Thursday, 19 April 2012

Pawn Promotion

Next week I'm off to a FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, The purpose of the meeting is to look over rule changes that will be discussed and voted on at the FIDE Congress in Istanbul in the middle of the year.
Some people I've spoken to wonder whether there is much to change in the Laws of Chess, given that the game has remained pretty much the same for hundreds of years. I explain to them that while the way we play chess hasn't changed much, how the rules are defined often needs work. This is mainly because for every rule there is a loophole, and while I understand that not all loopholes can be shut, the most obvious ones can.
Having said that there are probably some rules that are still unclear, both in definition or practice, and we will be looking at those. One that has caused some comment recently (especially in Russia) is the correct way to promote a pawn. While the rule defines a clear and specific method for doing this (move the pawn to the eighth rank, and then replace it with the intended piece), there is also the common (but currently illegal) way of just removing the pawn from the seventh rank and placing the promoted piece on the eighth rank. Whether we allow both methods will be one topic of discussion.
In fact it was this topic that caused some amusement at my chess club last night. The mother of one of the club's juniors asked me what I would be discussing when I was in Switzerland. "Pawn promotion" was my reply. "Oh gosh, really" she said. It took me a few moments to realise why she was giggling!


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, why is it illegal to remove the pawn from the seventh and just place a queen on the eighth?

Anonymous said...

Probably because under the rules (3.7e) the pawn has not actually reached the eighth rank but only the seventh before being promoted.

Ian Rout said...

Why is it illegal? One issue that comes to mind is that placing the queen (or whatever) first creates touch-move issues if the player then changes his mind before touching the pawn.

Also if the promotion delivers mate but the flag drops there can be a problem (a "clean" mate automatically ends the game even before you press your clock). The likelihood of this normally is low but rises steeply in blitz.