postheadericon Trash Talking, And Why You Never See It in Chess

You rarely come across trash talking in chess. Sure, club players call each other weak all the time, but that’s said so often it hardly has any meaning. Besides, judging by the fitness level of most players, we are actually quite weak. But you don’t really see the real kind of combative dialogue you’d see in real sports(because chess apparently is a sport). The immediate reason for this is that chess is a game of intellect, and nerds are for some reason more polite than athletes. Anyone who thinks this clearly has never played on Xbox Live. The less immediate (and less stupid) answer is that trash talking isn’t really effective or applicable when it comes to chess.

One of the main plusses to trash talking is the immediacy of a threat. “I’m gonna dunk on some foo.” says that basketball player. And so he does. You can’t really do that in chess. What’re you going to say? “I’m going to checkmate your king”? Well yeah, that’s the object of the game. That’s like going to a pick up game and telling your opponents, “My team is going to score eleven points before your team scores ten or less.” Not very immediate, and not very threatening.

Another use for jocular jawing is telling someone that he or she isn’t very good at the current sport or activity. Continuing to use basketball as an example, you could say someone has poor “handles” or “skillz”. What can you say in chess? “Oooh you played the Taimanov variation? That’s sooo refuted!”

All that said, I was recently heckled by a spectator during one of my online games (no, I don’t know why spectators are allowed to converse with players). He said something to the effect that he wasn’t entertained by my play relative to my rating. Because chess is supposed to be exciting, right? Several Gladiator references later, we decided to square off in what ended up being one of the most exciting games ever. Well at least for me it was.

I’m not going to bother analysing this game because 1) There’s an obvious skill gap, and 2) I wasn’t really playing to win, but rather win in a ridiculous and humiliating way. My opponent's name was "chekorean", so he probably really liked StarCraft and Evita. Or something.