but feel free to anything you think needs to be here.


Pasty-faced men in anoraks, crouching in fields, staring at trees through binoculars and making lists? That's the stereotype anyway, and even that already sounds more unhinged than boring.

You thought birdwatchers were animal lovers? Think again. This is from the newsgroup uk.rec.birdwatching...

"Birdwatching is never boring for the traditionalist. Personally, I find matters of identity problematic, so I adapted the failsafe Victorian method of shooting the birds first, thus ensuring a positive id.

Single bore rifles and shotguns proved unreliable, so I mounted a small cannon on a wall and progammed it to fire into a nearby copse on the hour. This provides me with seven or eight hours worth of corpses to identify every evening. So much more fun than TV."

Oliver Patterson

"So what about when you put all the bits together again wrongly? I suppose you just call it a new species? Maybe that's how the Oliver-aceous Warbler came into being :-)"


Bridwatching links

Leicester Llamas - This is what we want! Includes a poetry page, the world's worst rarity photos, fantasy local patch, and the bird-hating club mascot Sparky the dog.

Beer Drinking Birders - a "mailing list is for those birders with a sense of humour!! The slagging off of current & past rarities is encouraged! The list owner is not responsible for any character assassinations especially those that may lead to legal action (though he will probably laugh)!"

Fat Birder - Check out the 'fun pages' for some chronic jokes, urban myths, and a guide to sitting in a field all day making lists.

Nude Birder - I hope this takes off.


Men in anoraks stood in railway stations feverishly noting down train numbers? Well maybe, but a hardcore element take it a bit further and break into train yards at night to pursue their hobby, and there are rumours of a group of radical trainspotters who do this naked! Apparently, they break in, strip off, and take photos of each other sat in the engine nude.
The only references I can find are here, here and here. Anyone else got any more details on this?

There are a faction called 'Bashers', and they have their own language. Also see the 'jargon' page here, and you can listen to realmedia audio of various trains too, if you feel that way inclined.


Dating from a time when May day meant dressing up in mad clothes, getting rancid drunk and running off to have sex in the woods, anything that involves drunken men with clothes covered in bells dancing around in clogs and waving hankies has to be more perverse than boring.

For a really perverted take on Morris dancing, try the White Rats site.

Imagine this lot dancing down your street - remember 'The Wicker Man'!

What to do about bad dancers, 'Women in Morris - Is it natural?', and territorial disputes between Morris dancing teams? Try here.

And, is it just me or is this a bit scary?



"Dear Sir,
I believe that some people are leading lives more exciting than we can begin to imagine.
Thank you for opening up new and unexplored vistas of the human experience.
Keep the faith.
P. G. Witherspoondingdong the Third DSO MC PG TIPS Esq."

Summing Up The Rec.Games.Chess.Misc Newsgroup

Newsgroups are an excellent method of whittling away a few hours/days/years talking, and usually arguing, with like-minded souls. There are specialised groups discussing everything - politics, religion, garden sheds, cow tipping etc. The downside of newsgroups can be that the same worn out topics keep reappearing on a monotonously regular basis. The liveliest chess newsgroup is rec.games.chess.misc. I asked the regulars there to help me explain the newsgroup to a friend by coming up with a short list of recurring topics from the last 3 years...

  • "Karpov/Kasparov/Fischer/latest FIDE five-a-side winner is the real world champion. No he isn't. Yes he is. Repeat to fade."

  • "I was on chess.net/FICS/Yahoo/Kasparovchess etc and the guy I was beating (I had 5 queens) quit out and didn't come back. I WANT MY POINTS!!! That's the last time I play at chess.net/FICS/Yahoo/Kasparovchess etc"

  • "Anyone got pictures of Judit Polgar naked? Phwoarrr!!"

  • "Did anyone get their Chess Life this month?"

  • "Check out the new game I invented. It's based on chess but is better. You get 3 extra queen-knights and the pawns move like rooks. You can buy it at this address...."

  • "What's the rule about castling/en pasant/checkmate/stalemate/the queen moving like a knight/etc."

  • "What opening should I play?"

  • "What book should I read?"

  • "I want to become a chess master, but I have only one hour per week to devote to serious study.

    Actually it's more like "I am currently rated 1200 but am improving rapidly. Here is how I plan to become an International Master by February...." followed swiftly by posts titled "Early disappointment in quest to become International Master by February"

  • "As a chessplayer, what do you think about <insert topic that has nothing to do with chess>"

  • "This is my opinion on the middle east/muslims/terrorism/Bobby Fischer/the Hawley Smoot Tarrif."

