By The Blob
October 14, 1997


Thanking is a controversial topic on internet chess servers. The main question is this: after a game, should you thank your opponent? Some people revile thanking, while others believe that not thanking is reprehensible.

It is common to see statements in people's chess server finger entries elucidating their thanking policy. Two samples: ``instead of saying thx, type rem'' and ```X' means `thanks' but easier to spell''. Some thanking policies go so far as to thank in advance for games that have not even occurred yet. And let us not forget one devious player who thanks continuously. That player's name, of course, is ``Thanks''. That has to be respected.

On chess servers, time controls are specified as two numbers. In an ``a b'' game, each player starts with a minutes on their clock, and whenever player X moves, b seconds are added to X's clock. The following time controls are classified as lightning: 0 1, 0 2, 0 3, 0 4, 1 0, 1 1, 1 2, 2 0, and 2 1. The purest form of lightning is 1 0, and it is in relation to 1 0 that we discuss thanking. Let us objectively examine the pros and cons of thanking in 1 0 games, and then decide to hate thanking.

(In this document, we will use ``he'' and ``him'' to refer to players, not because all players are male, but because this is less distracting than some alternatives.)

The Lightning Series

To fully understand the lightning player's position on the issue of thanking, it is necessary to know how a series of lightning games between two hardened 1 0 veterans typically proceeds.

Before a series, sometimes someone will send the message ``OPEN'' to the intended opponent, or to the lightning channel. More common, and more respected, is simply to challenge someone. In one variation, the series is preceded by a player saying ``one game.'' Usually this is meant sincerely, but the number of games played in the series has no correlation with whether or not someone said ``one game.''

After the initial challenge, there may be a slight delay as one player positions the mouse pad or board window. Sometimes one of the players has to eat a little. Then, the first game begins. A promising beginning is when both players make their first move with both clocks still showing 1:00.

Game play proceeds as described on talpa's lightning web page. After the first game, if the game was infested with lag-induced ht (we use ht as an abbreviation for a certain word that starts with a well known pony-like animal and ends with a certain four letter word), then seasoned lightning players will usually look for a different opponent. If, on the other hand, both players have good network connections, the first game is usually characterized by one of the players not being warmed up. This causes hostility. For this reason, and others, it is not uncommon for one of the players to send HT to the appropriate lighting channel. (Again, HT is an abbreviation for that special word that 1 0 players around the world love.) Both players immediately rechallenge, and the second game begins without delay.

A typical series lasts somewhere between 10 and 100 games. The history file of the 1 0 player usually comprises 10 games against the same player, occurring over a period of 20 minutes or less. Usually the cause of a series ending is that one player leaves the chess server. Occasionally a player quits in frustration after losing 10 or 20 consecutive games, but stays on the chess server to seek other ways to lose his rating points, even though he may not be able to see clearly and his mouse hand is too sore to move.

Lightning players hate waiting of all kinds, and they especially hate waiting between games. Why wait, when you could play? If you waste ten seconds thanking between games, that could reduce the number of games per minute (gpm) by ten or twenty percent. In ten seconds you could have won your opponent's entire army, instead of wasting those ten seconds thanking.

Having examined a typical lightning series, we are now in a position to appreciate the horrors of thanking.

Types of Thankers

Some people thank only after playing a higher rated player. Others thank only after playing a lower rated one. Here are some of the other kinds of thankers one encounters on chess servers. These categories can be combined, e.g., a winthanker and a quitthanker is a winquitthanker.

Adjournthanker: someone who thanks after resuming and completing an adjourned 1 0 game, especially a game from weeks ago where each player's clock has less than 5 seconds.

Autothanker: someone who has a pre-stored message of thanks that they send after each game. An example is, ``Thanks. I really enjoyed our game and hope to play you again some time in the future. Please visit my web page at xxx. If you like it, please send five dollars. Thanks.''

Cheesethanker: someone who thanks only after getting a cheesy victory. It is particularly enjoyable to be thanked after losing a game in less than 10 moves.

Lagthanker: someone who thanks after a 1 0 game that took 15 minutes because of network lag, especially if the lag was on their connection and your connection is the fastest it's ever been.

Losethanker: someone who thanks only after games that they lose.

Quitthanker: someone who collects your rating points, thanks you, and immediately logs off the chess erver.

Thanker: someone who thanks after a game. Usually the thanker believes that he is doing the thankee a courtesy or favor by thanking. The thanker would be wise to remember that the road to hell is paved with thanks.

Winthanker: someone who thanks only after games that they win.

Thanks as a Weapon

Certain people are well known to hate thanks. This brings up the possibiltiy of using thanks as a weapon to enrage your opponent, either for the purpose of making him play poorly, or to get him to keep playing when he would otherwise quit. Sometimes, though, the thanker is sadly mistaken - the person who becomes enraged is not the thankee, but the thanker.

The victim of thanking is not without recourse. My personally preferred retaliation to a thanker is an immediate messagethank. By typing ``message xx thanks'' one causes a semi-permanent message to be stored in the enemy's (xx's) account file. At the account owner's option, all such messages are automatically emailed to some account, so it is particularly satisfying to see something like the following.

The following message was sent (and emailed) to xx:

Another weapon against the thanker is to thank every time you take one of your opponent's pieces. This is difficult in a one minute game, but is sometimes possible, especially against lower rated players. If your opponent is really slow then you can try thanking after each move. This can be effective even when it is only carried out for the first 5 or 10 moves.

My Policy

I'd like to mention that I hate ASCII smileys like ``:)''. This is related to thanking since hardcore 1 0 players frown upon both thanking and smileys.

While I almost always hate thanking, I know that there are others who hate it even more. I almost never thank. Usually I will thank only if provoked by the opponent's thanks.

Thanking after each game in a series is gross. And when does it stop? If one player thanks, and the other thanks back, what is to stop the first player from re-thanking? There is a very real danger of an infinite regress of thanks - an awful thing to contemplate.

Some people are very gracious, and I have no problem with their thanks. Such thanks I happily return. And, sometimes I don't mind a thanks or two after a reasonably long series of games, or in person. If the thanks is sincere then usually it's ok.

But usually thanks are not sincere, or misguided. As TrustMe once said, ``Either the guy is thanking you for crushing him (thank you sir, may I have another), or he's thanking you for losing to some cheesy attack in a won position.'' Either way, no thanks.