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A while ago I joined a Discord server for a team (2 vs 2) chess game called bughouse, owned by a guy who I'll call Jake for the sake of anonymity. As I got more interested in the game, he and others on the server helped me improve by over 800 ratings (elo) points to where I am today, about 200 or 300 points below him. While he is (or was) helpful most of the time, he isn't always nice, and the problem seems to be getting worse. He sometimes swears at his randomly selected partners who are weaker than him (this got him muted by chess.com for three months), and generally comes off as elitist a good deal of the time. Sometimes he directs that sentiment towards me, and I'm not happy with it.

What has happened a few times now is as follows: I ask a question about the game to the server for help, Jake feels like he has already taught me the answer and is frustrated that I don't know, then Jake makes a rude comment in the chat, usually a facepalm emoji. Here are some excerpts:

Me: What does moving the queen to e7 do?
Jake: [facepalm emoji]
Me: @Jake can you at least provide something constructive if you're going to facepalm my question
Jake: I am sorry to sound dismissive or rude Robbie
But I feel like I have been trying to get Qe7 played so many times without success
to me, it's the most intuitive move in bug [bughouse chess]
you put the strongest piece next to the most valuable piece

Other server member: For example after bishop takes knight, moving the other knight to e5 is probably best
Me: Just giving away a piece? Suppose the opponent exchanges on e2 and then saves the c3 bishop. Do you sacrifice [the knight] on f7?
Jake: [facepalm emoji]
Me: @Jake do you have an answer for me or just another facepalm like last time?
Jake: it's like I've been talking to myself
Jake: I'm not facepalming lightly
Me: it's a serious question: is it worth giving away the piece there?
Jake: it's worth giving away infinite material for a tiny positional asset

Me: Is this position ok for Black? I never feel safe here [image attached]
Other server member: if you get to play @c6 be7 bg6 and nh5 you are like safe forever
Other server member: I play this opening myself and am completely safe if I don't play the wrong move order
Me: I get why Be7 is important, but why Bg6?
Jake: [facepalm emoji]
(This time, I didn't even know what to say, so I ignored the message and deleted it.)
Other server member: so you don't give your opponent the knight on h5 for free Me: what's attacking the knight though?
Other server member: usually by this time the knight has moved from f3 so White's queen will attack it

I'm getting fed up with it. I feel like he doesn't really care, since he (sort of) apologized for it the first time but then did not stop. A few options I've considered are:

  • Doing nothing - He can be a nice guy sometimes, and sometimes not, and I could just ignore the mean things he says.
  • Temporarily leaving the server - I'm a frequent and well-liked contributor to the server, and if I were to leave because of his comments he might feel bad about it. Telling him I didn't like his rude comments didn't seem to do help the first time, so maybe I need to try something else. I wouldn't be the first person he's pushed away with his attitude: the person he used to play with now doesn't play anymore and I as well as Jake himself are 90% sure it's because Jake insulted his play.
  • Blocking him on Discord - This would also send a message, and hide what he says while allowing me to access the rest of the server messages, but it doesn't seem like it'll really fix the problem. I think it'll just make him dislike me.
  • Telling him how I feel - This seems like the most sensible option, but I'm not sure what to say or if it'll really make him reconsider what he says. I've tried this once before, and nothing came of it.

How can I discourage him from doing this?

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Well I've been in similar situation, trying to improve in a game where people were better players but also downright elitist. The game was poker so money was involved making things even worse on that end - somewhere good players considering their words were actually worth money.

Generally, some of the players a certain level will have the overall feeling that to get their level is something that came with a certain price: hours played, difficult defeats, necessary introspection. To that, you can add to the equation that for some players and getting closer to high level it's not exactly easy to put in words their reasoning other than "the maths says it / stockfish would do that" or "my experience says it" or "it felt like a natural move". And the higher level, the tinier the base, meaning they may not want to teach a potential opponent, which makes the mindset somewhat considered normal there (it is in poker at least), and sometimes a little contagious to people lower elo.

When I confronted people with these behaviors they just explained me at length the sacrifices they made to get there. I came to the difficult conclusion that I did not want to rely on these persons for advice ever, and focused on improving on my own, and eventually quit the game. I imagine though, things would have been different if I paid for the time I was using, something I wasn't ready to do.

In my opinion, for a large part of the situation, it's about accepting people are not always disposed to help, because of the mentioned factors, and some people could feel allowed to make rude remarks when prompted to. Either you accept the risk of remarks when asking, or you make way around people not willing to help.

You could of course when someone makes a comment you consider rude, try to refocus on what you want initially and make sure it's understood the comment is not welcomed.

Jake, this isn't helping me

Don't answer if you don't want to, no need for the facepalms

But that probably won't be a long term fix.

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Doing nothing

I would say this is probably the best thing here, this way you make sure to avoid any possible bad outcomes, like starting a fight on the server or becoming angry at one another.

I have some similar issues with friends of mine that they think they know everything and keep talking in a way that makes them look like a superior being, but after all, we are all humans, everyone makes mistakes and everyone was a starter someday, so ignore everything that does not move you forward and keep focused! Don't get distracted by some random emojis of someone not willing to help you when you need. Focus on the people that are helping.

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