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Monday, November 19, 2012

Laws of Chess Changes that Might Influence Your Game

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,

We have here a nice article on how some changes in the laws of chess might effect your game. The article is written by Albert Vasse, Chief Arbiter London Chess Classic 2012.

But, first you should also read the Chess Blog post:

Back to the article on rules: Vasse writes, "You should always play by the rules! So watch it; at the FIDE congress in Istanbul, some of the rules have been changed."

These new Laws of Chess will take effect on the 1st of July 2013.
Many of the changes in the text are just clarifications, but some go beyond cosmetics. I will work through some part of the text, picking ten changes that might directly influence your game. Of course I (have to) assume that you are familiar with the current Laws of Chess. I follow the order from the articles in the LoC.

1. In the article on the promotion of the pawn it is added that; “The pawn can be removed from the board and the new piece can be put on the appropriate square in any order.” As there is no difference in the position that occurs after promotion it does not matter on the board, but the arbiter cannot consider this to be an illegal move any more.

2. Adjusting the pieces, after a "J’adoube" of course, is now only allowed if your own clock is running.

3. If an irregularity occurs and the position is restored, the arbiter shall use his best judgment to determine the times to be shown on the chess clock. Added to the rules is the explicit option not to change the clock times. In tournaments with more than one round per day, the arbiter might very well use this new option to make sure the competition will remain within the time schedule.

4. Either the claiming player or the arbiter shall stop the clock in case of a claiming a draw based on the 50 moves rule or 3-fold repetition. Therefore the arbiter cannot decline the claim anymore on the sole basis the player did not stop the clock.

5. Again on claiming a draw based on the 50 moves rule or 3-fold repetition; the time added to the remaining thinking time on the clock of the opponent is changed to two minutes, making it equal to the time penalty in case of an illegal move.

6. One of the most confusing articles for players and arbiters has for a long time been article 10.2. claiming a draw in the final period of a game, with no increment or delay.

"If the player having the move has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He may claim on the basis that his opponent cannot win by “normal means”, and/or that his opponent has been making no effort to win by normal means. He shall summon the arbiter and he or the arbiter shall stop the chess clock".

An alternative option for the arbiter, apart from accepting, declining or postponing his judgment on the claim, has been added. This idea comes directly from the tournament practice in the USA.

"The arbiter may decide, that the game shall be continued using a “time delay” (Bronstein AV) or “cumulative time” (Fischer AV) mode. The extra time shall be 5 seconds added for each move for both players. The clocks shall then be set with the extra time and the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes".

As this will lead to a decision resulting from the acts of the players on the board, I predict this will be the preferred option of many arbiters. It might even lead to the abolition of the other options in a future review of the Laws of Chess. But we have to wait at least 4 years for that to happen.

7.Then the never-ending story about mobile phones. In Istanbul the General Assembly had to decide on the wording, as the Presidential Board and the Rules and Tournament Regulations Commission could not agree. The GA decided to put the most severe proposition into the Laws of Chess:

"A player is forbidden having a mobile phone and/or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue. If it is evident that the player brought such a device into the playing venue he shall lose the game. The opponent shall win." So, leave it at home, in the car or at your hotel room.

However, based on tournament practice the next article could create some relief ...”The rules of a competition may specify a different, less severe, penalty.” You better make sure at the start of a tournament which rules apply, and organisers should think about the best way to treat this issue in advance.

8.A nice gesture to the players is the new article 12.9 "A player shall have the right to request from the arbiter an explanation of particular points in the Laws of Chess.” So, if you are not clear on how to claim a draw or any of the other complicated stuff, just ask. It is a pity it is not written that the arbiter has to answer your questions, but I guess most of my colleagues will.

9.The new Laws of Chess have several provisions specifically for disabled players, e.g. opening the option for an arbiter to stop the clock if a disabled player has to visit the restroom.

10.Finally, the time penalties in Blitz games, e.g. for illegal moves, are reduced to one minute.

Overall I think most changes are improvements.

Some changes are the result of a first serious attempt to reduce the differences between the FIDE Laws of Chess and the rules of the United States Chess Federation. The gap has not yet been closed and I think it will take a few more sessions to do so.

As the USCF put much more responsibility on the player rather than the arbiter, there are situations where the result of a game can be completely opposite, depending on which set of rules the game is played under. A player winning a game under USCF rules and losing it under FIDE rules, or the other way around, is a problem, which should be overcome as soon as possible.

Translation of the new text to several languages is in the works, so you best check with your national federation to find it in your own language.

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  • At November 20, 2012 at 6:44 AM , Anonymous Keith larkins, Manchester said...

    not much difference really but am all for GM Konstantin Landa's proposals - why ruin our sport - punishment should be stricter i hate people who cheat


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