Wednesday 13 January 2016

You be the Arbiter

Based on a question put to me by Miles Patterson, how would you rule on the following scenarios

  • Player A is trying to checkmate Player B with only 3 moves left before Player B can claim a draw under the 50 move rule. Player B however loses on time and Player A claims the game. Player B then claims it should be a draw as Player A does not have a forced mate in 3 (which is true) and he would then claim a draw. What do you rule?
  • Same situation as above but in this case Player A has K+N and Player B has K+B. What do you rule now?
  • Same situation as the second case but neither player has claimed a draw under the 50 move rule and it is now 72 moves since the last pawn move or capture. Does your previous decisions change?

My answers in a couple of days, but for now, help yourselves.


Anonymous said...

Do you want the "correct" answers, or what arbiters will rule in practice? You already stated previously ( that you'd not give a guy with a lone knight against an army a win on time, and ridicule him if he appealed. Can't someone take you to the FIDE Ethics board for not applying rules correctly, and intentionally so?

RM said...

To Anonymous: Jon Berry and Carol Jarecki, two very notable arbiters, quite famously awarded a wrongly claimed 3-rep draw at the 2003 US Champs (Serper has written about it at in his blogs, but never named her specifically), on the grounds that the intent was clear. Arbiters are never going to face the music for bad decisions, though Sutovsky's Facebook page (ACP) keeps a steady drumbeat to try to hold them more accountable. Good luck with FIDE though.

Quoting Serper: I will always remember the tournament director's response: "Yes, you are right, but by the spirit of the law, I find Aaron's intention correct, so I rule the game a draw."

Ben said...

Number 3 is clear under the novel "75 move rule", as neither side can win the game by a legal series of moves, as either move 75 occurs before mate, or a capture happens with insufficient material. So "dead reckoning" (as the problemists call it) implies a draw. But really, it's so artificial to think that anyone would know that 72 moves have passed. If they were recording moves, that would imply increment, so no one should flag anyway.

Anonymous said...

Well, in the first scenario at least player B should lose. Even though there's no forced mate, they still may have stumbled into mate. AO

Scott Stringer said...

I still believe had my greatest scalp denied me by a dodgy Arbiter's decision. I was too green to protest at the time.

Shaun: if you would like more info contact me via the links at the provided URL. My story might make an interesting discussion piece.

Anonymous said...

In the first scenario, if you award a draw then where do you draw the line? Say player B loses on time and has 20 moves till the 50 move draw rule, can player A prove he has a forced mate in under 20 moves? Player B must lose, my understanding is that player A must be able to show through some series of legal moves that a checkmate is possible, regardless of how many moves it would take.

Unknown said...

The scenarios given are very interesting and each have their nuances. We must remember that arbiters also have some discretion in these matters so may I suggest that all three scenarios can be approached in an identical manner:-

If Player A is an attractive female similar in looks and build to Kate Upton and if Player B is the usual 'garden variety' bookish club player complete with 1940's pants and 70's blazer, the game MUST be awarded to Player A EVERY time!

After a few minutes congratulating Player A, the arbiter may request telephone number of Player A. If Player A refuses to provide telephone number the decision may be reversed before start of next round.

Kevin Bonham said...

Case 1: A wins on time. The fact that A does not have a forced mate within 3 moves is irrelevant under the Laws, and it is irrelevant morally too since players who are short of time will often blunder into unforced mates. Indeed it would be irrelevant under the Laws even if A had no way to checkmate in three moves with any series of legal moves. Perhaps in the latter case it shouldn't be irrelevant, but that's how the rules are and if people have an issue with them they need to convince FIDE to create appropriate exceptions.

On the matter of the primacy of flagfall vs an impending 50-move draw, I can't recall anyone recently even trying. (There have been unsuccessful attempts to convince FIDE to scrap win on time with lone knight or bishop. I opposed these on the grounds that if you disallowed a win with a lone knight but allowed a win with a lone blocked pawn then that inconsistency was silly).

Cases 2 and 3: Likewise, except that depending on the exact circumstances I may very well have already warned one or both players that they are required to agree a draw or be in breach of the disrepute rule, and hence prevented these cases arising.