Confusing FIDE Laws

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Brian Towers
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Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Brian Towers » Tue Mar 01, 2016 1:05 am

In response to Stewart here's a thread where those of us confused by some of the FIDE Laws of Chess can post and perhaps find illumination.
Stewart Reuben wrote:Brian I suggest you start a new thread and draw my attention to it.
Put the current law.
Then what you find confusing.
Then your suggested amendment, if any.
Of course the death of Sevan Muradian, who was secretary of the commission, has set us back. But the FIDE Congress now starts in early September. We will want to circulate our proposed amendments with the Agenda. We may not be able to afford to meet live in advance.
I'm starting with "The recording of the moves" which has a whole article to itself but confusingly has important stuff mentioned elsewhere in the Laws as well. I have several problems here but I'll limit myself to one problem per post rather than lump all related ones together, in the hope that less important items won't get overlooked. I will also limit myself to quoting just the bits that contribute to my confusion.
FIDE Laws of Chess wrote:Article 8: The recording of the moves
8.1 a. In the course of play each player is required to record his own moves and those of his opponent in the correct manner, move after move, as clearly and legibly as possible, in the algebraic notation (Appendix C), on the score sheet prescribed for the competition.

8.1 c. A player may reply to his opponent’s move before recording it, if he so wishes.
He must record his previous move before making another
So, it's clear. Each player (barring disability and impediment not relevant to my question / confusion) must write the moves down and must use algebraic notation which is defined, described and expanded upon in Appendix C ...
FIDE Laws of Chess wrote:Appendix C. Algebraic notation
FIDE recognises for its own tournaments and matches only one system of notation, the Algebraic System, and recommends the use of this uniform chess notation also for chess literature and periodicals. Scoresheets using a notation system other than algebraic may not be used as evidence in cases where normally the scoresheet of a player is used for that purpose. An arbiter who observes that a player is using a notation system other than the algebraic should warn the player of this requirement.
But hang on! What does "Scoresheets using a notation system other than algebraic may not be used as evidence in cases where normally the scoresheet of a player is used for that purpose." mean? It's possible to use "a notation system other than algebraic"? It's legal to do so?

I suppose it must be ?! Then there is "An arbiter who observes that a player is using a notation system other than the algebraic should warn the player of this requirement."

What is clear (to me)

It is clear to me as an arbiter that when players have the time and ability they must write the moves down "shortly" after making them.
Penalties and remedies are not mentioned and while these are not mentioned and there is still room for confusion I think I'm clear in most situations.
1) From my own experience when I have seen a player in a standard rate game with a 30 second increment stop recording I have asked him to catch up on his own time, using his opponent's scoresheet if necessary, with no additional penalty.
2) When I have had a player decline to write the moves down (from the start) for either no reason or a non-disability related reason in a 90+30 game I have deducted 10 minutes from his starting time.
Perhaps guidelines along these lines should be included in the laws?

What is not clear to me

1) What to do when a player is not using algebraic notation as described in C.1 through C.13 other than to warn him that "his scoresheet may not be used in evidence". Does this mean that algebraic notation is not an absolute requirement? And that there is no non-trivial sanction? That descriptive is de facto allowable even if not strictly (de jure) "legal"?
2) What to do if late in the game (90+30) it is noticed that both players have stopped recording and played enough moves to make reconstruction difficult / impossible?

I have had experience of both situations.
2) has occurred once in my experience in a non-FIDE rated tournament where both players were low rated. After explaining the rules and imploring them to obey them next time I told them to carry on. As FIDE extends the scope of its competitions to lower rated players this will become more common.
1) has occurred in a technical sense relating to deficiencies in C.1 through C.13 (which are serious and which I will cover in a later post) in all the FIDE rated tournaments I have arbited.

Just for the moment, at a trivial level, consider:
FIDE Laws of Chess wrote:8.1 d. Both players must record the offer of a draw on the scoresheet with a symbol (=).
Note the use of "must" rather than "may" or "should".
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Brian Towers
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Brian Towers » Tue Mar 01, 2016 1:10 am

Which events "immediately end the game"?

This is important, amongst other reasons, because if an event which "immediately ends the game" occurs and then a flag fall is noticed then the flag fall is irrelevant. Also if players inadverantly (and so illegally) played on past a stalemate or checkmate then the arbiter might be strongly motivated to "correct" the result (as he is entitled to) upon discovering this later when entering the moves of the game onto the tournament website, for instance.

