This years O2C Doeberl Cup was a very pleasant affair. There were no major disputes, no arguments over pairings, and most importantly for me, I didn't lose my temper once. Nonetheless there were a number of rulings the arbiters were called on to make. The majority of these occurred in the Lightning tournament, and for the interest of other arbiters I list them here. NB Not all these rulings strictly complied with the FIDE rules of chess. In some cases the laws are silent, on others arbiter "judgment" came into play.
1. Can players use two hands to capture?
Simple answer, no. The rules of chess require players to move with one hand only. However two-handed castling is usually permitted in Lightning events, as long as the King is touched first.
2. Is King capture allowed?
For the Doeberl Cup Lightning the answer was Yes. I have never understood why FIDE have outlawed King capture as a way of proving an illegal move. My decision to allow King capture was announced prior to the start of Round 1.
3. Player A had a King and a Knight. Player B had a King, a Bishop and a number of pawns. Player B lost on time. What was the result?
I ruled the game a draw. Player A then claimed that if Player B under promoted a mate could be achieved, assuming Player B arranged his pieces to allow this to happen. While a strict reading of the rules may support this claim, the actions taken to reach that point do not qualify as "unskilled counterplay" in my book. However I do feel sorry for Player A, as no doubt a different arbiter may rule differently, most likely when Player A is in a position to want a draw.
4. Player A delivers mate, Player B then notices that Player A has lost on time. Who wins?
Player A wins. Legal checkmate ends the game, meaning Player B can no longer claim a win.
5. Player A plays an illegal move but does not press his clock. He then retracts the move. Player B stops the clocks, before Player A has played a legal move, and asks the arbiter to force player A to make the original move. Do I?
Of course not. Players cannot be forced to make an illegal move, and are entitles to replace an illegal move with a legal one (touch move rules still applying) before starting their opponents clock. As an aside Player B then complained that Player A was receiving free thinking time while the clocks were stopped. As Player B stopped the clock to ask for a ruling, that was a risk he took.
6. If a Queen isn't available when promoting, can you use two pawns on the same square instead?
I allowed this, although the other player wasn't happy. I have heard of incidents were players have "accidentally" bumped a queen off the side of the table when their opponent is about to promote. Of course a player is entitled to stop the clock if the piece they need isn't available, although in practice very few players do.
7. DGT clocks have a symbol which indicates which players flag fell first. In 5 minute mode, the DGT clock continues to operate even if one player has run out of time. Player A noticed both players had run out of time, but Player B pointed out that Player A's flag had fallen first. Who gets the point?
Of course this game is draw, and both get half a point. An oft overlooked clause in the rules is that a player must have time on their own clock to claim a win on time.