at the mercy of the arbiter

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Keith Arkell
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at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Keith Arkell » Tue Mar 24, 2009 5:00 pm

Hi folks,

In the last round,at the recent Blackpool congress,I was incorrectly upfloated for the 2nd successive round.

I drew the attention of officialdom to this indisputable error.

Officialdom stared and stared at the pairings,the clock ticked ever nearer to the start of the round,and after 3 or 4 minutes of staring said there's nothing he can do,and wandered off to announce the beginning of the round.He then agreed to interrupt the other relevant incorrect pairing a couple of minutes into their game to give the 2 players the option of playing Mark Hebden and myself instead.They declined of course and continue to play out their incorrect pairing.

What were my options?

Should I have:

a) done what I did do-that is,shrug my shoulders and shuffle off to play Mark
b) make some fuss/threaten to default as a protest etc etc in order to hopefully get the pairings corrected before the round began,or
c) something else?

Keith

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Andy Burnett
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Andy Burnett » Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:40 pm

My answer would be b) unless someone can come up with a good c)

As it seems to have been a mistake which involved only 4 players (?) there was very little extra work to be done by the arbiter in correcting the pairings and it doesn't seem like it would have unduly delayed the start of the round.

From your post Keith it sounds like you only noticed the error a few minutes prior to the round starting - how long had the pairings been up/how did you realise they were wrong etc? (Just being nosey here).

In my local Congress last year (or the previous year?!) I was drawn to play IM Steve Mannion in the final round on top board. I only found out after losing that the draw had been incorrect and I ought to have been playing someone much lower graded. As I don't play professionally it doesn't make too much odds to me (the stronger the opponent the better as far as i am concerned!), but for the likes of yourself and Mark such errors can be more serious I imagine.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Tue Mar 24, 2009 8:29 pm

Don't know what you can do then and there - if you default, you might get banned! But now, I suggest you complain to ECF, CAA etc. and ask for their views. Hopefully, that will get their attention...

Maybe they will find a logical explanation for it all.

Kevin
"Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. " Nick Grey

Keith Arkell
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:40 am

Hi Andy,

Before I went for my long walk I knew that it was impossible for Mark and myself to be paired together.Furthermore,I had faith in the competence of the arbiter/s to get it right.For those reasons I didn't return to the venue until 10 minutes before the game.I was shocked to see the incorrect pairing and pointed it out to the first arbiter I set eyes on.she saw the error immediately and called out to the arbiter who presumably was responsible for the open pairings.She spotted that they hadn't marked my card with the information that I had been upfloated to Stewart Haslinger in the previous round.The rest you know.
I appreciate that errors are possible when arbiters are rushed to get the pairings done in time(I believe that the pairings first went on display just before I saw them),but what puzzled me was the inactivity after the error was highlighted.

Hi Kevin,

I am not as assertive as many top players are at complaining,and so probably get a bum deal as a result.I just couldn't see myself kicking up a fuss or withdrawing.
I remember last year in the semi final of the '20/20' tournament the arbiter made a decision against me in complete contravention of the FIDE blitz rules applicable at the time,and despite his earlier acknowledgement to me that he knew the relevant rule! It was only later when I saw that the arbiter was actually in possession of the FIDE rule book itself,and after I actually heard him mutter that I was right,that I plucked up the courage to demand that he reverse his decision or else! [one reporting of this incident on another forum erroneously suggested that it was the presentation of video evidence which persuaded the arbiter to reverse his decision,but in fact the evidence presented on the video was not in dispute].

Keith

Matthew Turner
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Matthew Turner » Wed Mar 25, 2009 8:06 am

Keith,
Any idea who the arbiter (in charge of the Open) was at Blackpool? I ask because I know Geoff Jones has a lot to do with the Conference and my experience of him is that he is incredibly organised and would not make such an error. Sadly, I have quite a long list of those who might!

