|Nov-13-05|| ||Gypsy: <IM Ota Borik has been living in Germany these last several years. But many years ago, when he was walking home from some junior tournament in Prague with some friends, they marked time by playing blindfold games. Right after they passed via the Zizkov tunnel to Karlin, one of the players started to complain that his oponent play was too slow. The solution was not difficult to find: one of the players had chess clock in his bag. It must have certainly been a grand spectacle: chess clock perched on the side of an appartment complex in Karlin, two youngsters excitedly dancing around, and while their friends shouted encouragements, they were pounding the clock with uncomprehensible slogans such as "knight moves to f3". The whole group became realy suspicious also to Prague police; three times the group was cicrled by a patrol car. So suspicious they were, that the fourth time, instead of patrol car of the police, it was the car of a nearby mental hospital that stopped by the curb. A doctor got out and watched the comotion around the chess clock for a time. But since chess probably was not completely foreign to him, after a while he quietly closed the door of the car and drove off.> Ivan Hausner, "Good Night Tales in Black and White".|
|Nov-13-05|| ||Eric Schiller: <gypsy> Similar story: when I took Billy Colias, a young master who died prematurely in 1993, to Biel in 1985, we were not allowed to deplane at the Bern airport. The police had removed luggage to the tarmac and were surrounding it. One of the bags was ticking. It turned out to be Billy's chess clock. I explained things to the police, who were unamused but realized there was no threat.|
I'm surprised that American chessplayers don't run into this more, given the number of analog clocks still in circulation.
|Nov-13-05|| ||Gypsy: <Eric Schiller> That is a good story! Btw, his can also happen when cordless power-tools are transported in one's lugage...|
As for spooks: At one point in my life my father and were sending each other chessgames in our letters accross the Iron Curtain. Those letters would take several months (as long as 1/2-year the first few) to reach me. They were first thoroughly checked by the code-breakers.
|Nov-13-05|| ||Sneaky: I've considered the possibilities of chess games as codes. If done correctly, it could be almost impossible to detect, even to an experienced chess player who knows a nonsense game when he sees one.|
Consider if both spies had identical computers and copies of Shredder. All of the letters are ordered in the order of frequency (ETAOINSHRLDU etc.), so that 1=E, 2=T, 3=A, etc. Now for each move of the game, you let Shredder show you the #1 best move, the #2 move, the #3 move, etc. To transmit a certain letter, e.g. the letter "A", you transmit the 3rd best move because "A" is the third most frequent letter. As long as your message doesn't contain too many J's, Q's, and X's, all of the moves should be fairly reasonable.
Every now and then this method will yield a move so ridiculous that it would spoil the integrity of the game, or perhaps there aren't even enough legal moves in the position to comply with the code. No problem, just append any chess notation (!, or !?, or ?!) to the end of the move and that's the clue to the spy on the other end to ignore that move and use the next.
If the game goes on for 50 moves, a message of up to 100 characters could be encoded in it. A letter might contain several chess games from a fictious tournament to encode quite a long document.
The process of encoding and decoding could, of course, be conducted by computer software.
|Nov-13-05|| ||Gypsy: <Sneaky> You are a .... well, sneaky ... genius!! Quite clever.|
The correspondence I had with my father was before PC's and publicly awailable chess programs. Although it may now all sound like an urban leggend, this kind of extra dilligence was rather common in the eastern block back then. Talking once with some climbers from Krkonose Mountains on the Czech-Polish border, they related a similar story of their local aparatchiks analysing the hell out of a chessgame in one of their letters. Of course, snooping through letters was normally a clandestine operation back then, for the apearances purposes though hardly a secret to the public. But here it all came out with a drunken party official accosting these guys in local pub, shouting not to be so giddy, that the chief (police chief, that is) would soon be done, just another week or two, with breaking their code! Even after all the years since, or maybe exactly because of all those years under the bridge, these guys had tears of laughter in their eyes when they recounted the story.
|Sep-25-10|| ||whiteshark: Yappy burst-tay two shoes!|