Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

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Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:45 pm

I tend to think that, if a phone clearly has rung, then the arbiter should declare the game lost regardless of whether the other player claimed a win, and indeed even if it against his wishes. Much of the rationale of the rule lies in the disturbance caused to all the other competitors, after all. But also, and I have heard of examples of this, it seems that some players who would choose to claim the win may be vilified by others (e.g, members of the opposing team if it is a team match) and it seems best that the claimant should be protected from that.

What happened at the 4NCL on Sunday was a bit different. It was not clear whether the phone "rung" at all, at least not within the interpretation the arbiters gave to the word. So that relieved them from their duty to declare the game lost and in turn put the onus on Lorin to appeal, which as was rightly anticipated elsewhere, he was unwilling to do.

I think that many players in Nigel Davies' position would at least have felt sufficiently embarrassed to have offered a draw (a possible half-way solution here, since Davies already had a very good position). Doubtless he would retort that he had done nothing wrong under the rules under one interpretation, that he was entitled to find out which interpretation the 4NCL arbiters would prefer, and that he had no moral obligation to offer a draw when it so happened that the arbiters gave their favourable interpretation.

Make of that what you will, as with most ethical discussions. I am pleased to learn that the rule is about to be clarified by FIDE.

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Andy Burnett
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Andy Burnett » Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:55 pm

I have been very fortunate on 2 separate occasions that there was some leeway in the interpretation of the rules on mobile phones.

Playing Graeme Kafka in the Scottish Championships, my phone started powering up (much like Carl Hibbard's post) because I had leaned on the power button of the phone in my pocket. I explained this to the arbiters (and also that I had switched the phone off in front of my Graeme before the game) and they gave Graeme the option of playing on or taking the win. Graeme didn't want to win this way so opted to continue, but I was so unsettled that I offered a draw on my next move which he accepted.

A year or 2 later in the Scottish NCL, my alarm rang to remind me I should be working an unusual backshift! I had simply forgotten delete this alarm call the previous evening. Again my opponent refused the win, but as it was a crucial team match I didn't offer a draw and went on to win. I think I was possibly wrong here in not offering the draw, but I didn't think the team should suffer for my silliness?!

The rule changes are probably for the best as it relieves everyone from having to make awkward decisions. If your phone makes a noise (apart from falling on the floor that is!) then you lose. Harsh, but very simple.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:22 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
And the use of Monroi was "compulsory" at Gibraltar, unless you were a GM.

Kevin

Sean Hewitt replied....

No it wasn't. Monrois were optional for all. The actual problem was that there were not enough of them for all who wanted to use them.
========================
To clarify and reiterate - at the one I played in, 2 years ago, it was compulsory for everyone to use Monroi - it was written on the entry form!! But several grandmasters refused, without penalty. Maybe the organisers have had a re-think since.
"Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. " Nick Grey

Richard Bates
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Richard Bates » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:25 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:I tend to think that, if a phone clearly has rung, then the arbiter should declare the game lost regardless of whether the other player claimed a win, and indeed even if it against his wishes. Much of the rationale of the rule lies in the disturbance caused to all the other competitors, after all.
Does anyone really know what the rationale for the rule is? The various changes to the rule ranging from noises the phones make, to whether they are allowed in the playing area or not (switched off), allowed on silent mode or not, seems to suggest that even FIDE aren't completely sure. To combat distractions or to combat cheating? A splendid example (like the changes to default times) of a rule introduced for a problem which didn't really exist.

In my experience far more "distraction" is caused as a result of the rule in the aftermath of a phone "ringing" than the actual noise itself!

Still, personally i'm surprised that every chess player doesn't have their phones permanently set to avoid emitting any sound. Setting to "vibrate" and wearing shirts with breast pockets should suffice for anyone without a pacemaker!

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:48 pm

Matthew Turner wrote:At recent 4NCLs there have been two incidents involving Grandmasters and their mobiles. Firstly, a Grandmaster's mobile rang, but ownership of the phone was claimed by someone else, who wasn't playing, so nothing happened. In all fairness, it is difficult for the arbitors to do anything about this, but does this show a weakness in the rules? Can I claim a phone in my pocket actually belongs to someone else and would this avoid a penalty?
This last weekend Nigel Davies' phone rang (or perhaps beeped is a better word) during his game. It was probably heard by 50+ people. Unsure of the rules (?) Nigel went to find an arbitor and ....
Well, good for Nigel for going to get the arbiter himself ... I think I might have been tempted to leave that to anybody who wanted to make a claim against me arguing that it would be there responsiblity to clarify a rule if they wanted to enforce it.


Nobody seems to have commented on the first case yet though.

Are you saying somebody else (and the grandmaster) deliberately lied about the phone being the non-players to get the grandmaster off from losing a game?

If so, I'd say this deliberate deception/cover up would be a far worse offence than letting a phone ring in the first place.

If not, perhaps you could clarify what happened.

Many thanks.

