ECF arbiting at Aberystwyth - FIDE perspective

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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Roger Lancaster
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ECF arbiting at Aberystwyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Sep 03, 2015 1:20 pm

One of the junior events at Aberystwyth resulted in a controversy where several parents felt that an ECF officer had acted incorrectly. One felt sufficiently strongly to complain to FIDE and also to involve his club. The club received no meaningful response from the ECF and escalated the matter to its county association, whereupon the ECF produced (on 20 March 2015, after more than six months of procrastination) a lengthy statement on its website emphasing its confidence in its arbiter team.

Neither the complainant parent nor the supporting club was overly impressed and other recognized arbiters privately made it clear that, while they did not wish publicly to criticize their colleague, his decisions (first, to intervene at all and, second, to award 1½ points) were wrong and the ECF should have recognized this rather than attempt a cover-up.

Eventually, the matter came to be considered by a relevant FIDE Commission which, in its minutes published as recently as August, reached a conclusion (and I quote verbatim) diametrically opposed to that set out by Phil Ehr on 20 March.

Extract from the FIDE Rules and Tournaments Councillors Meeting, 19-21 June 2015

“The FIDE Rules and Tournaments Regulations Commission (RTRC) have reviewed the materials presented to us in regards to the Ethics case of Kadengal v ECF. The following points are made:

“First, the original decision of the floor arbiter we find as consistent with the Laws of Chess given that no objective evidence was available to prove the claim of an illegal move;

“Second, the original decision of the Chief Arbiter we find as consistent with the Laws of Chess given that no objective evidence was available to prove the claim of an illegal move;

“Third, the actions of the Chief Organizer (Kevin Staveley who is both IA and IO) were inconsistent with FIDE Competition Rules and had no basis within the FIDE Laws of Chess. The tournament regulations did not provide for the Chief Organizer to have appeal authority over the Chief Arbiters decision. There is also no mention of an appeals process above the Chief Arbiters Ruling being utilized, only a unilateral decision by the Chief Organiser;

“Fourth, the FIDE Laws of Chess do not provide for a ‘split result’ (awarding each person a result that does not sum 1 point);

“As a result of these points, the RTRC refers this matter to the Arbiters Commission as it involves the specific actions of an International Arbiter in contravention to the FIDE Laws of Chess and the FIDE Competition Rules.”


The first three points here coincide exactly with the views expressed throughout by the complainant father, the supporting club and just about everyone bar the ECF. There are differing views on the last point – I have seen persuasive representations from senior arbiters of circumstances (none of which apply in the Aberystwyth case) where a ‘split result’ might be the least bad of a range of unsatisfactory outcomes.

There is a curious sequel. The RTRC noted that there was “no mention of an appeals process above the Chief Arbiters Ruling being utilized” yet, when the matter was separately considered by the FIDE Arbiters Commission two months later, it found that “According to the rules of the specific event, the Tournament Manager had the right to overrule any decision of an arbiter or the appeals committee”.

That will have come as a surprise to the English member of the RTRC, who doubtless would have objected if he had disagreed with the RTRC interpretation. It will also come as a surprise to readers of the official 2014 Aberystwyth programme which made no reference (in the English language version, at any rate!) to any such right to overrule. On the contrary, the clearly-worded section dealing with appeals finished with the words, “The decision of the Appeals’ Committee will be final”. Couldn’t be clearer!

There’s no indication in the Arbiters Commission minutes as to the source of their information but one has to infer that it must have come from a seemingly credible source, very likely a well-placed one within a certain national chess federation attempting a damage limitation exercise after hearing of the RTRC verdict. Anyone prepared to stick their hand up?

Michael Flatt
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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberystwyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Michael Flatt » Thu Sep 03, 2015 2:41 pm

Roger,
That's a thoroughly informative and useful post.

What happens next?

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by David Robertson » Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:11 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:What happens next?
A forum thread develops, and runs to 47 pages

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JustinHorton
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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberystwyth - FIDE perspective

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Sep 03, 2015 4:15 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:The club received no meaningful response from the ECF
I am astonished to hear this
Roger Lancaster wrote:whereupon the ECF produced (on 20 March 2015, after more than six months of procrastination) a lengthy statement
I am astonished to hear this
Roger Lancaster wrote: diametrically opposed to that set out by Phil Ehr on 20 March.
Is this still available? I struggled to find it.

Similarly, is the decision of the Arbiters' Commission available?
Roger Lancaster wrote:There is a curious sequel. The RTRC noted that there was “no mention of an appeals process above the Chief Arbiters Ruling being utilized” yet, when the matter was separately considered by the FIDE Arbiters Commission two months later, it found that “According to the rules of the specific event, the Tournament Manager had the right to overrule any decision of an arbiter or the appeals committee”.

That will have come as a surprise to the English member of the RTRC, who doubtless would have objected if he had disagreed with the RTRC interpretation. It will also come as a surprise to readers of the official 2014 Aberystwyth programme which made no reference (in the English language version, at any rate!) to any such right to overrule. On the contrary, the clearly-worded section dealing with appeals finished with the words, “The decision of the Appeals’ Committee will be final”.
This is on page 17 here.
Last edited by JustinHorton on Sun Sep 06, 2015 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:01 pm

“Fourth, the FIDE Laws of Chess do not provide for a ‘split result’ (awarding each person a result that does not sum 1 point);"

Really? What about when a phone goes off when the non-phone wielder has bare king? That is scored half-zero, unless you can show that the phone was on when the innocent party had mating material.
Just one example.

