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!