Thursday, June 12, 2008

Krush Challenges Zatonskih

Irina Krush just doesn't know when to stop or when a tournament is over. After her first open letter to Chess Life Online regarding her controversial Armageddon match final with Anna Zatonskih for the US Women's Championships, she has again sent another one outlining her "final thoughts".

The reality is, chess players prepare for tournaments by studying the Sicilian, not by updating themselves on the latest wrinkles in the USCF/FIDE handbook. Thus, I sat down to play the final game intending to follow the only rules I know well- “chess” rules. These are the rules I have learned from watching how people behave at chess tournaments over my eighteen years of playing, and these are the rules I instinctively adhere to using my own common sense and judgment. FIDE or USCF rules might need to be referred to once in a while, but for the most part, people do just fine relying on “chess” rules.

My understanding of “chess” rules tells me that it’s wrong to have your hand over or on the pieces while your opponent's time is running and they are executing their move, just like it would be wrong to pull a piece out of your pocket and place it on the board. Whether on the board or on the clock, both these actions have the effect of creating an unfair advantage for one side, and I reject them on those grounds.

Does anyone know what these "'chess' rules" are that she's talking about? Somebody please provide me with a link. Thank you.

And don't we just love this? "In my opinion, everyone should give more weight to 'what is right?' than to 'what does the rule say?' You should not disregard your moral judgments based on a line in a USCF handbook".

Imagine that! So folks, if you don't like an arbiter's ruling, all you have to do is disagree based on moral judgements. Basically, just come up with anything.

And then this: "I am satisfied with my play and shared first in this event, and am quite willing to play Anna Zatonskih in a match if she’d like a chance to demonstrate her chess superiority over me". Whoa! That's what we like to see! Will Zatonskih accept the challenge?

Read more of Irina's final letter here on the CLO website.


DeNovoMeme said...

Maybe you, CGM, are a stickler for black letter law, but I for one believe that black letter interpretations should not over ride the spirit of the law.

The spirit of the "rules of chess" is that fairness prevail. If there is ambiguity or contradictions in the written rules, we ought to choose the fairest interpretation, not the most on balance correct.

Anonymous said...

Did I miss something? Fairness surely did prevail.

Krush, the extrovert, is digging a pretty big hole.

Kevin Bonham said...

Matt writes "If there is ambiguity or contradictions in the written rules, we ought to choose the fairest interpretation, not the most on balance correct."

There's a lot to be said for that view, but in this case there is no genuine ambiguity and there are no contradictions. There are just a number of people supporting Krush who are commenting on the Laws without understanding them or being familiar with their general interpretation.

Article 4.6 clearly states that a legal move is "made" once all parts of the move are finished with hand released from all relevant pieces. Article 1.1 clearly states that once the opponent has made their move it is your turn. Therefore you can move once your opponent has moved and you do not need to wait for them to press their clock. Nothing else in the Laws explicitly contradicts this, so that's the way it is.

As for the "spirit of the law", a great many things in blitz are outside the "spirit" of the game as normally understood, so that principle is hardly applicable to blitz without reservation. But even if you do try to apply it to this case, how is it within the "spirit of the law" that a player loses any more time than necessary on their clock when they already knew what their move would be before their opponent had pressed?

(By "than necessary" I mean the provision that a player can always stop their clock after moving, even if the opponent has already replied - a point of which is to stop a player with ultra-fast reflexes from running the opponent out of time just by bashing out moves instantly.)

Alex said...


You seem to be saying that a person can move on their opponents time is their opponent has physically made their move. Or am I mis-reading your post?


Kevin Bonham said...

Alex, that is exactly what I am saying. If you have made your move (which means it is a full legal move and you have let your hand go from all relevant pieces) then the other person is free to commence moving, and may even finish making their move before you press the clock.

However even if they do finish making their move, you can still press the clock. So the following might (and sometimes does) legitimately happen:

* A makes a move but is slow pressing the clock (for whatever reason).
* B makes a move in reply before A has pressed their clock.
* A now presses the clock although it is now A's (next) move. The reason A can do this is that A was still entitled to press the clock from the previous move.
* B presses the clock back immediately.

(and it is now A's move and A's clock is ticking as per normal)