Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Regulations from FIDE QC - Part 2

The other set of regulations that have been approved by FIDE are the revamped title regulations. Most of the work in this area was done at the QC Meetings in Istanbul in 2012, although there may have ben some 'tidying up' done afterwards.
The most significant change for norm events is that the time limit for title norms as again been dropped down to 90m+30s (for incremental time controls) or 120m for the first time control followed by 30m for the rest of the game (where no increments are used). Time controls can of course be longer that this.
Where there has been real change is in the area of direct titles. This had become a bit confused over the last decade, so clarification and consolidation was called for. Continental and Sub-Continental events have now been clearly defined, while the status of Regional events has now been clarified.
The major change seems to be how Zonals/Sub-Zonals are treated. Both are now treated as Sub-Continental events. The restrictions on the number of titles that can be awarded at Zonals has also been changed. Previously there was a limit of 1 IM and 2 FM titles on offer. For IM titles this is now changed so that the title only will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd (on tie-break), regardless of the score achieved. For FM and CM titles, the restriction on the number that can be awarded as been removed entirely, but the performance required has been lifted. For an FM title it is now 65% and for a CM title it is 50%.
To see what effect these changes might have, I had a look at the last two Oceania Zonals (NZ 2011, Aus 2009). From 2011, Andrew Brown would have still received his IM title (for finishing second), but Max Illingworth would have also earned the title, on tie-break over Moulthun Ly. Ly would have received the FM title (which he earned anyway), but Gareth Oliver would have missed out on his FM title (but read on).
From the 2009 Zonal James Morris would still have become an IM (he finished second), but for the FM title there would have been 4 new title holders. Bobby Cheng and Michael Steadman (who were awarded the FM title) would be joined by Moulthun Ly and Gareth Oliver!
So from a huge data set of 2 tournaments, it seems that the changes won't result in a rash of  extra 'Zonal' IM's/FM's.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Regulations from FIDE QC

The FIDE Qualifications Commission has just published a new set of regulations for titles and player licensing  which come into effect  on 1 July 2013. (Click here for details) While the title regulations were discussed at the 2012 FIDE Congress, the new regulations for the licensing of players is a bigger surprise.
I'll start with the player licensing first. Essentially all players are to be registered with their National Chess Federation (NCF) and issued with a FIDE ID. The information gathered as part of the registration process includes: name, DOB, Place of Birth, gender, a photo, passport number, and existing FIDE ID.
The requirement to collect such information has already caused some ructions in various discussion forums, and on one level I can see why. Apart from the varying privacy provisions related to data collection and storage, there is clearly some information that cannot be provided. Not everyone has a passport number, and even for those that do, sharing it with others may also be a concern. Certainly in the case of the PNG Chess Federation, the vast majority of potential players do not have one. In practice that field is going to be blank for an awful lot of players.
While registration is free (at least for now), there are still financial costs attached to other parts of the regulations. Under the new regulations, all players in a FIDE rated event must be registered with FIDE before the start of the event, otherwise there is a 50 euro penalty charged to the organisers. There is an obvious problem with players who wish to enter an event and who aren't licensed. Given that the first contact most chess federations have with players is when they turn up to a tournament, it leads to a 'chicken-egg' situation in which a player can't play unless registered, while there is no point in registering a player unless they play. Having discussed this issue with QC Chairman Ignatius Leong, he suggests that NCF's license players when they play in their first domestic (ie non-FIDE rated) event. This of course still leaves the problem of players whose first event is a FIDE rated tournament. A better application here would simply require organisers/NCF's to register players at/after their first event, without penalty.
The other issue with the new system is that Federations can 'delist' players ie remove their license to play. At the 2012 Congress the FIDE Ethics Commission rules that while NCFs can sanction players belonging to their own federations, they cannot extend these sanctions to prevent players from playing in other countries. But under this new system, a Federation can apply a financial disincentive on such players, by removing their players license, and forcing any organiser who accepts their entry to pay an extra 50 euro penalty. A kind of 'end-run' around the Ethics Commission.
Apart from the flaws I have spotted, the major issue will simply be one of hard work. Federations who do not have direct membership schemes (eg Australia, England in part), will almost have to set up a de-facto one, to fulfil the requirements of the new system. Not that this is a bad thing in my opinion, but there will certainly be teething troubles to start with.

(NB: This post and the opinions contained are made in a private capacity, and not connected with any positions I hold on FIDE Commissions)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Swiss Manager - Time to update

If you are a user of the Swiss Manager pairing program, now would be a good time to update to the latest version. With FIDE changing the data format of their rating lists to take in to account Rapid and Blitz ratings, older versions of Swiss Manager do not process the information correctly. In the case that I observed, the names get input correctly, but everything else is gone. Downloading the latest version fixed this up straight away.
There are also some changes in the new version, including the ability to import various national ratings lists, including Australia. The only trap to avoid is making sure you specify the right download file. The ACF lists defaults to /jun12/junmst12 which needs to be changed to /sep12/sepmst12 to get the latest info.
You can either download the update to Swiss Manager from inside the program itself, or go to and follow the links.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2012 Changes to the FIDE Laws of Chess

As a result of my tardiness, I never made it to the end of my discussion about the proposed changes to the FIDE Laws of Chess before the changes were actually made. It turns out that some suggestions from the meeting of RTRC Counselors in April 2012 were accepted, some were rejected, and some third party proposals were debated at the 2012 FIDE Congress.
RTRC Chairman Geurt Gijssen has made a summary of the changes and posted them in his Chess Cafe Column. The link is on the right hand side of the screen.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No draw offers before 30 moves

