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An Arbiter's Notebook

Geurt Gijssen


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The Classical Era of Modern Chess

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New Rules Redux

First, I would like to make some remarks about the new rules. On some points they are probably more complex than it seems. There are some Articles in the Laws of Chess that have to be announced in advance. From this point of view, six Articles are quite important:

Competition Rules

Article 6.3a

When using a chessclock, each player must complete a minimum number of moves or all moves in an allotted period of time and/or may be allocated an additional amount of time with each move. All these must be specified in advance.

This Article is quite obvious, and has not been changed. The time control has to be announced in advance.

Article 6.7

a. The rules of a competition shall specify in advance a default time. Any player who arrives at the chessboard after the default time shall lose the game unless the arbiter decides otherwise.

b. If the rules of a competition specify that the default time is not zero and if neither player is present initially, White shall lose all the time that elapses until he arrives, unless the rules of the competition specify or the arbiter decides otherwise.

Before it was stated in the Laws of Chess that the default time is zero. With this Article, this is no longer the case. This means that each organiser has to decide in advance after how many minutes the game will be declared lost for an absent player. My estimation is that FIDE keeps for its own events (Olympiad, World Championships, Candidates Tournaments and so on) a default time of zero minutes.

Article 9.1

a. The rules of a competition may specify that players cannot agree to a draw, whether in less than a specified number of moves or at all, without the consent of the arbiter.

The same as in Article 6.3a. This is not a new Article, but it has to be announced whether a draw offer is acceptable or after a specific number of played moves.


b. During play, a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone and/or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue. If it is evident that a player brought such a device into the playing venue, he shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. The rules of a competition may specify a different, less severe, penalty. The arbiter may require the player to allow his clothes, bags or other items to be inspected, in private. The arbiter or a person authorised by the arbiter shall inspect the player and shall be of the same gender as the player. If a player refuses to cooperate with these obligations, the arbiter shall take measures in accordance with Article 12.9.

It is important that the organiser announces in advance what penalties will be imposed if it is decided that they will be less severe than mentioned in this Article.

Appendix A. Rapidplay

A.5 The Rules for a competition shall specify whether Article A.3 or Article A.4 shall apply for the entire event.

In case of the application of Article A3, the "normal" rules are applicable. From now on we call it standard play, when the Articles 1-12 will apply.

If Article A4 will apply, there are some differences: wrong clock setting and wrong set-up of the pieces cannot be corrected after ten moves are completed by White and Black.

A completed illegal move, if not claimed by the opponent or unnoticed by the arbiter cannot be corrected after the opponent has made his move.

Illegal positions are treated differently. Two illegal positions are specific:

  • Both kings are attacked.
  • A pawn, which has reached the last rank, has not been changed into a new piece.

Appendix B. Blitzplay

B.5 The Rules for a competition shall specify whether Article B.3 or Article.B.4 shall apply for the entire event.

The same as in Rapidplay

Appendix G. Quickplay Finishes

G.2 Before the start of an event it shall be announced whether this Appendix shall apply or not.

The first part of the new Appendix G replaces the old Article 10. Until 1 July 2014, this Article applied to the period in which all (remaining) moves must be played. If there is only one period; for example, all moves in two hours for each player, or if there are more periods; for example, forty moves in two hours and one hour for the remaining moves, this Article is applicable. There are some specific conditions:

  • It applies only for Standardplay and Rapidplay, provided there is not an increment, and not for Blitzplay
  • The claimant must have less than two minutes thinking time left.

If these two requirements were fulfilled, a player having the move could claim a draw. In the new rules the organiser has to decide whether he will apply this rule or not.


The habit of first removing the pawn and then placing the new piece on the square of promotion is legalised in the new rules. Yet it is quite interesting that the promotion is mentioned in six(!) places in the Laws of Chess and the Appendices. Here they are.

Article 3.7e

When a player, having the move, plays a pawn to the rank furthest from its starting position, he must exchange that pawn as part of the same move for a new queen, rook, bishop or knight of the same colour on the intended square of arrival.

This is called the square of 'promotion'. The player's choice is not restricted to pieces that have been captured previously. This exchange of a pawn for another piece is called promotion, and the effect of the new piece is immediate.

Article 4.4d

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.

Article 4.6

The act of promotion may be performed in various ways:

  • the pawn does not have to be placed on the square of arrival,
  • removing the pawn and putting the new piece on the square of promotion may occur in any order.

If an opponent's piece stands on the square of promotion, it must be captured.

