Sunday 20 April 2008

FIDE Grand Prix - Special Draw Rules

Courtesy of Chessvibes comes news of the FIDE Grand Prix series which has just begun in Baku, Azerbaijan. Of special interest (to me at least) are the rules covering drawn games.

(Taken from the Chessvibes Site)

Players will not be allowed to offer draws directly to their opponents. Any draw claim will be permitted only through the Chief Arbiter in the following cases:

  • a triple-repetition of the position,
  • a perpetual check,
  • in theoretically drawn position and
  • applying the rule of 50 moves (he writes his move on his scoresheet, and declares to the arbiter his intention to make this move which shall result in the last 50 moves having been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture, or the last 50 consecutive moves have been made by each player without the movement of any pawn and without any capture).

The Chief Arbiter may consult with the Technical Adviser before accepting any claim by players for a draw. The Chief Arbiter is the only authority who can acknowledge the final result of the game in these cases.

NB The major difference between these rules and those in effect at the 2008 O2C Doeberl Cup, was that these rules apply for the entire game, and not just for the first 30 moves (as in Canberra).
What is also interesting is that the FIDE are essentially using the same system that was used at the Doeberl Cup, with the Chief Arbiter making the decision concerning drawn games, but consulting with a Technical Adviser (in our case GM Ian Rogers) if necessary.
Part of the criticism levelled at the application of the Gibraltar Rule at the Doeberl Cup was the involvement of GM Ian Rogers in the process. I also note with interest the the rules from the GrandPrix website state

The Technical Adviser must be a Grandmaster, rated at least 2500, who has held the title of Grandmaster for at least ten years and is an active player as defined by the rating system.

Despite announcing his retirement from chess, GM Ian Rogers still meets this criteria. But the broader issue is that FIDE acknowledge that in enforcing this rule it isn't necessary to call on the services of Kasparov, God, or the ghost of Bobby Fischer to decide what is or isn't drawn.


Kevin Bonham said...

Shaun, do you interpret the FIDE Grand Prix series rules as placing any limitation on a player's ability to claim an otherwise valid-under-the-Laws draw by repetition, assuming that there is no evidence that the players deliberately prearranged the draw?

Shaun Press said...

Yes. The way the rules are presented, all draws need to be approved by the chief arbiter. However, until I actually see the games from the event, I don't know how these rules will be implemented. If they are handled sensibly, then the "no player can be forced to play a move that would disadvantage his position on the board" model should be used.
Of course in an arbiter wished to apply a Kafkaesque interpretation to the claim, any 3 fold repetition that wasn't forced, is evidence of collusion between the players, otherwise they wouldn't have got to that position in the first place.

Kevin Bonham said...

My reading is that the Chief Arbiter decides whether the draw claim is factually correct, but may need the assistance of the Technical Adviser to establish whether the position is or is not in fact "theoretically drawn" or perhaps even in some tricky cases "a perpetual check".

I don't see how the Chief Arbiter having the final say about a draw claim alone gives the Chief Arbiter the right to knock back a draw claim for a repetition that would otherwise be clearly correct and automatically upheld. I read the point of that bit as being just that the Technical Adviser does not have the final say - if the TA says it's a theoretical draw but the CA isn't convinced, the CA can make them play on, for example.

Also this version (basically the Sofia rule from Mtel 2005) lacks the stated prohibition on "tacit agreements to draw games of any length, by repetition or otherwise" that is present (if tricky to interpret clearly) in the Gibraltar rule.

Shaun Press said...

What is worth noting in the rules is that how a player can claim a draw under the "50 move" rule is explicitly spelled out, but not for the "3 fold repetition" rule. My assumption is that all 50 move claims will therefore be accepted, but not all repetition claims, otherwise they would have a similar clause.

Anonymous said...

On its face, this rule does not apply to draws by agreement as they do not depend on a claim.


Kevin Bonham said...

My alternative assumption re the 50 move bit is that it was originally worded clumsily without the clarification; someone said "'rule of 50 moves'? mmm...huh? what's that?" and then someone else decided to spell it out. I'm not sure anything else can be read into it beyond that.

Re Denis's point I notice that Sofia 2005 had "A draw by mutual agreement between the players is forbidden", which does not appear in this version, so agreed draws are indeed not literally forbidden in this version.

If the intent was only to regulate draw claims then I'm not sure why the claims are made "through" the CA rather than "to" the CA. My guess is they intended to regulate draw offers (beyond just the way in which they are offered) but didn't manage to do so explicitly.

I'm not sure why drafting these rules unambiguously is too hard for these people.

Anonymous said...

