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Corus 09 r10: Aronian Leads Alone

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Update in a bit, but wanted to share what happened in Radjabov-Smeets (1/2). Radjabov played 39.Re7 but knocked the piece over and hit his clock. Smeets pressed his clock and said something like "correct the piece." Radjabov then flagged. In the ensuing mess, the arbiters couldn't decide what exactly should have been done since both players had infractions. You have to correct a piece on your own time and you can't speak to your opponent. Apparently you are supposed to stop the clocks and then you'll get a time bonus, but it's hard to imagine anyone having the sang froid to do that with a few seconds left even if you knew that's what you're supposed to do. And had Smeets done that it's quite possible Radjabov would have been physically able to make his 40th move and had a winning position.

Radjabov did the same thing as Smeets to Ivanchuk a few rounds ago when Ivanchuk misplaced a piece, pressing immediately. I guess Ivanchuk should have let himself flag and then protested? So basically the arbiters hoped the players would agree to help them out and agree to the draw, which they did. "The best result for the arbiters," said Radjabov. The final position is clearly winning for white, if that sort of thing is important to you. It went back and forth like crazy in the final seconds. Radjabov had played a crushing sacrificial attack out of the opening. The players analyzed together amicably afterward. All info from Macauley Peterson on the scene. He has more, including clips with both players, appearing soon at the ICC Blog.

Alexei Shirov with a nice quip in the comments: "Actually Radjabov's decisive mistake was 39.Re7. 39.Rc7 would be faster to complete and no pieces would fall. :)" Now will some clever annotator of this game give "39.Re7?? (39.Rc7!)" But before we laugh too hard remember we've seen the "short move, fast move" blitz technique in action before, including in the recent women's world championship.

Aronian beat Adams to take the clear lead. Carlsen scored his first win, over Dominguez, who handled his clock very badly. Ivanchuk still pressing against Kamsky (drawn, impressive D by Gata). Full round update later after I slog through the snow for a bit.

Update: Lots of good information from the scene of the Radjabov-Smeets incident and about the rules and their history in the comments below. Thanks all. I'm not sure it's any clearer how this should be handled next time. Either the written rules should be clarified or a statement made about how the current rules should be interpreted.

Back to the games that were settled at the board for a moment. On Chess.FM GM Christiansen was unenthusiastic about Adams' position for most of the way. It was another nice Aronian effort in the Catalan, adding to his win over Movsesian with it. Black suffers to reach a position that is essentially a pawn down thanks to the worthless doubled pawns on the queenside. I really expected longer resistance from Adams but Aronian is playing very well over the last few days and would not be denied. His second consecutive win gave him the clear lead and the inside track in repeating his Corus victory of last year, when he split first with Carlsen on the same +3 score he has now.

Magnus Carlsen finally won a game and he did it against one of the leaders, Lenier Dominguez. White got a pull with an improvement (Qb3) against the Grunfeld, but then it was the Cuban who started fighting back with inspired play (..b5!). But in yet another game affected by poor clock handling, Dominguez was under 15 minutes for 20 moves and started to make inferior choices that Carlsen was happy to exploit. White even had the luxury of postponing the winning combination before smashing through nicely for the win. At +1 with three games remaining Carlsen certainly isn't out of it. Especially considering that Aronian is destined to lose now that he's the clear leader. It just seems to happen every time. Aronian finishes with black against Dominguez, white against Morozevich, and black against Smeets.

Karjakin is in clear second place after being held to a draw in the Sicilian for the first time. The young Ukrainian was 3-0 up until this game. Van Wely coolly handled his business on defense, though White's position looked so good Christiansen was sure Karjakin must have missed a forced win somewhere. Black came back to dominate the e-file and set up many threats against White's weak back rank. Van Wely even missed a chance, if a risky one, to win with 34..Qg3! threatening ..Re1.