Article 4.7c

When, as a legal move or part of a legal move, a piece has been released on a square, it cannot be moved to another square on this move. The move is considered to have been made in the case of promotion, when the player's hand has released the new piece on the square of promotion and the pawn has been removed from the board.

Article 6.12b

A player may stop the chessclock only in order to seek the arbiter's assistance, for example when promotion has taken place and the piece required is not available.

Article 7.5a

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.

Appendix A Article A4d

If the arbiter observes both kings are in check, or a pawn on the rank furthest from its starting position, he shall wait until the next move is completed. Then, if the illegal position is still on the board, he shall declare the game drawn.

Question Dear Mr Gijssen, I am a moderator on a German chess forum, where we recently discussed a very similar problem as in the first question of your January 2014 column:

Will the new 75 move rule affect any draw/win decisions concerning flag fall?

As to my reading (I have only the lowest level arbiter licence) and also the opinion of several other licensed arbiters, the game, in case of flag fall, shall only be declared drawn if the king cannot be possibly checkmated by "any series of legal moves." (Art. 6.9) A "legal move" is (unless I am mistaken) solely defined in Art. 4.6 as being in accordance to Art. 3. Thus, nearly all of us concluded the new sevety-five-move rule must not indirectly affect a claim on time.

However you seemed to state just the opposite in your last column, which was kind of surprising to some readers including myself. We would be grateful to receive some further clarification or explanation from your side. Examples are easily granted:

An Arbiter's Notebook
[FEN "8/8/4k3/4N3/3B4/2K5/8/8"]

White has been trying to checkmate black with knight and bishop for the last sevety-one moves and now black flagged. A helpmate in four cannot be constructed here, so the game would be inevitably drawn (either by seventy-five moves or by dead position after capture), yet the king can of course be checkmated by some series of legal moves. Will it be drawn or will white win? I would have judged it a win, but your last column kind of exhausted my confidence in this interpretation. Sincerely yours, Thomas Leiter (Germany)

Answer I discussed this matter with the counsellors of the Rules Commission and the general opinion was that a flag fall in the situation you described is a win for the player who still has material to win the game.

Question Geurt, I have question concerning two subsequent illegal moves in a blitz game, no observation by an arbiter.

Player A delivers checkmate or stalemate to Player B by means of an illegal move, possibly with a close bodycheck next to the Player B's king. Instead of claiming a win Player B moves, which obviously has to be an illegal move as well.

Can Player A then claim a win because of an illegal move made by Player B or claim just a draw because he has no chance to win the game by a series of legal moves (Player B had none of them actually)!? Thanks in advance! With kind regards, Markus Müller (Germany)

Answer Let us analyse the situation:

  • Player A completes an illegal move.
  • Player B does not claim the illegality, but makes a move. By making a move Player B loses the right to claim Player A's illegality.
  • I suppose Player B completes the illegal move.
  • Before making his own move, Player B has the right to claim a win, provided there is a series of legal moves to checkmate Player A's king. If Player B does not have sufficient material to checkmate Player A's king, he can claim a draw.

What I wrote above is the general situation in case of an illegal move. You asked what will happen if Player A's move has produced a checkmate or stalemate. This means that in fact the game has been finished. And the end of the game was apparently not noticed. In my opnion there is no difference at all, provided the game was played in a situation that one arbiter had to supervise more than one game.

Question This happened to me in 12th Delhi International GM Chess Tournament 2014 "B" Category. I was playing for last round against Sharath E. 1792 from Tamilnadu.

Technically, my opponent and I, have no chance to get into the prize list, but by winning the game, I have a chance to gain twelve rating points. Meanwhile, during the endgame, which was clear plus in favour of me, I mistakenly made an illegal move. Under time pressure, my opponent thought that it was all over and he stopped the clocks. Soon he found that he could capture the piece and suddenly he played a moved on the board and started the clock. Under the circumstances, I stopped the clock for assistance from an Arbiter.

Laws of Chess: Article 13.1 The arbiter shall see the Laws of Chess are strictly observed.

My claim was to award the game to me, as my opponent had stopped the clocks without calling an arbiter for assistance, and then completed his move and restarted the clock.

Now look at the Laws of Chess in Arbiter's Manual 2013 issued by FIDE Arbiter's Commission.

Article 6.12

a. If the game needs to be interrupted, the arbiter shall stop the clocks.

b. 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.

c. The arbiter shall decide when the game is to be restarted in either case.

d. If a player stops the clocks in order to seek the arbiter's assistance, the arbiter shall determine if the player had any valid reason for doing so. If it is obvious that the player had no valid reason for stopping the clocks, the player shall be penalised according to Article 13.4.

