It is fair to give takebacks on obvious mouse slips, for example, accidentally moving the king instead of castling but should be denied if there is no obvious consequence. It should also be denied if the mistake is due to time trouble or there have been too many takeback requests.
There are a lot of things that can be seen as different from online and over-the-board chess, it is the result of putting the game on the internet.
Some mechanics just work better than physical play than in online chess and vice versa, this created an interesting mechanic that is called a takeback.
And that is what I am going to discuss today, the ethics of take back, should you deny take backs in online chess? This is a funny topic to me, and i will be talking all about it.
And before you tell me that take-backs even happen in over-the-board chess, it only ever occurs in informal games where nothing is at stake.
Online games are very competitive due to the existence of artificial ratings, trust me people do ask for takebacks even in rated games (so this is an important discussion). Without further ado, let’s get started.
Why should you not grant a takeback in online chess?
This is the meat of this topic and a lot of people share this opinion with me, which is that there are a lot of instances where takebacks should not be granted.
A player should not grant a takeback if it was sent just after they have made a move (meaning they have seen a little improvement in the position), if the mistake is due to time trouble (which could also happen in over the board chess), and if they have requested it 3 times in a row.
Takebacks are just reserved for very atrocious mouse slips that are not based on the opponent’s abilities, if the opponent is requesting such for a small improvement in their position, this is absolutely dismissable.
Especially if there is enough time to think of the move it’s really their fault for not taking the time and looking for such an improvement, in other words, they are rushing.
They are trying to pressure you into moving faster and trying to undo their decision when such a plan hits them.
If my opponent is requesting a take back for a really small improvement in their position without facing any consequences I just deny it, it’s like realizing an improvement after the move and trying to play it, this shouldn’t be allowed in online and over-the-board chess.
Even if they are close to getting into time trouble, it is dishonorable to ask for a take-back if there are no consequences in their position, and it could also bite you later if you grant it back.
Time pressure is a part of chess, and those who are not able to adapt should learn the accountability of their actions and better work on their pressure-handling next time.
Deny takebacks on mistakes that are not mouse slips
This is another topic to talk about, which is how to deal with an opponent who has made a mistake but has not mouse slipped at all.
What if they have made a move and realizing the mistake of that move (not even a blunder) tries to ask you for a takeback, what should you do?
I recommend denying a take back if it was sent just after they have made a move, this means that they just realized the mistake of that particular move, and should have taken their time analyzing it themselves.
Mistakes are a part of the game, nobody wins if their opponent didn’t make some sort of a concession.
You make mistakes, I make mistakes, everybody makes mistakes, that is part of chess and those who do this (ask for takebacks) will never learn the principle of accountability during play.
Deny takebacks in time trouble
Mistakes during time trouble are natural, it even happens in over-the-board games.
If somebody sent a request for you (in this instance) it means they are trying to create a mechanism that is not organic for the game, people are supposed to make mistakes in time troubles.
Misclicks (in time troubles) are a part of the game, you will lose games to this as the same with other people which is natural, you should just learn how to avoid it next time if it ever happens.
During time scramble (where both you and your opponent are low on time) usually, there is an equal chance for both players only separated by how fast and decent they are in making the moves.
If one makes a mistake it is usually considered fair play since the opponent has about the equal chances of making a mistake too.
I never asked for takebacks during time troubles and neither are most of my opponents (who are fairly high-rated) and I think this is a good ethic.
Some element of a mouse slip is controllable
There are certain elements of a mouse slip that are pretty controllable, such as taking the time to carefully lay out the moves (to avoid mouse slips) or not getting into time trouble that will force them to do some mouse slips.
This further reinforces the idea that takebacks should not be requested nor granted when players are low in time, they should have taken the steps to manage their time beforehand.
And even during time troubles which is I admit, is somewhat unavoidable, a lot of strong players don’t usually slip into hanging a piece or something like that (it is usually a positional mistake).
If you are wondering though why online chess platforms do not automatically recognize mouse slips here is Agadmator (famous chess YouTuber) explaining that very topic:
Obvious mouse slips cannot seem obvious even with multiple algorithms, administrators can just mess up the game. So yeah, there is no way around it and we just have to suck it up and be flexible
When should you grant a take back in online chess?
As much as I’ve talked why you should not grant a take back, there are few exceptions to this rule:
Players can grant a take back if the opponent has made an obvious mouse slip (based on both player’s perspectives), and if it is a casual game with no rating in line.
I know I just said that there are no obvious mouse slips but that is only algorithm-wise, sometimes both players can agree on principle that certain moves can be considered obvious mouse slips.
