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View Full Version : !!, ??, ?!, !? (etc)



Kevin Bonham
21-06-2008, 09:05 PM
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.

Aaron Guthrie
21-06-2008, 09:16 PM
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.

Intuition
21-06-2008, 09:19 PM
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

Zwischenzug
21-06-2008, 09:31 PM
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.


I just think castling is a really cool move.

:D I think this could be a candidate for the 'Classic Posts' thread.

Axiom
21-06-2008, 09:44 PM
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

Kevin Bonham
21-06-2008, 10:00 PM
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.

Southpaw Jim
21-06-2008, 10:24 PM
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.

Kevin Bonham
21-06-2008, 10:24 PM
Here is an example of a difficult-to-annotate move from a game I played last week.

r4rk1/1pq1bppp/p7/2pnpNBb/4P3/2PB4/PPQ2PPP/R4RK1 w - - 0 1

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:

r2r2k1/1pq1bp1p/p6B/4p2N/4P3/2Pp4/PP2nPPP/R2Q1R1K w - - 0 1

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*)

Axiom
21-06-2008, 10:50 PM
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 " ! :D

Aaron Guthrie
22-06-2008, 01:07 AM
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.

Kevin Bonham
22-06-2008, 01:57 AM
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

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+ 3.Nc3 d5 4.e3 Nf6 5.Bd3 dxc4 6.Bxc4 c5 7.Nge2 Nc6 8.0-0 0-0 9.Qc2 cxd4 10.Rd1 e5 11.exd4 exd4 12.a3 Ba5 13.b4 Bb6 14.Na4 Bc7 15.b5 Ng4 16.bxc6 Qh4 17.h3 Nxf2 18.Rxd4 Nxh3+ 19.gxh3 Qxh3 20.Kf2 Bg3+ 21.Ke3 Be1+ 22.Kf4 Qh4+ 23.Kf3 Qf2+ 24.Ke4 Bf5+ 0-1

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. :owned:

(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.)


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!

MichaelBaron
22-06-2008, 10:56 AM
My favorite is ?!!. This mark can be given to many of Tal's sacrifices.

Desmond
23-06-2008, 03:34 PM
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.

Capablanca-Fan
23-06-2008, 04:04 PM
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.

KidPoker
06-07-2008, 08:57 PM
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.

Kevin Bonham
06-07-2008, 09:03 PM
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?

No, this is what is meant by "notes".

Saragossa
29-10-2008, 08:14 PM
I'm giving new meaning to the ! annotation simply because i believe too many good moves are seen as normal moves. For instance in that game against Tony.D I gave Ba6 an ! due to it exploiting my last move in the best way possible and with my lack of theory on winawer french i thought this was an excellent idea from Tony. Ofcourse this does not always apply since often mistakes are easy to exploit blunders etc. I also gave g5 a ! because it closed down all whites play in an unusual but the best way to do it.

On another note I believe people should get Exclaimation marks etc for moves they didn't make.
I wonder whether there would be a significant change in performance if a tournament was held were notes made during you game were legal an experiment could ensue perhaps.

Miranda
29-10-2008, 10:21 PM
Hm.. i think that ?! means bad move, but has an upside, while !? means it looks like a good move but on further analysis the opponent could exploit it.

Instead of putting ????????? next to most of my moves, I just put YOU PLAYED STUPIDLY, MIRANDA down the bottom of the scoresheet :)

eclectic
29-10-2008, 10:29 PM
why isn't the recording of clock times considered notetaking for the purposes of time managment analysis?

CameronD
29-10-2008, 10:35 PM
why isn't the recording of clock times considered notetaking for the purposes of time managment analysis?

The recording of time is important for the following reason.

1) recording of time is the writing of facts, not analysis. Some scoresheets actually have a time column in the scoresheet.

2) for a clock failure, this has actually occured to me, but since I had recorded the clocks every move, the clocks were reset instead of the arbiter splitting the remaining time evenly possibly.

