Book Review Endgame Studies Skittles Room Shop

Only Search

An Arbiter's Notebook

Geurt Gijssen


Translate this page

Inside Chess

Donate Now

Again the New Rules

Question Dear Geurt, Motivated by a recent post on a popular Greek blog, I have the following question about Article 9.6 and the seventy-five-move rule (that will be in effect next July) and a flag fall.

What happens when a flag falls and there is a possible move sequence that leads to mate, but any such sequence requires at least seventy-five moves with no captures or pawn moves? Is it a win (since such a sequence exists) or a draw (since the game would be declared drawn if the sequence was enforced)?

I do not know whether such a case is even possible (in fact, the aforementioned blog post was about finding such a case for the fifty-move rule), and (in case it is possible) how is the player that overstepped the time limit going to prove it, but I was too curious not to ask.

Addendum: on second thought, my question "how is the player that overstepped the time limit going to prove it" is pointless, as the burden of the proof of finding a valid sequence is on the player claiming the win. Best regards, Panagiotis Kanellopoulos (Greece)

Answer If a player oversteps the time limit, the game is in principle lost by this player. Yet there is an exception: If the position is such, that the opponent cannot win by any series of legal moves, the game is drawn. The best known situation is, of course, the case that the opponent has only a bare king.

Still, there are probably more situations and you refer to one of them. Let us assume that in a game both players completed seventy-two moves without a capture and a pawn move. On the next move there is a flag fall. If by analysing the position it is clear that there is an inevitable series of at least three moves by both players without a capture and a pawn move leading to checkmate, there is, in my opinion, a good reason to declare the game drawn.

Question Dear Geurt, Thank you for answering my question about the freezing of DGT clocks when one of the flags has fallen. I understand from your reply that this is indeed intentional. However, there is one point of my question that I would like to see clarified, because I still do not understand it. Even in the new rules, Article 6.8 still makes it clear that the flag falling does not immediately end the game. The game continues until either the arbiter or a player has noticed the fallen flag. But, even though the game continues, a player can no longer start the opponent's clock as required by 6.2a. If the freezing of both clocks is the intended functionality, shouldn't Article 6 of the Laws of Chess then be changed to allow for this? I feel that this functioning of the clocks, even if intentional, is incompatible with this Article? Tobias Verhulst (Belgium)

Answer A flag fall does not always mean that a player oversteps the time limit and the game is lost. As you know, the DGT chess clock also has a "move counter"; probably it is better to say that the number of clock presses is registered. If this counter does not work, then the flag falls when the time period expires. If, for instance, for the first period the time limit is forty moves in two hours, it is possible that the flag falls at move forty-two; in this case the game simply continues. In the last period of a game the flag fall is, of course, decisive.

If the move counter of a DGT clock is working, the chess clock has been frozen in case the player has not completed the required number of moves. But if the move counter is switched off, there are no problems. After the expiration of the time period, the basic time for the next time period will be added automatically.

If the time control in a game is mixed, for instance, forty moves in two hours, twenty moves in one hour and fifteen minutes for the third period with an increment of thirty seconds from move sixty-one, the move counter is required.

As I mentioned, there are cases when a flag fall does not mean that the game is lost. As far as I can see the chess clock is generally frozen when a player has overstepped the time limit, although we have to be careful. It is possible that a move was made and a player or both players did not press the clock.

Finally, I would like to comment on your remark regarding Article 6.8 (from 1 July 2014):

A flag is considered to have fallen when the arbiter observes the fact or when either player has made a valid claim to that effect.

In my opinion we have to keep this Article. The ideal situation is, of course, that one of the persons involved in the game (the two players or the arbiter) acts immediately after the flag fall. But as each player knows, it happens quite often that it is noticed a little bit later. In my opinion, it is quite logical that the moment of noticing that the flag has fallen is in this case decisive.

Another intention of this Article is that only the players in the game and the arbiter may react in case of a flag fall and not, for instance, spectators or players of other games.

Question Dear Mr Gijssen, In your last column, you stated that seventy-five moves and quintuple repetition immediately ends the game. There is no such sentence on the RTRC web site.

If one or both of the following occur(s) then the game is drawn:

the same position has appeared, as in 9.2b, for at least five consecutive alternate moves by each player.

b. any consecutive series of 75 moves have been completed by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture.

