Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What is Article 10.2

A reader has commented in the shoutbox that I should apologize to Najib for my mistake here. This post is created so that we may discuss and debate on Article 10.2.

For the record, before that post was written I had asked Najib's permission. If he did not want me to, I would not have published that. I  consider him a friend and have great respect for him as someone who always try to do the right thing - not easy in this complex world that we live in where the lines between right and wrong are constantly being blurred. We have also discussed this incident privately in emails and understand and respect each other's stand.

It seems to me that there might be some misunderstanding to the intent between that post. It was not written with malice or to "attack" (somebody's favourite word) Najib. I re-read it again and again, I feel it is just fair comment.

I will bring up some scenarios later to show how difficult it is to judge the situation and make a correct decision. But first I need someone to start the ball rolling....

With that out of the way let's move on.

FIDE Handbook states

Article 10: Quickplay Finish

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.

It is clear that the arbiter must either decide or postpone. It is not explicitly stated how the arbiter is supposed to postpone. If he informs the players to play on does it means he rejects or postpone his decision? This is very important because rejection carries with it a penalty straight away as 10.2c is very clear on this.


The Chess Ninja said...

Yeah, FIDE needs to really nail down how an arbiter can postpone his decision. But then again, I think if the arbiter does not say "No, this claim is invalid", I think intuitively, we can assume that he is "postponing" his decision. But this is a matter of opinion. But given the circumstances that ensued, I don't think anyone can say that Najib did anything wrong. He may have privately apologized, but we all know Najib to be a compromising person who loves chess for chess. Apologizing is not an admission of guilt on his part, I believe. I think it is an avoidance of future conflict and an appreciation of the relationship he has with the chess community, and in this case, Jimmy.

In good spirit, I think its a matter of technicality and in any given decision for a referee or arbiter, the decision has to be made on the spot. As long as the arbiter remains consistent (in cases where there are no specific ruling) throughout the tournament (at least), then I think he has acted fairly. Nonetheless, the arbiter should at least be given the benefit of the doubt in cases like these. Unless Jimmy asked Najib directly if he was rejecting the claim or postponing his decision, I think Najib "has the right" to choose if he did not state it explicitly.

Jimmy Liew said...

Ok, this is exactly what I was hoping for, clear and objective argument.

Now some scenarios where the arbiter has not stated his stand.

1) The players continue. The arbiter sees that neither is trying to win but before he can announce it one of the players loses on time. Should the arbiter than decree it a draw? Can the player who won on time protest?
2) After observing the game for few moves, the arbiter decides that the claim is invalid, stops the clocks and award two minutes to the opponent. How do you think the claimant will feel?

Just two scenarios....

The Chess Ninja said...


Scenario 1) is provided for by Article 10.1 b).

"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."

And "No" to the 2nd question. The player cannot protest as 10.2 d) states that the decision of the arbiter in 10.2 a), b), and c) is final.

As for Scenario 2), how the claimant feels is irrelevant. Anyone would feel persecuted when any decision is made against him. If the arbiter decides the claim is invalid, and it is in fact invalid, then the decision is correct. If the arbiter made the wrong decision, then it is an entirely different matter.

Jimmy Liew said...

I did not make it clear enough,sorry.

The arbiter did not inform the player of decision postponement (the Article does not state the arbiter has to). Therefore I dont believe the arbiter can than have the power of 10.1 (b). This will be tantamount to playing God in the tournament.

Spare a thought for the players feelings :)

The Chess Ninja said...

Haha... I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is tantamount to playing God. Let us look at what are the options that are available to the arbiter:

1) State clearly that the claim is invalid

In this case, no arguments there. 2 minutes should be added to the opponent.

2) Arbiter states that he is postponing his decision

Again, no arguments here. 10.2 b) would apply.

2.5) I call this 2.5 because there are so many ways that an arbiter can postpone his decision. One of the ways is this thing we often hear as, "Play on". While it is not 100% clear that he is postponing his decision, I believe it is implied. Of course you can argue that it is not, but clearly, here, the arbiter MUST make a decision, 1) or 2). The arbiter cannot just keep quiet and say nothing at all. That would be unacceptable.

Now let us examine what "play on" means. One can easily argue that "play on" is equivalent to rejecting the draw claim. So of course, this has to be taken in context. I was not there at the tournament, so I don't know what happened, or what were the exact words that Najib used. But I believe when Najib said "play on", he meant that he was postponing his decision.

I think if Jimmy insisted that Najib clarified whether it was a postponement or a rejection of Fadzil's claim, Najib would have clarified. Given that Najib did not add time to Jimmy, I think Jimmy has no choice but to assume that Najib is postponing his decision. Unless of course, Jimmy insists that Najib must state clearly whether he is rejecting the claim or postponing his decision.

