Fish Tesuji


This is a story of something that happened to me in a small tournament in San Diego, back in the 80's. I think it was a Mcmahon tournament and I had been doing pretty well in the lower bracket. I went to my next match and found my opponent sitting at the table with a fish-bowl - containing a live fish. I introduced myself and asked about the fish. He told me that the fish was the one playing, and that he was only there to put the stones on the board. I thought he was joking, but as the round started, he spent most of his time staring at the fish before making his moves. Sometimes he would ask questions - "The top one?" "Are you sure?" "Which side?". I was a little annoyed, but I decided to just concentrate on the game. We both played a fairly calm game, until he made a deep invasion that I was sure was an overplay. I attacked him, and it turned into a huge fight. I wound up with more liberties, though, and was able to start chasing his group around. As this went on, he started questioning the fish more and more, sounding exasperated. He even started shouting at it, and at one point walked away for several minutes before coming back and apologizing. To the fish. I was sure at this point that I would win, but I was getting more and more distracted by his antics, and I eventually missed a shortage of liberties and lost a huge group. I resigned shortly afterwards. I won the rest of my games, and if it weren't for the fish, I would have won the tourney in my bracket.

Does anyone else have any stories of odd behavior from their tourney opponents?

-John Trotter

pmw57: it's tempting to put this down as a case of NamingAllYourExcusesForLosing, but despite such reservations, it's an interesting tale.

Once played a tournament game at the Congress in which my opponent suddenly stood up, backed up a few feet from the table, and did a handstand.

 -Will Lockhart

Rather than a story of my own, I've been thinking about this fish story for so long. If this guy was seriously, genuinly talking to the fish (either through hallucinations (perhaps mental illness), or through supernatural means (like Sai and Hikaru)) then I think it should be allowed in the tournament. If he was faking it primarily as a means to rattle the opponent, I think it's cheating and should be disallowed. It's weird that I feel so strongly in both of these two cases--respect for and unusual players, vs my opposition to cheaters and "rattlers" and people who are trying to psyche you out--yet it's hard to know which one it is. The third explanation I can think of is if he was faking it as a means to focus his thoughts and play, and I don't have a strong opinion either way if that is the case. -Sandra

In the worlds of chess and Magic and Netrunner there are of course many stories like this. I once overheard a chess player talking about his "strategy" of eating raw meat to get a "distracting breath". And we've all heard M:tG players going on and on about "rape" and "whore". I don't like it and I consider it as bad as cheating. -Sandra

Fish Tesuji last edited by Sandra on April 11, 2014 - 00:00
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