Accidentally displacing a piece

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Giulio Simeone
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Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Giulio Simeone » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:27 am

Last week I took part in the Italian Championship Semifinals on the Adriatic Sea, and I played really well. My lowest-rated opponent was 2080: nevertheless, I won 3 games, drew 2 and lost 4, and, hadn't I met a very unpleasant and unsporting person, I would have won another game. In the second round I met Luca Albertini, rated 2116, and I reached the following bishop endgame, which is completely won



It is black to move. I easily realized that the bishop check in f4 would have forced his king to go in f2, after which he can do absolutely nothing against the g5-g4-g3 push. I executed the move ...Bf4+ and, with my great surprise, my opponent claimed that I had touched the king, in a position where he could only resign. Unfortunately, he lives near Rome, I know him very well and he very often behaves like that - when he realizes that he is lost, he does everything in order to mess things up. With my even greater surprise, the arbiter Alessandro Biancotti, that was watching the game, said that he was right and that I should move the king.

What can have happened? I am completely sure that I intended to move the bishop, actually no tournament player would move the king in that position, leaving his most advanced pawn alone. I wasn't even in time trouble, I had 25 minutes left to complete the game.

The only thing that can reasonably have happened is that, while making the move, I slightly displaced the king, and then touched it in order to adjust it. Even in this case, though, I think the arbiter Biancotti made a great mistake, because the FIDE rules say that

7.3. If a player displaces one or more pieces, he shall re-establish the correct position on his own time. If necessary, either the player or his opponent shall stop the clocks and ask for the arbiter’s assistance. The arbiter may penalise the player who displaced the pieces.

They doesn't say that a displaced piece has to be moved, am I right? I even correctly re-estabilished the position of my king on my own time!! Notice also that I have a physical disability and sometimes my arm's movements are not perfect.

I vivaciously complained, I even requested to talk with the chief arbiter, Mr. Giuseppe Buonocore, but both arbiters didn't even let me explain and compelled me to move the king. I lost my f3 pawn, with 3 pawns against 2 I had still good winning chances, but I was so shocked by what had happened, that I didn't manage to win. The game ended in a draw.

As I stayed in the same hotel as the arbiters, I complained also the morning after. Some of the arbiters admitted that my opponent had behaved very unsportingly, but the arbiter who was watching the game continued to state that I had deliberately touched the king, and the chief arbiter told me he could do nothing. I even sent a mail to the Federal Arbiter Commission, but they also said they could do nothing in order to change the result of the game. So my unsporting opponent, Luca Albertini, stole me an half point and 7,5 ELO points.

What do you think? I am really angry about what happened, and I think the arbiters acted very unproperly. In this way Albertini, and all the players who behave like him, are encouraged to behave in an unsporting way, and chess tournaments are likely to become a real mess.

Ian Thompson
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Ian Thompson » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:33 am

Giulio Simeone wrote:The only thing that can reasonably have happened is that, while making the move, I slightly displaced the king, and then touched it in order to adjust it. Even in this case, though, I think the arbiter Biancotti made a great mistake, because the FIDE rules say that

7.3. If a player displaces one or more pieces, he shall re-establish the correct position on his own time. If necessary, either the player or his opponent shall stop the clocks and ask for the arbiter’s assistance. The arbiter may penalise the player who displaced the pieces.
The other relevant rules are 4.2 and 4.3.

4.2 Provided that he first expresses his intention (for example by saying “j’adoube“ or “I adjust”), the player having the move may adjust one or more pieces on their squares.

4.3 Except as provided in Article 4.2, if the player having the move deliberately touches on the chessboard:
a. one or more of his own pieces, he must move the first piece touched which can be moved.


From this it's clear that if you accidentally knock a piece over, or off its square, you must put it back on its square and you don't have to move it. If you just slightly knocked a piece, so its still on its square, but off-centre, it would be advisable to say “j’adoube“ before moving it back to the centre of the square, otherwise the arbiter might take the view that the piece didn't need adjusting and apply Law 4.3.

Michael Flatt
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Michael Flatt » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:26 am

Dear Mr Simeone,

You have to be aware that as the Arbiter was observing the game, as you state, there is nothing that you can do to complain.

It has to assumed that the Arbiter was neutral and in observing the incident he has interpreted the Laws of Chess in accordance with his training.