There is no such thing as this immediately ends the game in this Article. Furthermore, it is very clearly explained on the FIDE rules website:

This avoids players repeating positions continually or carrying on and on with no capture or a pawn move. The Articles 9.2 and 9.3 each require a claim. 9.6 means the game is over and the arbiter must step in. People have asked what happens if it is overlooked and the game terminates in other than a draw afterwards. This is solved as appropriate by Articles 5.1, 5.2 a, b, c and 8.7. The main concern is not to prolong games on a tight schedule.

The intent of the new rule is to prevent beginners from playing forever because they are unaware of the fifty-move rule or of the triple-repetition rule. If the game ends in another manner, this is not a problem. Pierre Dénommée (Canada)

Answer It is possible to add the sentence: This immediately finishes the game, but it is not necessary in my opinion. The remark that the game is drawn covers that the game has been finished.

Question Hi, Geurt. In the annual Christmas Blitz tournament in DWSU (Danish Whisky Chess Union) earlier this month a rare situation appeared on the board. On the move, and before moving any piece, I (playing white) discovered that I had two dark-squared bishops on the board, and no light-squared bishops. It was clear that no pawn promotion had taken place. So it was evident that at some stage earlier in the game I had misplaced my light-squared bishop by – illegally – moving it to a dark square. It was unclear, however, how and when that illegal move was made.

My opponent stopped the clock and called the "board of arbiters" (our own institution in DWSU, a board consisting of other players in the room ready to judge). Some argued that the game should continue with the pieces as they appeared now (i.e., with my two dark-squared bishops), others that the game should be cancelled and a new game started (as if the first game had not taken place). Ultimately that was the decision, the game was cancelled and we took a new game.

What would have been the correct decision if it had been an official blitz tournament? Kind regards, Christian Lundmark Jensen (Denmark)

Answer I suppose that one arbiter supervised more than one game. In this case Article B.3c is applicable:

An illegal move is completed once the opponent's clock has been started. The opponent is entitled to claim a win before he has made his own move. However, if the opponent cannot checkmate the player's king by any possible series of legal moves, then the claimant is entitled to claim a draw before he has made his own move. Once the opponent has made his own move, an illegal move cannot be corrected unless mutually agreed without intervention of an arbiter.

As you may see, the correct decision is that the game will be continued.

Question Respected Sir, I have been working as an IA for the past four or five years. I have a question regarding an incident that took place in a recent Rapid tournament in Pune.

Player A claimed that the digital clock was not adding up the fixed increment time per move. He noticed this when he had very little time (less than ten seconds). The time control for the tournament was twenty minutes, plus a five second increment per move. The Arbiter IA Rajendra Shidore applied Article A.4a which states that "Once each player has completed three moves, no claim can be made regarding incorrect piece placement, orientation of the chessboard or clock setting."

But in FIDE approved digital clocks the seconds are not displayed when there is more than twenty minutes, and three moves are likely to be completed before the clock displays seconds. In this case even the increment was as small as five seconds.

I am requesting you to please guide me whether the action of the arbiter was correct or not? Or whether Article 6.10.b of Laws of Chess should have been applied:

If during a game it is found that the setting of either or both clocks was incorrect, either player or the arbiter shall stop the clocks immediately. The arbiter shall install the correct setting and adjust the times and move counter. He shall use his best judgement when determining the correct settings.

Thanks and regards, IA Nitin Shenvi (India)

Answer It depends whether the supervision was adequate or inadequate. If one arbiter supervises no more than three games, the Competition Rules are applicable. And in this case Article 6.10.b of the Laws of Chess, as quoted by you, applies.

But, if an arbiter supervises more than three games (it is inadequate supervision) in a Rapid tournament, then Article A.4a, also quoted by you, applies. This means that the arbiter was right if the supervision was inadequate.

You are correct that it is very hard to discover within three moves whether the increment is properly installed. In the Laws of Chess coming into force from 1 July 2014, this has been changed to ten moves instead of three.

Question Dear Mr Gijssen, Recently, while playing in a FIDE/USCF event in the United States, I observed players wearing headphones, presumably listening to music. I approached the Tournament Director and asked about this rule and was told that he would take care of it.

Approximately forty-five minutes later, my opponent produced an iPhone and began listening to something during our game. I again approached the tournament director and he warned my opponent about using the device. Under what circumstances, if any, are players allowed to listen to anything in FIDE tournaments? Frank Johnson (USA)

Answer In my opinion Article 12.6 covers this matter:

It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims, unreasonable offers of a draw or the introduction of a source of noise into the playing area.

