Caïssa’s Wisdom: #7b – Chess and Food

Rules and Etiquette for Chess Amateurs

Today we continue with rules about behaving appropriately at the board. This week Caïssa turns her attention to food.

#7b : Bad Manners – Food

GM Magnus Carlsen

He may still be a young man but Magnus Carlsen already knows that the combination of chess and fine dining represent the apogee of civilised culture. Photo © Ray Morris-Hill. |

Etiquette around eating at the board is a complex subject and players of all levels should be very careful to behave politely. The best policy is to avoid eating at the board at all however, sometimes (especially during the course of very lengthy_ encounters) eating is essential to sustain concentration and energy levels. This is particularly important for those who are of a hypoglycaemic disposition. In instances where food is a necessity players should be careful to chose ‘quiet’ food. Acceptable are:

  • soft fruit (bananas, oranges and grapes but not berries which have a habit of creating a sticky mess everywhere)
  • cold sandwiches (but not toasties, crackers and crisp breads)
  • a slice of cake (fruit cake or malt loaf perhaps but not chocolate which again can cause a mess)

The above are suitably non-intrusive. On the other hand ‘noisy’ food – anything that…

  • comes in a packet (crisps, nuts and sweets),
  • carries a heavy aroma (marmite, spicy food or strong cheese such as “Stinking Bishop”),
  • is served hot (fast food like burgers, takeaway pizzas or – heaven forbid – a pot noodle!)

… are likely to earn you a punch in the face which any reasonable arbiter would probably condone, nay, encourage!

The only exception to the ‘hot food’ rule is when one is playing a game in between the courses of a tasting menu at a cordon-bleu restaurant which, far from being uncouth is in fact the height of civilisation although one should be careful to select an appropriate wine to accompany the opening variation that is deployed. (More on drinking at the board in next week’s missive.)


6 Responses to “Caïssa’s Wisdom: #7b – Chess and Food”

  1. Mark

    Nov 30. 2012

    I once had a tournament opponent show up at the board with a large meatball sandwich in hand. The rest of the game he burped meatball across the board at me. It was disgusting.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Adrian Dawson

    Dec 01. 2012

    Going back a number of years, when we had a Torkshire Chess Magazine, I remember Bernard doing a cartoon of this guy smoking his head off and blowing into the face of some poor junior who was eating a packet of crisps. The smoker was complaining about the noisy sound of the packet of crisps! How things have changed, eh what?

    Reply to this comment
  3. James Carpenter

    Dec 01. 2012

    Rumours abound in the York Evening League of the great pork scratching incident.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Dave

    Dec 03. 2012

    Some very interesting and aposite anecdotes here which I think support the rules of etiquette expounded by our patron goddess. Thank you for your contributions gentlemen.

    Mark, a meatball sandwich is certainly not on the list of approved cuisine. I hope you trounced the blighter in question in order to exact full retribution for his crimes.

    James, the pork scratching incident sounds like it should have the word ‘gate’ inserted after it. But you have titillated us… please do expand on this comment. We must know more!

    Finally, Caissa’s closing comments on selecting a wine that is appropriuate for the opening being played has gotten me thinking. Perhaps we should have some suggestions for the perfect accompanyment to your favorite chess opening.

    For example, what could be better to accompany the excitement of a Sicilian Defence than a ruby marsala riserva? Or, how about a super-dry and robust rioja to go with your Ruy Lopez variation? And who can resist the alure of a chilled glass of Bollinger with their French Winawer? More suggestions please…

    Reply to this comment
  5. James Carpenter

    Dec 04. 2012

    Sadly, a shadowy cabal seems to have suppressed most of the details, but apparently pork scratchings do make an awful lot of noise.

    A strong single malt, I think, to go with a scotch gambit.

    Reply to this comment


  1. Chess and Drinking | Caïssa's Wisdom - Yorkshire Chess - March 1, 2013

    […] this post by inviting readers to continue with the little game we started at the end of our last article and suggest the perfect beverage to accompany their favorite chess openings. For example, what […]

Leave a Reply