An Arbiter's Notebook
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USCF vs. FIDE Continued
Question Hello Geurt, This situation occurred recently in a tournament and I was wondering how it should have been handled.
Two fairly new players were playing each other and one player made a move that placed the other player's king in check. He thought it was mate and he announced checkmate. His opponent only briefly looked at the board, figured it must be mate since his opponent announced it, and he shook hands with his opponent as if he agreed. But, in fact, it was not mate: only check.
The players posted the result and moved to a side room to analyse the game. Only then did they discover it was not mate. The losing player appealed to the tournament director that he had been tricked by his opponent and he wanted the game to resume. The TD said by shaking hands and posting the score, the players acknowledged the completion of the game and the result stands, even though one player announced mate in error.
Under the circumstances, I think this was about the most equitable decision that could be rendered. Is this the way it should be handled? I could not find a rule that addressed the issue. This was a game played in the U.S. under USCF rules. Thanks, David Cofer (USA)
Answer In my opinion the TD's decision was correct. Essential is that both players posted the result, which means that the losing player agreed to the result of the game. In this instance, the FIDE and USCF Rules are in accord.
Question Dear Geurt, Suppose two players compete in a speed chess game (Blitz, or maybe Rapid) wherein neither player is required to write the moves on a scoresheet. Yet the white player chooses to maintain his scoresheet anyway.
Late in the game, Black hopes he can declare a draw because of a triple-repetition of position, but he is unsure. So Black asks to see White's scoresheet to verify whether the claim is correct, but White refuses. The arbiter is summoned.
White argues that his scoresheet is optional, and thus White naturally has the corresponding option of not sharing his scoresheet. White further points out how unfair it would be to let Black mooch off White's scoresheet when only White has suffered the distraction and lost seconds that come with writing a scoresheet.
Black says the only rule that applies is the one requiring that any player's scoresheet must be accessible to his opponent (and to the arbiter), and that the scoresheet cannot be hidden from the opponent. Should the arbiter require White to share the scoresheet? Thank you. Gene Milener (USA)
Answer On page 291 of the U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess (5th edition) in the chapter USCF Blitz Rules published in 2003, I found the following:
Scorekeeping: As in Quick Chess, scorekeeping is not required, and all rules pertaining to scorekeeping are irrelevant.
This means that Black's claim is not applicable. However, in October 2007 the chapter about Blitz Rules was completely rewritten to comply with the most common practice of blitz chess and to standardize their application, yet nothing is written about scorekeeping. Is this an omission?
I found also how to define a draw:
The Article regarding the drawn game finishes with some TD tips, which are quite interesting. I will probably discuss them at a later date, because in my opinion they are debatable. More interesting is the fact that draw claims based on triple-repetition of position and the fifty-move rule are apparently impossible as far as I can see.
One point remains: suppose the described episode occurs in a country in which the FIDE Rules are applicable (other than the USA). The FIDE Blitz Rules mention that the moves do not have to be recorded. If a player nevertheless records the moves, it is allowed, but in my opinion the opponent has no rights to make a claim with the help of the player's scoresheet. I base this on Article 8.3 of the Laws of Chess:
The scoresheets are the property of the organisers of the event.
If recording of the moves is not required, then the scoresheet itself is not the property of the organiser of the event. It is private. Nevertheless, the arbiter is obligated to try to determine whether the claim is correct.
To my surprise I could not find the application in Rapid Games in the USCF rule book. The only reference to the word "Rapid" was on page 291:
For information regarding FIDE Rapid (Blitz) chess, contact FIDE at http://www.fide.com.
Question During a G30 game with no increment, the clock of Player A ran out of time, but it was not noticed by Player B. Player B then put Player A into stalemate, which Player A duly called. It was at this moment that Player B noticed the flag fall and called the game on time. Was the game a stalemate or did Player A lose on time? Ross Pecknel (USA)
Answer The game is a Rapid game and is a draw in accordance with the FIDE Rules. A flag has fallen at the moment that it is noticed or claimed. In this case the flag fall was not noticed; therefore, the stalemate stands. I assume that the USCF rules are the same, although I could find no reference to Rapid Rules in the USCF rule book.
