Wednesday, 9 March 2016

2016 Candidates

The 2016 World Championship Candidates Tournament starts in a few days, and I must say the field is pretty open. There are a few players who definitely can win it, a few players who might win it, and the rest who can affect the outcome.
In the 'can win it' category I would place Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand, and Lev Aronian. In the 'might win it' group, Nakamura and Topalov. As for the other 3 players, Svidler, Giri and Karjakin I would be surprised if they did finish on top, but it is still a possibility.
If I had to settle on one player, I think it will be Caruana. While not recently dominating the chess scene in the same way he did at St Louis 2014 I think he is in the best place career wise to qualify for the World Championship match. He is just at the right point regarding youth plus experience to have both the skill and energy to go all the way (at least until he reaches Carlsen).
The tournament starts on Friday and you can see all the action at the tournament website (and possibly no where else!)


Anonymous said...

Hi Shaun, since you're an Rules guy, can I ask you?

What do you think of failure to forfeit Anand for showing up late, under zero tolerance in Round 3?

a) He was definitely late.
b) Under rules prior to July 2014, Law 6.6a does not appear to give arbiter the option, I interpret "shall" to mean he must forfeit someone who shows up late (can be appealed I guess)
c) Under "current" rules, Law 6.7a gives arbiter the option


d) FIDE idiots copied the OLD pre-2014 rules into the 2016 Candidates Regulations!!!

So which applied here? Under chess law? Under contract law (are Regulations binding, over FIDE Laws)? Under ... ?

I know what the "right" answer, Caruana chose to play the game. But still, what if it were antagonists?


ThanklessTemerity said...

As a legal matter, I don't see where the "Technical Regulations" Annex to the Regulations is binding, except during tiebreaks. See the language of 3.7.1 (b1), which is the only mention of that Annex. Just because the Annex is stapled to the Regulations, doesn't mean that it necessarily overrides the Laws (which are also not mentioned usefully in the Regulations), though a lawyer (or CAS judge) might disagree. So I don't think it is at all clear which of the Annex or the Laws is to be followed (and FIDE could have avoided the whole thing, by copying the current Laws, and fortunately Caruana did avoid the whole thing, by not protesting).

By contract law, the Annex is "closer", in that it's part of the same document, and nothing in it specifies the (current) Laws either. By chess law, I would say that the lack of reference to the Annex for non-tiebreak play makes it not relevant in those situations, with the idea that the FIDE Laws of Chess are implicitly assumed to be followed (unless otherwise specified, as in 3.7.1-b1). Whether such an "implicit assumption" is warranted, would be the crux of the matter.

What could be critical is how the player's contract brings the Regulations into specification.
I don't see how FIDE actually binds itself to the Regulations vis-a-vis the players in it. There are only "player's obligations", and FIDE doesn't really have any? Anyway, number 4.1 mentions both the Regulations and then later the Laws, so to the extent that the Regulations Annex is actually integrally part of the Regulations (and not just applicable only when indicated), I would (guardedly) say it has precedence. The Latin root of "annex" means "connect" IIRC, so I'd say the Annex is integrally part of the Regulations. The fact that the Annex is just a copy of the old Laws makes it hard to construe 4.1, which names both the Regulations and the (new) Laws.

However, all of this is irrelevant to me, as 4.5 of the Player's Contract is clear, forfeit at zero time, so the question is moot. Anand loses. Given the imperative language, I don't see how this can be avoided. In fact, I would say that there is no remedy, and Anand's score must be changed to 0 and Caruana's to 1, even after the fact (no "statute of limitations", at least until WC2016 occurs, probably until whatever the standard civil limit in Vaud is), with no arbitral consultation on the matter. The contract language trumps everything else (Laws, Regulations, even players meetings decisions), due to its direct and frontal place. As for lawsuits, not only do the immediately affected parties (Anand and Caruana) have standing to legal recourse (in courts of Vaud per the contract), but also anyone affected in the final standings (even for splitting of monies).

Yes, this is harsh, but I think everything I say is made out in the contract (assuming Anand really was late). The alternative construal would be that as 4.5 only binds each individual player to FIDE (and not to each other), and FIDE can choose to waive 4.5 as they so choose, so it's really a "one-way" clause that FIDE can exercise at its discretion. This would be more in the line of arbitral language, though questions of fairness to all parties do arise. Really, I'd expect that's the interpretation a court would likely give (they don't want to create waves in a sporting event if they don't have to, usually a popular judicial attitude), though I'd not prefer it myself. FIDE can hope there's not a lawsuit in the end (and I doubt there will be, unless certain combos of finishers appear), but they should at the very least consult their legal counsel. Also, if I had been drafting the contract, I would not have placed the "zero time" forfeit so prominently in it, when this is already covered by subsidiary rules. Just asking for trouble.

ThanklessTemerity said...

Not the main question, but if someone is forfeited, I'm also not so sure an appeals committee could blithely ignore the language of whatever Laws or Annex is binding and "be nice" to an offender, since it is a matter that can be litigated if FIDE fail in their contractual obligations to follow the rules.

ThanklessTemerity said...

Not that it matters to my conclusion about 4.5 in the Contract, but now I see that the signature clause invokes the Laws then the Candidates Regulations (opposite order to 4.1), so I think it really is completely a grab-bag as to which you would propose to be precedential.

Anonymous said...

There was a little kid who was supposed to make the ceremonial first move, which is maybe not an excuse at law, but would be in people's mind. The national under-8 champ I think. Still, Anand should bear responsibility, and if so, FIDE is not doing itself favors by saying one thing, and then doing another (not to mention ballsing-up the copying over of the wrong rules). For the protocol, playing the game is in my opinion best (and the obvious thing to do), as legally the forfeit can always be applied ex post facto if it comes to that (with little prejudice to any rights), while the other way around is likely impossible in scheduling.

Shaun Press said...

Due to extreme business on other projects I've only just woken up to the fact that Anand arrived after the start time.
Note: My comments on the issue are tempered by the fact I am only reading what was said at (and am not aware of the whole story)

One of the reason I argued against zero-tolerance when on the Rules Commission was for exactly situations like this. The rule makes no sense for big swiss events where it doesn't matter if a player arrives late for her game on board 41, but this is the sort of event that FIDE insisted the rule be enforced. On the other hand, it was widely known that in events where the rule might have made sense (eg Candidates events, and World Championship matches), this rule would not be enforced. (NB when I say FIDE, I am specifically referring to the FIDE Presidential Board and Executive as they were the people who drove these rule changes).
So while on the one hand I am pleased that the arbiter did use common sense and not forfeit Anand, seeing the rule enforced would of course have exposed the absurdity of the rule in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I agree with TT analysis a lot, but I think FIDE *does* have the right to "soften the blow" against Anand contractually, particularly (nay, imperatively) if they were in part responsible (and with FIDE, that's a reasonable bet in general, and with what I've read of Moscow onsite rukus, a reasonable bet in specific).

Lionel said...

Historically, could the reason for using the old Laws be that the 2014 GP cycle was supposed to start in May 2014, and they wanted uniform rules? They attach the same old Laws to the 2016 WC regulations. I think WCOC maybe even mentioned this in a report? Though, the original 2014 GP regulations don't attach any "technical regulations"...

Anonymous said...

Nice try Lionel, but the 2015 World Cup was under new Laws. I do think I remember something about WCOC uniformising, but IIRC with respect to Sochi 2014 (Nov).

ThanklessTemerity said...

That's interesting Lionel, but actually the take-away I get regards your last sentence: from the *lack* of an Annex to the GP regs is the implication that this event doesn't need any tech regs, due to the fact of lack of tiebreak games in the GP. So if anything, I'd (grudgingly?!) list this as evidence that the Technical Regulations in other "Regulations" documents only apply to tiebreaks. The real solution of course is for FIDE (and not just PB and Executive in this case) to get its act tidied up.

Crandall said...

Shaun, do you know if FIDE has ever tried to make rules for "ceremonial first moves", as here it seems that was half the problem. Nominally it probably goes against regulations involving only having players, principals, and stewards in the playing area.

Anonymous said...

Sveshnikov has a multi-subject interview where he discusses the lameness of some FIDE rules (like zero tolerance, though also two-handed castling and capturing).