I think to become completely proficient with the FIDE laws of chess, the above FIDE Arbiter's Manual, coupled by UK Chess Arbiter's Association added notes and interpretations, should be a good starting point for rookie arbiters like myself in terms of equipping ourselves with the most fundamental references to make decisions over actual games.
The following are incidents / infringements I think chess arbiters should be more strict with, as well as incidents or scenarios which I thought were interesting enough to highlight, as well as what I consider as good/bad habits for chess players.
- 4.2.1 Only the player having the move may adjust one or more pieces on their squares, provided that he first expresses his intention (for example by saying “j‟adoube” or “I adjust”).
(in Arbiter's Manual)
Article 4.2.1 may only be used to correct displaced pieces. Where the opponent is not present at the board, a player should inform the arbiter- if there is an arbiter present –before he starts to adjust the pieces on the chess board.
newbie's thoughts: I have personally come across players who use "adjust" as a means to de-stress during a game, touching and spinning each and every properly placed pieces on the board. I have even heard of stories that a player say adjust on every move (so that he/she is not obliged to observe touch move, LOL).
If the opponent claims, I think these should come under Article 12.9 (Options available to the arbiter concerning penalties).
But as a player, I disagree with the need to inform adjust to the arbiter in an open tournament, when the opponent is not present (too troublesome). I will just say "adjust" loud enough so that neighbouring boards can hear it and serve as witness if necessary. I do find it necessary to say adjust loud enough, especially if the opponent is around, and ideally, even hope the opponent can make a simple gesture acknowledging my request before I perform the actual act of adjustment.
- 5.1.1 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.
5.1.2 The game is won by the player whose opponent declares he resigns. This immediately ends the game.
newbie's thoughts: There is this common issue in kids tournaments, whereby a beginner thought he/she was checkmated and offers a handshake, only to subsequently realise the position is not a checkmate afterwards.
Personally, I disagree with the views of the UK Chess Arbiters' Association on the following:
"Particularly in junior tournaments it can be discovered that one player accepts he was mated to discover later that he could prevent the mate. If a result is reported by both players that can be accepted. Where a player announces mate and immediately shakes hands only for it to be discovered seconds later that the move played was not mate he should not be given the win despite any handshake. "
To me, the win should still be valid to the opponent, even if the opponent declared checkmate inaccurately. This is because the gesture of handshake, in response to a checkmate declaration, can logically only be deemed as a genuine resignation gesture at that point in time. Why else would any player shake hands in response?
If there is no taking back of moves, I see no reason a player can be allowed to take back his/her resignation! From a player's point of view, if you are weak enough to not realise you are not genuinely in a checkmate, I think you deserve to lose the game =)
Had it been another gesture, such as the player pausing the clock in response to the checkmate declaration, there could still be some ambiguity in that the player could be seeking arbiters' assistance over the punishment for opponent's wrong checkmate declaration. But not with a handshake response to a false checkmate declaration.
(Yes, I am totally not a "yes-man" when it comes to chess arbitrating. Even though I find the UK Chess Arbiters' Association a really good reference, there are interpretations which I disagree, this being 1 of the few instances.)
- 6.2.3 A player must press his clock with the same hand with which he made his move. It is forbidden for a player to keep his finger on the clock or to "hover" over it.
(In Arbiter's Manual)
If a player makes a move with one hand and presses the clock with the other, it is not considered as an illegal move, but it is penalized according to the article 12.
newbie's thoughts: Quite a notable number of players keep making the same wrong claim (usually those are "technical" players wanting their opponent to register an illegal move), and at times, there may be arbiters ruling it incorrectly as an illegal move. Within the FIDE laws of chess, there is a distinction between making/made a move (i.e. moving pieces over the board) as compared to completing/completed the move (i.e. pressing/pressed the clock). For players, you should know this to defend yourself against a wrong claim and hopefully, the arbiter observing your game get it right!
- 6.2.4 The players must handle the chessclock properly. It is forbidden to press it forcibly, to pick it up, to press the clock before moving or to knock it over. Improper clock handling shall be penalised in accordance with Article 12.
newbie's thoughts: I have not actually seen any arbiter deal with players abusing (banging) the clocks. While I can understand banging in blitz / rapid games, especially when facing time pressure, I cannot understand for standard games. Shall I be the first (unpopular) arbiter to issue formal warning to players for banging the clocks at each and every move? =)
More interesting to me is that the same is never said about capturing a piece, or making a move with a thunderous thud. I even heard some coaches introduce it to their students as a habit for (legal) means of intimidation LOL. Not something I would encourage, of course, since it could be distracting or irritating to the opponent.