Article 13.4

The arbiter can apply one or more of the following penalties:

  • warning
  • increasing the remaining time of the opponent
  • reducing the remaining time of the offending player
  • declaring the game to be lost
  • reducing the points scored in the game by the offending party
  • increasing the points scored in the game by the opponent to the maximum available for that game
  • expulsion from the event.

After a long discussion with various arbiters, Mr Dharmendrakumar IA Deputy Arbiter, announced his ruling that game would restart from the position immediately before the irregularity. Clearly I was not satisfied with the decision, but Chief Arbiter Mr. Bharatsingh was not available in the hall to rule.

Before the restart of the game, I was asked by Mr. Dharmendrakumar, "Will you get anything by winning this?" Immediately I replied, "Yes, Not cash, but twelve Elo points."

Anyway, at last I won the game and earned 12.30 Elo points too! FIDE needs to ensure that all arbiters are fully acquainted with Laws of Chess. Salim Afezi (India)

Answer Stopping the chess clock does not mean that your opponent resigned. At least, in my opinion, it is not clear he did so. If you had asked your opponent why he stopped the chess clock, and his answer had been that he wanted to resign the game, the situation is very clear. Yet, formerly he did not resign. This means the game was still in progress. Based on this, the arbiter acted correctly. The only question that remains for me is: did he award two extra minutes to your opponent's time when the game restarted?

Question Hi Geurt, I appreciate your excellent column, which helps us to discuss the rules with you. Regarding Article 4a that you described in your last post, in my opinion, ten moves is also not sufficient – especially in rapid games. In my opinion, serious issues, such as an increment not set or a defect in the clock such as losing time, should be corrected at any stage in a game when it is noticed. Of course, lost time may not be recoverable if the person has not claimed during the first ten moves, but he should be allowed to change clocks if it is defective or introduce an increment if not initially done. I hope that the committee can be persuaded to rephrase the rule to accommodate these situations. Regards, Vivek Nambiar (India)

Answer I have to agree with you, although to extend the number of moves from three to ten moves is an improvement. Yet, especially in Blitzplay, when one arbiter has to supervise more than one game, it is, in my opinion, quite impractical to extend the number of moves to, say, twenty moves. I am afraid this could damage the schedule of the tournament.

Question Hello Geurt, the following has been changed in the Laws of Chess by FIDE and is to be applied from July 1st:

Article 11.10

Unless the rules of the competition specify otherwise, a player may appeal against any decision of the arbiter, even if the player has signed the scoresheet (see Article 8.7).

The words "even if the player has signed the scoresheet" are added.

This guarantees a player the right to appeal even when he has signed the scoresheets. I do not think this is fair to the players of a tournament, and, in general, for the control of the events in the playing venue. Why should a player, who accepted that he or she lost, or agreed a drawn game, have the right to then claim a change of the result? This will bring many issues and problems regarding the responsibility a player has when deciding what to do in a game. An extreme situation is that even before the next round in a tournament a player can claim an error or mistake after reading his/her scoresheet – and the tournament will extend unnecessarily even they had accepted the result of a game. This lowers the responsibility of a player about his or her decisions during the game – and in life – which is one of the main things to learn from chess. What is your opinion? FA Edwin G. Delgado (Puerto Rico)

Answer I understand your concern, but I think there is no reason for it. Let me give you some examples. It is impossible to make an appeal when your opponent touched a piece and played or captured another piece. The same applies for an illegal move. Only during the game is it possible to claim an illegal move, but not after the game. As a matter of fact, only in cases of a wrong result appeals are possible: the players wrote a wrong result on the scoresheets. In this case the arbiter may, but is not forced, to change the result. In the game there was a situation that seventy-five consecutive moves were played without a capture and a pawn move. The rules state that in this situation the game IS a draw. The same position has appeared, as in 9.2b, for at least five consecutive alternate moves by each player. Article 9.6 states that the game is a draw.

Question Hi Geurt, Are there any standard regulations for Internet tournaments? If yes, where can I get that information? Thanks a lot. Mario Piati (Italy)

Answer At the moment, FIDE does not have official Rules for Internet play, but there are some sites that have their own rules. You may find some of them via an Internet search. There were some games organised by FIDE. In this cases the normal rules were applicable and arbiters were present in the room where the players were playing.

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

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