Two interesting incidents from the current Olympiad concerning the no draw offers before move 30 rule. In one match a player came down with a health problem (280/120 was his blood pressure reading!) and as a result, the medical staff said he was unable to continue the game, as he could seriously damage his health. The opponent was happy to agree to a draw, but the problem was that it was only move 28. However the arbiter sensibly suggested that the players concerned play 2 quick moves, and then a draw could be offered. This was done (causing no extra stress for the player concerned) and then the point was shared. The other incident was quite funny for the spectators, but maybe not the players involved. At some point in a lower board match, a player offered a draw, although it was only about move 25. The opponent pointed out they had to reach move 30 before a draw could be offered, and the game continued. Now it is not clear if the first player believed that he had been promised a draw by move 30, but this is certainly how he played. He played some garbage moves to get to move 30, but in doing so left himself with a lost position. But having reached move 30 he was then very angry when the now allowable draw offer was refused. He began verbally abusing his opponent, who was in the middle of executing a mating attack. When the axe finally fell he picked up his opponents queen and slammed it down on the board, all the time calling is opponent names. Even his other team members could not keep a straight face, and the offending players captain made a great show of congratulating the opponent, and apologising for his team members appalling behaviour. For the rest of us, it has been the best 'dummy spit' of the tournament so far!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

FIDE Laws of Chess - Article 8

Article 8 deals with the recording of moves, and in my experience, is one area where an arbiter is likely to be called upon to make a number of rulings.
At the the meeting in Lausanne there wasn't a big discussion on this section, although there is one big proposal that will be voted on in Istanbul.
One issue that did come up was that of legibility, as the 8.1 requires a player to write 'legibly'. In the end we decided it was up to individual arbiters to make there own judgement, using the obvious test of being able to reconstruct a game with the minimum of assistance. This of course may result in the forfeiture of vast numbers of chess players, but I have never seen a player punished for poor handwriting yet.
There was a proposal to treat players with a disability differently from players who cannot score for other reasons (eg religion), and this will be voted on at RTRC meeting.
8.3 states that the scoresheets belong to the tournament organisers. This isn't being changed, but it is worth noting I had a dispute with a player at this years Doeberl Cup who refused to turn in his scoresheet, and then disputed this rule, claiming it was over ridden by 'the laws of Australia'. In the end I walked away from this argument, but sorted it out at a later stage.
8.4 is the section that specifies when you can stop recording. You can stop recording when you have less than 5 minutes before the next (or final) time control, and if you have less than 30s increment. The USCF is proposing a change to this rule, to allow both players to stop recording, when one player is below this limit. I will vote against this proposal,as one of the requirements of playing tournament chess is to keep a record of the game, if you are able to. The other problem is: What happens if a player is below 5 minutes but continues to record, can the second player stop? (Feel free to think of other variants of this problem).
Otherwise everything remained unchanged, apart from a few language corrections.

Chess Organisers Handbook

The FIDE Events Commission have released Events Organisers Handbook. It is in pdf and is free to download.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Can I be a player and an arbiter at the same time?

The question of the player-arbiter comes up quite a lot. Is it possible to be an arbiter and a player in the same tournament? The answer depends on what event it is.
For small events or club events, the player/arbiter is quite common, and normally it isn't a problem. For FIDE rated events it is discouraged, but not totally out of the question. However, if you wish to earn an arbiters norm (FA/IA) from a FIDE rated event, then you either have to be a non-playing arbiter, or forgo the norm.
In response to a question from Peter Cassettaru, the Chairman of the FIDE Arbiters Commission stated:

Dear Mr. Cassettari,

it is not allowed the Arbiter of a FIDE rated tournament to be a player in the same tournament at the same time.
Such an Arbiter's norm shall not be recognized.

With best regards
Panagiotis Nikolopoulos
FIDE Arbiters' Commission

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

FIDE Laws of Chess - Article 7

Article 7 of the FIDE Laws of Chess deals with Irregularities, and how they are to be handled. In my experience this is probably the biggest area of confusion for arbiters, although not so much for players.
There is one philosophical point worth pointing out here. One assumption made when drawing up these laws is that chess players do not intentionally cheat (even if they do from time to time). This means that we are not bogged down with pages of rules and regulations designed to restore 'equity'. Contrast this with the Laws of Bridge (for those that play both games) and you will see what I mean.
The first proposed change to Article 7 is to include a new 7.1, although this is essentially Article 6.13, now moved to a better location. The interesting thing in this clause is that it instructs the arbiter to also adjust the move-counter on a clock if needed. This explicitly allows the use of move-counters in FIDE rated chess events (although of course it does not mandate them).
7.2 Has a little bit of wording changed (to read better), but the intent remains the same. If the pieces are set up wrong at the start, the game is to be restarted, if the chessboard is the wrong way round, as per Article 2.1 (and not just because the numbers and letters are wrong), then the game is moved to a new, correctly orientated board.
There has been some extra wording attached to 7.5 (old 7.4) to cover some explicit illegal move cases. Leaving a pawn unpromoted on the back rank and capturing the opponents king are now specifically defined as illegal moves.  To be honest I'm not fussed about this change, although it may help arbiters when dealing with argumentative players.
7.5b just adds the requirement that illegal moves must be completed (ie the clock is pressed), before valid claims by the opponent can be made.
7.6 deals with illegal positions/moves and how they are to be corrected. The need to conform with 4.3 and 4.6 has been added to this section, which means that if a position arises due to an illegal move, the replacement move must adhere to touch move etc (rather than playing any move that suits you).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

