An Arbiter's Notebook
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Question Dear Geurt, In recent Notebooks, you have asked for a "forced" mate for K+N in more than one move. For most players "forced mate" simply means a position in which one player is guaranteed to mate in a few moves if he/she plays correctly.
But your concept is an unusual one, to both players and problemists, and in order to avoid unnecessary confusion, it deserves its own term. I suggest "inevitable mate". The most famous inevitable mate composition is the following position from Vilhelm Ropke:
The moves are 1.d4 b5 2.d5 b4 3.axb4 a3 4.b5 a2 5.b6 a1Q 6.b7#
There are others; I seem to remember Noam Elkies came up with a few. Inevitable draw (=dead position), and inevitable non-loss are both part of FIDE Laws, however. The best that I can do for K+N is the following:
This is not very exciting. It is only two moves and White is already in check. But it is interesting that it requires all sixteen Black units. There is also a "changing of the guard" on h1. More interesting positions can be found at The Retrograde Analysis Corner. All the best, Andrew Buchanan (Hong Kong)
Answer Of course, I had no intention to create confusion regarding the definition of any kind of mate. I agree that inevitable checkmate sounds very appropriate.
Question Dear Mr Gijssen, I am writing this question as a follow-up to the problem with DGT-2010 clocks pointed out by Pete Morriss in your August 2013 column. He indicated that those clocks, when playing a rapid tournament with increments, freeze when the first flag falls. This makes it impossible for the second flag to also fall, and gives the players the option to continue playing indefinitely, if both players are so inclined. In my chess club, we observed the same behaviour during a blitz tournament (played with three minutes and two seconds increments, a built-in time control).
Since I am only a novice arbiter, I asked some experienced international arbiters about this. They told me at first it was a bug, probably only occurring in a certain batch of clocks, and asked me to check all the clocks that my club owns and note the serial numbers of the faulty ones. (This turned out not to be the case, but it illustrates how they, too, thought this behaviour was strange). While testing the clocks I then discovered that a) all clocks behaved this way (also the DGT-XLs, if I remember correctly), and b) the same behaviour occurs in all tempi with increments, not just the standard blitz tempo.
After reporting this back to the IAs, they, in turn, inquired about this with DGT, who answered that they knew about this, but that it is the intended behaviour. They pointed to the following part of the handbook: "The Handbook, C.02.5.1 states in sub (i) In case of accumulative or delay timing systems, the clock should not add any additional time if a player passed the last time control." [translated from their response in Dutch]. They also mentioned that they are aware of the conflict with E1.01B.A.4d, and that they have been asking FIDE for a long time to address this issue. I then assumed that this was, at the moment, the standard, interpretation of the rules, if somewhat strange. Due to this, I was somewhat surprised by the fact that you, in your August column, refer to this as a "known problem" with the clocks, because I thought this was FIDE's intent.
By the way, I see an even bigger conflict between the behaviour of the clock and article 6.7a of the laws of chess: "During the game each player, having made his move on the chessboard, shall stop his own clock and start his opponent's clock." The way the clocks work it is no longer possible for the player whose flag has fallen to start his opponents clock. The strange thing, to me, is that article 5.1i of the "Standards of Chess Equipment and tournament venue for FIDE Tournaments", on which DGT apparently based their decision to program the clocks this way, only states that no more increments should be added if a player passed the last time control (note that it is not completely clear from this text whether this means no time should be added for either player, or just not for the player whose flag has fallen). This article does not state that the clock should also stop counting down. Therefore, as far as I can see, there is no conflict between C.02.5.1i and E.I.01A.6.7a (or E.I.01B.A.4d). The problem only arises because DGT interprets C.02.5.Ii to mean that the clock should freeze entirely at the moment the first flag falls, which I think is an incorrect interpretation.
What is your interpretation of this article of the Standards of Chess Equipment? I think this article is only intended to mean that a player should not receive increments after his flag has fallen (which is obviously a necessary clause), and the way the DGT clock currently operate is incorrect, mainly because of the violation of article 6.7a of the Laws of Chess. On a side note: if FIDE is aware of this problem, why did they give approval for the use of DGT clocks in official tournaments? I realise that, for example, at the World Cup there is always sufficient supervision, so the arbiter will simply end the game when a flag falls. But at most tournaments this is not the case. Thank you very much, Tobias Verhulst (Belgium)
Answer First, let me explain the history of the rule of the flag fall. Until 1993, only analogue clocks were used in chess events. There were some electronic clocks, but as far I know they were not used in official chess events. I remember that in 1987 Ton Fürstenberg approached me and offered to use digital clocks in a Blitz Tournament during the second Swift Tournament. When I spoke with some players about it, it was very clear that they did not like this type of chess clock.