If it is just a really outrageous mouse slip like trying to trade a rook but comes short and ends up hanging it, I would personally allow a takeback, I would pissed too If I have made such a mistake and would want my opponent to allow a takeback.
But still, mouse slips are subtle in nature and it is hard to identify them even just on principle. One might find a particular move worthy of a takeback and not the other, but I will grant a takeback if such a thing occurs.
That is why I said outrageous, these are mouse slips that generally, most people would consider as such if they are being honest to themselves. I think it is warranted on this occasion and should be practiced just for being a player with class (or a gentleman).
Take Backs are allowed in informal games
If you have remembered something that I said earlier, takebacks in over-the-board chess usually happen with informal games (not competitive).
This of course also applies in online chess, when something is informal and there really is no stake in line, it is agreeable to just allow takebacks and have a good time.
If it is a casual game (with no rating in line) then you can choose to give them a take back since the purpose of the game is to provide entertainment, if it is a rated game that I wouldn’t personally give them a take back (for keepsakes) since it is supposed to be competitive.
If I was playing with a friend and I want to teach them a certain principle then, of course, they can have a takeback, especially if they are a beginner since they would learn faster that way.
If it is competitive with family members and friends, takebacks can also be allowed just as some sort of an odd, something that would spice the game even more.
This is because the match matters more than the result, it is unlike competitive games where it is the opposite.
Can you play online chess without requesting a takeback?
People can play online chess without ever requesting a takeback, mouse slips rarely occur even in blitz games if the competitors are being careful enough. Chess is a game of accountability, players whether they are a beginner or not should learn the weight of their decisions.
It is possible to never slip and ask for takeback (which some beginners might not know), I haven’t requested one for a year now ever since I’ve been used to online chess, it is possible if you focus enough on each individual game.
And that is when I am playing blitz games for the most part (since I am busy with this blog) which has some people might think where the mouse slips are common ground.
It really is just being aware of your own hand (which is holding the mouse) and checking if the pieces are going to the right squares.
And such is really not hard to do if you have been used to playing online chess, it does not consume much time too you just have to practice it.
Chess is a game of accountability
Every single move that you make on the chessboard is an opportunity to get some advantage but also to lose some of it, and sometimes this is at the cost of multiple right decisions you have made in the past.
This is where the power of accountability comes in, which is the essence of chess.
Chess is a game of accountability, a single bad move can nullify 40 good ones, players should learn how to face the consequences of their mistakes in order to improve.
All people on the rankings experience this phenomenon, where they are defending for hours straight doing everything right, only losing to one obvious mistake.
But guess what, this is chess and the game you have chosen to play, and this will happen sooner and later so everybody should take the time to embrace it.
Instead of always asking for a takeback, review the reason why you even have to ask for a takeback and make sure you never have to ask for it in the next game, I think this is more responsible.
Most people who request takebacks even though it is not warranted are usually beginners, this is a good opportunity to teach them the accountability in chess that should be always practiced.
Deny takebacks that are requested three times in a row or above
Certain mouse slips are worthy of a takeback, two mouse slips are somewhat suspicious but still agreeable, but three in a row is far enough and should be denied.
As a lot of people said, doing something wrong for the first time is a mistake, two somewhat bad luck, and three means that it has become a choice.
If an opponent keeps requesting for takeback after doing one request, mouse slips for example 7 more times which then requests for 7 more takebacks, I usually just deny them since it is their responsibility to not do it again.
Usually when a mouse slip occurs over someone who actually cares about principles, they will usually try to not do it again (which is why two times is permissible) but three times is just simply too much.
This means that your opponent doesn’t really care about the ethics of the match and is willing to cross boundaries, I just deny this even if it is an obvious mouse slip, I don’t give respect points for those who can’t take responsibility.
I mean even I am hesitant to ask for a takeback even if I have made a mistake since I actually care about the dignity of the game, this is what I recommend but I will not judge you if you think otherwise.
Do you now know whether to grant a take back in online chess?
Takebacks are really a useful tool to introduce beginners to the game, however, there comes a point where it becomes detrimental to the progress of the player. If one would not abandon this option of undoing a move, they will never become a good player.
This is why it is even your responsibility to not allow a takeback in most instances, it is to show your opponent that they should compete in a way that doesn’t need undoing moves.
Except for mouse slips, most things that some people think are worthy of a takeback are really not, just play the next game and don’t do it again.
I have learned this a long time ago and you should too, hope you enjoy this, sleep well and play chess.