FIDE Laws of Chess - Article 6

From Article 6, the FIDE Laws of Chess deal with 'competition chess'. This is for games played within competitions, where the final result contributes to something more than just personal pride. Having said that, even now the Laws try and avoid trying to define what form the competition takes, leaving that to the FIDE Tournament Regulations (the TR in RTRC).
The first change to Article 6 is a an new definition. We decided to define 'The chessclock' so as to make the following articles clearer. The proposed new 6.1 reads

‘Chessclock’ means a clock with two time displays, connected to each other in such a way that only one of them can run at one time. ‘Clock’ in the Laws of Chess, means one of the two time displays. Each time display has a ‘flag’. ‘Flag fall’ means the expiration of the allotted time for a player.

Following this we then removed an area of confusion in the previous rules that has always irked me. We propose to define 'press' or 'presses' as meaning pushing the button on your clock to start the opponents clock. We also propose the define 'stop' to mean halting both clocks (or the chessclock) to ask for the arbiters assistance.
Article 6.2 is essentially unchanged, apart from using the new terms mentioned. However taken together with Article 6.3, it does clear up an issue that is still debated. Article 6.2 requires players to complete the required number of moves before the end of the time control (ie 'flag fall). Article 6.3 then requires the Arbiter to check whether this has happened, immediately after on flag falls. Why is this important? Because it answers the question about whether arbiters should call flag fall. Under USCF rules the arbiter does not call flag fall, and I know a number of arbiters (including myself), who are uncomfortable in doing so.
As I have posted in a previous entry, if you follow 6.2 and 6.3, you are required to make a ruling concerning 6.2 the moment you notice a flag has fallen, or one player alerts you to this fact. However, at this point you are making no statement concerning the result of the game, but are merely checking whether the conditions of 6.2 have been met. If it turns out that they have not, then Article 6.9 applies. While this is a somewhat convoluted explanation, it does at least treat the issue of flag fall as a routine part of the game, in the same way that touch move or stalemate may needed to be ruled upon.
6.4 is unchanged, and simply states that the clock is to be placed by the arbiter. Of course there is still the persistent belief that the player with the Black pieces decides, and while this generally happens in practice, it is not correct. In a practical sense, an arbiter may wish to place the clocks all facing in the one direction to make observing them easier. The work around is either for the arbiter to not mind players moving clocks, or to simply allow the player with the Black pieces to decide which side of the table they wish to sit. (Barring left-handers from chess is probably a step too far!)
6.5 is also unchanged, and states that the clock of player of the White pieces is started first.

Now we get on to 6.6. This is the big ticket item, and the one that is probably the most controversial rule in recent years. As it currently stands, 6.6 requires the organiser to set a default time, and a player arriving after that time loses the game. It also states that this time shall be 0 minutes, if the organiser does not specify a time.
Now while the rule clearly states that it is an organisers right to set this time, FIDE (and RTRC) have come under a great deal of criticism for the implementation of this rule. While I'm not saying this criticism is unwarranted, we do have the absurd situation of the ECU using a 0 default time for their own championship, and yet somehow trying to shift the blame onto FIDE, despite the ECU being able to choose a non-zero time.
Having said that, I for one went to the meeting with a proposal to remove 0 and replace it with 30 minutes (or even 15 minutes). However in discussion we looked at a couple of different proposals. Now at this stage we haven't quite agreed on what we will present in Istanbul, but has come down to 2 choices.
The first is to keep it as is, with one small addition. The result shall be a loss, 'unless the arbiter decides otherwise'. While this is a small improvement, it will still be difficult to implement, as players will argue for conformity in arbiter rulings, and letting one player off means letting all players off.
The second proposal is one that I support and reads

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.

This wording takes out any mention of a specific default time from the Laws of Chess, and puts the responsibility in the hands of the tournament organisers. Of course some tournament organisers will still insist on 0 (including FIDE), but it will only apply to their tournaments.

The various clauses in 6.7 are mainly unchanged, except under 6.7c we have added 'to press the clock before moving' as things you cannot do with the chessclock. Also in 6.7d, which deals with time adjustments for players who cannot press the clock (ie need an assistance), there is a proposal to exempt players with a disability from this requirement.
From Articles 6.8 to 6.12 we mainly fixed up the wording, with 'the chessclock' replacing 'clocks' wherever necessary. The only real addition was in 6.10b where fixing the clocks 'move-counter' is explicitly mentioned. This foreshadows an explicit recognition of the use of move-counters on clocks, as until now this has not clearly been stated in the relevant regulations.
Article 6.13 is to be taken out of the Laws, and instead moved into Article 7, which deals with other irregularities. This means that 6.14 becomes the new 6.13, but otherwise there is little change.