Matthew Turner
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Matthew Turner » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:37 am

Jonathan Bryant wrote
"Are you saying somebody else (and the grandmaster) deliberately lied about the phone being the non-players to get the grandmaster off from losing a game?"

YES

Matthew Turner
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Matthew Turner » Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:54 am

It is not clear to me what is the intention of the FIDE rules on mobile phones and I think confusion is caused because there are two (perceived) problems.
1. Mobiles can be used for cheating.
It really doesn't matter whether the phone is on silent or vibrate or whatever. However, hopefully I've shown elsewhere on this forum that really using a mobile to cheat is pretty stupid. You simply create a trail of evidence against yourself and there are much more efficient ways to transmit moves.

2. Mobile phones make noises which are distracting to players.
As it happens Nigel Davies' phone went off relatively early in the game and nobody really cared, however had it beeped during a time scrabble then I think it is easy to imagine that it could influence results.

Therefore, I believe the rules should be that if a phone emits an audible noise during play - you lose. The new rules seem to be better written and clearer, but lets wait and see.

Sean Hewitt

Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Sean Hewitt » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:17 am

Kevin Thurlow wrote: To clarify and reiterate - at the one I played in, 2 years ago, it was compulsory for everyone to use Monroi - it was written on the entry form!! But several grandmasters refused, without penalty. Maybe the organisers have had a re-think since.
It wasn't compulsory even then - there were only 50 Monrois available, and about 150 players that year (if my memory serves me right). There was a rule that the organisers could insist on a player using a Monroi but they never did - regardless of title.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by JustinHorton » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:39 am

My view would be that:

(a) the attempt to distinguish between a beep and a ring is specious
(b) the attempt to claim that a mobile, though in one's possession, is not actually one's own mobile is also specious.
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TomChivers
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by TomChivers » Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:12 am

btw, the London League rules on mobile phones are relatively moderate:

'At the start of each match Captains should announce that, "All mobile phones must be switched off for the duration of the match". The Penalty for breaking this rule: First ring - warning to the player to switch off; Second ring - loss of game. Such game losses must be reported in writing to the League Secretary.'

I don't know if people would prefer this in general, or not?

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JustinHorton
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by JustinHorton » Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:30 am

I'd favour a draconian rule which local leagues would (as ever) have the power to soften as suited their own personal tastes and circumstances.

For the record, I have both claimed and not claimed wins due to phones going off. I am dubious about the principle of leaving it down to the individual to claim since it puts people on a spot I don't think they should be put on.
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John Curtis
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by John Curtis » Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:18 am

I'm in favour of the draconian approach too. The most important thing however is clarity in the rules. The upcoming (closed) Bristol League Congress rules leave no room for doubt:

"ALL MOBILE PHONES MUST BE TURNED OFF. Owners of phones found to be switched on during play will lose their game, and a second offence will result in the
player being excluded from the rest of the congress. This applies even if the phone does not ring!"

I like it!

John

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Nigel_Davies
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Nigel_Davies » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:32 pm

I thought I should clarify a few points about last Sunday:

First of all I'm quite sure I switched the phone off before the game, though subsequent experiments have confirmed that the thing has the ability to switch itself on and beep a warning that it's running short of juice.

When it issued a single beep I went to the arbiter whilst my clock was running to get a clarification on the rules, being quite prepared to lose the game if that was the case. When Roger Edwards told me that a single beep would not mean a loss, I asked him to double check with David Welch. My reason for doing this was so that the incident wouldn't come back to haunt me at a later date - I was aware of the similarity to Nigel Short's beeping phone. David in fact confirmed Roger's view.

I then asked Roger if he'd explain this ruling to Lorin who accepted it in good grace. And I locked my phone in the boot of my car.

To answer other points that have been raised, it didn't occur to me to 'offer a draw' as I was a good pawn up and would either be defaulted or not. There is also a major issue about where to keep expensive phones; I personally have had my car broken into half a dozen times so this hardly seems like a safe place. And in an event the size of the 4NCL are arbiters to be expected to mind several hundred phones with a likely value running into tens of thousands of pounds?

I don't believe this matter is at all simple. My own solution will probably be that I'll take an old mobile to tournaments in future which won't be able to turn itself on and I'm less bothered about leaving in the car.

Nigel

Phil Makepeace
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Phil Makepeace » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:38 pm

What I tend to do now is take the battery out before play. This obviously removes any possibility of forgotten alarms or low battery signals ruining your afternoon.

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Nigel_Davies
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Re: Mobile Phones (and Grandmasters)

Post by Nigel_Davies » Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:53 pm

Phil Makepeace wrote:What I tend to do now is take the battery out before play.
That's a great idea and might also provide a solution for how the rules might be modified.

At the moment the pre-game warning by arbiters is to 'switch all mobiles off', which evidently isn't enough to cover the new generation of self-waking devices. If it were to be replaced by 'remove the batteries from your mobile devices', I think it would become reasonable to default people for a single beep.

Nigel

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