  • You also forgot the part where they post a 1 minute lightning game they played on some site and ask for someone to supply some comments.

  • and how about the stories starting with "Another great victory for g4" and comments like "this is another Zilbermintz-gambit"?

  • "I beat my 5-year-old nephew in a knight's odds game seven months ago, and I solved the mate-in-one puzzle in last weekend's newspaper. What's my approximate chess rating at this point."

  • "Who was the greatest Non World Champion player in history"

  • "Fischer (is/is not) the greatest player that ever lived, (is/is not) a deranged lunatic, (can/cannot) beat a lot of chicks with piece odds."

Thanks to drahmiel, Harold, Joseph Wojcik, Reinhold Stansich and etj718(?) from rec.games.chess.misc

You can access newsgroups using Outlook Express, or using dedicated (and usually free) software [examples and links to follow]


A list of our favourite excuses for losing a game of chess - based on genuine examples

"I could've drawn but the team was losing so i had to go for a win" (used after a local league game)

"I've got a bad cold/headache/herpes/flat feet"

Neil Coward adds...
"I would have won if I had played....."
After considering two moves, chosing one of them, then losing, your opponent is then entitled to argue that if he had chosen the other move he would have won. I played a game at Bolton congress this weekend where I blundered and my opponent got in the bxf7 sacrifice without going a piece down, then he sacced a knight to drag my king out even further - to g5, but I hung on and won. We went through the game and he tried many different continuations and they all lost. Then the next day he came up to me and told me he missed a forced mate. f4+ was the move that won. Just looking at the postion quickly, I managed to avoid the 'forced mate'by saccing two pieces but we agreed this was a win for him and he went away quite happily. However, I then put the game through Fritz and his forced win didn't work at all - it was still a win for me. I told him Fritz found a defence to f4 but he countered with, well if I had played f4 would YOU have found the defence? and walked away whilst I was floundering for an answer.

"I would have won if you hadn't cheapo'd me"
This is akin to saying, "I would have won if i wasn't too crap to see your winning move"

"Mouse Slip" (thanks to Neil Coward)
"I think the most popular excuse for losing in these days of internet chess is the good old mouse slip. The way it works is this...You play a fine positional game, grab the centre and grab all the space, your opponent is penned back unable to move anything. You then create a passed pawn and push it home. Your opponent tries everthing to stop it but you finally break through and queen it. Your opponent then plays on a queen down and you mop up his remaining pieces and queen another pawn. You then chase his king round the board with two queens and mate him. He then sends a stream of messages saying he made an obvious mouse slip and you only won because of that. You then ask him why he didn't ask for a takeback and also, which move was the 'obvious' mouse slip? but he's usually disconnected or added you to his no play list so you can't communicate further.
"Mouse slips are funny things because a pawn to f6 'mouse slip' that runs into a knight fork winning the queen, once allowed to be taken back, is then replaced by moving the queen. Strange things, mouse slips...
" I played a guy who put his queen next to my king where I could just take it but immediately asked for a takeback. I agreed this was an obvious mouse slip. He said he had been playing around with his queen and unintentionally 'dropped it' next to my king. He didn't want to move the queen at all. Maybe I could have pulled the first Internet 'touch move' ?!"

update, 18th May 2002 - Just found a comprehensive list of excuses for losing at chess here.

Grandmaster Types

1. Darth Vader (aka Dr Doom)
Theme song: "Nobody likes us, we don't care!" (football terrace chant)
Characteristics: Not bothered by their atrocious public image. Historically, many of the greatest players fall into this category. Arrogance and control freakery are now accepted as useful traits in an aspiring world champion. These players are sometimes criticised for their lack of humility and social skills. Kasparov, for instance, has taken a lot of criticism for being "not nice".

2. Nice Guys
Honourable, sporting, friendly, sociable, rare. We'll stop on the safe side of cuddly, but you get the idea. Too friendly to stay at the very top for long.

3. Mad Boffins
Shambollic, total lack of self-awareness, dressed by their mums, stone age beards, often favour off-beat openings and wave their arms around a lot.
The true hardcore enthusiasts. You've got to like them, but you probably wouldn't want to go round for tea. You suspect that their houses are coated in a thick layer of dust, and they probably wear their shabby suits in bed and in the bath.
Totally non-threatening (outside chess, natch).

4. Dr Demento
Players who teeter on the brink of, or do an olympic dive into, madness

5. Handle with care
Brillant players with health problems. If the stress of playing top level chess is the cause then it becomes tragic.

