Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 35
  1. #1
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    37,608

    !!, ??, ?!, !? (etc)

    Thought I'd start a thread about the use of annotation marks. I'm interested in people's comments about some issues to see if there is, or isn't, any degree of consensus about these issues. I'll give some sample questions and some comments on them, but in some cases my own views aren't too clear.

    Can a move deserve !!! or ???

    I generally try to keep it to a maximum of two just because Fine's (often escalating) use of larger numbers of !s and ?s in a row for given moves in his otherwise brilliant "Basic Chess Endings" drives me up the wall. Now and then it is fun to use ??????????????????????? for an especially silly blunder, eg in a pure pawn ending, especially if it is one's own.

    What about hybrids like !!?, or ?!?!

    Sometimes I think ??! is justified, for instance if one is in a bad position and plays a move that objectively makes things totally lost, but that might save the position or win if the opponent walks into a trap. I can't see much use for !!?, !?!, ?!? or anything involving four or more symbols.

    What is the status of the second-best move?

    Suppose you have a number of moves available. One of them leads to a clear advantage, one leads to an unclear advantage with best play by the opponent and a clear win if the opponent errs, and all the rest lead to no advantage at all. What is the status of the second move? Is it !? because it is a good try and one of the better moves available or is it ?! because it is clearly suboptimal?

    Are !? and ?! opposites or can a move sometimes be both?

    "?!" means "dubious" while "!?" either means "interesting" or "deserving attention". Sometimes "?!" is used to mean "unclear status but likely to be bad" while sometimes it seems to mean "bad, but not bad enough to deserve a full ?" Sometimes "!?" is used to mean "unclear status but likely to be good" while sometimes it seems to mean "completely unclear, requires more analysis". So I think they are not quite opposites, but a move can't really be both.

    How bad does a move have to be to be ??

    Is "blundering" a pawn in the opening (say 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 a6) deserving of "??". Is it the consequences of the move, or the stupidity of the move, that determine whether something is a "blunder"? Is a move that loses outright, but only to a very brilliant combination most players would never see, a "blunder"? (I tend to use ?? for anything that changes a non-lost position into a clearly lost one, with some lenience when annotating games by juniors.)

    What about moves that are just a shade suboptimal?

    Some moves are just a little bit short of best play but hardly seem bad enough to deserve "?!" Perhaps in this case they should just be left blank, but I used to have my own annotation for this when going through my scoresheet in a post-mortem. I used to use the symbol "~" to indicate moves that are just a little bit "iffy" because they are not quite the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    Might add some more questions later.

  2. #2
    CC International Master
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Bristol
    Posts
    1,977
    I don't use them totally consistently. E.g. I used ! to mark 0-0 in another thread, but then it was really the only move. I just think castling is a really cool move.

    I think !? is sometimes used for a second best interesting move that isn't as bad as ?!

    I also sometimes think some positions should get a "both players are worse" evaluation. Not sure what the symbol should be for that.

  3. #3
    CC Candidate Master Intuition's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    227
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Can a move deserve !!! or ???
    Well I think that 2 !! or ?? is enough, chess players go over the top in everything else already (eg why cant files and ranks simply be rows and colunms?)

    Simple is best..all the diff tyes of pluses and minues already drive me nuts

  4. #4
    CC Candidate Master
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    490
    It all depends. Some positions losing a piece for nothing deserves a ??. Other positions (say for example losing a pawn in the opening as in Kevin's example) isn't too bad. Most of the time the use of ?! or !? is subjective and is up to the annotator. I wonder, if a player plays a move that falls into mate deserves a ??, ??? or a ????. I think for such a situation ?? should suffice, anymore is excessive.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mangafranga
    I just think castling is a really cool move.
    I think this could be a candidate for the 'Classic Posts' thread.

  5. #5
    Account Permanently Banned Axiom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    4,383

    Free The Marks !

    as a committed libertarian i think anyone can use as many ?s as they please , in any situation as they see fit , lest we are to become a punctuative police/nanny state

  6. #6
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    37,608
    Quote Originally Posted by Axiom
    as a committed libertarian i think anyone can use as many ?s as they please , in any situation as they see fit , lest we are to become a punctuative police/nanny state
    Yes, but we are talking about what use is desirable; no question of legal sanction has been raised.

  7. #7
    CC FIDE Master Southpaw Jim's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    893
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Can a move deserve !!! or ???
    I don't see the point of !!! (my opinion is that !! is a game-winning move), but I think ??? deserves a guernsey for the utterly stupid blunders that any patzer can see loses. Eg facilitating mate, putting Q en prise, etc. They're more than just blunders, they're moves that anyone can see the winning response, and a response that isn't the correct one would be ?? itself!

    Sometimes I think ??! is justified, for instance if one is in a bad position and plays a move that objectively makes things totally lost, but that might save the position or win if the opponent walks into a trap.
    IMHO you can't give credit for the trappy potential of an objectively losing move.

    Are !? and ?! opposites or can a move sometimes be both?
    IMHO they're unrelated. !? has a positive nature, ?! has a negative one. My understanding of ?! is a move that makes a player's own game more difficult.

    How bad does a move have to be to be ??
    IMO a pawn or more more than a pawn (ie minor loss of material and weakening of position, or significant loss of material alone) for no compensation.

    What about moves that are just a shade suboptimal?