*** Small Update ***
The proposed change to article 6.6 is now the one listed above

Thursday, May 17, 2012

FIDE Laws of Chess - Article 5

Article 5 is the last section that deals with how chess is played, and defines the completion of the game (minus technical issues which are covered later). All we did here was take out the references to Articles that occur after this, as they do not make any sense if a person is not reading the complete Laws of Chess. However there is one issue that occasionally comes up and that is 5.1b. "The games is won by the player whose opponent declares he resigns. This immediately ends the game" There is a claim that you can arrange a 1-1 result by both resigning at the same time. A couple of people have asked us to fix this, but it is one of those issues which fall under the heading of "Why?". Nonetheless Franca Dapiran did come up with a sensible suggestion to resolve this case. If both players resign at the same time, simply take the player whose move it is (ie whose clock is running) as the player who resigned first.

Monday, May 14, 2012

FIDE Laws of Chess - Article 4

Article 4 deals with "The Act of Moving the Pieces". We dealt with a couple of proposals and tidied up some wording. However I am surprised that there are still large numbers of chessplayers who still don't understand all the clauses.
For example I still get asked at blitz events whether two handed capturing/castling is allowed. Short answer - NO. 4.1 states "Each move must be made with one hand only". Seems pretty straightforward to me. (NB we did not change this rule at all).
We made a slight change the 4.2 to clarify who can adjust pieces after saying "Adjust" etc. It is the player who has the move, and only the player who has the move. However he is still allowed to adjust his opponents pieces.
In 4.3, we have removed "deliberately" before "touches" and instead added the phrase "with the intention of moving or capturing" at the end of the first sentence. This is a refinement if the previous wording, to make the intention of the rule clear.
While the initial discussion concerning the issue of pawn promotion did not lead anywhere, I have proposed an addition to 4.4 to deal with the case of pawns not being placed on the back rank before promotion takes place. My draft wording for 4.4d is
intends to promote (3.7e), the player may remove the pawn from the 7th rank and then place the promoted piece on the promotion square.

and the current 4.4d becomes 4.4e. The idea is to 'legalise' a common way of promoting a pawn. At this stage the proposed wording is still being discussed, so I do not know whether it will be a recommended law change or not.
Otherwise the changes are mainly cosmetic, removing instances of repeated expressions, or in the case of 4.7, making the wording consistent with 4.3

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FIDE Laws of Chess - Article 3

Article 3 saw a little bit more work, although this was mainly in the area of tightening up definitions.
Section 3.1 contains definitions of 'attack' as well as a prohibition on capturing your own pieces. There was some discussion about what defines 'attacking a square', as whether pinned pieces can capture on a square (normally they can't) or give check (in this case they do), needs to be taken into account. In the end we modified the wording slightly, without changing the assumed meaning.
There was also the regular discussion about how best to define the Knight move. It was noted that definitions seem to change from language to language, and this can sometimes cause difficulties. The familiar "moves in an L shape" definition in English may have no equivalent in Chinese or Japanese. In the end we left it as is.
Section 3.7 deals with how the pawn moves, and there was some work done here. The definition of en-passant  was tidied up to remove the use of the word 'attack' and instead to use the physical location of the respective pawns. ( 'occupying a square on the same rank and on an adjacent file').
Promotion was also covered in this section, and although we left the wording unchanged it is still something that may be revisited. The difficulty is that this section defines what promotion 'is', not how it is supposed to occur. So the definition starts with 'When a pawn reaches the rank furthest from its starting position' which is perfectly fine. But in the absence of any further laws concerning promotion, this also becomes the defined method of promotion (ie You must physically move the pawn to the 8th rank to effect promotion). This then cause difficulties (especially at Blitz) when players simply remove the pawn from the 7th and put a piece down on the 8th. We had intended to work on something to repair this, but due to circumstances beyond our control, we did not have the time to do so. Nonetheless I may still try and put something together before Istanbul.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

FIDE Laws of Chess - Article 2

Article 2 of the FIDE Laws of Chess is pretty straightforward. In fact we have not changed anything in this section, although we are proposing a simple addition. Section 2.2 contains a 2D representation of the pieces, which are normally used for setting chess diagrams in books. The proposal is to add an image of pieces as they would look in real life, ie in 3D (although we aren't proposing to use 3D images!). The pictures will probably be of the standard Staunton design chess pieces.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

FIDE Laws of Chess - Article 1

You might think that Article 1 of the FIDE Laws of Chess is pretty straightforward, and yet we needed to do a little housekeeping here. The issue was 1.1 and the idea that the player with the White pieces 'commences the game'. Using our 'be descriptive as possible' policy we decided to change it to the player with the white pieces, 'moves first'.
However this wasn't our only change. While it might be assumed that everyone should understand that White plays, then Black plays, then White plays etc, I suspect someone suggested that the rules are not clear enough, and although White plays first, the rules then do not prevent the alternation of moves starting with a second White move! So we fixed this one as well.