Miranda
30-10-2008, 07:50 AM
Yeah, but recording time takes so long. I usually only record it every 10 moves or so in a big tourney, but usually not at all!

ER
30-10-2008, 09:43 AM
The recording of time is important for the following reason.

1) recording of time is the writing of facts, not analysis. Some scoresheets actually have a time column in the scoresheet.

2) for a clock failure, this has actually occured to me, but since I had recorded the clocks every move, the clocks were reset instead of the arbiter splitting the remaining time evenly possibly.

:clap: :clap: :clap:

extremely useful advice! Particularly No 2! thanks!!!! :clap:
You won't believe it, I keep on asking players of various strengths for the purpose of recording times on the scoresheet, and never got an answer as clear and informative as this!!!
and it had to come from someone who claims CHESS IS NOT A SPORT!!! :P
PS and a bloody Swansea supporter too :eek:
CAGLES!

ER
30-10-2008, 09:48 AM
Yeah, but recording time takes so long. I usually only record it every 10 moves or so in a big tourney, but usually not at all!
it certainly takes shorter time than writing STUPID MOVE MIRANDA on your scoresheet (defacing scoresheets it's illegal action and should be punished by having to write I WILL NEVER WRITE STUPID MOVE MIRANDA ON MY SCORESHEET AGAIN 100 times, signed by your parents)! Try it! :P
Cheers and good luck!

Miranda
30-10-2008, 10:49 AM
Defacing scoresheets - pfft

I just find writing the time distracting

Kevin Bonham
20-11-2017, 11:51 PM
*bump*

Should a player get an ! or !! for a move if it was objectively good or brilliant but they actually didn't understand why and failed to follow up correctly?

See my 15.Bh3 for an example:

http://www.chesschat.org/showthread.php?3172-Hobart-Chess-Club-news-results-misc&p=432166&viewfull=1#post432166

An excellent move but I didn't calculate correctly when I played it and therefore followed it up incorrectly.

Capablanca-Fan
21-11-2017, 06:37 AM
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 ???
Two is enough.


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.)
Black can regain the P with 3. Nxe5 Qe7, but his Q will be badly misplaced and lose even more time. Should certainly be a "?".

I think missing a mate in one or two, say, but still winning easily deserves "?" but not "??".


Should a player get an ! or !! for a move if it was objectively good or brilliant but they actually didn't understand why and failed to follow up correctly?

See my 15.Bh3 for an example:

http://www.chesschat.org/showthread.php?3172-Hobart-Chess-Club-news-results-misc&p=432166&viewfull=1#post432166

An excellent move but I didn't calculate correctly when I played it and therefore followed it up incorrectly.
If not followed up properly, then give the move in question "!" and the faulty follow-up "?".

In the opening or middlegame, "??" for loss of a piece; in the endgame, for the loss of a P if that means going into a position that is easy for the opponent to win. "??" is probably merited for going to an easily lost P endgame from an endgame that would otherwise be very hard to win, if it could be won at all.

Another question is the opposite: a combination with a series of great and hard-to-see moves that had to be foreseen. My preference would be only one "!!" in the series, and the others "!". The question is, should the "!!" go to the first move in the series, which wouldn't have been played without seeing the great follow-up moves, or to the most ingenious of these moves?

MichaelBaron
21-11-2017, 03:54 PM
*bump*

Should a player get an ! or !! for a move if it was objectively good or brilliant but they actually didn't understand why and failed to follow up correctly?

See my 15.Bh3 for an example:

http://www.chesschat.org/showthread.php?3172-Hobart-Chess-Club-news-results-misc&p=432166&viewfull=1#post432166

An excellent move but I didn't calculate correctly when I played it and therefore followed it up incorrectly.

As far as I understand, !? !? etc is based on the position rather than what player was thinking. There are some tricky ones though such as !?? :)

Kevin Bonham
21-11-2017, 06:22 PM
As far as I understand, !? !? etc is based on the position rather than what player was thinking. There are some tricky ones though such as !?? :)

As I mentioned in post 1 I can understand "??!" but I really have no idea what "!??" even means.

