Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Is this a valid claim?

The 2009 Victorian Championship Reserves tournament has just started and already there has been one incident of note. In the game between David Beaumont and and Nikola Ivanov the position had just been repeated for a third time, and Ivanov, who was on the move, simply stated "It's draw". Then various spectators, who had been watching the game, began to analyse the position, with Ivanov, thereby destroying the actual game position. Part of the analysis included at least one move that was losing for Ivanov. All the while Beaumont had said nothing, and as the arbiter wasn't present, was of the opinion that the game hadn't been completed.
By the time the arbiter had reached the board, the analysis was in full swing, and even the chess clock had been removed by one of the tournament organisers, on the assumption that the game was over.
Having heard both sides of the story the tournament arbiter, IA Gary Bekker, ruled that as the position had been reached for a third time on the board, that the result was a draw. Beaumont entered a protest with the appeals committee that Ivanov had not claimed a draw correctly, in the sense that "It's Draw" wasn't a valid claim. He also asked that the game be continued with Ivanov having to play the losing move that appeared on the board during the analysis period.
The appeals committee upheld the first part of the protest (ie Ivanov didn't claim the draw correctly) but rejected the second part. They ordered the game to be continued from the position on the board, if the players themselves did not agree to a draw in the meantime.

Now I'm not privy to the reasoning of the appeals committee (although I have discussed this matter with Gary Bekker), but I don't agree with their decision. Once a player uses the word "draw", out loud, during a game, I (a) would regard that as a draw offer or (b) a draw claim, wherever appropriate. In part this is to prevent players from retracting draw offers (by claiming they didn't mean to say what they said) but also to discourage players from indulging in gamesmanship by musing aloud about the drawish nature of the position, in the hope their opponent will drop their guard.
The other objection I have to this decision is a purely practical one, in that once the game resumes, Ivanov, who is still on the move, can simply claim a draw anyway.
To me, in the above case, it was clear that Ivanov was aware that the position had occurred 3 times, and by saying "It's Draw" was claiming this.
Of course there are a couple of other related issues here as well, including the behaviour of the spectators, but the other lesson here is that players should always sign scoresheets at the conclusion of the game, so as to agree on a result.

Further discussion on the matter can be found at Chesschat and Ozchess bulletin boards

Event: Victorian Ch Reserves
Site: Melbourne
Date: 2009.10.10
Round: 1
White: Ivanov, Nikola
Black: Beaumont, David
Result: 1/2-1/2
ECO: B30

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. d3 d5 5. Be2 d4 6. Nb1 e5 7. Nbd2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Nc4 Qc7 10. Bg5 Ne8 11. Qc1 f6 12. Bh4 Be6 13. Nfd2 g5 14. Bg3 b5 15. Na3 Rb8 16. b3 a6 17. Nf3 h6 18. Nb1 Rd8 19. Nbd2 Nd6 20. h3 Rf7 21. Nh2 Rh7 22. Bh5 c4 23. Ndf3 Nb7 24. Ng4 Nc5 25. Rd1 Kg7 26. Rb1 Bf7 27. Bxf7 Kxf7 28. h4 h5 29. Ngh2 g4 30. Ne1 Nb4 31. Ra1 cxd3 32. cxd3 Rc8 33. Qd2 a5 34. Rdc1 Bf8 35. Qe2 Bh6 36. Rcb1 Ne6 37. a3 Nc2 38. Ra2 Nxe1 39. Qxe1 Qc3 40. Qd1 Rg7 41. Nf1 Kg6 42. Kh2 Bf4 43. f3 Kh6 44. Kh1 gxf3 45. Qxf3 Rcg8 46. Be1 Qc5 47. g3 Be3 48. Bxa5 Rg6 49. Bb4 Qb6 50. Bd2 Bxd2 51. Rxd2 Nc5 52. Qd1 Qe6 53. Kh2 Rg4 54. Rc2 Nxb3 55. Rc7 Nc5 56. Qc1+ Kg6 57. Rxc5 Rxg3 58. Nxg3 Qg4 59. Nf5 Qe2+ 60. Kh1 Qf3+ 61. Kh2 Qe2+ 62. Kh3 Qg4+ 63. Kh2 Qe2+ 1/2-1/2