I would also suggest that it is not a good idea to make complaints against opponents and Arbiters in an open forum, it creates too much ill feeling that can never be satisfactorily resolved.

Please, accept the decision and learn from it.

Andrew Bak
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Andrew Bak » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:39 am

Michael Flatt wrote:Dear Mr Simeone,

You have to be aware that as the Arbiter was observing the game, as you state, there is nothing that you can do to complain.

It has to assumed that the Arbiter was neutral and in observing the incident he has interpreted the Laws of Chess in accordance with his training.

I would also suggest that it is not a good idea to make complaints against opponents and Arbiters in an open forum, it creates too much ill feeling that can never be satisfactorily resolved.

Please, accept the decision and learn from it.
If he believes the arbiter acted incorrectly, I think Giulio has every right to voice his opinion, just like Gawain Jones did after the Southend Congress.

I believe the touch-move rule only applies if you touch a piece with the intention of moving it. If you accidentally knocked it over, that is not intention to move it and the touch-move rule should not be enforced.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:50 am

There's an interesting point of English in these rules.

They used to say "touch with the intention of moving" the piece. Now they say "touch deliberately". These are very different in meaning. In fact, 9.1(b)1 still does say "touch with the intention of moving". It was an accident that they forgot to change it. I understand that the change in wording was made because it was thought that the two phrases meant the same thing - but they don't.

From your version of events, I would say that you deliberately touched your King, but not with the intention of moving it. You deliberately touched the King, but with the intention of adjusting it on the square. You didn't say j'adoube.

I think the arbiters made the correct decision according to the Laws of Chess. The Laws cover exactly these circumstances. Whether or not the appeal to the arbiter was fair or unfair is a different issue.

I don't know what your cricketing knowledge is like, but it's like the run out of Ian Bell a couple of years ago. He was run out, so the umpires had to give him out upon the appeal of the Indians, because that's what the Laws said they had to do. The Indians thought it unfair to get him out like that, and eventually withdrew their appeal.

NB The way I read the sequence of events, it implied that he corrected his King position first by touching his King, before touching the Bishop.
Last edited by Alex Holowczak on Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:05 am

A further discussion point might be the famous Korchnoi game, where VK had two bishops on adjacent squares. In a very sharp position, he planned to move one of them across the board, but picked up the other, and instantly resigned.

Was he really caught by touch move, as he clearly believed? My guess is yes - his movement in reaching out to touch that particular piece was deliberate; his mind was playing some trick on him, that this was the one he meant to move. It is arguably distinguishable from the case where one clearly wants to move one piece and knocks over another by accident on the way.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:35 am

Jonathan Rogers wrote:It is arguably distinguishable from the case where one clearly wants to move one piece and knocks over another by accident on the way.
I should qualify my earlier comment by saying that if Giulio touched the Bishop first, then it was touch move on the Bishop. The way I read his sequence of events, it implied that he corrected his King position first by touching his King, before touching the Bishop.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Alex McFarlane » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:56 am

This sounds very much like the sort of incident you have to see to be able to comment on with any authority. People’s perceptions of what happened can differ.

Clearly if you accidently knock over a piece on the way to move another, halt to pick it up and only then touch the intended piece there should be no ‘touch move’ penalty.

Also if you brush against a piece but continue until you reach and touch the intended piece and only then reposition the displaced piece, the intended move should stand.

However, if you brush against a piece and then touch it without saying j’adoube you run the risk of being forced to move that piece. I’ve come across a couple of early sets of Laws which state that even if a piece is accidently knocked to the floor you must say j’adoube before picking it up or expect to be made to move it.

Whilst it is easy to feel some sympathy for Giulio in the circumstances as he describes, it should also be remembered that some players would try to take advantage of a softer line. “I wasn’t going to move this piece. I was simply repositioning after I thought it had moved when I brushed against it”
I can certainly see why an arbiter could have thought the piece was touched with the intention of moving it.

Michael Flatt
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Michael Flatt » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:05 am

Disputes of this kind have to be resolved at the time of the incident and that is clearly the Arbiter's responsibility.

If the congress has an appeals procedure and chief arbiter, that is as far as one can go.

To make a successful appeal one needs evidence. Opinion and conjecture carry no weight.