This should be straightforward. Article 5 should provide all the answers:
FIDE Laws of Chess wrote:Article 5: The completion of the game
5.1 a. The game is won by the player who has checkmated his opponent’s king. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the checkmate position was in accordance with Article 3 and Articles 4.2 — 4.7.
b. The game is won by the player whose opponent declares he resigns. This immediately ends the game.
5.2 a. The game is drawn when the player to move has no legal move and his king is not in check. The game is said to end in ‘stalemate’. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the stalemate position was in accordance with Article 3 and Articles 4.2 — 4.7.
b. The game is drawn when a position has arisen in which neither player can checkmate the opponent’s king with any series of legal moves. The game is said to end in a ‘dead position’.
This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the position was in accordance with Article 3 and Articles 4.2 — 4.7.
c. The game is drawn upon agreement between the two players during the game. This immediately ends the game
So, that's it then. These events "immediately end the game":
1) checkmate
2) stalemate
3) resigns
4) draw agreed
5) "dead position"

But, wait! What's this lurking in Article 6 which appears to be all about "The chessclock"?
FIDE Laws of Chess wrote:6.2 a. During the game each player, having made his move on the chessboard, shall stop his own clock and start his opponent’s clock (that is to say, he shall press his clock). This “completes” the move. A move is also completed if:
(1) the move ends the game (see Articles 5.1.a, 5.2.a, 5.2.b, 5.2.c and 9.6), or
We know about Articles 5.1.a, 5.2.a, 5.2.b, 5.2.c but what is 9.6?
FIDE Laws of Chess wrote:9.6 If one or both of the following occur(s) then the game is drawn:
a. the same position has appeared, as in 9.2b, for at least five consecutive alternate moves by each player
b. any consecutive series of 75 moves have been completed by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture
9.6 is new and is confusing in its own right. I'll cover that in a later post.
But what is the difference, if any, between "immediately ends the game" as in Article 5 and "the move ends the game" as in 6.2a? Successful claims under 9.2 and 9.3 aren't mentioned in either context so clearly there is more in common between 5.1, 5.2, 9.6 than 9.2 and 9.3

Should 9.6 be moved to section 5 with the other game ending events?
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

NickFaulks
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by NickFaulks » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:08 am

Brian Towers wrote: I'm starting with "The recording of the moves"
Before the detailed discussion starts, I must ask a question to which I have never been given a satisfactory answer. Why are players required to keep score at all? I can think of several reasons, but without knowing which ones are in the minds of those drafting the Laws it is difficult to comment on whether the wording is satisfactory.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:27 am

NickFaulks wrote:
Brian Towers wrote: I'm starting with "The recording of the moves"
Before the detailed discussion starts, I must ask a question to which I have never been given a satisfactory answer. Why are players required to keep score at all? I can think of several reasons, but without knowing which ones are in the minds of those drafting the Laws it is difficult to comment on whether the wording is satisfactory.
A slightly different point to yours, but why should players have to keep score in things like the World Championship match, maybe even the Candidates matches, or the World Cup where you have board stewards? You've got plenty of staff, games recorded on liveboards and video cameras trained on each board. I can't see any reason to insist that players keep score in those circumstances.

E Michael White
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by E Michael White » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:34 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:You've got plenty of staff, games recorded on liveboards and video cameras trained on each board. I can't see any reason to insist that players keep score in those circumstances.
How would draw offers be noted ?

NickFaulks
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by NickFaulks » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:41 am

Alex Holowczak wrote: A slightly different point to yours, but why should players have to keep score in things like the World Championship match
No, it isn't different. The only reason I can think of to make players in a World Championship match keep score is tradition. That may be a powerful reason, but it should be acknowledged.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:43 am

E Michael White wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:You've got plenty of staff, games recorded on liveboards and video cameras trained on each board. I can't see any reason to insist that players keep score in those circumstances.
How would draw offers be noted ?
The staff member tasked with watching (and thus scoring) the game would note it down.

Brian Towers
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Brian Towers » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:45 am

NickFaulks wrote:
Brian Towers wrote: I'm starting with "The recording of the moves"
Before the detailed discussion starts, I must ask a question to which I have never been given a satisfactory answer. Why are players required to keep score at all? I can think of several reasons, but without knowing which ones are in the minds of those drafting the Laws it is difficult to comment on whether the wording is satisfactory.
Good question!
And something related to that features in one of the several questions I still have to come, which I will expand on in a separate question.

But I think the simple answer to your question is: "To aid in the resolution of disputes".
Of course, as Alex points out, why is that necessary in a competition like the world championship where the moves are being independently recorded?
One possibility is to back up claims of disturbance by repeated draw offers by showing all the "="s on your scoresheet. But what if there are none on your opponent's scoresheet? Sadly, in a competition which has seen claims of assistance via selection of yoghurt flavours, one can't claim that the players' behaviour will automatically be more adult than that.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:15 am

NickFaulks wrote: Why are players required to keep score at all?
Wherever there's a fixed number of moves to be made in a finite time, players will need to know how many moves have been made. You could in theory rely on being within sight of a display board, but would you trust its complete reliability?

