Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The curse of the upside down rook

The 2017 Canadian Championship seems to have ended with some controversy after the final playoff game saw an all to familiar issue involving promotion. IM Nikolay Noritsyn and GM Bator Sambuev had tied for first place, and were even after 5 playoff games. In a 5m+3 blitz game Noritsyn promoted a pawn, but not being able to find a queen went for the old blitz standby of an upside down rook. At this point the chief arbiter stopped the clock and ensured that the piece on the board was a correctly placed rook. Sambuev then promoted (to a queen) and went on to win.
Despite the rules concerning promotion being quite clear for a number of years, players still manage to get this wrong. The key point is that if the piece you wish to promote to is not available you can stop the clock and request the arbiter fetch you a piece. In this case Noritsyn could not find the queen in among the already captured pieces, and there is a suggestion that Sambuev had the piece in his hand. (NB This is not against the rules, and indeed should make the case for stopping the clock even more obvious).
Personally I have little sympathy for players who get this wrong. While it may be argued that it is hard to think straight with seconds left on the clock, this is one of the few situations where you are legally allowed to 'steal' thinking time. If you recognise that promotion is likely to occur and you are short of time, the smarter thing to do is to remind yourself to stop the clock if necessary 30 seconds out, rather than kicking yourself after the game is over.
BTW I must commend the chief arbiter IA Pierre Denommee for handling the situation this way. The alternative would have been to say nothing (assuming Sambuev did not complain) and then default Noritsyn if he moved the rook diagonally.

3 comments:

Ganesh said...

I must commend the chief arbiter IA Pierre Denommee for handling the situation this way. The alternative would have been to say nothing (assuming Sambuev did not complain) and then default Noritsyn if he moved the rook diagonally.

There is no rule saying that the rook must be put "right side up" (and no definition of which side is "up" for that matter). Thus, IMO the IA was incorrect to disturb the players to clarify the promoted piece.

Truly I agree, you should just always stop the clock when you promote. It is a hack on the rules, but promotion is a funky move.

Joseph Vignalou said...

If an upside-down rook is a rook, can I start my games (legally) with both my rooks upside-down?

Shaun Press said...

@Ganesh

I am assuming the arbiter is treating the upside down rook as a 'displaced piece', which is covered in the Laws of Chess. Often an arbiter needs to balance a literal interpretation of the Laws, with which actions will bring about the fairest outcome. The preface of the Laws of Chess gives an arbiter freedom of action when the situation isn't clearly covered by the Laws, as it was in this case (ie how the pieces are to be placed on the board).