Rules for chess

The Olympics are still months away, the surface-to-air missiles are still tucked safely in their beds, but already our talented signwriters are practicing night and day for the 100m passive-aggressive signmaking event, judging by this sweet number I photographed yesterday.

Passive aggressive chess advisory, community centre, London, UK.jpg


  1. I’ll be that guy for once.

    I like this post just fine but I don’t see how it’s passive aggressive. It states pretty clearly what the problem is and what will happen if things aren’t corrected and why.

    1. I completely agree. The only way this could be more direct is by naming names, and then the headline would be “Public Humiliation Now Apparently Standard Punishment for Minor Rule-Breaking.”

      Passive-aggressive would be this: “It’s come to my attention that certain selfish members persist in unfairly monopolizing the TV area even though there are rules against it. Team captains of these individuals (you know who you are!) should remind them that they are upsetting everyone with their bad behavior. I apologize to the residents who have had to deal with these certain rude persons, who apparently think they are more special than everyone else.”

      Of course, it’s all in the eye of the beholder. For “playing chess” substitute “holding prayer meetings” and watch the note suddenly become, by the prevailing BB standards, a model of restraint, if not outright appeasement. ;)

  2. When did leaving notes become a such an intense taboo? Labelling all polite but pointed notes and signage as “passive aggressive” seems to me to be a war on communication. Perhaps you have a better idea as to how to convey protocol to an indeterminate number of people at a particular location who arrive at indeterminate times? 

      1. If you have a problem with roommates who you live with and know to some degree, you talk to them about it. Fine.

        If you have a problem with strangers who you see on occasion in a noisy setting with lots of other people and alcohol….?

        1. If the person who wrote this note has the intelligence gathering capability to hear about the problem and the authority to issue declarations of law, he or she should be in a position to collar the offenders and tell them in person.

          Or put up an actual sign that says No chess in the downstairs bar without prior permission of the barman.

          The fact that chess might be banned in order to avoid upsetting football fans is, of course, indicative of a troglodyte-run institution.

          1. It costs £49 a month to subscribe to Sky Sports & ESPN who have a duopoly on showing live premier league football in the UK. It costs from £30 upwards to buy a ticket to go to the game. The community hall will likely be full of local people and families who have been priced out of watching football, both at the ground* and at home. The bar takings during big games will also help fund the community hall so everyone wins, including the chess players. Those troglodytes are running a good community service at their community hall.

            *I can’t afford the £500 or so for the cheapest season ticket to see the club my great-great-grandfather was a founder member of 135 years ago.

          2. >he or she should be in a position to collar the offenders and tell them in person.
            Oh come on, you know what chess players are like. One guy distracts you while WHAM, the other two do the deed. You can never catch them in the act, you’re just left to clear up the mess.

      2. I do indeed – 3 of them, presently. I try to talk to people about any issues personally, but sometimes people aren’t all at home at the same time, so it’s necessary to leave a note or send an e-mail. I know, however, to avoid this, because of the rabid vitriol elicited by writing a simple polite note.
        It seems that in a few years, a sticky on tupperware which reads: “Please don’t eat these cookies, I made them for my sick grandma,” will be considered the height of rudity. 

        1. Well, that would be a perfectly polite note.  The comparable note to this one would be, “Again I must remind you not to leave your dinner in our refrigerator when I have cookies for my Grandmother in there.  She’s sick of her macaroons smelling like your curry.”

          1. I’d say that the idea that a chess game could disrupt screaming football fans is about equal to the idea that the curry smell would pass through the Tupperware and contaminate Granny’s cookies.

          1.  “Do Cher videos count as a sport?”

            Probably, ‘cuz they definitely don’t count as music…

    1. Because it’s a public airing of a grievance that could more simply and tactfully be handled privately.

  3. I came in here to say I didn’t find the note passive-aggressive at all, and wouldn’t even if I were in the chess club.  Several people beat me to it, even as I was typing this.

    1. Passive aggression is when you try to get at what you want indirectly/inactively, rather than directly/actively.–aggressive_behavior

      Let’s say you’re unsatisfied with your job, but you’re too chicken to ask for a raise or better treatment. Or perhaps you have asked, but have been curtly denied. You could exercise passive aggression by being late, performing poorly, disobeying regulations that you’re obviously well-aware of and then claiming you forgot.

      Another example: your friend has a big slice of cake that they bought for themselves. You want it. But rather than asking if they would mind sharing, you sigh furtively and complain about how long it’s been since you had cake.

      Passive aggression, when applied to written notes, suggests that the writer CAN directly/verbally communicate with the recipients, but chooses not to because of cowardice or laziness. Somehow, I don’t think that’s the case here.

  4. I need to agree with previous posters that this note is not passive agressive at all. It may be a bit wordy, but is still direct and polite. GeekMan has the correct definition above.

  5. And remember…no matter what the London League Secretary tells you…there is no chess in the sports pub.

  6. I’m more amazed that their community hall has a bar and a bar-tender and slot machines. Which makes it a bar/pub. Which is normally used for drinking and football watching and more drinking.
    It also implys that their is a upstairs area available for playing board games.
    Sounds like they’re trying to be as accommodating as possible with the players, by letting the bar-tender be the judge if it’s a slow night.

    Try setting up a gaming board to play Catan at a hotel bar during a gaming con on a football night, the organizers and the hotel staff would probably non-passively  re-direct you to the gaming area without leaving the option open to the bar tender if it was taking up bar space for other guests.

  7. Looks to me as though this is an internal message from the secretary of the small, minority-interest chess league to his or her fellow chess enthusiasts and team players reminding them of proper protocol in the all-purpose club space they use for their games and analysis (where football is the majority interest), and not a message from the club directed at them.

    Phrases like “I must remind team captains” and “don’t stand in front of THEIR tv, THEY don’t like it” suggests that. If it was a message from the club to the league, it would be more on the lines of “look you chess tossers, don’t stand in front of OUR telly when the footy is on”.

  8. As a former club and tournament player, I have to openly admit that many hardcore chess players would be too oblivious to notice:
    1)  that they are blocking the TV with their chess analysis when it is fine elsewhere
    2) that they are taking up an inordinate amount of space in a crowded bar

    It should also be understood that “analysis” is post-game discussion, and it often takes place in areas that are NOT explicitly for playing chess.  In fact, it really shouldn’t occur where there still are tournament games in progress … chess players absorbed in conversation often have a hard time remembering that there are other people around trying to carry on their own lives.

    Finally, I’ve witnessed too many chess players who cannot accept simple directions or requests – who will argue incessantly with some authority figure for no frickin’ reason – so I cannot blame a club official for posting something in the open for team captains.  I’d be very surprised if there were not MANY additional verbal reminders, etc., due to aforementioned oblivious nature.

    1. Yes, oblivious, this. The notes are only aggressive by the standards of the obliviousness of dialed-in chess nerds, who are passive, yet very arguey in game mode.

  9. The sign is actually a lot more fun if you read it as documenting TV policy for the Olympics, cleverly coded to save the place from scrutiny from the copyright police.

  10. I’m imagining a Monty Python sketch about chess hooligans bothering innocent football fans.

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