I am a chess player myself and have been in these kind of situation many times. I was part of an even more insane circumstance. In a rapid tournament in the US, players were required to bring their own clocks. Given that, some players brought analog clocks while some brought digital ones. Digital clocks are supposed to be set with 5 second delay (in contrast to 5 second increment). However, in that round, we were using an analog clock. In an opposite colored bishop ending, I had 4 pawns against my opponent's 2, my opponent claimed a draw, and after the arbiter rejected the draw claim, my opponent insisted that the clock be switched to a digital clock set with "5 second delay". The arbiter complied, but switching clocks and "time control" in the middle of the game is even more insane. This is totally unrelated, but just thought I'd throw in some even more controversial circumstances.

The Chess Ninja said...

I truly sympathize with players who have unfair decisions against them. But there's only one thing we can do. Move on :)

Yeoh said...

Hi Jimmy,
1.0 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)


Yeoh said...

Hi Jimmy

My opinion:

For scenario 1,
i. if opponent time flag drops, arbiter shall declare as draw. Reason: the claim is still not concluded and the player is at most can get half a point. (Unless otherwise a new "claim" or higher situation arises after that, eg. Opponent is checkmated, Opponent resigned)

ii. if player time drops, arbiter shall declare as draw too. Reason: Arbiter thinks that it is draw.

Note that both cases draw, but on different reasons.

For scenario 2,
here i think the Arbiter is wrong to stop the play and add 2 mins to opponent.

he is not entitled to do that during the postponement.


Jimmy Liew said...

I agree that arbiter should adhere to the "spirit" of the rules. This is wat I told Najib too. However this "spirit" is like a "hantu", you cannot find it in the rule book :)

So it is very difficult job for arbiter. Arbiter has to interpret and understand the "spirit" of the rules , and has to be done as "homework", impossible to do it on the spot.

Yeoh said...

1. One should be taught and examed for the understanding on hidden "spirit" before he qualified as Arbiter.

2. Under this article 10, the power is in arbiter's hand. Therefore his ethic & intergrity are important, apart from his chess knowledge.

3.Knowing Najib, i would say he has good intergrity & ethic, and of course chess knowledge.

4. Knowing the power of Arbiter, that's why i called Najib "my dear friend" and make statement 3 above.

Anonymous said...

The basic principle of arbitering is that the arbiter should make a decision from what he/she personally observed (or in certian cases, observations by official assistants).

It is usual that the arbiter may not be present to observe all ongoing games. Of course, if only one critical game is ongoing, a good and responsible arbiter would be observing that game for irregularities or be ready to make a decision in the event of a claim or resolve a dispute. (And not playing with his computer which is often done by certain arbiters in Malaysia).

It is thus arguable that the option of postponing his decision is stated in the Laws to cover situations when the arbiter was not observing for sufficient length of time before the claim was made. Hence he could not reasonably accept or reject the claim as he had no basis to do either. And his 'decision' to postpone his decision can be made in any resonable way including asking the palyers to play on. Since players (especially IMs) are also expected to know the Laws of the game. So asking players to play on without rejecting (whereby 2 minutes is added to opponent's time) or accepting (immediate draw) the claim, can only be interpreted to mean the arbiter has postpone his decision.

How he reaches a later decision would depend on what he observes including the clock times of the respective players, moves played (looking out especially for repetition of moves, positions or ideas), conduct of both players. The actual intention (what is inside a player's head as claimed by Jimmy) is irrelevant as that cannot be seen by the arbiter, except to the extent that can be deduced by the moves played.

Some scenarios, if claimant claims when he has only 4 seconds left, then I would find it difficult to allow the claim. Or if claimant takes his time to make his moves although he has very little time left when arbiter is watching. Basically, I would look for 'evidence' that the claimant demonstrated in front of me that he was able to defend a clearly drawn position against the opponent's attempts to win by 'normal means', such that what is left is attempts to win would be by 'unnormal means'.

The final positions in the Fadzil-Jimmy game was almost 'dead drawn' from an objective perspective. And if Fadzil had demonstrated to Najib's satisfaction, in the time Najib was observing the game that Jimmy cannot win by 'normal means', Najib is entitled to make the decision he made and that decision is final.

Najib clearly has no need to apologise for anything to Jimmy in relation to this episode.

However, Jimmy made statements like:
'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.'

which is clearly an erroneous statment as the Laws clearly allow this option as Najib had postpone his decision on Fadzil's earlier claim.

and Jimmy followed up with:
'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.'

which to me (an independent observer), Jimmy is implying that Najib (the local arbiter in the subject posting) is 'not really familiar with the FIDE rules on chess or unable to apply what they know to real life situations'.

After the debate here, it seems to me that Najib knows the Laws better than Jimmy who is an experienced IM. And Jimmy, even after taking time to read the Laws still quoted the wrong provision on which Najib made his decisions.

So I feel Jimmy owes Najib an apology and I cannot believe that Jimmy is still arguing against this. I can only see this as arrogance on Jimmy's part.

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