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Michael Flatt » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:24 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:“Fourth, the FIDE Laws of Chess do not provide for a ‘split result’ (awarding each person a result that does not sum 1 point);"

Really? What about when a phone goes off when the non-phone wielder has bare king? That is scored half-zero, unless you can show that the phone was on when the innocent party had mating material.
Just one example.
I think the point is that awarding 1.5 points disadvantages other players in the field and affects the pairing of the next round.

In this instance the incident occurred in the penultimate round and the result was not determined until after the final game.
I was watching the live posting of results and it was obvious to me that something was wrong.

Loss of a game due to a phone going off is a penalty not a bonus.

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by David Sedgwick » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:25 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:There is a curious sequel. The RTRC noted that there was “no mention of an appeals process above the Chief Arbiters Ruling being utilized” yet, when the matter was separately considered by the FIDE Arbiters Commission two months later, it found that “According to the rules of the specific event, the Tournament Manager had the right to overrule any decision of an arbiter or the appeals committee”.
As you have quoted the minutes of relevant item of the Rules Commission Councillors Meeting in full, I'd like to quote the minutes of the relevant item of the Arbiters' Commission Councillors Meeting in full:

"An incident that happened during the British U-8 Championship 2014 was discussed by the Commission. The whole case was already dismissed by FIDE Ethics Commission, as the father of the boy who was involved had sent a complaint to the FIDE Ethics Commission.
The Arbiters’ Commission after discussion agreed that according to the FIDE Laws of Chess the decision of the arbiters and the Chief Arbiter had been correct. As there was no intention by the English Chess Federation to send the event to FIDE for rating, they could to follow only internal regulations that may be not known and cannot be commented by the Arbiters’ Commission. According to the rules of the specific event, the Tournament Manager had the right to overrule any decision of an arbiter or the appeals committee."


Edit: In response to Justin's enquiry, the source is document is available at http://arbiters.fide.com/. Click on the second "here" in the top item.

Roger Lancaster wrote:There’s no indication in the Arbiters Commission minutes as to the source of their information but one has to infer that it must have come from a seemingly credible source, very likely a well-placed one within a certain national chess federation attempting a damage limitation exercise after hearing of the RTRC verdict. Anyone prepared to stick their hand up?
Some readers of this Forum may be aware that I normally make a submission to the Arbiters' Commission each year in advance of the Councillors Meeting.

For that reason, I would like to make clear that I have made no comment whatever to either the Arbiters' Commission or the Rules Commission on this particular matter.

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:34 pm

David, I omitted the full text of the Arbiters' Commission minutes only through a desire not to make my original post even longer than it was - but it was helpful of you to include it. And, for the avoidance of doubt, I will make it clear here that I certainly did not have you in mind when I wondered aloud whether anyone wished to raise a hand.

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:43 pm

Justin, the ECF response can be found at http://englishchess.org.uk/Juniors/page/7/ (this was another casualty of the need to keep my initial email within manageable lengths) and there's also a blow-by-blow account of the whole affair at the club website http://watfordchessclub.org/index.php/c ... cle?id=118

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:53 pm

Kevin, I mentioned that I had "persuasive representations" from senior arbiters. I'll just mention the hypothetical scenario of a game in progress where A is clearly much better but B has decent drawing chances. A spectator comes along, perhaps after too long in the local pub, and helpfully points out a winning move. The arbiter will, of course, expel the spectator but what is he or she to do about the game? Player A has received assistance but both players are blameless and a 1-0 result would be unfair on B while a draw would be unfair on A so many arbiters would award a total of 1 1/2 points.

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberystwyth - FIDE perspective

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:59 pm

Thanks to Roger and David. I assume there was no requirement to record moves, am I right?

It's certainly very odd that the Arbiters' Commission should say something which is not only wrong but which the RTRC had explicitly made clear was not the case. I suppose it is possible though that in a situation where discussions are taking place in what to many people will be a foreign language, such mistakes can occur? (Total speculation on my part, obviously.)

I have more than once suffered the same frustration with Phil Ehr as Mike Boyce has. You just get fobbed off until something unconvincing can be cobbled together, or ignored.
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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:03 pm

Justin - rapidplay games therefore no requirement to record moves. To be fair to the ECF, and that's not a phrase I find myself using too often these days, they improved this year at Warwick with the introduction of electronic boards.

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Michael Flatt » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:15 pm

I think both the Competitions Commission and the Arbiters Commission both came to justifiable but different conclusions because they were ruling on different aspects of the dispute.

The Arbiters Commission (the third and last of the three FIDE Commissions that looked into the matter) determined that because the event was run by a National Federation (the ECF) they were entitled to follow any rules they wished, whether they were published in the event brochure or not. The game was not submitted for grading so neither player gained or lost grading points.

The Competitions Commission determined that the FIDE Laws of Chess had originally been applied correctly but overruling the original Arbiters decision and Appeals Committee decision by the Tournament Director could not be justified and was wrong.

The Ethics Commission ruled that it wasn't a question of ethics.

No contradiction, just different perspectives and different terms of reference.

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberyswyth - FIDE perspective

Post by Michael Flatt » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:17 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:Justin - rapidplay games therefore no requirement to record moves. To be fair to the ECF, and that's not a phrase I find myself using too often these days, they improved this year at Warwick with the introduction of electronic boards.
It still generated a dispute!

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Re: ECF arbiting at Aberystwyth - FIDE perspective

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:18 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:The Arbiters Commission (the third and last of the three FIDE Commissions that looked into the matter) determined that because the event was run by a National Federation (the ECF) they were entitled to follow any rules they wished, whether they were published in the event brochure or not. The game was not submitted for grading so neither player gained or lost grading points.
Plausibly, but what of this?

According to the rules of the specific event
Last edited by JustinHorton on Sun Sep 06, 2015 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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