I have now had a look at the regulations for the Grand Prix and it is obvious that the passage quoted by Shaun has absolutely nothing to do with short draws or with the Gibraltar Rules used in the GibTelecom Masters and the Doeberl Cup. The passage is part of a rule that begins:

"4.4 The players are not permitted to speak to their opponents during the games. Appropriate sporting behaviour is expected from all participants and FIDE rules of conduct are to be strictly followed at all times."

That is, the basic rule is one prohibiting players from talking to their opponents. The rest of the rule then goes on to deal with how claims for a draw may be made, as quoted by Shaun. The rule does provide that a draw offer is not to be made directly to one's opponent but that is in furtherance of the prohibition on speaking to one's opponent, no more.

That is why there is no mention of move limits or the so-called genuineness of the draw. Those matters are not relevant to the rule.

Likewise, the provision regarding a Technical Adviser is consistent with the arbiter's normal function and clarifies that he may seek assistance - a matter not specifically permitted by the Laws of Chess.

There may be an argument that the sentence prohibiting players to offer a draw directly to their opponents amounts to a ban on draws by agreement but that is, in my view, an outlandish argument. The better view is that the sentence is to be read as requiring such offers to be made though the arbiter because of the "no-speakies" rule. The rest of the rule is slightly odd in that claims of the kind mentioned must properly be made to the arbiter under the ordinary Laws. If, say, a player claims triple repetition to his opponent and the opponent agrees, that is, strictly speaking, not a draw by repetition but a draw by agreement. It seems to me that all of this is there to underpin the provision allowing the arbiter to have access to a Technical Adviser, thus increasing the chances of a correct decision.


Kevin Bonham said...

No suspicious draws yet. I find it difficult to tell whether they *are* restricting short draws and the rule isn't worded appropriately for that purpose, or whether they are not restricting short draws and there just weren't any today. I'm actually suspecting the former as I wonder why you would allow a player to claim a draw in a theoretically drawn position if the players were allowed to simply agree a draw anyway.

Shaun Press said...

Kevin, certainly the evidence from Round 1 points to a restriction on agreed draws, given that the drawn games ended either in a triple repetition or "book" draw, and that these positions actually occurred on the board. But of course it only takes 1 counter-example to invalidate a theory, so future rounds may throw up something different.

On the wording of the rules, I don't find them confusing at all. What I found striking about the debate around the implementation of the rules at the Doeberl Cup, was that rather than ask the organisers/arbiters, the chattering classes debated the issue amongst themselves, couldn't come to an agreement between each other, and retreated to the defence that "the rules were confusing". As I remarked to a number of people face to face "just because you're confused, doesn't mean we were confused". And if the rules for the Grand Prix are enough the provide the arbiters and players with a clear understanding of the playing conditions of the tournament, then they have done their job.

Anonymous said...

One of the more bizarre aspects of the rule is that it appears to have added a ground for claiming a draw that does not exist in the laws of Chess,namely that the game is "theoretically drawn".

On further consideration, I think that the part of the rule that I described as odd has a reason - it serves to ensure that all relevant decisions are made by the Chief Arbiter, not an assistant, and that only the Chief Arbiter has access to the Technical Adviser.

It is however wrong to say, as Shaun says, that all draws need the approval of the Chief Arbiter. Draws by agreement do not. All that the rule says about them, and then by implication, is that they are to be made to the opponent through the Arbiter. There is nothing allowing the Arbiter to refuse to communicate them to the opponent.

Kevin Bonham said...

"Just because you're confused, doesn't mean we were confused" - indeed, and just because you weren't confused, doesn't alone mean you were right.

If it is necessary to ask the organisers/arbiters to determine what the meaning of a tournament condition is, then that means at least one of two things: that the condition as worded is too vague, and/or that the implementation varies from the condition's literal meaning (if any).

For all we know, in the Grand Prix case, the players may have received further clarification concerning how the rules would be implemented, so there is no way yet of knowing that the rules alone (as written) are doing the job by themselves. Or the rules might make perfect sense when translated into some other language rather than the dialect vaguely resembling English that tends to get used to write FIDE official documents. It seems that the concept of a draw claim is used to include the concept of an accepted draw offer in what we have before us, when normally they mean very different things.

Kevin Bonham said...

My impression from the games is that they are indeed regulating draws by agreement but that they are quite happy to let through repetitions that are pretty gratuitous. Perhaps if one of these occurred on move five they might have other ideas, but no sign of repetitions being regulated at all ... as I suspected all along.

Shaun Press said...

If you saw the comments by Azmai and Borg in Round 2 after the Grischuk-Karjakin, "happy" wouldn't be the word I'd choose.
But clearly they haven't come up with a way of dealing with such draws (which I note aren't that particularly short), that is agreeable to everyone. However, avid readers of this blog would be aware this was always likely to be a problem. The challenge is to come up with a way of making the rules work.