6. Turn-ups
Possibly only applies to the UK weekend chess congress circuit.
Every piddling little provincial tournament there always seems to be one GM turn up to play the open section. They nearly always win it easily, obviously, and usually don't bother to hang around to collect their winners cheque in person (which is a bit naughty and really annoys people). I call them turn-ups because they just have to turn up to win.
You rarely get two of them at the same event, and we have suspiscions that they get together at the start of every year and decide who'll win what.
They tend to be quite isolated figures, wandering about with carrier bags.
Bit of a depressing way to make a living probably.

email me your suggestions at


The Ring Master (a warning from Melvin Hughes)

"I have been in and around the chess scene for many years, and during that time I have been amazed at the methods some people will go to in trying to further their chess ambitions.

The following person is a very rare character indeed, and it is true to say that he is more likely to seen in some Hammer Horror Movie than in your local chess club! But never the less I can assure you he is out there with his fangs well and truly implanted in the neck of his current prey. My name for him is – The Ring Master

If you are unlucky enough it’s a good chance you may at some time or other be a victim of the above.

His favourite feeding ground is a chess club with a small to medium membership and low club fees.

On joining a club (this is akin to receiving a blood transfusion from a vampire) TRM makes sure he keeps as low a profile as possible, this tactic gives him the time to take stock of both the strengths and weaknesses of the existing governing committee. His reconnaissance completed its time for action!

The first step is to introduce into the club his camp followers. (These are usually people who are forced to keep his patronage because they rely on him for transport) This increases the club membership and pleases everyone. The second step is to ingratiate himself with the rank and file by suggesting additional chess functions; he then proceeds to implement these ideas, making quite sure he receives an honorary title for his efforts!

Stage three can be a little tricky and may take time depending on the fibre of his victim. TRM desires a place on the club committee! To do so requires the removal of a committee member, this is done by back stabbing one of the incumbents, and is achieved by constant sniping. Example: A particular member of the committee is failing in his duties, with luck the recipient of this vitriol will resign! “Bingo”, with no permission at all, TRM promptly takes over. Why so easy? It’s because TRM knows from past experience that it is akin to having a tooth extracted to find volunteers for any post that involves members using their own time.

All is going to plan, within a staggeringly short period TRM has created a cult of personality; and now surrounded by sycophants he has control of nearly everything, thus with his power base secure it’s time to reap the reward. As a player he has never made the grade at top level but he never stops trying, to achieve this aim he makes sure that a promotion virus grips the club, sadly despite the aspirations of the lower teams in the club all are stripped of the best players to obtain this goal.

On achieving promotion he promptly recruits mercenaries from other clubs who desire premier status. To TRM it matters not a jot that even after displacing many of the existing loyal team members the new influx will not be up to scratch for long term survival at the higher level, because the real reason of this exercise is to satisfy both his ego and the need for his place in the sun.

We now have a situation where the old guard are completely outnumbered; henceforth any opposition to the new order is ruthlessly put down, if anyone refuses to bend to his will then TRM runs to both the committee and his now willing slaves with threats of resignation. Horrified at the thought of losing their benefactor, this bluff reduces them to jelly and they cave in; from this moment on unless he or she can satisfy TRM that they are back on board; the dissident will be ostracized!

With his chest puffed out and walking on air from his own self importance, he can be seen strutting around the club like Moses come to part the waves, and why not? TRM has made it he is indeed master of this circus.

In Conclusion

How do you stop a shit like this? “Well apart from a wooden stake through the heart” or “hanging garlic over the door” you can’t”, sadly the process will have to run the full disastrous circle, the word disaster is not used lightly because the irony of this situation is-when eventually the web of his creation begins to disintegrate which always occurs! And having sucked the very life blood from all, TRM will leave anyway, and during this exit he will cause as much mischief, and disruption as possible, his legacy will be and always is a club in chaos and on the verge of collapse. So Beware of the Ring Master.

Printed by the: Peoples Anti Tyranny Party. (Membership (1) "

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Home Time Trouble Tournament Player Types Scumbag Tricks A Guide To Axa-Speak Scotch Gambit The Grob, The Bad & The Ugly Amazing & Untrue Facts T-Shirts King's Gambit 3.Bc4 Pipe & Slippers Notes from a small tournament Chess Accessories Links The Nursery chess metaphor liberation organization chess lookalikes chess clubs in the British Isles Who's The Greatest? Beast-o-Meter