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01/21/03

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Chess Hooligans Overturn Chairs, Spill Soda


OMAHA, Neb. (DPI) - A near-riot broke out during a recent chess match between Nebraska's Lucas Meier and visiting challenger Peter Denton of Madison, Wisconsin. The match was postponed after boisterous Denton supporters broke out in what U.S. Chess Federation officials are calling a "black day for chess."

The incident was sparked after Denton was warned for inappropriate placement of his king's rook in Kb5, with the piece occupying part of an adjacent square. The hooligans proceeded to voice their disapproval, with several of them disguising cries of "bullshit" as muffled coughs. After a shaken Meier proceeded to win the match in the 64th turn, the crowd of Denton boosters exploded, overturning two folding chairs, spilling milk on the floor of the community center and performing other acts of civil disobedience. One fan slammed the door of the hall shut after leaving.

The rampage was finally quelled by the center's quick-thinking security officer. Angus Smythe, 71, was able to calm the vicious mob by hastily erecting a snack table stocked with Danish butter cookies and McDonald's orange drink that had originally been earmarked for the following day's Senior Fitness class.

Officials are considering sweeping regulations to stem the tide of hooliganism in wake of the incident -- which caused an estimated $8.45 in damage -- including banning Denton supporters from matches. Denton said that although he considers the melee a "black eye" for competitive chess, such outbursts should be expected. "When you pack a rec hall with up to dozens of excited fans, this sort of thing is going to happen," he said. "You can't regulate the emotions of people who get caught up in an exciting spectator sport like chess. It's just part of the game."




(Reported by Greg Preece)



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