    Some moves are just a little bit short of best play but hardly seem bad enough to deserve "?!" Perhaps in this case they should just be left blank
    This would be my preference, left blank and annotated with the superior variation.
    Last edited by Southpaw Jim; 21-06-2008 at 10:26 PM.
    "the other lefty"

  8. #8
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    37,608
    Here is an example of a difficult-to-annotate move from a game I played last week.

    FEN Viewer


    Black has just played 15...Nf6-d5.

    The objectively strongest move appears to be 16.exd5 with d6 to follow and black just can't deal with the passed pawn. There are many other decent moves for white all based around the same idea, and another contender is 16.Qc1 or 16.Qd2 forcing ...Nf6 then 17.Qe3 with a strong position.

    What I played was 16.Bh6. I thought this was very strong but black has (and missed) the defence 16...Nf4! when after the relatively forced line 17.Nxg7 c4 18.Nxh5 cxd3 19.Qd1 Ne2+ 20.Kh1 Rfd8 we would have had this position:

    FEN Viewer


    where White is a pawn up and black has significant (but probably not close to enough) compensation.

    (Black played 16...gxh6 and was never in the game after that.)

    I gave 16.Bh6 a ?! but that was mainly in disgust at needlessly mixing it up and failing to (a) see ...Nf4 (b) realise how much in control I was with the simpler move. All the same Bh6 is a strong move in practical terms at club level, and worked.

    So is it !? or ?! or just a move? Maybe it is !?? or ?!! (*shudder*)
    Last edited by Kevin Bonham; 21-06-2008 at 10:27 PM.

  9. #9
    Account Permanently Banned Axiom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    4,383

    Slippery Slope Towards Tyranny !

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Yes, but we are talking about what use is desirable; no question of legal sanction has been raised.
    but thats how it always starts "what is desirable " !

  10. #10
    CC International Master
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Bristol
    Posts
    1,977
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    So is it !? or ?! or just a move? Maybe it is !?? or ?!! (*shudder*)
    Maybe it makes sense to annotate like this 16.Bh6!? (16.exd5!) under those circumstances.

  11. #11
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    37,608
    Another question: Do you ever annotate your own game in progress?

    If so, you're more than a little bit silly. Not only is it technically illegal to do so but it can be very embarrassing if you get it wrong. One of my more satisfying wins was this very wild game:

    Name suppressed - Bonham, 1994

    PGN Viewer
     

    When I played 15...Ng4 my opponent wrote a ? after the move on his scoresheet. Some moves later as he struggled to fend off my hack-attack he changed that to ?!.

    After white resigned I grabbed his scoresheet and put another ! after the ?! to make ?!! then gave it back to him.

    (The reality based on a lot of analysis appears to be that 15...Ng4 is actually a very good move indeed, deserving at least one ! ; shame about the extremely incorrect follow-up 17...Nxf2 when 17...Qxf2+ was winning. I was lucky to get away with this one.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mangafranga
    Maybe it makes sense to annotate like this 16.Bh6!? (16.exd5!) under those circumstances.
    Seems reasonable. I try to be completely objective but can be pretty harsh on my own moves sometimes. Which reminds me of another question I meant to include:

    Do you find it hard to award yourself double exclamation marks for a move?

    In the past I have sometimes awarded myself !! for moves that weren't really that good (eg they were strong enough and creative but there was something sounder that was arguably better) but these days in borderline cases I think I tend to give myself ! for a move I might give an opponent !! for. After all there are trolls out there in reader-land, and we all know how desperate they are for crumbs!
    Last edited by Kevin Bonham; 22-06-2008 at 02:02 AM.

  12. #12
    CC Grandmaster
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    12,582
    My favorite is ?!!. This mark can be given to many of Tal's sacrifices.
    Interested in Chess Lessons?
    Email webbaron!@gmail.com for more Info!

  13. #13
    CC Grandmaster road runner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    on the skin of the pale blue dot
    Posts
    12,417
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Bonham
    Another question: Do you ever annotate your own game in progress?
    I don't, but I have played people who do. Usually what happens is that they realise they are losing and go back a few moves and strategically position a few question marks here and there. I find it quite amusing, but I might take exception to it if they were anotating my moves.
    meep meep

  14. #14
    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Atlanta, GA (formerly Brisbane, and before that Wellington, NZ)
    Posts
    19,422
    An arbiter should remind an annotator of FIDE Laws articles:

    12.2 a. During play the players are forbidden to make use of any notes, sources of information, advice, or analyse on another chessboard.

    12.3 The scoresheet shall be used only for recording the moves, the times of the clocks, the offers of a draw, matters relating to a claim and other relevant data.
    “The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands, too, pari passu.”—Paul Johnson, Modern Times, 1983.

  15. #15
    CC Rookie
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    2
    Quote Originally Posted by Jono
    An arbiter should remind an annotator of FIDE Laws articles:

    12.2 a. During play the players are forbidden to make use of any notes, sources of information, advice, or analyse on another chessboard.

    12.3 The scoresheet shall be used only for recording the moves, the times of the clocks, the offers of a draw, matters relating to a claim and other relevant data.
    This reminds me of a query I've always had - is it legal to bring in a piece of paper and write up all one's calculations on paper? It doesn't seem to break either of the rules above.
    Sorry if I'm going off-topic.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •