Sunday, 20 September 2015

2015 World Cup - Nepomniachtchi dudded

Round 3 of the 2015 FIDE World Cup ended in controversy, after Hikaru Nakamura beat  Ian Nepomniachtchi in an 'Armageddon' game. Early in the game Nakamura castled with two hands, in direct contravention to Article 4.1 of the FIDE Laws of Chess. As the game was played in the presence of an arbiter, the first thing that should have happened was that the arbiter should have immediately intervened. Although the game was a blitz game (in terms of time), Article B.3 of the Laws of Chess specify that the game is played under Competition (ie standard) Rules, as it is being observed by an arbiter, and recorded by electronic means.
However the arbiter(s) did nothing and the game continued. After the game, which Nakamura won, Nepomniachtchi filed a protest which was handled by the appeals committee. The appeals committee allowed the result to stand, which only compounded the mistake made by the arbiter. The argument from the appeals committee was that Nepomniachtchi was at fault because he failed to stop the clock and inform the arbiter that an illegal move had occurred.
I have a couple of problems with this reasoning. Firstly, the job an arbiter does is not dependant upon the players playing the game. If you are tasked with ensuring the Laws of Chess are strictly observed (Article 12.1) then that's what you do. And this should have been the starting point for the Appeals Committee. Once it is established that the officials failed to do their job correctly, then the Appeals Committee should have at least ordered the game to be replayed (IMO). (Note: In at least two occasions where actions of the officials in contravention to the laws of chess have affected a games result, I have recommended the replay of the game).
The other issue is that FIDE itself have been pushing for a more interventionist role for arbiters. While a member of the FIDE Rules Commission (from 2008 to 2014), there was a clear directive from members of the FIDE Presidential Board that all competition chess should follow the same set of rules, wherever possible. This resulted in changes to the laws regarding blitz chess, where arbiters now *must* flag players, rather than leaving it up to players to notice. Personally I was opposed to these changes, but once a FIDE VP lobs into your meeting and tells you what the new rules will be, there is little room for argument.
So the notion pushed by the appeals committee that it was only up to the player to make sure the rules were enforced is somewhat contradictory. Of course, having been the subject of a disciplinary process by FIDE, having contradictory outcomes depending on the people involved is not unknown, so such inconsistencies  are not that surprising.
Small comfort for Nepomniachtchi, but at least he was refunded his $500 appeal bond.

1 comment:

Kevin Bonham said...

Under Article B5 the ruling for whether the Competition Rules apply has to cover the whole event, including the earliest rounds. You can't have playoffs in the early rounds potentially covered by the Blitz Rules and playoffs in the later rounds covered by the Competition Rules, it has to be the same thing for the whole event.

But I don't think it matters whether the Blitz Rules or Competition Rules were in force since the old requirement that the arbiter cannot intervene in an Article 4 situation unless asked to in Blitz has been removed, so I would argue the arbiters were required to intervene anyway.

That said, I believe that if an arbiter rules incorrectly (or incorrectly fails to rule) during a game, a player needs to stop the clock during the game and indicate a desire to appeal. Otherwise the player can just play on knowing that if they don't like the result they can just have the game annulled and play again - which depending on how severe/intentional the violation was, may be unfair to the opponent.