An Arbiter in making his decision takes into account what he observed, his knowledge of the Laws of Chess and his experience of similar situations.

You may disagree with the Arbiter's decision but that is no proof that he was wrong!

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:10 am

Alex McFarlane wrote:This sounds very much like the sort of incident you have to see to be able to comment on with any authority. People’s perceptions of what happened can differ.

Clearly if you accidently knock over a piece on the way to move another, halt to pick it up and only then touch the intended piece there should be no ‘touch move’ penalty.

Also if you brush against a piece but continue until you reach and touch the intended piece and only then reposition the displaced piece, the intended move should stand.

However, if you brush against a piece and then touch it without saying j’adoube you run the risk of being forced to move that piece. I’ve come across a couple of early sets of Laws which state that even if a piece is accidently knocked to the floor you must say j’adoube before picking it up or expect to be made to move it.

Whilst it is easy to feel some sympathy for Giulio in the circumstances as he describes, it should also be remembered that some players would try to take advantage of a softer line. “I wasn’t going to move this piece. I was simply repositioning after I thought it had moved when I brushed against it”
I can certainly see why an arbiter could have thought the piece was touched with the intention of moving it.
What is your view of the Korchnoi episode, Alex?

Sean Hewitt
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Sean Hewitt » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:25 am

Giulio - Did you knock the king over, or simply knock it sideways a bit? When you repositioned it, did you say that that's what you were doing so that your opponent and the arbiter knew?

Alex McFarlane
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Alex McFarlane » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:26 am

Jonathan Rogers wrote: What is your view of the Korchnoi episode, Alex?
I think that is quite a difficult one. Anyone who wears varifocal glasses will know the problem of looking through the wrong part of the lens and 'missing' the target. Parkinson's could be another reason for picking up the wrong piece if on adjacent squares.

Much would depend on the players explanation as to why the wrong bishop was picked up. But you need to give the benefit of any doubt to the opponent I would think.

Steven Gardner
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Steven Gardner » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:43 am

Regardless of if the letter of the law was followed it's still pretty unsporting as described. If it was clear that my opponent was adjusting then I don't think I'd ever force them to move whether they'd said j'adoube or not.

I've made people move pieces they've touched before, but in all cases it was clear that they had picked up the piece with the intention of moving it, it isn't difficult to spot the difference.
Last edited by Steven Gardner on Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Geoff Chandler
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by Geoff Chandler » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:03 pm

Hi Giulio,

Look what you have started,
You have woken up all the professional and armchair Arbiters.
The mention of Varifocal glasses and Parkinson's is the usual prelude to Eatrhquakes and Ettiquette.
Don't play near fault lines is my advice.

Next will come all these other incidents where some poor wretch was chisled out of ½ point
in some back water league match and it has ruined their life.

From one chess player to another your mistake was letting it get to you.

You should have (time permitting) taken a 5 minute break.
Maybe one of the real Arbiters can help here.

Could Giulio's have asked for a 5 minute break to gather his thoughts before clocks are re-startd?

Alex, a simple Yes or No will suffice.
(players with a glass eyes or an arm missing will be covered in the thread; "What If This Happened?)

Giulio Here.



You play 1...Kd3 2.Kxf3 b5



And even a dumb ass at endings like me can see that is a simple win.
The White pawns are fixed targets, an outside passer and the correct Bishop for the a1 square.

I've seen your games, you are not a dope. You obvioulsy let the whole charade put you off. Learn from that and move on.

PeterFarr
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Re: Accidentally displacing a piece

Post by PeterFarr » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:15 pm

Steven Gardner wrote:Regardless of if the letter of the law was followed it's still pretty unsporting as described. If it was clear that my opponent was adjusting then I don't think I'd ever force them to move whether they'd said j'adoube or not.

I've made people move pieces they've touched before, but in all cases it was clear that they had picked up the piece with the intention of moving it, it isn't difficult to stop the difference.
Couldn't agree more - hair-splitting over exact rule interpretations doesn't alter the terrible behaviour of the opponent (given Giulio's description), though just possibly it may justify the arbiter. Just look at the position:- the king is directly in front of the bishop, so it's easy to see how it could be knocked accidentally. Also there is no plausible king move. Also white should already have resigned.

Geoff - yes of course agree with all that too.

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