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