Question Dear Geurt, I am the non-playing captain of the first team of SO Rotterdam, which plays in the Master Class, the highest league in the Netherlands. In the last round of this League there was an incident in the game IM Bruno Carlier (SO Rotterdam) and GM Friso Nijboer (En Passant). By the way the En Passant Team is the current champion of the Netherlands.
As usual Nijboer was in big time trouble. That he uses the allotted time in a very uneconomical way is well known. For fourteen moves he had less than five minutes left and some minutes later, even for ten moves, one minute. The last fourteen moves were not recorded by Nijboer. Carlier had more than twenty-five minutes left and recorded his moves. The arbiter was standing next to the board and recorded the moves. When Nijboer's flag had fallen, he had made forty moves and had a few seconds left.
In my opinion, the player who did not record the moves has to update his scoresheet in his own time. However, Carlier and I were very surprised when the arbiter stopped both clocks. The arbiter informed us that he did so because Nijboer could not read Carlier's scoresheet, and needed the help of Carlier. By the way, all moves on Carlier's scoresheet were recorded in the same way. If it was really unreadable, why didn't the arbiter order him to rewrite the moves? After the game we discovered that Nijboer had not recorded all the missing moves. After move forty-one, Nijboer resigned. My question is: Did the arbiter act correctly? Ton de Vreede (The Netherlands)
Answer I spoke with the arbiter of the match. He told me that Carlier had less than five minutes left at a certain moment, but he kept recording the moves. Both players had less than five minutes; therefore, the arbiter also recorded the moves. He also noticed that Nijboer punched the clock forcibly, but he did not interfere. After Carlier had completed his fortieth move, Carlier left the board. Nijboer completed his fortieth move and had one second left. The arbiter went to another game. In the meantime Carlier returned to the board, played a move, and his flag fell. The arbiter returned to the board, inspected Carlier's scoresheet and ordered Nijboer to update his scoresheet. Nijboer could not read Carlier's scoresheet and needed help. Then the arbiter decided to stop both clocks, because one player had not recorded all moves and the other player had an unreadable scoresheet.
My opinion is that the arbiter's actions were not completely correct. Firstly, he had to stay next to the board until a flag had fallen. By leaving the board, he gave Nijboer a clear sign that forty moves have been completed. Secondly, I can accept that he stopped both clocks, but the logical consequence should be that he make Carlier write the moves in a legible way.
Question Mr. Gijssen, I would like to know if a claim for illegal move is also a claim for touch move. Am I, as an Arbiter, suppose to also apply the touch-move rule after such a claim or must the player claim "touch move"? Kind regards, FA Fransie Grobbelaar (South Africa)
Answer I refer to Article 7.4a of the Laws of Chess:
If during a game it is found that an illegal move, including failing to meet the requirements of the promotion of a pawn or capturing the opponent's king, has been completed, the position immediately before the irregularity shall be reinstated. If the position immediately before the irregularity cannot be determined the game shall continue from the last identifiable position prior to the irregularity. The clocks shall be adjusted according to Article 6.13. The Articles 4.3 and 4.6 apply to the move replacing the illegal move. The game shall then continue from this re-instated position.
Essential is the penultimate sentence: Articles 4.3 and 4.6 deal with touched pieces and illegal moves. It is a rule that if a player makes an illegal move, the move that replaces the illegal move, must be made with the same piece, or, in case a piece was captured and was touched first, this piece must be captured. In all cases the move or capture must be possible. The touch move does not have to be claimed.
I received a very detailed contribution from Mr. Igor Vereshchagin of Russia regarding AN#177. Mr. Vereshchagin has been a participant of the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Commission (RTRC) since 1996. I shall divide his comments into two parts, the second of which will appear next month.
Dear Mr. Gijssen! I read your column with great interest and would like to comment on the discussion:
IV Eric C. Johnson wrote, "(ignoring that the USCF rules are a fully accepted variant of FIDE's Laws – as they are)." If anyone thinks so it is his right, but it does not mean that it is correct.