Monday, April 30, 2012

FIDE Laws of Chess - Article 0

Of course there is no Article 0 in the FIDE Laws of Chess, but there is both a Preface, and probably an underlying framework to the document. Even before that there is the question about how these Laws are made and amended.
The responsibility for defining the FIDE Laws of Chess lies with the Rules and Tournament regulations Commission. The current Commission is chaired by Geurt Gijssen (NED), with Stewart Reuben (ENG) as Secretary. Ashot Vardapetyan (ARM), Franca Dapiran (ITA) and myself are the Commission Counselors. The rest of the Commission is made of general members nominated by there respective Confederations.
The full commission meets every year at the FIDE Congress. These meetings are also open to the public, who may make contributions to the proceedings. Members of the public are also entitled to submit suggestions, at any time, to the RTRC, concerning proposed changes to the Laws of Chess.
Every four years (eg 2008, 2012) the Commission will present their recommended changes to the Laws of Chess to the FIDE General Assembly for approval. Proposed changes will normally go through the Chair, and be sent to the RTRC members for discussion. Also some changes will be presented to a RTRC Counselors meeting, like the one just held in Lausanne.
One important thing to know is the framework and ethos of the Laws of Chess. The first 5 articles are how chess is played. As one person at the RTRC meeting put it, "It is the rules you get when you buy a chess set". it is a definition of how the pieces move, how the game ends, and other important rules for playing the game (ie check etc). Articles 6 to 14, as well as the appendices cover the rules of competition chess. This deals with the a game between two players, using a chess clock, with an arbiter (almost always) present. Importantly, this is pretty much the boundary of the rules. While this part defines competitive chess, it does not generally deal with chess competitions or tournaments. This is instead covered in the FIDE Tournament Regulations (which the RTRC handle as a separate document).
One effect of this is that the references in the Laws of Chess may seem a little odd. One thing we have tried to avoid is referring to any Articles from 6 to 14 in the first 5 Articles, as it would not make sense outside of competitive play. This can make some definitions seem incomplete or repetitive (eg stalemate).
Nonetheless one suggestion that is being adopted is the introduction of a glossary of terms. This will explain the meaning by some of the expressions and definitions used in the Laws. The only difficulty is if this glossary is included in the Laws (even as an appendix) it becomes part of the laws, and then subject to the same change procedure!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Swiss Pairing Rules - Half point byes

Whether it is legal to give half point byes in a FIDE Rated Swiss tournament has been subject to debate for quite a while. Some pairing programs do allow it (even FIDE approved ones) but until recently the pairing rules seemed to be clear that it wasn't allowed. Under the rules for the Dutch System clause F5 stated

Players who withdraw from the tournament will no longer be paired. Players known in advance not to play in a particular round are nor paired in that round and score 0.

However the last meeting of the FIDE Swiss Pairing Programs Committee, as well as the FIDE Technical Commission had a look at the rules and have now ruled that they are allowable.
In the updated Swiss Pairing Rules clause B1b now states

A player who has received a point or half point without playing, either through a bye or due to an opponent not appearing in time, is a downfloater (see A.4) and shall not receive a bye.

The text of the updates Swiss Pairing Rules is at this link FIDE Swiss Pairing Rules (Dutch System)
(Note: Clause F5 still remains unchanged in the updated rules, but in discussion with SPP Chairman Christian Krause, we agreed that this is overridden by B1b and F5 will be changed at the next meeting).

The discussions concerning this, and other changes to the pairing rules are included in the minutes of the Swiss Pairing Programs Committee.

However the final decision of half point byes was made by the Technical Commission, who's meeting minutes are here.

Nonetheless there may be some time until all FIDE approved pairing programs are updated to reflect the changes in the pairing rules. At the 2012 Queenstown International I observed a number of cases where players who had received a half point bye were then downfloated in the next round, or the round after by Swiss Manager. on the other hand, JaVaFo, which we ran alongside Swiss Manager (under the Vega interface) did treat the half point bye correctly.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New FIDE Arbiter fees

The FIDE Arbiters commission have introduce a scheduled set of fees for Arbiters. For now they are listed below, comments to come later


A titled active Arbiter (International Arbiter or FIDE Arbiter) and a National Arbiter
working in a FIDE rated tournament shall be charged with a “licence fee”.
The licence will be valid for life, on the condition the arbiter remains an active
arbiter, and will be in effect from the day after FIDE has received the fee.
The licence fee for National Arbiters is valid for life.
If a National Arbiter is awarded the title of “FIDE Arbiter” the licence fee for this
title has to be paid to FIDE.
If an arbiter upgrades his/her category only the difference between the category
fee has to be paid to FIDE.
If a “FIDE Arbiter” achieves the title of “International Arbiter”, the fee for the new
title has to be paid to FIDE.
The licence fee will be:
a) for A’ Category Arbiters (only IAs):
300 €
b) for B’ Category Arbiters (only IAs):
200 €
c) for C’ Category Arbiters:
160 €
120 €
d) for D’ Category Arbiters:
100 €
80 €
e) for National Arbiters
20 €
Failure to pay the licence fee will lead to exclusion from the FIDE Arbiters’ list.
The Arbiters’ licence will come into effect from 01. 01. 2013.
From 01. 01. 2013 all arbiters of FIDE rated tournaments shall be licensed.
An arbiter who has become inactive (see annex 2, articles 1.3 and 1.4) is
considered not to be licensed any more.
In order to be active again the arbiter has to pay for a new licence.
If the article 6.6 is not fulfilled, the tournaments shall not be rated.
From 01. 01. 2013 the licence fee will be charged together with the application
fee for all awarded arbiter titles.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Additional Swiss Pairing Rules

If you have looked at the latest set of Dutch Pairing Rules in the FIDE handbook, you might notice a couple of additions. In the "Introductory remarks and Definitions" Section (Section A) a couple of clauses have been added to A7. They are

d. While pairing an odd-number round players having a strong colour preference (players who have had an odd number of games before by any reason) shall be treated like players having an absolute colour preference as long as this does not result in additional downfloaters (GA 2001)
e. While pairing an even-numbered round players having a mild colour preference (players who have had an even number of games before by any reason) shall be treated and counted as if they would have a mild colour preference of that kind (white resp. Black) which reduces the value of x (see A.8) as long as this does not result in additional downfloaters, (GA 2001)

