Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A New Move Order

In response to recent controversy involving blitz games - specifically, armageddon games - Tom Braunlich was moved (no pun intended here) to pen this very lengthy article on the "move rule". See FIDE's rule 6.8a in the Handbook. Being US-based Braunclich also touches upon a USCF-specific rule namely, 11d1 (which, I'm sure, our American friends are familiar with).

I was following almost everything Mr Braunlich had to say until we got to that bit about USCF rules. Well, then, isn't that part of the problem? Two sets of rules! Here's a recommendation guys: get with the rest of the world and dump the USCF rules.

This bit had me smiling just a little:

Players should also defend themselves with a good understanding of the "Insufficient Losing Chances" rules (14H), which can save you if you are in a time scramble with an analog clock. (You might be able to get a clock with delay to be put on your game, for instance.) These rules are complex and TDs tend to administer them haphazardly, and I believe there are also lots of changes in the works for them that are yet unpublished.

Thanks for the tip. When I'm heading off to the World Open, I'll make sure to pack my old BHB. Then when I'm there I'll ask for this delay, whatever the hec that is. But surely, there is nothing more funny than that big colourful table right smack in the middle of Braunlich's article. Just look at that second blue row, "While Making Your Move"

"Touch a piece" - Well, duh!
"'Touch move rule' applies now. You must move it" - Must? Check if it's legal first mate!
"Release a piece on a new square" - Where else mate?
"You are committed to it" - Are you? Check if it's legal first, I said Tom.
"If this move ends the game with checkmate, that's it" - Did you check that the move was legal?

But let's be serious. I have to admit, an article like this has its use, particularly for those who are consistently breaking the rules (e.g. displacing pieces without replacing them) and those who are too unaware or just plain too shy to protest. If you belong in the latter group, I've seen too many of you; and you know what, you have "rights"!


Dan said...

USCF rules aren't as bad as people like Tom make them out to be. I suppose i'm slightly bias as my normal TD is the guy who wrote the rules (Tim Just). However, I will say other Tds constantly fight over the interpretation of the rules.

As for delay, that is 5 seconds before your time actually starts ticking (a standard in american tournaments).

Per insufficient losing chances, this is one of the beautiful things about the USCF rules that is missing in FIDE rules (evidence... see the women's world championship where someone was giving a win in N vs N! "In a position where both sides had just one knight besides their king, Foisor’s flag fell. The arbiters present didn’t know whether to declare the game lost because of the flag-fall, or drawn because of the scarce material left on the board, and a heated debate started, which can be seen in a video below.

In the end it was the Appeals Committee that decided the game in Socko’s favour"

Under Insufficient losing chances, you call over the TD, and say it is impossible to lose this game except by flagging. You demonstrate to the TD in private what you will do in every instance and the other player if they think they can win tells the TD their winning plan. Then you lose half the time on your clock and must play out minimum 5 more moves in which the other side must demonstrate utterly winning progress (basically mate or queening pawn etc). Basically this can only be done under things like R+N vs R etc. But still it eliminates one of the retarded things from FIDE rules.

However, I agree with you it is time to get with the program and have all countries under one set of rules.

Kevin Bonham said...

Actually, a close equivalent to "insufficient losing chances" does exist in the FIDE laws (Article 10.2), the catch being that it doesn't apply in blitz and the Socko-Foisor playoff was (for some unkown reason!) a blitz game without increments. Isn't it also the case that the USCF rules does not allow insufficient losing chances claims in blitz games unless the tournament organisers explicitly permit them, and even then they are typically applied only to a very restricted set of positions?

FIDE used to use a rule called "mating potential" to try to eliminate silly blitz finishes of this kind but it didn't work very consistently and was sometimes tricky to calculate.

As for demonstrating a plan to a TD and then having the TD hear from both parties then resume the game (etc), for a blitz game this all strikes me as a bit impractical.

A more sensible approach (IMO) is to simply not decide anything important by blitz games that lack increments.