GG I agreed that I ignored the USCF rules, and, as a service to the readers from the USA, I am ready to try to answer a question from the USA based on the USCF Rules. This does not mean that I accept the USCF Rules as a fully accepted variant of the FIDE Laws of Chess. The RTRC opened the discussion with the USCF to have the same rules. I sincerely hope that we will find a solution. Studying the USCF rules I discovered many more differences than I expected.
IV Johnson comments, "The question concerned having a TD/arbiter declare a game drawn by 'insufficient material to continue' under the USCF rules – vs. the FIDE Laws of Chess version which requires that no mating position be possible by worst possible play." However, it looks as though some officials of the USCF either do not understand the question or do not wish to. The term "insufficient material to continue" is not only K+N+N vs. K but also K+p vs. sixteen pieces. The second variant also "would require extremely poor play".
GG I think the matter regarding what is "insufficient material to continue" is not so complicated. The USCF rule book defines the material quite specifically as K vs. K, K vs. K+B, K vs. K+N, K+B vs. K+B with bishops on the same diagonals. So far there are no problems. By the way, it is not the arbiter who declares that the game is drawn. It is simply the rule that the game is drawn. But K vs. K+N+N is a clear difference with the FIDE Laws, and that is where the complication arises. The term "insufficient material to continue" has apparently expanded to "insufficient material to continue and has a forced mate". And "forced mate", if I read the comments from the U.S. correctly means in fact "mate in one".
Mr. Jesper Norgaard (Mexico) provided in 2011 an excellent list how to decide whether the game has to be declared won or a draw when overstepping the time limit:
Player oversteps time limit
Opponent's flag is still up
Full explanation of abbreviations:
IV Johnson comments, "By the USCF rules standard – the issue is not whether a mate is possible, but whether it can be forced." During the last meeting of the RTRC in Istanbul no one could understand the term "forced mate". There were two points:
1) A forced mate is a situation where one side wins by correct play. In this case one side with bare knight wins in two to four moves if the king of the opponent is blocked by its pawn.
2) But in this case one side with sixteen pieces wins against another side with fifteen pieces (one pawn minus).
I could suggest to explain this American term in normal chess judicial terms, but Mr. Ken Ballou wrote "such as a checkmate on the next move". At least now it is clear. Is this all or is this only an example?
GG I fully agree with Mr. Vereshchagin.
IV In case of Point One above, it is also a draw by FIDE Rules because the side that is obliged to give mate cannot lose.
IV Does everyone in USCF understand the judicial side of chess game, which means that a player should wish to have this or that result before the game is over?
Example One: I want to have a draw because of the situation in the tournament, but by accident I checkmated my opponent's king. Sorry it is too late.
Example Two: The game came to the position K+N vs. K+N. I have less time than my opponent. I have the right to claim a draw based on Article 10.2 of the Laws of Chess. I do not wish to do it, so I have the chance to lose the game. It is the choice of a player and we should respect it.
GG Mr. Vereshchagin is stating that the power to declare a result by the arbiter during the game should be minimized. I agree with him. In my opinion the FIDE Laws of Chess are correct on this point.
IV I also think that USA has higher equipment standards than many countries. Is there any chess club in the USA where there is not at least one electronic chess clock? If a player does not like that the arbiter can interfere, what prevents this player to ask to add two additional seconds per move in this game? Or do chess players in the USA use both these cases but ignore it in case of bare knight or two bare knights vs. nothing?
GG In this case I have to disagree with Mr. Vereshchagin. Suppose there is a Blitz tournament and a fixed schedule. In this case I want to be sure that all games of a particular round are finished before a fixed time.
IV Johnson finishes by saying, "Similarly, K+N+N vs. K is a draw under the USCF standard, as the 2N side cannot force a win (though the weaker side may well blunder and lose if this is played out)." As I understand it, K+N+N vs. sixteen pieces is a win under the USCF standard as 2N side can force a win. My congratulations.
GG I am not sure that the player with 2N can force a win, but there are possibilities that the opponent's king can be checkmated. To be honest this last remark is incorrect in my opinion.
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