Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

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Roger de Coverly
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Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:45 pm

This is a frequent topic, but the 1st July 2014 Laws of Chess rather sensibly attempt a definition.
normal means:
G.3. Playing in a positive manner to try to win; or, having a position such that there is a realistic chance of winning the game other than just flag-fall.
I think this rules out awarding a draw in King and Rook versus King.

It requires the arbiter to have some chess knowledge as in "realistic chance" but crudely counting pieces will work in a lot of positions. Equally "playing in a positive manner" requires some judgement, but hopefully the equal weighting accorded to position means that retreating a piece isn't good cause for the award of a draw.

(edit) As an addition to this, you have to state that the Appendix actually applies. Many organisations already do this, dating back from when it was only the BCF who had relevant rules.
Appendix G
Quickplay Finishes
G.1
A ‘quickplay finish’ is the phase of a game when all the remaining moves must be completed in a finite time.
G.2
Before the start of an event it shall be announced whether this Appendix shall apply or not.
(/edit)

Ian Thompson
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Ian Thompson » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:01 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:This is a frequent topic, but the 1st July 2014 Laws of Chess rather sensibly attempt a definition.
normal means:
G.3. Playing in a positive manner to try to win; or, having a position such that there is a realistic chance of winning the game other than just flag-fall.
I think this rules out awarding a draw in King and Rook versus King.
I think the word in the middle should be "and", not "or". As written, someone with a clearly winning position, but having no idea how to win it, would get a win. Is it desirable that someone who has a winning position, but is making no progress (despite their best efforts to do so) should get a win?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:14 pm

Ian Thompson wrote: Is it desirable that someone who has a winning position, but is making no progress (despite their best efforts to do so) should get a win?
If they were playing under increment, or where the time shortage of their opponent was not an issue, they would have fifty moves or longer to figure out a win. So you shouldn't be required to demonstrate a higher standard of play just because an arbiter is watching.

Sean Hewitt
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Sean Hewitt » Tue Oct 15, 2013 9:56 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Roger de Coverly wrote:This is a frequent topic, but the 1st July 2014 Laws of Chess rather sensibly attempt a definition.
normal means:
G.3. Playing in a positive manner to try to win; or, having a position such that there is a realistic chance of winning the game other than just flag-fall.
I think this rules out awarding a draw in King and Rook versus King.
I think the word in the middle should be "and", not "or". As written, someone with a clearly winning position, but having no idea how to win it, would get a win. Is it desirable that someone who has a winning position, but is making no progress (despite their best efforts to do so) should get a win?
Exactly. More poor wording. Who on earth drafts and approves this stuff?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:12 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:Exactly. More poor wording.
Doesn't it depend on the intent of the drafters? In the "and" wording, your potential win would be subject to the approval of the arbiter during the period he was watching the game. So you have a position that is "+3" when the arbiter is summoned. By some general incompetence or not trying too hard, you reduce it to "+1.5" by the time your opponent's flag falls. Are you to be denied the win just because the arbiter was watching?

Sean Hewitt
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Sean Hewitt » Tue Oct 15, 2013 10:34 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:Doesn't it depend on the intent of the drafters?
Perhaps, but that seems unlikely to me. The law as written
Playing in a positive manner to try to win; or, having a position such that there is a realistic chance of winning the game other than just flag-fall.
means that a position such as this is a win, as long as white plays positively and advances his king and his pawn. Is that really meant to be the case? I can't believe that it is. An and instead of the or would have fixed that.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:36 am

Sean Hewitt wrote:is a win, as long as white plays positively and advances his king and his pawn. Is that really meant to be the case? I can't believe that it is. An and instead of the or would have fixed that.

Doesn't it depend what sort of or? If the position cannot be won, a draw should be awarded. I saw the wording as meaning that KRB v KR could be awarded as win if the flag falls because even a theory drawn position can be won if the defender plays with inaccuracy.

A list of precedents from the CAA would be helpful, anything really beyond that total nonsense of awarding a draw in KR v K.
Last edited by Roger de Coverly on Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Stewart Reuben » Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:40 am

The draft rules were available for scrutiny for quite a long time. English people had a better opportunity to make comments than from practically any other country.

The 'or' is clearly correct. Sean's rook's pawn plus bishop of the wrong colour exemplifies this. I was awarded a draw in just such a position. My opponent could have played in a positive manner, but he could only win if I had dropped dead; my flag had fallen; or he had bribed me to lose.

Hastings Centenary. Two GMs. K+R+N v K+R. The player with only 2 pieces claimed a draw when he had less than two minutes left. David Welch and I disallowed this. The game continued. The player with 3 pieces made every effort to win. The flag of the player with 2 pieces fell after 46 moves. David and I studied the position, went into a huddle, and awarded a draw. The player didn't complain. Were we right? It's a matter of opinion.