On the relatively rare occasions a three fold repetition of position or a fifty move count arises, having your own notes of the moves played and when they were played is also helpful.

NickFaulks
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by NickFaulks » Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:28 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
NickFaulks wrote: Why are players required to keep score at all?
Wherever there's a fixed number of moves to be made in a finite time, players will need to know how many moves have been made. You could in theory rely on being within sight of a display board, but would you trust its complete reliability?

On the relatively rare occasions a three fold repetition of position or a fifty move count arises, having your own notes of the moves played and when they were played is also helpful.
Those are reasons why it may be sensible for players to keep score, not why they should be punished for not doing so. Losing on time because they are unsure of the number of moves played, or difficulty in claiming draws, sound like sufficient punishment.

In any case, there is an exemption when below five minutes on the clock. At that stage, the player is permitted to make a judgement that the inconvenience of keeping score outweighs the benefits. Why not in general? Just asking.

additional point : When I get down to six minutes I often push my scoresheet away and then sit and think for a minute before playing my next move. What purpose is served by making me do that?

Brian Towers
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Brian Towers » Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:56 am

Are there any cases where a player's claim must be backed up by an uptodate scoresheet?

The written letter of the law suggests "Yes".
Common sense suggests "No"
FIDE Laws of Chess wrote:9.2 The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by a player having the move, when the same position for at least the third time (not necessarily by a repetition of moves):
a. is about to appear, if he first writes his move, which cannot be changed, on his scoresheet and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move,
...
9.3 The game is drawn, upon a correct claim by a player having the move, if:
a. he writes his move, which cannot be changed, on his scoresheet and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move which will result in the last 50 moves by each player having been made without the movement of any pawn and without any capture, or
...
Appendix C. Algebraic notation
... Scoresheets using a notation system other than algebraic may not be used as evidence in cases where normally the scoresheet of a player is used for that purpose. An arbiter who observes that a player is using a notation system other than the algebraic should warn the player of this requirement.
What is the sense of "may not"?
Is it the prohibitive, Oliver Twist meaning: "Can I have some more?" "No, you may not!"
or does it express uncertainty. Will Britain vote to leave the EU? It may, but there again, it may not.

I think the correct use in this case is that of uncertainty. If the player is recording correctly using algebraic notation then he has the certainty that his scoresheet can be used for claims. If his notation is faulty then he risks the arbiter not understanding it in which case it can't be used, but if the arbiter has no problem understanding his notation then it can and should be used.

A few years ago Nigel Short, playing in an international rapid competition, repeated the position 3 times and afterwards expressed the wish to have claimed a draw by 3-fold repetition rather than actually make the move. What held him back was uncertainty about the rules. Perhaps a rare event for Nigel. Certainly an unfortunate one for the rest of us as it would have resulted in a clearcut decision at the time. Either he would have been penalised for an incorrect claim or a precedent would have been set. In either case a more serious and prominent discussion would have kicked off.

My view, for what it is worth, is that he should have been able to claim successfully if an arbiter was watching the game and could confirm that his claim was valid in the chess particulars rather than the recording requirements.

Going back to 9.2a and 9.3a, in mathematics "if" is used in two different circumstances:
1) "If A then B". This means what it appears to mean but also means that if A is false then we don't know whether B is true or not. It does not mean that "A is false" precludes B.
2) "B is true if and only if A is true".

Perhaps it is easy to read 9.2a and 9.3a in the sense of 2) when, I would argue, it should be read in the sense of 1). In other words, one way for a player to successfully claim a draw by repetition / 50 move rule is by first writing the move down, etc., but while it may be the clearest way it is not the only way.

I also have an issue with:
FIDE Laws of Chess wrote:9.4 If the player touches a piece as in Article 4.3, he loses the right to claim a draw under Article 9.2 or 9.3 on that move.
A careful distinction needs to be made between touching a piece "with the intention of moving" and touching a piece "with the intention of demonstrating an intention to make a move". Not all arbiters, I would suggest, understand this distinction and perhaps it should be made clearer in the laws.

The first time I claimed a draw by repetition (about 15 years ago) I said: "I intend to move:" then made the move, then continued "This repeats the position for the 3rd time. I claim a draw by repetition". Fortunately the arbiter was very good, concentrated on the moves on the scoresheet and gave me the draw. He had to explain to my unhappy opponent that having half a dozen moves between one of the repetitions didn't invalidate the claim.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Mar 01, 2016 11:29 am

Brian Towers wrote:Perhaps it is easy to read 9.2a and 9.3a in the sense of 2) when, I would argue, it should be read in the sense of 1). In other words, one way for a player to successfully claim a draw by repetition / 50 move rule is by first writing the move down, etc., but while it may be the clearest way it is not the only way.
Firstly, I'd have no hesitation in using liveboards if available for the purposes of adjudicating a draw by repetition or 50 move claim, even in Rapidplay or Blitz.