It turns out that these clauses have been part of the rules since 2001, but were only included in the handbook this year (I have no idea why btw). But now that they are there what do they mean?
I asked this question of the Chairman of the FIDE Swiss Pairing Program Committee, Christian Krause. He said that what these rules do is deal with the case where a player hasn't played the same number of rounds as other players in the same score bracket (through byes or forfeits). For example, in pairing an even numbered round a player may have played an even number of games (eg only played 4 of the previous 5 rounds), the players mild colour preference (ie opposite the last colour played if they have had 2 whites and 2 blacks), shall be used to calculate x (the number of pairings in a group that do not satisfy all colour preferences), rather than treating the colour preference as 0 or undefined.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dealing with resignation offers

The 2011 Dubbo Open ran pretty smoothly, with only a couple of minor arbiting issues to deal with. But I did come across something I've never personally witnessed before (although I have heard reports of it happening elsewhere).
On the lower boards there was game where one side was easily winning. The player was 2 queens ahead and was a few moves away from mate. She clearly new what she was doing but at one point ,after moving, she simply asked he opponent "Would you like to resign?" in the same manner you would offer a draw. The opponent said "No" and the game soon reached its conclusion.
It was a minor breach of the rules ("disturbing your opponent") and I did not interfere. But if such an 'offer' was allowed in the rules, I wonder how you would signify it on your scores sheet?

Friday, November 5, 2010

FIDE Commissions 2010-2014

FIDE commissions are appointed every 4 years, and FIDE have just announced the commissions for the period 2010-2014. Each commission consists of a chairman, secretary, up to 3 councilors and 8 additional members. The Chairmain, secretary and councilors form the commissions Council, while the 8 additional members (4 nominated by the chairman, the other 4 nominated by Continental Presidents) have consultative status. In practice (at least in Rules and Tournament Regulations), both the Council members and the other members all have a vote during the commission meetings.
One change that took place for the new commissions is the requirement that no person be on more than two commissions. This has opened up more commission slots for members, while allowing the exchange of expertise across committees.
The list of members for each committee is quite long (grab it from here if you are interested) but the Chairman and Secretary for each committee is:

Technical Commission: Dirk de Ridder (BEL), Secretary Andrzej Filipowicz (POL)
Rules and Tournament Regulations: Geurt Gijssen (NED), Secretary Stewart Reuben (ENG)
Swiss Pairings: Christian Krause (GER), Secretary Mikko Markkula (FIN)
Arbiters: Panagiotis Nikolopoulos (GRE), Secretary Dirk de Ridder (BEL)
Qualifications: Mikko Markkula (FIN), Secretary Nick Faulks (BER)
Womens Chess: Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) & Susan Polgar (USA), Secretary Martha Fierro (ECU)
Trainers: Adrian Mikhalchishin (SLO), Secretary Efstratios Grivas (GRE)
Medical: Jana Bellin (ENG), Secretary Arthur Schuering (NED)
Events: Ignatius Leong (SIN), Secretary Theodoros Tsorbatzoglou (GRE)
World Championship & Olympiad: Georgios Makropoulos (GRE)
Development: Alan Herbert (BAR), Secretary Rupert Jones (PNG)
Chess in Schools: Ali Nihat Yacizi (TUR), Secretary Kevin O'Connell (IRE)

From the Oceania region the following people are on the following commissions
Virgilio De Asa (FIJ) Development
Brian Jones (AUS) Development
Rupert Jones (PNG) Development
Shaun Press (PNG) Rules and Tournaments, Swiss Pairings

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Here is a query that was emailed to me recently. It is an issue that comes up quite often in sudden death/small increment time control tournaments.

Player A's clock was down to 30 secs. Player B still had 1 hr on the clock. Player A was writing the moves down as they were played. Player B was continually negating to write the moves down and would move very quickly and press the clock so that all the time would be used on Player A's clock while he wrote the moves down. I reminded Player B on numerous occasions that it is mandatory to write the moves down yet he continued to do it. I'm wondering what course of action is suppose to be taken under these circumstances.

For me the answer is fairly straightforward, assuming that it is certain that player B is making no effort to keep score. I would simply stop the clock, add 2 minutes to player A's time, and let the game continue. I would also make it clear to player B that he is (a) breaking the laws of chess and (b) as a result, is only helping his opponent.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You be the Arbiter (Part 1)

Prior to the meeting of the Rules and Tournament Regulations Committe, GM Bartlomiej Macieja posted a number of questions concerning the current rules of chess, and requested an interpretation from the Committee. While his questions were answered by RTRC, I am posting some of the questions here (with his permission), and am interested in what other people think.

According to point 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."


I have played several tournaments with requirement of 30 moves. However, a few times players agreed to a draw before move 30 (I am not talking about repetitions), stopped a clock and signed a scoresheet.
The question is how an arbiter shall react?

I have seen various reactions. The most common are:
a) arbiters running after the players and forcing them to come back to the table and to continue playing,
b) arbiters giving 0 points to both players.

The first method for sure doesn't work (thus cannot be recommended) in huge events, where supervision is inadequate (too many participants, too few arbiters). It raises, however, an additional question - shall the proper reaction of an arbiter and a possible punishment for a player depend on the type of a tournament?