K+Q v K. Some children have no idea how to win this. They simply move their queen and never bring up their king. Should the bare king lose on time? No in my view.

Here's a test of your knowledge of the Laws before 1984. It was the European Muscular Dystrophy Championship. K + R v K. After about 40 moves the king was still in the centre. I advised the adult player with the K+R to offer a draw. He was very short of time.
I'm sure Roger will know the answer.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by David Sedgwick » Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:15 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:The draft rules were available for scrutiny for quite a long time.
I received them from you on 14th September with a request fror comments to be submitted prior to 25th September. I don't consider a maximum of ten days to be "quite a long time".

Angus French
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Angus French » Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:30 am

The 2014 Laws of Chess wrote:Normal means... Playing in a positive manner to try to win...
The word “positive” caught my eye. Against an opponent with less than two minutes on the clock will one be permitted not to hurry or rush or would that be considered not “positive”?
In his book 'Endgame Strategy', Shereshevsky wrote:DO NOT HURRY. The ability to make use of this principle demands of a player great experience in the playing of chess endings. How many endings have not been won, merely because the stronger side tried to win as quickly as possible, and neglected to make simple strengthening moves before embarking on positive action.
Similarly, Aron Nimzowitsch (quoted in the 'Do Not Rush!' chapter of Müller and Pajeken’s book 'How To Play Chess Endings') wrote:I reject the misconception that each move must immediately achieve something; waiting moves and quiet moves also have their right to exist.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:08 pm

Angus wrote -

"The word “positive” caught my eye. Against an opponent with less than two minutes on the clock will one be permitted not to hurry or rush or would that be considered not “positive”?"

A very good point. I don't see a problem with trying one or two ideas to see if the opponent makes a weak move, and then trying something else if they don't. That is normal chess. A slow build-up is sometimes necessary. In fact on Monday night (when Angus was on the other side), I should have probably just attacked a rook on the last move before time-control, rather than doing something "positive" with a pawn.

Reg Clucas
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Reg Clucas » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:23 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:
The 'or' is clearly correct. Sean's rook's pawn plus bishop of the wrong colour exemplifies this.
I think Sean's example is meant to show that the 'or' is not correct.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:38 pm

Reg Clucas wrote:I think Sean's example is meant to show that the 'or' is not correct.
Perhaps it would be better to place this in context. The definition shown is in a glossary of terms, which is of itself a novelty.

The expression normal means appears in this context, which will be very familiar and subject to much debate
a. If the arbiter agrees that the opponent cannot win by normal means, or that the opponent has been making no effort to win the game by normal means, he shall declare the game drawn. Otherwise he shall postpone his decision or reject the claim.
I would suggest that "normal means" has two different meanings in this paragraph. The first reference being to whether the position can in fact be won. So KR v K can be won, but KB wrong colour rook pawn cannot (assuming competence). In the second reference, playing positively is the evident meaning. If eventually there was a redraft, perhaps there could be different terminology used.

John Cox
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by John Cox » Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:44 pm

I think Roger is right. And that's why 'or' is used in the definition, to indicate that the meaning of 'normal means' is different in different places in the body of the rules.

Of course, any lawyer will tell you that this sins against various elementary rules of drafting. I seem to remember having addressed that issue before.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Normal means in relation to quickplay finishes

Post by Stewart Reuben » Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:49 pm

If the arbiter agrees that the opponent cannot win by normal means, or that the opponent has been making no effort to win the game by normal means, he shall declare the game drawn.

The concept has remained unchanged in English chess for 40 years. The rest of the world eventually followed. The FIDE wording has remained the same since at least 1997. It was known from 2008 that the Laws would be revised in 2013. Notice of the revision of the Laws was first given in Spring 2012 and, after the intervention of the PB, again in 2013. So, yes I think enough advance notice was supplied about this particular Law. Why wake up after they have been agreed to start objecting? John Cox has a cogent point that Roger has also expressed differently, but it never got through to me before.

The best way is not to say, 'This is wrong,' but to redraft the Law the way you think it should be. There will be a redraft in 2016 to take effect from 2017. It might read
If the arbiter agrees that the opponent cannot win by normal means, or that the opponent has been making no effort to win the game in a positive manner, he shall declare the game drawn.

I don't think that takes understanding of the Law any further forward. But, as an example, if you go back to Sean's K+B+RP of the wrong colour, you will find White can take nearly 250 moves to get his pawn to the 6th rank, playing less than 50 consecutive moves without a pawn move, and not having the same position occur 3 times. This would not be trying to win by normal means or, another way of putting it, in a positive manner.

If you want to look at a word that really means different things in different contexts, try 'move'.

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