The introduction of a source of noise is forbidden. An iPhone is a source of noise.

Question Dear Geurt. Rule 10.2: If I postpone my decision, decide to give a five-second increment and the person that claimed the 10.2 wins, does he win the game? Fransie Grobbelaar (South Africa)

Answer If a player claims a draw based on the old Article 10.2 and the opponent does not agree with the claim, the claiming player can win the game. The reason is that the opponent has the possibility to agree that the claim is correct and accept the draw.

Question Dear Sir, I want a clarification regarding section 1.53a of FIDE handbook which states the following:

Such a rating need not be published. It can be obtained in the middle of a rating period, or even in the middle of a tournament. The player may then disregard subsequent results for the purpose of their title application. However, the burden of proof then rests with the federation of the title applicant. It is recommended that players receive a certificate from the Chief Arbiter where they achieve the rating level during a tournament. Such a certificate should include a note of the date each game was played. Title applications based on unpublished ratings shall only be accepted by FIDE after agreement with the Rating Administrator and the QC. Ratings in the middle of a period can be confirmed only after all tournaments for that period have been received and rated by FIDE.

I have four GM norms and am waiting for my rating to hit 2500. My ELO rating now is 2487. Currently I am playing the National championship in India (from Dec 17th to Dec 30th) and I might score thirteen points or more from this tournament. I want to apply for my GM title based on the part which says achieving 2500 during a tournament. But I played a tournament from November 25th to December 3rd and I am lost some rating points, which will be reflected in the January 2014 list. Under this scenario, am I eligible to receive the certificate from the arbiter stating that I have crossed 2500 during the tournament, applying the bold parts of section 1.53a. My understanding is that since I hit 2500 during the current tournament, I am eligible to apply for the GM title irrespective of the performance in the previous tournament for the rating period. Am I correct? Kindly clarify. With Regards, Ashwin Jayaram (India)

Answer In my opinion the situation is very simple. On the last published rating list your rating was 2487. The tournament you played in November/December 2013 was not yet rated. Suppose you lost five rating points in this tournament. Then your rating at the start of the next tournament would be 2482. Now you start to play the National Championship. To achieve a rating of 2500, you need eighteen points. From the start of the tournament you have to calculate the rating points gained after each game. At the moment you win the eighteen rating points you have to approach the arbiter to request a certificate that you won the required number of points to achieve the GM title.

Question Dear Mr Gijssen, What would you expect the result to be under the new rules if White played a checkmating move that happened to be the seventy-fifth move of a sequence without a pawn move or piece capture?

Under rule 9.6 b. the game would be drawn: "any consecutive series of 75 moves have been completed by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture" but under rule 1.2 the opponent whose king has been checkmated has lost the game.

My view is that the game should probably be declared drawn, which may not be the result arbiters and players wish for. My thinking is that the definition of checkmate requires consideration of what the opponent's next move would be if there was one, whereas the seventy-five-move rule does not. Thus, verification of the draw occurs at an earlier stage in the game than the checkmate. E. Michael White (UK)

Answer Next week I have a meeting with the councillors of the Rules and Tournament Regulations Commission. In this meeting I shall discuss the matter. My personal opinion is that the game should be declared a win for the player who checkmated the opponent's king. I base this on the fact that the aim of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king. But I am ready to be convinced that a draw is more appropriate. I will keep you informed.

© 2014 Geurt Gijssen & BrainGamz, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A PDF file of this month's column, along with all previous columns, is available in the Archives.

Have a question for Geurt Gijssen? Perhaps he will reply in his next column. Please include your full name and country of residence.

Yes, I have a question for Geurt!

Comment on this month's column via our official Chess Blog!

Purchases from our
chess shop help keep freely accessible:

The Panov-Botvinnik Attack: Move by Move
The Panov-Botvinnik
Attack: Move by Move

by Lorin D'Costa

The Nimzo-Larsen Attack: Move by Move
The Nimzo-Larsen Attack:
Move by Move

by Cyrus Lakdawala

Magnus Force (Ebook)
by Colin Crouch About ChessCafe ChessCafe Archives ChessCafe Links ChessCafe Columnists

[ChessCafe Home Page] [ChessCafe Shop] [ChessCafe Blog]
[Book Review] [Columnists] [Endgame Study] [The Skittles Room]
[ChessCafe Links] [ChessCafe Archives]
[About] [Contact] [Advertising]

© 2014 BrainGamz, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
"®" is a registered trademark of BrainGamz, Inc.