Maybe I can apply Article 11.5 to playing each and every move over the board with a bang. Again, I foresee myself becoming a rather unpopular arbiter to the players ^o^
11.5 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims, unreasonable offers of a draw or the introduction of a source of noise into the playing area
- 6.5 Before the start of the game the arbiter shall decide where the chessclock is placed.
(In Arbiter's manual):
In individual tournaments the chess-clock is normally placed on the right of the player who has the black pieces. The chess boards shall be placed so that the arbiter is able to check as many clocks as possible at the same time. In the case of a left-handed player with black pieces, the board, rather than the clock, can be turned
newbie's thoughts: Interestingly, I have seen this (turning of the board) implemented in club-level, unofficial tourneys, but not large-scale ones at the national level. Since this is specifically stated in the manual, shouldn't this be permitted and implemented more regularly for the benefit of left-handed players playing the Black pieces?
- 7.5.3 If the player presses the clock without making a move, it shall be considered and penalized as if an illegal move.
(In Arbiter's manual):
During the game if the arbiter is confident that the clock was accidentally pressed or it is because of some misunderstanding, he should not use strong penalties against the player. There can be many situations when it is obvious, so in such situation, the arbiter should accurately assess the motive of those actions and find the possible fair solution. For example: Player B makes an illegal move. Player A, instead of pausing the clock, restarts the opponent‟s clock. Is this an infringement of Article 7.5.3? In this case Player A had not deliberately started Player B‟s clock. Where an opponent's clock may have been started in error the arbiter must decide if this action constitutes an illegal move or a distraction.
newbie's thoughts: This (pressing the clock instead of pausing) happens more often than you would think. I *think* most arbiters would only consider treating this as an illegal move if / when the opponent complains. More importantly, I think players need to know this in order to protect themselves from any claims -- remember to pause the clock when there is any irregularity / when seeking arbiter's assistance instead of pressing the clock (to restart opponent's time counting down).
- 7.5.4 If a player uses two hands to make a single move (for example in case of castling, capturing or promotion) and pressed the clock, it shall be considered and penalized as if an illegal move.
newbie's thoughts: Here, I love the additional notes from both the Arbiter's manual and the from UK Chess Arbiters' Association:
(In Arbiter's manual):
Article 7.5.4 is not applicable if the move ends the game according to articles 5.1.1, 5.2.1, 5.2.2, 9.6.1 or 9.6.2.
(newbie: in other words, if the move results in a checkmate, stalemate, a 'dead' position which there is no legal continuation of moves for either side to deliver checkmate, or when arbiter interferes for the same position arising for at least the 5th time, or at least 75 moves made with no capture and no pawn moves, the game ends there and then, before this becomes an issue. This is actually consistent with articles 4.1 and article 5)
4.1 Each move must be played with one hand only.
5 ...provided that the move producing the (checkmate/stalemate) position was in accordance with Article 3 and Articles 4.2 –4.7.
(newbie: For the game-ending move, it counts as long as the actual move over the board is legal, and touch move / release of pieces etc. are all observed. It is okay that the move producing the end of the game be made with 2 hands.)
(By UK Chess Arbiter's Association):
A player who, for example, castles using both hands but realises this before pressing the clock is entitled to ‘uncastle’ and then do so legally without incurring a penalty.
(newbie: This is similar, if not the same as the situation whereby a player has made, but not completed, an illegal move, i.e. made a move over the board but without pressing the clock. Touch move still applies when the player undo the illegal move.)
- 18.104.22.168 A player wishing to offer a draw shall do so after having made a move on the chessboard and before pressing his clock. An offer at any other time during play is still valid but Article 11.5 must be considered. No conditions can be attached to the offer. In both cases the offer cannot be withdrawn and remains valid until the opponent accepts it, rejects it orally, rejects it by touching a piece with the intention of moving or capturing it, or the game is concluded in some other way.