In case of a flag fall the other clock remained running, also in the last period. The reason was very simple: the chess clock did not "know" that it was the last period. In fact it was a strange situation that the chess clock was still running although the game was finished. In 1993, digital clocks appeared in an official chess tournament for the first time, but in a very limited way. They were used in the Amber Tournament in Monaco and in the tiebreak games of the Interpolis KO Tournament 1993. This means only in Rapid and Blitz games. From that time digital chess clocks were used in more chess events; for instance, in the Olympiad Moscow 1994.
Nevertheless, the digital clocks were still in the minority and the rules were not adapted to the new situation. And apparently there were no problems. But about three years ago some people remarked that in Rapid and Blitz games with an increment there was a problem. After a flag fall on one clock, the other was frozen. It was not a bug, but it was programmed by the DGT company. I had a feeling that there was a preference for this frozen situation. In the DGT clocks the second clock was not frozen in settings without increment. IA Filipowicz introduced this: Go to the 00 option, choose Fischer mode, install main thinking time and an increment of 0 seconds.
In the Laws of Chess valid from July 1, 2014 you may see that the double flag fall is not mentioned anymore. In Rapid and in Blitz game, even in case an arbiter has to supervise many games, he is authorised to claim a flag fall. And this in case of inadequate supervision, which at the moment is even forbidden.
Finally, I would recommend to the producers of digital clocks if it is possible: to build in an option that the tournament organiser can choose to freeze a clock or not in case of a flag fall.
Question Dear Mr. Geurt Gijssen, Two days ago, I was playing in a standard tournament (2h-2h). Black had a rook and two pawns, while White only had one pawn. As Black was low on time, he stalemated White. At that same moment, Black's time ran out. White then claimed a flag fall and was awarded the win by the arbiter, who said that worst possible play would allow White to win. But in my opinion, it should be a draw as it is a stalemate and there is no play possible at all! What is your Opinion? Qing Aun (Singapore)
Answer At the moment that the stalemate position is on the board, the game is over. A flag fall after a mate or stalemate position or a position that neither king can be checkmated is irrelevant. Therefore, the claim of White was wrong and also the arbiter's decision. I would also like to mention: Suppose the black flag had fallen before the stalemate move was played, then it is a win for White according to the FIDE Laws of Chess. It is possible that Black blunders his rook and two pawns and that White's pawn promotes to a queen. Not likely, but still possible.
Question I realize this is not overly important, but I recommend FIDE clarifying by not merely typing Ohs or Zeroes but by saying Zeroes and not Ohs or vice versa as well as having the 960 and appendix C algebraic both the same. Dale Haukenfrers (Canada)
Answer Thank you. It has been corrected.
Question The new rules regarding the electronic devices give leeway for Arbiters to specify different rules for local competitions. Is there some leeway on this rule as well?
I believe that if we start implementing this rule in our local tournaments we will drive away new players, which is certainly not something that we want to do. So, if the Arbiter announced ahead of the tournament that the forfeit will be for third illegal move and the first two will carry a two minute penalty, would this be grounds for a successful appeal from some overzealous player? Sincerely, Vlad Rekhson (Canada)
Answer Let me refer to a part of the Preface to the Laws of Chess:
A necessary condition for a game to be rated by FIDE is that it shall be played according to the FIDE Laws of Chess.
It is recommended that competitive games not rated by FIDE be played according to the FIDE Laws of Chess.
If you like to organise a chess event with the intention of not sending the results to FIDE for rating calculation, you may introduce your own rules. But you have to announce on which points it differs from the FIDE Laws of Chess. Whether I want to encourage you to organise such an event is something else.
Question In my latest tournament in Dublin, boards were divided between two rooms with only one arbiter who was sometimes not present in either room (as he also controlled lower tournaments), so the supervision for the tournament was clearly imperfect. The time control was ninety minutes plus thirty second increment per move. A situation similar to that described in your column arose.
In one of my games an opponent, neither of us in acute time trouble, played 38...c2xd1 (a rook). He removed my piece, placed his pawn on d1 and pressed his clock. I do not recall whether he said check. His behaviour cost me maybe five seconds in surprise. Then I said something like "Your move is incomplete. You haven't put the promotion piece on d1!" and I pressed his clock.
Since the board next to ours was finished, he had no problem taking a queen and putting it on d1 and then he pressed his clock again and we continued. (In fact queens had been exchanged and he could have used his original one, but it was on my side of the clock.) I think he assumed (correctly) that I must take his piece whatever it was; he was not trying to gain thinking time.
