Wednesday 24 August 2016

FIDE Laws of Chess - Proposed changes

FIDE have published the proposed changes to the Laws of Chess, which you can find here. Most changes are to do with language, some with reorganising the document (numbering etc), and a few major changes.
Probably the most worrying is the return of the 'zero-default' rule, which had been removed a few years back. This rule has been the most unpopular rule in tournament chess ever since I had been involved, and it was a good thing that it was removed. So I'm not sure what the politics is behind bringing it back (and yes with FIDE it is always backroom politics), and I would hope that this proposal is rejected.
There are also changes to handling illegal moves, with players now only having to make a claim within 10 moves of the occurrence of an illegal move. This is to deal with the theoretical case of a player noticing an illegal move, deciding not to claim, and then waiting until much later in the game to make a claim, rewinding the game back to the legal position. The claim is that players could game the system by seeing if they are winning or losing before making a delayed claim, but I have never seen (or heard of it) in practice.
The only other change that jumps out at me is the handling of draw claims. The 5 times repetition rule has removed the requirement that the position occur via consecutive moves (which matches the three times repetition rule). Also it is now the players responsibility to check for three times repetition or a 50 move draw 'under the supervision of the arbiter' and that players now must assist in the reconstruction of games. I find this change odd, but possibly tacit recognition that too many arbiters are getting this part of their duties wrong.
Sadly, the changes signify a further move away from the ethos that chess players are relied upon to play fairly. Assuming players do not plan to cheat every time they sit down at the board makes for a simpler, more understandable set of rules, and by moving away from this, the rules are starting to become filled with 'corner cases' and 'what if's'

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