Checkmate/stalemate with the flag down

Technical questions regarding Openings, Middlegames, Endings etc.
David Williams
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Re: Dave Rumens

Postby David Williams » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:37 am

The question of whether checkmate was delivered before or after the fall of the flag must be quite common. Even with a crowd of people around I've seen draws agreed because no-one was really sure. Is there any reason why the rule is the way that it is? Wouldn't it be much more practical if it were the other way? You must complete your move by pressing the clock (like any other move). If you've still got time left, you win. If it's run out, you lose (subject to the usual caveats).

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Dave Rumens

Postby Michael Farthing » Sun Jul 16, 2017 10:59 am

If there is any doubt then the flag did not fall first. The flag only falls when this is noticed by the opponent or the arbiter. If it has not been noticed by either of these (even if it has been noticed by a plethora of spectators) it has not fallen*. It is like Schrodinger's cat. This is explicitly stated in the rules (excluding the bit about the cat). Thus, if there is any doubt, the result is checkmate.


*One could say, I suppose, that the flag has 'made' its fall but not 'completed' its fall.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Dave Rumens

Postby Stewart Reuben » Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:28 pm

The real reason: mate; or stalemate; or 5 fold occurrence of position; or 75 moves without a pawn move or capture; or impossible to win by any series of moves; takes preference over the clock, is that, 'Why would you bother to press the clock when the game is over?'

David. You just sent me a photo of Cedars from May 1962. I expect it will appear on the ECF website. But, if you have the technology, why not include it here? I am thinking of a prize that could be offered.

David Williams
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Re: Dave Rumens

Postby David Williams » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:24 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:The real reason: mate; or stalemate; or 5 fold occurrence of position; or 75 moves without a pawn move or capture; or impossible to win by any series of moves; takes preference over the clock, is that, 'Why would you bother to press the clock when the game is over?'

So the reason that you don't have to press the clock is that the game is over. And the game is over because the rules say you don't have to press the clock. Nice bit of circular reasoning.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Dave Rumens

Postby Stewart Reuben » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:06 am

It seems to have worked well enough for nearly 60 years.

David Williams
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Re: Dave Rumens

Postby David Williams » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:24 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:It seems to have worked well enough for nearly 60 years.

My original question was as to why the rule was as it was. Was there some benefit I couldn't see? If you had to press the clock there is physical evidence as to who won. Not every game has an eagle-eyed arbiter in attendance.

Roger Lancaster
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Checkmate/stalemate with the flag down

Postby Roger Lancaster » Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:33 am

David Williams wrote:So the reason that you don't have to press the clock is that the game is over. And the game is over because the rules say you don't have to press the clock. Nice bit of circular reasoning.


Maybe it would help to look at it this way, David. If you were playing a game without chess clocks and checkmated your opponent, presumably both sides would accept that the game was over. Should the game be any less over through the presence of chess clocks?

David Williams
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Re: Dave Rumens

Postby David Williams » Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:25 am

I'm not sure I find that very persuasive. Maybe a better version would be if I checkmated someone with 20 seconds on the clock and didn't press it. As I begin a post mortem chat my opponent just sits there, and 20 seconds later claims the game.

Not a big deal. Enough said. (But I still think my way would be better.)

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Checkmate/stalemate with the flag down

Postby IM Jack Rudd » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:04 pm

Posts about the order of precedence of game-ending conditions moved here from the Dave Rumens obituary thread.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Checkmate/stalemate with the flag down

Postby Stewart Reuben » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:50 pm

David W, Roger is quite correct. The first section of the Laws is written for play without clocks or scoresheets. Chess can even be played without board or set, though that would not be according to the FIDE Laws.

I was still a schoolboy when the decision in Mabbs Rumens was made that mate ends the game. I think that was probably because they tried to make all forms of chess as closely similar as possible. You are entitled to think, if the player had only 20 seconds left, he had to press the clock, but if he had one hour left, it would not be necessary. That wouldn't find favour with arbiters.
Just think, prior to 1981 or thereabourts, you could win on time with a bare king.
The Mabbs - Rumens decision still permeates the FIDE Laws. That is why it has been so important.

E Michael White
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Re: Checkmate/stalemate with the flag down

Postby E Michael White » Wed Jul 19, 2017 2:04 pm

In another place Stewart Reuben wrote: After six(!) months, FIDE ruled that Dave Rumens had won and thus won the London Boys. The Law has basically remained unchanged since then.

Are you sure about that ? The information I have is that the query submitted to FIDE was not directly concerning Rumans-Mabbs but to clarify what the decision should be if mate occurs on the last move of a time control and the flag may have dropped. Harry Golombek told me that the decision on RvM was made on the day of play as the move was not the last of a time control. You need to remember also that the 1955 Laws used the word "completed" where we now say "made" as regards executing the move at the board.

Perhaps David Mabbs could confirm whether the mate occurred on the last move of the time control, if he can remember that far back !


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