In Rapidplay and Blitz tournaments with no liveboards, I carry a tally counter that you can wrap around your finger to count the moves; so if you've got an important game where you need to count, two of you can do it independently to verify the count. That way if you get a claim (or get to 75 moves each), you can call the game drawn. If a player claims, we have evidence one way or the other - it is hard to disagree with two people independently counting and showing a number to the opponent that's the same (or at least, more than 50!).

I agree with you that the Laws should be explicit in saying that the arbiter should be expected to count these things in situations where players are not recording the moves. The Laws of many sports seem to have three things: Law, the penalty for breaking the law, and what the officials should be doing when that happens. So for example in football, if a player is off-side, the penalty is a free-kick to the defending team, and the touchline official raises his flag to alert the referee who may or may not award the free kick on the back of that advice. The Laws of Chess are good at stating the Law, better than they were at outlining the penalty, but poor at providing the steps that the officials should be going through to enforce the Law.

Brian Towers
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Brian Towers » Tue Mar 01, 2016 12:08 pm

Thank you, Alex. It is good to hear that someone in your position has such enlightened views. I particularly like your tip about the tally counter. Beats fingers and pieces of paper every day.

Now if only we could get those reflected in the laws ...
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:05 pm

Something of an avalanche. RECORDING THE MOVES. We are mainly discussing high level events. Bigger events where not all games are played on electronic boards, but the games are wanted for posterity, need to be recorded. It is nonsense to require games to be recorded in minor leagues and then for the games all to be discarded.

For the FIDE World Championship Karpov v Timmn, Geurt Gijssen chief arbiter of that event and chairman of the RC, did suggest to the two players that they not be required to keep score. They preferred the status quo because that was what they were used to. There is absolutely no reason not to amend the Laws about the requirement to keep score, so the organiser, in consultation with the arbiter and players, could do away with it. This would require a considerable extension of the current Laws. e.g.
1. It would need explaining about 3 fold occurrence claims. Why should not the arbiter go up, when the position has occurred for the third time, stop the clocks and state, 'The position has occurred for the third time with the same player to move. Either of you is now entitled to claim a draw'.
2. How would a player know he has made 40 moves? From an electronic display. Or do away with two or more time periods.
3. Why the insistence on algebraic notation? Why indeed? I don't see that is is any business of FIDE's. That Law came in before I was involved.
4. May. For one period we banished the word 'may' from the Laws because of its ambiguity. We returned it as the English seemed clumsy without it.
5. Why not put everything about recording the moves in one place? Because people want to get on with playing chess.
6.A player writes RxR on his scoresheet rather than Rxd8. Should the arbiter intervene, saying that is not in the algebraic notation. No, it is a trifling error. I have, in the past, given permission for some players to record in descriptive notation. Michael Franklin's scoresheet was a joy to behold in descriptive. In algebraic, it was enough nearly to make me weep. Most of those players are now dead or retired from chess. I was shocked to see a man in, I think, his 50s recording in descriptive in Gibraltar. It was none of my business, although I did point out to him after both games were over that he was transgressing the Laws.
7. 9.1b.(2). The offer of a draw shall be noted by each player on the scoresheet with the synbol (=).
When we introduced that Law, we did not intend people to be penalised for not observing it. But time has passed and still people (including me) fail to do it. I asked Chessbase to include the offer of a draw in their games. I never received a response. If that was done, it would quickly come into force.
In 2000 at the Kasparov Kramnik match, the players each had a light. They switched it on so the spectators would know what was going on.
In one Hastings I introduced little cards (like board numbers) with (1/2)? on them for each game in the Premier. That also solved the problem of failure to understand. It isn't possible with two or more games on the same table. There is too great a possibility of confusion.
8. Penalties are mentioned. Where, the decision is up to the arbiter, 12.9 applies.
9. In my opinion, it is too late, for this cycle, to introduce new Laws enabling FIDE Rated games to take place without keeping score. They need to be finalised in September.

That is enough for now!

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Confusing FIDE Laws

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:41 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:7. 9.1b.(2). The offer of a draw shall be noted by each player on the scoresheet with the synbol (=).
When we introduced that Law, we did not intend people to be penalised for not observing it.
What's the point of having a Law that you don't expect arbiters to enforce?

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