Kevin Bonham
21-11-2017, 06:24 PM
Another question is the opposite: a combination with a series of great and hard-to-see moves that had to be foreseen. My preference would be only one "!!" in the series, and the others "!". The question is, should the "!!" go to the first move in the series, which wouldn't have been played without seeing the great follow-up moves, or to the most ingenious of these moves?

I think this often depends on what kind of move the setting-up move is. If it is an otherwise losing sacrifice annotators might be more inclined to give it "!!" but if it is just some positional move that would otherwise not cause much damage they might be more reluctant. Probably if the setting-up move requires seeing the brilliant idea then it deserves the "!!".

MichaelBaron
22-11-2017, 05:06 PM
As I mentioned in post 1 I can understand "??!" but I really have no idea what "!??" even means.

!?? - an interesting idea that is objectively bad

Patrick Byrom
22-11-2017, 06:28 PM
Two is enough.I tend to agree. But what about a move that allows an obvious checkmate: 1. f4 e5 2. g4???

Kevin Bonham
22-11-2017, 08:57 PM
!?? - an interesting idea that is objectively bad

Ah that makes sense. But by that token !??? could be an interesting blunder. Or !?!! could be an interesting brilliancy. Or !??! could be interesting but dubious (etc).

I know !? and ?! aren't really opposites but I generally think that something should be at least possibly good to get a ! at the front and at least possibly bad to get a ? on the front.

Max Illingworth
29-11-2017, 11:40 PM
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.

1. It is deserved if one holds down the key too long or presses it one more time in excitement. Such actions are considered a 'Freudian slip'.

2. Hybrids are well suited if the annotations are satirical in nature; otherwise, there are better ways of expressing one's creativity, such as with '$#!*' to let the reader's imagination fill the blanks.

3. The second-best move can go unmarked, but !? can be suitable for a good practical try. The second-best move against the computer can be the best move against your opponent.

4. It can be both, but usually one can tell which it belongs to with experience. For instance, if the ! move is difficult to find, then !? may be warranted. If the move is still good but a better chance was missed, ?! is probably indicated. And 99% of people will not care either way, especially if you included some witty quip with the annotation mark.

5. I use ?? quite rarely, in case I meet that player at a tournament. That said, one dude on the internet developed a vendetta after I gave his move an '!', so perhaps one should use ?? freely for blunders after all.

6. I sometimes use no mark, sometimes '?!'. It depends on my feelings at the time, and how easily I found the best move.

Of course, it is much easier to follow Robert Huebner and not give an exclamation mark to any moves, but I do not like wasting any opportunity for creative expression. I am, after all, a writer.

Perhaps the most interesting question, now that we have engines, is 'When should one use the 'with compensation' symbol?' Possibly, when you want to confuse your future opponents. ;)

Capablanca-Fan
30-11-2017, 07:30 AM
I think this often depends on what kind of move the setting-up move is. If it is an otherwise losing sacrifice annotators might be more inclined to give it "!!" but if it is just some positional move that would otherwise not cause much damage they might be more reluctant. Probably if the setting-up move requires seeing the brilliant idea then it deserves the "!!".

Makes sense. Edward Winter says (http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter102.html#CN_7954) that over a century ago, when games were published in a column format, a punctuation mark would be bracketed over the whole move sequence for a combination, and provides an example.

MichaelBaron
02-12-2017, 09:59 AM
Makes sense. Edward Winter says (http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter102.html#CN_7954) that over a century ago, when games were published in a column format, a punctuation mark would be bracketed over the whole move sequence for a combination, and provides an example.

When writing chess books or articles - sometimes when the authors want to truly emphasize the way they were feeling they accompany their movies with ...?????!!!!!!!! etc. so not everyone follows the ''formal'' Informator system.