(In Arbiter's manual):
The correct sequence of a draw offer is clear:
1. make a move
2. offer of a draw
3. press the clock.
If a player deviates from this order, the offer still stands though it has been offered in an incorrect manner. The arbiter in this case has to penalise the player, according to the Article 12.9.
No conditions can be attached to a draw offer.
Some examples of unacceptable conditions: The player requires the opponent to accept the offer within 2 minutes.
In a team competition: a draw is offered under the condition that another game in the match shall be resigned or shall be drawn as well.
In both cases the offer of a draw is valid, but not the attached condition...
newbie's thoughts: it seems that the arbiter is obliged to impose a penalty to the player making the draw offer incorrectly (so long as the opponent does not accept the offer to end the game immediately). Again, I haven't seen it being implemented by arbiters much. Maybe I will start ^o^ This penalty seems fair enough, I'd say.
- 11.9A player shall have the right to request from the arbiter an explanation of particular points in the Laws of Chess.
(In Arbiter's Manual):
For example:A player might ask whether, with Black‟s bishop on a2, White‟s rook on a1 and King on e1, 0-0-0 is legal. Or what the rate of play is. It is important that the arbiter does not mislead the player, nor advise him, nor advance any further.
(By UK Chess Arbiter's Association):Arbiters should note that whilst it is acceptable to tell a player how to capture en passant, for example, it is not acceptable to answer “Can I take this pawn?”
newbie's thoughts: I have not actually seen many players exercise their right on this. I think what the Arbiter's Manual and the UK Chess Arbiter's Association is trying to bring across, is what the arbiter can do and what the arbiter should not do.
Clarify the FIDE laws of chess (e.g. correct way and sequence to offer a draw, correct way to claim a draw)
Should not do:
Tell a player his/her options, or even worse, offer any form of advice which may over-privilege the player who sought clarification).
Personally, I won't even reply if 0-0-0 is legal (as per example in Arbiter's Manual). Rather, I will reply the player who asked, "how to castle" (legally). That's why I think my current habit of holding a copy of the Laws of Chess useful. I think I can just show the requestor the relevant section on castling (Article 3.8).
Drawing back on a past experience -- a junior player was trying to ask if she was in checkmate as she cannot see a legal move (no, she is not in checkmate but she failed to see a legal move), I should have just replied the definitions of checkmate. Instead, I deferred that decision / query to the chief arbiter -- yes, there are all moments we are scared of making a wrong judgement, especially when we start off as newbies.
But of course, I don't think it's fair to pause the clock while making this request. The player shall make this request to the arbiter while his/her own clock is running down, to be fair to the opponent.
- A.2 (Under Rapid Chess) Players do not need to record the moves, but do not lose their rights to claims normally based on a scoresheet. The player can, at any time, ask the arbiter to provide him with a scoresheet, in order to write the moves
(In Arbiter's Manual): Players are allowed to record the moves, but they may stop recording any time they wish. Players may claim a draw without scoresheet when they are playing on electronic boards. The arbiter also has the right to accept or refuse a claim without scoresheet based on his observation.
newbie's thoughts: This is where I see value-add as an arbiter in a game. Especially when there are very few games remaining, and when we have no luxury of electronic equipment to rely on, other than observing for potential infringements / flag fall, a good arbiter should also help to count moves (for rapid / blitz games) in anticipation of a claim.
- Scenario:A player resigned, only to subsequently realise that his opponent flag fell. The player who resigned claims that the flag fall happened before his resignation.
newbie's thoughts: First and foremost, I think it is unfortunate that the flag fall happened (if it happened) without arbiter observing so. (That is why the arbiter should come in once the flag fall is observed, to prevent escalation / complication of matters.)
Second, we need to try and establish whether we can confirm the sequence of events (i.e. whether the flag fall happened before or after the resignation). The tricky part of things, is that a resignation can be declared at any time in the game, not just during a player's own turn.
If we cannot establish what came first, by default, I'd say that the player has resigned, so the opponent wins.
Advice for players: When you are contemplating resignation, other than checking out all possibilities remaining over the chess board, also check the time situation before you throw in the towel. That is why some people recommend to never resign! =)
Do you agree or disagree with my newbie's views? Feel free to share your thoughts so that we can all learn together! Thanks ahead.
Ong Yujing (Eugene)
Siglap South CC Chess Quartet