Sean Hewitt

Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Sean Hewitt » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:28 am

Hi Keith,

Obviously everyone is human (even arbiters!). It's possible that the arbiting team relied on the following FIDE rule in the Swiss Pairing regulations
F.6 A pairing officially made public shall not be changed unless it violates the absolute pairing criteria (B1 and B2).

B.1
Two players shall not meet more than once.
A player who has received a point without playing, either through a bye or due to an opponent not appearing in time, shall not receive a bye.

B.2
No player's colour difference will become >+2 or <-2.
No player will receive the same colour three times in row.
Clearly, your pairing didn't violate these absolute rules. Personally, I would be tempted to change a critical final round pairing (ie where there is a prize at stake) if I had made a mistake - but the other affected players could point to this rule and shout "You can't do that."

Keith Arkell
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:03 pm

Hi Matt,

I don't think it's fair to 'name and shame' in this case because for countless years I have had correct treatment from the arbiter in question.
What I can tell you is that it wasn't Geoff Jones.

Hi Sean,

Yes of course we're all human and make mistakes.What puzzled me was what proceeded from the mistake.

I was unaware of FIDE rule ''F.6.'' - if the arbiter had informed me that he was making recourse to it then I would at least have understood what was going on.
However,the fact that later,after he had already started the games,he then made a futile attempt to correct the pairings,implies that it was too much dithering prior to kick off time which caused the error to stand,rather than application of rule F.6.
Incidentally,I think this rule should be applied either absolutely or not at all.Otherwise we will be left in a situation where the possibility exists that the louder the mouth of the protester,the more likely he is to succeed in getting his way.

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Ben Purton
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Ben Purton » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:38 am

What a joke, Sorry that happened Keith. I mean the "everyone makes mistakes" is fine but in final round of such a big tournament, when you and Mark are chess professionals makes it less fine. Do you even get conditions for such a tourn, so its a gamble in itself let alone having hurdles.

Ben
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Keith Arkell
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Keith Arkell » Thu Mar 26, 2009 7:52 pm

Thanks Ben.Because I've got kind friends(lift to the tournament,accom...)my expenses were not too steep,but still the double blunder probably made the diffeence between my making a loss and making a profit.

In effect I went without pay that week because of an arbiting error compounded by his refusal to remedy his error.

This was why I posted. It seems strange that we humble profesionals are so impotent in the face of this kind of thing.

In the other incident which I referred to above - in the semi final of the 20/20 blitz event last January,you could say that both Aaron and myself were wronged at the same time: Me because the arbiter chose not to consult his FIDE rule book at the time of the incident(and had he done so then I would have been declared the winner 2-0 there and then),and Aaron because he had already been(albeit wrongly) declared the winner of the game and had then beaten me in the play-off game before I was retrospectively awarded the match 2-0.On that occasion I ended up accepting Aaron's proposal to split our combined prizes down the middle,thus letting the arbiter off the hook.If I hadn't agreed then Aaron would have gone away rightly feeling very grieved.

My conclusion is that you can be a strong player,know all the most up to date rules inside out,and know the paiting rules of FIDE and the ECF to a reasonably competent level,and still get a raw deal!

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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Mar 26, 2009 10:59 pm

Keith Arkell wrote: In effect I went without pay that week because of an arbiting error compounded by his refusal to remedy his error.
I think you either treat the matter like an amateur, which is what most of the players and the arbiters tend to be, or else like a professional.

An amateur will take it on the chin (as you did).

As a professional, in chess or any other form of activity, there are times when you need to state your case and stick to it. It is not so much being argumentative as being resolute (in this case insisting on a correction to the pairing). But obviously this is easier in a fully professional environment than in the mixed professional/amateur mix of a strong open tournament.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:26 am

The error in Keith's case of not recording the float would not have happened had the arbiters used computerised pairings. Perhaps we should revisit why many British arbiters have been reluctant to use their laptops for pairings.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Fri Mar 27, 2009 4:23 pm

Because the pairing programs aren't good enough. They are, however, getting better, and would have avoided upfloating Arkell.

(The thing to do is to do a manual pairing, and also run a computer pairing. That way, when they differ, it stands out, and you can examine why they differ.)

