You should always play by the rules! So
watch it; at the FIDE congress in Istanbul, some of the
rules have been changed.
These new Laws of Chess will take effect on
the 1st of July 2013.
Many of the changes in the text are just
clarifications, but some go beyond cosmetics. I will work
through some part of the text, picking ten changes that
might directly influence your game. Of course I (have to)
assume that you are familiar with the current Laws of Chess.
I follow the order from the articles in the LoC.
In the article on the promotion
of the pawn it is added that; “The pawn can
be removed from the board and the new piece can
be put on the appropriate square in any order.”
As there is no difference in the position that
occurs after promotion it does not matter on the
board, but the arbiter cannot consider this to
be an illegal move any more.
Adjusting the pieces, after a
"J’adoube" of course, is now only allowed if
your own clock is running.
If an irregularity occurs and
the position is restored, the arbiter shall use
his best judgment to determine the times to be
shown on the chess clock. Added to the rules is
the explicit option not to change the clock
times. In tournaments with more than one round
per day, the arbiter might very well use this
new option to make sure the competition will
remain within the time schedule.
Either the claiming player or
the arbiter shall stop the clock in case of a
claiming a draw based on the 50 moves rule or
3-fold repetition. Therefore the arbiter cannot
decline the claim anymore on the sole basis the
player did not stop the clock.
Again on claiming a draw based
on the 50 moves rule or 3-fold repetition; the
time added to the remaining thinking time on the
clock of the opponent is changed to two minutes,
making it equal to the time penalty in case of
an illegal move.
One of the most confusing
articles for players and arbiters has for a long
time been article 10.2. claiming a draw in the final
period of a game, with no increment or delay.
"If the player having the
move has less than two minutes left on his
clock, he may claim a draw before his flag
falls. He may claim on the basis that his
opponent cannot win by “normal means”, and/or
that his opponent has been making no effort to
win by normal means. He shall summon the arbiter
and he or the arbiter shall stop the chess clock".
An alternative option for the
arbiter, apart from accepting, declining or
postponing his judgment on the claim, has been
added. This idea comes directly from the
tournament practice in the USA.
"The arbiter may decide, that
the game shall be continued using a “time delay”
(Bronstein AV) or “cumulative time” (Fischer AV)
mode. The extra time shall be 5 seconds added
for each move for both players. The clocks shall
then be set with the extra time and the opponent
shall be awarded two extra minutes".
As this will lead to a decision
resulting from the acts of the players on the
board, I predict this will be the preferred
option of many arbiters. It might even lead to
the abolition of the other options in a future
review of the Laws of Chess. But we have to wait
at least 4 years for that to happen.
Then the never
ending story about mobile phones. In Istanbul the
General Assembly had to decide on the wording,
as the Presidential Board and the Rules and
Tournament Regulations Commission could not
agree. The GA decided to put the most severe
proposition into the Laws of Chess:
is forbidden having a mobile phone and/or other
electronic means of communication in the playing
venue. If it is evident that the player brought
such a device into the playing venue he shall
lose the game. The opponent shall win."
leave it at home, in the car or at your hotel
on tournament practice the next article could
create some relief ...”The rules of a
competition may specify a different, less
severe, penalty.” You better make sure at
the start of a tournament which rules apply, and
organisers should think about the best way to
treat this issue in advance.
A nice gesture to the players is
the new article 12.9 "A player shall have the
right to request from the arbiter an explanation
of particular points in the Laws of Chess.”
So, if you are not clear on how to claim a draw
or any of the other complicated stuff, just
ask. It is a pity it is not written that the arbiter
has to answer your questions, but I guess most
of my colleagues will.
The new Laws of Chess have
several provisions specifically for disabled
players, e.g. opening the option for an arbiter
to stop the clock if a disabled player has to
visit the restroom.
Finally, the time penalties in
Blitz games, e.g. for illegal moves, are reduced
to one minute.
Overall I think most changes are
Some changes are the result of a first
serious attempt to reduce the differences between the FIDE
Laws of Chess and the rules of the United States Chess
Federation. The gap has not yet been closed and I think it
will take a few more sessions to do so.
As the USCF put much more responsibility on
the player rather than the arbiter, there are situations
where the result of a game can be completely opposite,
depending on which set of rules the game is played under. A
player winning a game under USCF rules and losing it under
FIDE rules, or the other way around, is a problem, which
should be overcome as soon as possible.
Translation of the new text to several
languages is in the works, so you best check with your
national federation to find it in your own language.
Albert Vasse, Chief Arbiter London Chess