Now a real situation. On Sunday, the last round of the Polish Team Championship finished. A player with black had a chance for GM-norm - what he needed was only a draw. A player with white tried to win, but failed and eventually offered a draw in a slightly worse position. Black was very happy and accepted that offer. Unfortunately, it was still before the required move 30. Some minutes later an arbiter took both scoresheets and realised that a draw had been agreed before move 30. He decided to score that game as 0-0. One of the consequences is that Black has failed to make a GM-norm.
Was the reaction of the arbiter and sanctions against both players proper?

I believe RTR should present an opinion on this issue. Perhaps not on a particular case described by me, but as a general guideline. A 30-move rule is relatively new and it is unclear for many arbiters how to properly react.
By the way - what kind of procedure will be used in similar cases during the nearest Olympiad?


Actually, the case described by me was more complicated. The players started protesting, stating that in previous rounds there were cases of a draw agreement before move 30. The arbiter found such games, indeed, and ... changed their results to 0-0. It raised additional controverses, because results of previously finished rounds had been changed only during the last round.
Obviously, an arbiter made a mistake earlier, but having realised that only during the last round what should have he done? To leave 1/2-1/2 or to change it to 0-0?


There is one more controversy. After the change of the result to 0-0 the final result of a tied match became 2.5-2.5 (a match was played on 6 boards). How many points should have both teams been awarded? 1 (because it was still a draw) or 0 (because both teams scored less than 50%)? The arbiter decided to leave the match score unchanged, thus both teams remained 1 point.

Best regards
Bartlomiej Macieja

Monday, September 27, 2010

Swiss Pairings Committee

I sat at the back of the FIDE Swiss Pairings Committee as an interested observer. The meeting was pretty quick but there were two significant decisions that came out of it.
The first was a change of wording to correct an error in the Dutch Pairing Rules. Section C.6 is now changed (in part) to read "If now p pairings are obtained in compliance with B1 through to B6 the pairing of this score bracket is considered complete".
This is an important change (in Australia at least), as Arbiters who insisted that pairings should always be top half v bottom half in a score bracket would point to the previous wording to justify their case. Of course this was just an error in the wording, as committee chairman Christian Krause stated at the outset.
The second change was to do with the selection of a player receiving a bye (if necessary). Instead of the bye going to the lowest ranked player (who hasn't already recieved one), the bye will now go to the lowest ranked player who 'equalises' the colours in the bottom score group. What this means that if there is a choice of players in the lowest score group who could receive a bye, choose the lowest player that results in the most number of remaining players being paired with their correct colours.
Apparently Swiss Master already does this, but it is unclear which other programs do it as of now.
There was a long discussion by by Eduard Dubov concerning both his own pairing system, and his proposal for a new system for the Olympiad, and both of these were held over for future testing and discussion.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pairing half point byes

I had a chat with the chairman of the FIDE Swiss Pairings Committee Christian Krause about how to treat half point byes for pairing purposes. For the moment the FIDE pairing rules are silent on this matter, and a number of pairing programs take a different approach. Sensibly he said that a half point bye should be treated the same as a full point bye ie no opponent, no colour, downfloat. Hopefully this will become part of the published pairing rules in the future, allowing authors of pairing programs to all take the same approach with this issue.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2010 Olympiad - Captains Meeting

The Captains meeting for the 2010 Olympiad was held last night. The first half of the meeting was spent getting teams to submit correct teams lists, as a significant number (>50%) had not signed off on their board orders (or even who had shown up). This took a good 45 minutes, and given the previous insistence that teams needed to be registered in July, may have been handled in a different way.
After that the important rules for this years were announced/discussed. The significant ones were
  • Zero default rule in operation
  • Team pairings announced after 10pm (depending on last finishing game)
  • Board pairings announced at 11am on the morning of the round
  • 3 players (minimum) needed for a team
  • Teams missing a player must play 1,2 & 3
  • Doping control towards the end of the tournament
  • No restrictions on draw offers

Of these the the change to the draw offer rule was the most surprising. Players can now offer a draw at any time, although the chief arbiter has the right to change the result to 0-0 in the case of 'pre-arranged' games.
Also the Zero default rule is being applied with a little more flexibility. The round will not start until the Chief Arbiter (Sava Stoysavljevich) announces the start, giving her the right to delay the round in case of problems with players reaching the hall. Players who are at the table before the start but have to leave before the game starts (usually for a medical reason) can receive permission from the match arbiter to do so)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Olympiad Pairing Rules for 2010

During and after the 2008 Dresden Olympiad, there was plenty of discussion about the pairing system used. The major complaints were Match points over Game points, Acceleration, Top v Bottom, and team ordering. At the FIDE Congress in 2009 a lot of these concerns were addressed by the Technical Administration Panel (TAP), and changes were made for 2010. Here is a summary of those changes.

Firstly, acceleration is out. So the pairings start with 1 v (N/2)+1 etc
However Match points remain for pairing ordering and placing.
The team ordering for pairings has been changed from the Olympiad SB system, to a simpler method. The ranking is now Match points, then game points and finally Team rating (as defined at the start of the tournament).
Pairings will be done in the order of top down to just above middle, then bottom up to just below middle, then middle.
Pairings with a pairing group will revert to top v (N/2)+1, rather than top v bottom. The pairings will also try and have top half v bottom half wherever possible. This is more achievable than under the normal swiss rules, as colurs in teams events is less important, and will not be an overriding criteria.
For colours, not team can have a colour imbalance >2 or >2 colours in a row. However teams that both have a +1 (or -1) colour imbalance already can still play each other. Colour allocation will follow the equalisation, then alternation system.