Points arising (my questions):
Question One Did I respond correctly under firstly the current rules, and secondly the new rules soon to come into force. If I understand your latest article correctly, under the new rules I could claim an extra two minutes and insist that his promotion piece was a queen (in case he wanted a knight)? Also that his incomplete promotion would in the new rules be considered an illegal move, so that if he made another illegal move later he would lose the game (and I would win it)?
Question Two If there had been no spare queen readily available what should my opponent have done? (In my early days we used to put an upside down rook and everybody understood it was a queen, but in that case he should say 'queen'?)
Question Three How should the arbiter, if present, have handled this situation? For example, because of the increment situation, my opponent (and I) each received an additional thirty seconds (because our clocks were pressed twice for one move) which could have been very critical in an extreme time trouble situation. Best wishes, Timothy Harding (Ireland)
Answer One In general it is not advisable to start a discussion with your opponent. The best thing to do is to stop the clocks and call the arbiter. The answer to all questions in Question One is yes!
Answer Two I refer to Article 6.12.b of the current and the revised Laws of Chess:
A player may stop the clocks only in order to seek the arbiter's assistance, for example when promotion has taken place and the piece required is not available.
Regarding the upside down rook, I refer to Article 4.4d of the current and the revised Laws of Chess
If a player having the move promotes a pawn, the choice of the piece is finalised, when the piece has touched the square of promotion.
As you may see, at the moment the rook touches the square of promotion it is a rook.
Answer Three 1. He should stop the clocks. 2. He should correct the clock times and in case the move counter was applied, also change the number of pushes made and take into account to give the offended player two extra minutes. 3. He should, according to the current rules, advise the player to put a piece on the square of promotion, but from July 1, 2014 place a queen on the square of promotion.
Question Dear Geurt, two weekends ago we participated in a team chess competition. During the end of our Board One game, the time remaining of our player has running out, but his opponent was not aware of it. Suddenly, the Captain of the opposing team, said loudly: "His time is running out!", while pointing to our player. Then the opponent claimed the flag fall. We protested against the conduct of the Captain, who was not playing, but was actually a member of the opposing team. What is your opinion? What would you do in this case? Thanks in advance, Antonio Amezquita (Mexico)
Answer The opponent of your player cannot be blamed for the fact that his captain pointed out the flag fall. But the arbiter had to take action against the captain, who violated the rule that he may not intervene in a game. To be precise: the arbiter had to remove the captain from the playing area and to report his behaviour to a higher authority; for instance, the national federation.
Question Dear Mr Gijssen, In your October 2013 column you explained the new rules that came into force, amongst others:
Article 7.5a (second part):
If the player has moved a pawn to the furthest distant rank, pressed the clock, but not replaced the pawn with a new piece, the move is illegal. The pawn shall be replaced by a queen of the same colour as the pawn.
You explained the goal of the last sentence of the article by showing a position in which one of the players "steals" time by not replacing his pawn before pressing the clock and as such winning time to think about a possible minor-promotion. Now it seems to me that the last sentence could be used by the player to his advantage now that the "default choice" for promotion is a queen. Let's say that a player is very short on time and can mate his opponent in one move if he promotes his pawn to a queen. He has only several seconds and has not yet a queen at hand for promotion. Now he simply puts his pawn on the promotion field and presses his clock.
Am I correct that the arbiter will declare the game won for the cunning player according to the new rules? If the answer to the previous question was positive, then my second question would be if this effect is intended or desirable. Kind regards, Geert van der Wulp (Netherlands)
Answer I am afraid you overlooked something: if a queen is not available, then the player may stop the clocks and ask the help of the arbiter to provide a queen. The second point you overlooked is that an illegal move does not automatically result in a loss of the game. Only the second illegal move in a standard game will be losing by the player who made an illegal move.
Question I was reading your October 2013 column when I noticed there is quite a few gender assumptions in the FIDE rules. Arbiters are seemingly always referred to as "him" or "he"; players similarly. Will FIDE address the implicit assumptions about gender in the FIDE rules? That might be the first step towards addressing the significant problem of sexism in chess. Kind regards, Stephen Priest (Australia)
Answer The introduction of the Laws of Chess are as follows:
FIDE Laws of Chess cover over-the-board play.
The Laws of Chess have two parts: 1. Basic Rules of Play and 2. Competition Rules.
The English text is the authentic version of the Laws of Chess (which was adopted at the 84th FIDE Congress at Tallinn (Estonia) coming into force on 1 July 2014.
In these Laws the words 'he', 'him', and 'his' shall be considered to include 'she' and 'her'.
Probably in a next version we can do the opposite and write:
In these Laws the words 'she', and 'her', shall be considered to include 'he', his and 'him'.
© 2013 Geurt Gijssen & BrainGamz, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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