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Old December 11th 04, 03:36 PM
Gregory Topov
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Default The tradition of "pawn shuffling"

In some circles, the completion of the fifteenth move is traditionally
called the "Punto Intermedio" (not to be confused with the "Punto Que
Comienza" or the "Punto Final"). This Spanish term designates the middle
point of the game, and was first used in 1815 by the Puerto Rican
grandmaster Juan del Pueblo, infamous for his eccentric requirement that
games only be played with his own set of pieces which were hand-carved out
of beeswax by his grandfather. At the "Punto Intermedio", it is customary
for all pawns to be shuffled. This mandatory Pawn Shuffle (Bauer-schlurfen)
is a process where the same coloured pawns trade cells, and does not affect
the current board position.

The practice of Bauer-schlurfen originated in the late nineteenth century
following a friendly match between Queen Victoria and Gustavus, Crown Prince
of Sweden. At that time, matches between royal personages were played on a
huge oval, with life sized pieces and soldiers in costume. This particular
game was played in stormy conditions, and the two unfortunate foot-soldiers
assigned to the role of Queen Victoria's pawns on a2 and b2 had not moved
after several hours of play, despite the game being well into the closing
stages. They subsequently developed serious cramps as a result of poor blood
circulation, and one later died of hypothermia in a British hospital.
Following an inquest, a SR Chess Improvement Commission was established in
Edinburgh, with Queen Victoria presiding. The outcome was a Royal Decree
that stipulated a mandatory pawn shuffle at the "Punto Intermedio", to
ensure the physical movement of all pawns at some point of game, and to
prevent any similar tragedies. Even though it had no effect on the game, the
Decree was also applied strictly to over-the-board games.

In modern times, the Bauer-schlurfen is conducted as a very solemn ceremony,
with players donning white gloves, and accompanied by a solo trumpeter
playing the Last Post. Scholarship is still undecided on the question of
whether the original intention of the Decree required the Bauer-schlurfen to
be done right handed or left handed, and sadly there is no uniformity of
practice in this respect. Naturally these accompanying traditions are quite
impossible to implement over the internet. However if you look closely, you
will notice that some chess servers do implement an automated randomized
pawn shuffle at the "Punto Intermedio", with all pawns of the same colour
exchanging places.

-Source: "An Annotated Exhibition Game in SR Chess"

GM Gregory Topov
Grandmaster and Author of "the SR Chess FAQ"
"I don't necessarily agree with everything I say." - Marshall McLuhan

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