ARBITER TASKS

POPULAR QUESTIONS/SITUATION
How many moves do I need before I can claim it as a drawn game?
For those who lacks competitive play, the arguments that I have received ranges between 30 and 50 moves. Some players gave extended (and fictionalized) versions where the rules depend on the pieces involved.

Whilst 50 moves is the correct answer, most players take the rule at face value – 50 moves. However, it goes beyond that – a player can only claim a draw based on the 50 moves rule only when there is no capturing of pieces or no pawn move made during that 50 move sequence. If there is a capture, or a pawn made a move, then the countdown resets back to zero (0).

I have seen a game being played where one of the players – knowing the rule well, made a pawn move just before the 50th drawn move.  And with that, the countdown resets much to the discontentment of his opponent.


How many repeated moves can be made before I can claim it as a drawn game?
The general answer is three (3) – where both players made their moves using the same piece and in the same sequence but, the rule is not purely based on three (3) consecutive moves alone.

The correct rule is that the position is about to (or has) appear for the third time – regardless whether it is in consecutive or separated sequence. Many seasoned chess players can recognize that the same position has appeared on move 32, 37 and 45 (examples) and, as they are more familiar with the rule, subsequently made the claim for the draw. Usually, in this case, the unlearned opponent will turn around with an out-in-space-expression and told me that it did not happen consecutively as such the claim for the draw is invalid.

FIDE Laws of Chess Article 9.2 says: “The game is drawn upon a correct claim by the player having the move, when the same position, for at least the third time (not necessarily by a repetition of moves)…” is my point of reference when questioned about the decision.

When should I ask or offer for a draw?
During a game, many players regardless whether it is their turn or the opponent’s turn to move will casually ask their opponent (or signal via some awkward sign language that only chess players understood) for a draw. Most opponents do not mind the verbal or signal offered and many would respond with a smile, a nod, a giggle, etc. in order to acknowledge that an offer was made. A small few would actually complaint but to many, it is just one of those situations that can be considered as insignificant.

Nevertheless, the correct thing to do is for the player who wants to offer the draw to: first make and complete a move, officially and verbally offer the draw and then press the clock. And once the clock is pressed, wait for your opponent to answer.

If the opponent responded by making a move, it means that the offer was not accepted and the game continues – until another offer is made or the game ended in some other way. If the opponent nodded or said yes, followed by an extended hand to confirm acceptance, then the offer is accepted.

The most logical way to explain this rule is based on common sense. Common sense says that it is rather rude and inappropriate for a player to offer a draw when the opponent is thinking as it obviously disrupts the opponent thought process. Most opponents do not mind but some do complaint especially in international events where professional and season players are playing and competing – for honor, norms, rating points and money! For this rule, common courtesy should prevail unless of course, courtesy is no longer a common thing.


Why Am I Playing Blacks Twice In A Row?
Playing white is usually the preferred color by many chess players. Most would not complaint if they are drawn to play back-to-back rounds using the white pieces but give them two blacks in a row, and most players would start to march towards the arbiter’s table without a second to spare.

The ideal playing sequence for a player is to play the pieces in alternate colors from the start to the finish. If a player starts with white in round 1, then the ideal situation is for the player to continue playing black in the second round, and on all the even rounds and playing white in all the odd rounds. But in many cases, the ideal situation is not so easy to achieve.

Many players consider playing black as a disadvantage – what more, having to play it twice in a row.

FIDE Swiss Pairing rules allow for players to play two (2) blacks (or whites) in a row, but not three (3) consecutively unless the 3rd black (or white) happens in the last round. At least that is the general rule for individual events. Most players asked how the system assigned the colors and to that, the rule of thumb is as follows:
1) Where both players have the same points, the higher ranked player will change color from the previous round
2) Where both players do not share the same point, the higher pointer player will change color from the previous round
3) In some cases, the system will balance the colors for both players i.e. if the round to be paired is the 6th round, the system will balance the colors to make sure that the player has three (3) blacks and three (3) whites.


For more information on the Laws of Chess, you can visit the FIDE website at www.fide.com. Alternatively, you can download the PDF version which I have compiled by going to www.chess-malaysia.com/LawsOfChess.pdf