Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Incident at Elite Final

In the fifth round of Insofar Elite Open Final , Fadzil Nayan had five points , a full point ahead of me. I needed to win to catch up and he needed only a draw to be almost certain of pocketing the first prize. The following position was reached.

Black cannot defend the a-pawn so I played 32...Bd7 and offered a draw. At this stage I was behind on time compared to Fadzil, who thought he could take advantage and he continued playing. A couple of moves later I had improved my position and had some slim winning chances. This time he offered a draw which I also turned down.

Many moves later we were both blitzing our moves away reaching the following position was reached ( the rooks might be in slightly different positions but everything else is mostly correct).

Fadzil  - Jimmy Liew

Both sides had less than a minute on the clock and had been moving instantly. White stopped the clock and called the arbiter. He claimed a draw because "Black was not trying to win". Those who can play chess can see that the position is hard for any side to win, but by no means can be called a drawn position. The arbiter - Najib - ordered us to continue playing.

Here I told Najib that white should be penalized by time for making an incorrect draw claim. Both arbiter and my opponent seemed shocked. But this penalty is provided for in the FIDE Rules. Article 10 states (the bold statements are highlighted by me for clarity) -

10.2 If the player, having the move, has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He shall summon the arbiter and may stop the clocks. (See Article 6.12.b)

a. If the arbiter agrees the opponent is making no effort to win the game by normal means, or that it is not possible to win by normal means, then he shall declare the game drawn. Otherwise he shall postpone his decision or reject the claim.

b. If the arbiter postpones his decision, the opponent may be awarded two extra minutes and the game shall continue, if possible in the presence of an arbiter. The arbiter shall declare the final result later in the game or as soon as possible after a flag has fallen. He shall declare the game drawn if he agrees that the final position cannot be won by normal means, or that the opponent was not making sufficient attempts to win by normal means.

c. If the arbiter has rejected the claim, the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes time.

d. The decision of the arbiter shall be final relating to (a), (b) and (c).

Take note of (c) which clearly states that a penalty should be awarded but in this case player has less than two minutes therefore two minutes will be added to his opponent's time. Under no circumstances can you lose a game on time because of a time penalty. In retrospect, I should have informed Najib that I should be awarded two extra minutes - I simply assumed that he understood. If he deducted two minutes from white, then Fadzil would lost on time. Perhaps this affected his decision. Najib said something which I cannot recall and simply told us to continue the game.

I been playing chess long enough to know that arguing with an arbiter is a waste of time. The decision of an arbiter always stands since he is the highest authority present unless there is an Appeals Committee formed at the start , which obviously there is none in this case.

So we re-started the clock. Actually I saw a winning attempt but it fails if my opponent sees the correct reply. For example black can sacrifice the rook for the white e-pawn on e5. However if white positions his rook correctly this will fail. After ...1...Rxe5 white must be able to check on the f-file for example after 2 Rf1+ Ke4 3. Re1+ wins the rook for free.

The end came differently. Both of us were blitzing when Fadzil touched his king but hesitated. I was moving so fast that I actually moved my bishop before he pressed the clock. Experienced players will know this is not so un-common in blitz.

He complained to Najib that I made "double move". Here Najib made a second mistake. He decided to rule the game a draw. There is no specific regulation covering this situation in the Laws of Chess. Now the arbiter cannot call the result because of this. In my opinion the first time it happens, the player should only be issued with a verbal warning and "touch move" rule applied.

Anyway I decided to let it go. I know Najib tries his best and do not really blame him. He has to make his decision on the spot and only have a few seconds to consider.

One thing I noticed about our local arbiters is that they are not really familiar with the FIDE rules on chess or unable to apply what they know to real life situations.

Arbiters should be thoroughly well versed with the Laws of Chess section in the FIDE handbook. As it is, the Laws of Chess do not cover every scenario that can happen in real games. I occasionally go to Geurt Gijssen site where he gives his opinion on the correct decision to make in specific cases. Most of the time, there is something new to learn there. Co-incidentally, in this week's latest article, there is a question relevant to this incident so it is worth your while to take a read over there.

In the next post, I will examine some personal experiences involving arbiter's incorrect (and sometimes astounding) decisions.


The Chess Ninja said...


No offense to you, but just trying to point out a bunch of things. For your case, article 10.2 b) applies, and not 10.2 c). The arbiter did not reject his claim outright. He is merely postponing the decision. Hence, the arbiter MAY award 2 minutes. He does not have to.

Only in the case of 10.2 c), you should be given 2 minutes.

The penalty you are referring to is provided for in Article 6.12 d):

6.12 d)
If a player stops the clocks in order to seek the arbiter’s assistance, the arbiter shall determine if the player had any valid reason for doing so. If it is obvious that the player had no valid reason for stopping the clocks, the player shall be penalised according to Article 13.4.

and Article 13.4 says:
The arbiter can apply one or more of the following penalties:
1. warning
2. increasing the remaining time of the opponent
reducing the remaining time of the offending player
3. declaring the game to be lost
reducing the points scored in the game by the offending party
4. increasing the points scored in the game by the opponent to the maximum available for that game
5. expulsion from the event.

But this is of course based on the arbiter's discretion.

As for the 2nd exciting incident, I think it would classified under illegal move. Hence, Article 7.4 b) applies:

After the action taken under Article 7.4.a, for the first two illegal moves by a player the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent in each instance; for a third illegal move by the same player, the arbiter shall declare the game lost by this player. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves.

The Chess Ninja said...

For time deduction, it was removed when they revised the FIDE Laws of Chess (1997 version). Now, there is no longer time deduction. In the 1997 version, time deduction is only applied in one case, that is, if a player falsely claims a 3-move repetition or a 50-move draw rule. In the past, the arbiter shall deduct half of the opponent's time up to 3 minutes. So if he had 1 minute, 30 seconds would be deducted. But that is in the past. Now, if such a false claim is made, the opponent is just given 3 minutes of extra time.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with Ninja. He probably intended/should have postponed his decision till later. Its also at his discretion on whether or not to give both sides 2 more minutes

Yeoh said...

Hi Jimmy,
1.1 If not mistaken, a clause in a law must not be interpreted plainly based on the text.

1.1 It has to be referred to a case, be it an imaginary one.

1.2 Besides, the interpretator also has to know the "spirit" behing the clauses, which may be spelt elsewhere or sometimes not spelt at all.

2.0 It seems that the "spirit" of 10.2 is not stated.

2.1 I would presume the spirit refers to situation where "The opponent is A HEAD in time and simply wishes to win on time, REGARDLESS of the position on board"

2.2 There could be cases where similar situation arise but not fall within the "spirit" and hence 10.2 is not applicable. Anyway, this is irrelevant for this discussion.

3.0 Here I refer to the game Fadil v Jimmy.

3.1 Based on 10.2.a, the aribiter has to either
i. award, or
ii. reject, or
iii. postpone

3.2 The arbiter cannot decide on any choice other than the above.

3.3 Since Najib neither awarded nor rejected. Hence it has to be interpreted as he postponed. Regardless what kind of words he used, or he might just silent.

3.4 Under the postponement, Najib would have the options:
i. to add 2 mins to Jimmy or not to add, and
ii. to observe the game or not to, and
iii. to decide before any flag fall or just after any flag fall.

3.5 Here, we MAY consider that Najib had exercised 3.4.iii -- BEFORE the flag fall.

4.0 Hence Najib made no mistake here, though he might co-incidently make conclusion after the "double moves" happened. (Sorry, Najib my dear friend)


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