If you want to see a full description of the system then it is published here in the FIDE handbook.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Trying to stay sane as an arbiter

Last week not one but two accusations of cheating landed in my inbox. They both occurred in tournaments I was an arbiter at, and interestingly, both were made after the game in question, and the tournaments they were played in, were completed.
The first was concerning a game between 2 players in an Under 1600 event. The basis of the accusation was that one player was leaving the room during the game and was talking to a parent who was using a laptop, with a running chess program on it. As further evidence to support the claim, the game itself was later analysed by a recent Australian Champion and Olympiad representative who allegedly stated " the boy played like a '2000' rated player".
Unfortunately no claim was made to the arbiters during or immediately after the game in question, so I was unable to rule on the first part of the claim. In fact during the same tournament (in another section) there was a player who was leaving the room after every move, although this was due to a health issue. However his opponents asked us to monitor his movements (as it was distracting more than anything else) and we did so (finding nothing untoward btw).
As for the second part of the claim, I've looked at the game in question and it doesn't look anything like a '2000' rated player's game (unless missing Mate in 2 is de rigueur for 2000 rated players these days). I'm not sure what motivated the former Australian Champion to make such a statement but to my eyes, does not match the reality of the game. Instead it was a game where both players made short term threats and eventually one player lost material. Nothing different from most of the other games played in that tournament (including the missed mate in 2).
The second accusation was far more serious, as in my opinion, it was entirely without merit. Basically Player B has a winning position (with 3 or 4 minutes on the clock) and decides to repeat moves to pick up some time from the 30s increment. However Player B miscounts the repetitions and leaves Player A (who had less time) the chance to claim a draw (by recording a move on scoresheet that brings about the third repetition). However instead of claiming, Player A looks at Player B and says "Draw". Player B who believes the position has only been repeated twice says No, but instead of now claiming Player A moves. Although the position has now appeared on the board 3 times, by moving Player A has lost the right to claim and Player B plays a new move which creates a new position. Player B then wins the game in short order, with player A resigning.
A few hours after the game I received an email accusing Player B of cheating. While this claim had no specific references to any rules that had been broken the gist of it was that Player B had done something wrong in repeating the position to gain time, and that he should have realised that he had repeated the position 3 times and given Player A the draw. I was also at fault for not stepping in a declaring the game a draw.
As I was the arbiter for this game I suggested that an appeal be made to the ACT Chess Association on this matter, with a public hearing held forthwith. This suggestion was declined, although the accusation of cheating has not been withdrawn at this stage.

What I find most disturbing about both these incidents is that the accusation of 'cheating' is being tossed about in such a cavalier fashion. In defense of both "players", the actual emails did not come from them, but from a parent of the player, although I am taking the position that the parent is speaking on behalf of the child. And in both cases, nothing was said to the arbiters during or immediately after the games in question.
And I guess there are two lessons to take from this. (A) If you want the arbiters to do something, ask straight away (B) Kids, if your are going to get grown ups to speak for you, make sure they know what they are talking about.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mobile Phones - Alternative Penalties

The Vikings Weekender is a small weekend tournament held in Canberra, Australia each year. This year there are 57 players playing, with a time limit of G60m+10s per moved. As it isn't FIDE rated, I (the arbiter) have a little flexibility with some of the rules. For this years event I am trialling a different set of penalties for Mobile Phone Infractions.
Instead of the instant loss that the current FIDE Rules prescribe, I instead announced a two-step system. If a players phone makes a sound (ring, beep, trill etc), the player will be given a warning and the opponent will be given an additional 5 minutes time. If it happens a second time the player will then lose the games. Note: Players are still forbidden from conducting conversations on the phone if it does ring.
As for how it is working in practice I cannot say. By the end of Day 1, no ones phone made a noise.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bughouse Rules

A couple of weeks ago the ACT Junior Chess League held it's annual Transfer Tournament. (For those unaware, Transfer is the named used for Bughouse or Tandem Chess in Australia). The difficulty in running this event is that there are some subtle variants of the rules for Transfer, some of which only make sense if you are playing online.
So for information here are the declared variants to the rules that others may use.
Firstly, the reference for the rules we used was

The changes from these rules were

You can drop for check, but not for checkmate. Dropping for mate and pressing the clock is considered an illegal move (and the opponents can claim a win).
Pawns cannot be dropped on the 1st or 8th ranks.
There is no promotion. Pawns reaching the 8th rank just sit there until captured.
Partners can offer any sort of advice, even going so far as to suggest actual moves. The however cannot touch the pieces or clock on their partners board.
Castling can only take place with the original (ie non-dropped) rook.

The trickiest (and most controversial) rule is the no-drop-for-mate rule. This rule has been around in Canberra since I started playing chess over 25 years ago, although it's continued existence probably has a lot to do with old hands like myself arguing for it's retention. Indeed when it was announced at this years tournament, it was met with a chorus of boos from the mainly under 14 crowd.
The no-promotion rule is simply to make OTB Transfer easier to handle. No running after spare queens, and then trying to remember if it was the promoted queen or the original queen that was captured (and therefore turned back into a pawn).