Keith Arkell
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:01 am

Anyway,this error,no matter how infuriating,was at least an honest error.I couldn't imagine these days having to endure what happened to me at Scarborough 1990:
I told my mates that I(along with my wife at that time,Susan) had entered the tournament.Unanimously they said ''Keith you must be mad - don't you know that under the guise of ''random pairings'' they often pair high graded invaders together in round 1,and whenever else thay can?''.Mark gave me the example of Hebden-Rooney(round 1) on his previous excursion to the event.
Anyway,unperturbed we played in the event. Unbeknown to us,having retired from the venue after our games had finished Saturday evening,the rather odd pairing K.Arkell-Suba was posted as a round 4 Sunday morning pairing.Odd because the colours were wrong and we were on different scores. It later transpired that on seeing the pairings that Saturday evening Mihai Suba had kicked up an almighty fuss.
When I saw the pairing Sunday morning I just shrugged philosophically and sat down and played Mihai.When in round 5 Susan and I were paired together on 2.5/4 she had a word with the arbiters during lunch time and she gained the clear impression from them that they would notch it up as a draw,and so we began our long drive home.

End of,or so we thought,until a letter appeared in BCM(I wonder if you can dig up that one John?).I think it was By Paul Bielby,or perhaps Sir something or other-Lawton maybe? Anyway basically saying that there were unluly scenes which LEAD[my capitals] to one IM (me presumably!) withdrawing(!!).There was also a rambling,illegible attack in the ECF's Chess moves,or whatever it was called back then,along the same lines(I bet no one can dig that one up!)
The attack then intensified,suggesting that I was a grubby pro only playing chess for the money and Grand prix points.I seem to remember the phrase ''not all IMs are tarnished by the same brush'' ,which then spoke of the loftier ideals of the relativelly local IM,and good friend of mine James Howell.

I was gobsmacked! As far as I was concerned I did nothing wrong.At most there was a misunderstanding and Susan and I were meant to hang around and play a few moves and fill in a result slip,but we thought all of that was taken care of.
To then read all that abuse in the mags,along with lies suggesting that I had withdrawn,and furthermore had withdrawn in connection with unpleasant ''scenes'' which I knew nothing about, just left us with a feeling that there was a strong dislike of chess professionals(or at least chess pros from afar) in that neck of the woods.

I would just like to add though that all of this was a long time ago,and whatever apparent bigotry there existed towards strong players or outsiders has now clearly been weeded out,and these days we are left with an extremely good friendly weekend tournament,well organised,and with consistent,accountable pairings.

Sean Hewitt

Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Sean Hewitt » Wed Apr 01, 2009 9:14 am

FM Jack Rudd wrote:Because the pairing programs aren't good enough. They are, however, getting better, and would have avoided upfloating Arkell.

(The thing to do is to do a manual pairing, and also run a computer pairing. That way, when they differ, it stands out, and you can examine why they differ.)
I do what you suggest Jack, using Swiss Master (a dutch program approved by FIDE). I have yet to find it making a mistake.

Matthew Turner
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Re: at the mercy of the arbiter

Post by Matthew Turner » Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:01 am

Keith,
There have always been strange pairings at Scarborough, but in a way you get what you expect! I think when Mark Hebden played Rooney in round 1 they were trying out the Crouch pairings. In my view these were insane and I am very glad that they have been consigned to the dustbin of history.
Sir John Lawson, is though a thoroughly a nice man and I very much doubt that he would do anything unscrupulous. The same could not be said of Mihai Suba.
Until recently I have been reluctant to use computer pairings (in one day events), primarily because of the problems caused by entering an incorrect result, however the programs have improved immensely and they certainly make things much easier for organisers. At big events such as the British there is no reason at all not to use computer pairings, they are certainly going to make less mistakes than a human. The resistance from British arbiters to use computers is as far as I can see only motivated by there desire to retain their 'power' and dare I say it if computers were used more widely perhaps less of them would need a two week holiday in Torquay or Gibraltar!

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