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Nokia Gambit, Battery Variation

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As we found out in an update while covering Bilbao round 8 (another good round), Nigel Short's cell phone beeped in his pocket during his 2nd round game at the European Union Championship in Liverpool, resulting in an immediate forfeit. According to TWIC: "It is a new one and he was sure he'd switched it off. It was a low battery signal rather than a phone call too (in fact this is the only situation it would have made a noise). He accepted the loss without complaint." Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant was the beneficiary. (Her husband is the suspected caller. Not really.) Adams and Bacrot are the top seeds in the ten-round event.

Ponomariov was the first high-profile player to suffer defeat this way, at the European Ch in 2003 against Agrest. Karma Dept: the same thing happened to the Russian-Swede a year later. I remember a player actually answering his phone at the US Championship in Seattle one year, but the penalties under USCF rules aren't as strict, so he didn't get an automatic forfeit.


why then, was nigel forfeited if his phone merely beeped? what is the exact wording of the rule?

This rule seems draconian too me, somewhat like the handshake-before-games compulsion. Perhaps an increasing time penalty would be just adequate but there the anti-mobile phone brigade out there has become ascendant.

If the phone is switched off it does not make a low battery noise, oe any noise of any kind,.... and thats the only way to be sure of complying with the rule.

"why then, was nigel forfeited if his phone merely beeped? what is the exact wording of the rule?"

I think the rule just says that the slightest peep out of an electronic device is an automatic forfeit. They figure that electronic devices pose too much risk of cheating, and there have certainly been incidents that show the fear to be well-founded. It is probably too much to expect tournament organizers to be able to distinguish "innocent" beeps from those that are used for illegal communication with the player. Obviously the best advice is simply to leave the device back in the hotel room.

The FIDE rules say you lose the game if the phone "rings" in the playing venue during play. I wonder if a low battery signal really counts as a ring? Maybe they should be more clear on that point.

It is "strictly forbidden" even to bring the phone into the playing venue, but unless it actually rings, I don't see that the rules say anything specific about consequences of that.

Here's the exact wording of the relevant rule, from Paragraph 12.2 in the Laws of Chess:

"It is strictly forbidden to bring mobile phones or other electronic means of communication, not authorised by the arbiter, into the playing venue. If a player`s mobile phone rings in the playing venue during play, that player shall lose the game. The score of the opponent shall be determined by the arbiter."

So, Nigel had his phone on his pocket. And instead of turning it off or leaving it at the hotel he put the phone on vibrator.

So technically he could get illegal communication, from communicating moves trough a system involving number of "rings" (vibration on this case) to just getting a call to alert him to check a given position for immediate tactics.

I think the forfeit was spot on, and even if the phone didn't ring because of low battery she should have got forfeited just by having a turned on phone on his pocket.

Was it really a Nokia mobile?

doo, doo doo dooo...good vibrations!

"He accepted the loss without complaint."

That's the most amazing part of the story. Short accepting a loss without whining? Shocking! Probably some effect of the Large Hadron Collider being activated.

Stupid rule, stupid enforcement. A low battery beep isn't a ring.

It could not have happened to a nicer guy ;-)

Just debunking some drivel:

john "switched on phone on[sic] his pocket"

You clearly didn't read any more than this blog entry. The thing was OFF, even Short's opponent says he switched it off right in front of her eyes. He didn't have it in his pocket (secretly) but it was lying in front of him on the table.

Andy "If the phone is switched off it does not make a low battery noise, oe any noise of any kind"

Do you have a mobile phone at all? For crying out loud, they do. It's highly annoying and happened more than once to me - being awoken middle of the night by a switched-off mobile phone running empty. Highly annoying because you're FORCED to go and charge it otherwise it'll keep beeping every so often. That was a Nokia, too. Design flaw?

The rule is draconian but as mentioned, one cannot expect a TD to be able to recognise every single mobile in the world to be 'on' or 'off', so there's no way around it.

According the photos I saw, and I believe Short and his opponent both agree on this as well, the phone was on the table and was OFF, not on vibrate.

Go figure...

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 10, 2008 5:54 PM.

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