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.