Movsesian was working on a very strong build-up against Wang Yue only to take a short draw. Stellwagen's draw wasn't quite as bizarre as his countryman Smeets', but it was close. In a Zaitsev against Morozevich, the repeated the entire game Volokitin-Kasimjanov from the prior round in the B group! All the way the identical perpetual check on move 31. Truly ridiculous, though according to the official site Stellwagen was unaware of the precedent his neighbors played. (At Linares 2007, Carlsen knowingly repeated an entire game from an earlier round.) Interestingly, both Corus games reached a position from the Kasparov-Karpov, 86 WCh match on move 23, if by a slightly different move order. Curiously, old analysis to that game gives the rook lift to e3 a '?', and suggests that ..Ne5-Nc4 is very strong for Black. I guess these guys disagree.

Round 11: van Wely-Movsesian, Kamsky-Karjakin, Adams-Ivanchuk, Dominguez-Aronian, Morozevich-Carlsen, Smeets-Stellwagen, Wang Yue-Radjabov.


The entire tournament has seen strange clock handling from everyone, not just the usual time-trouble artists. Strange...

In my round 10 summary I actually bothered to look the rules up. I'm pretty sure they're the current rules too (the 2005 rules are on the English Chess Federation site).

My report: http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/event/corus09/rd10.html

I can't find any rule saying you can't talk to your opponent, here is the only rule anything like that:

12.6 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims or unreasonable offers of a draw.

and this rule seems pretty clear to me:

7.3 If a player displaces one or more pieces, he shall re-establish the correct position on his own time. If necessary, either the player or his opponent shall stop the clocks and ask for the arbiter's assistance. The arbiter may penalise the player who displaced the pieces.

"re-establish the correct position on his own time." doesn't seem to have that much room for interpretation. I also mention a very old Keres example where he just pressed the clock back, that certainly used to be the rule.


The talking to your opponent part falls under 12.6 and has been cited several times in recent memory, though not enforced.

As 7.3 says, the "press back" method isn't the rule anymore, although as I mentioned Radjabov himself did it to Ivanchuk last week and wasn't penalized. I doubt Ivanchuk protested, while Radjabov certainly did. Not because he knew the rule; he was trying to find some way out of flagging. Hence referring to whatever Smeets said as well. Add another to his list of incidents.

It's unfair to consider it sharp play since it probably wasn't intentional, but knocking down pieces and then hitting your clock is pretty Washington Square Park in my book.

It is clear that Radjabov was the first to break the rules. He should have corrected the pieces before pressing the clock.
It is also clear that Smeets then broke a not so well known rule, when he pressed the clock back instead of stopping it.
Both rule breaks happen quite often, mostly by accident, or ignorance, sometimes in a conscious attempt to gain an advantage on the clock.

If only one player would have broken rules, it would be easy: Smeets would have stopped the clock, an arbiter would tell Radjabov to correct the piece, and since a time penalty to Radjabov would have meant instant loss, probably Smeets would have been given a small time bonus.

But when both players break the rules, it gets messy. In such a case it's up to the arbiter to weigh who has done what, and try to find an adequate solution.

And while talking is not explicitly forbidden, it is clear that suddenly starting to talk when your opponent has only seconds left, is a clear case of "distract or annoy".

(from a small scale arbiter)

...and I can't remember a single case where the second player actually stopped the clock according to the rule. Players either play on regardless of fallen pieces, or press back the clock. Maybe the rule is a bit silly...

As far as I understand the report on Chessvibes, Radjabov played Rb7-e7 and knocked black's bishop on e8 off the board at the same time [a new interpretation of the en passant rule? ,:)]. Then, with respect to FIDE rule 12.6, Smeets' "I want my bishop back!" (not exactly these words, but it comes down to it) was a reasonable claim, not an unreasonable one.

Generally, I thought the Sofia rule literally states that players may not talk to each other during the game at all - in practice this means they cannot offer a draw AND they cannot circumvent this rule asking "Shall we go for a move repetition?". But these are Sofia rules, not FIDE or Corus rules.

> The talking to your opponent part falls under >12.6 and has been cited several times in recent >memory, though not enforced.

But certainly that's not what the rules say, they can be interpreted in that way. I also think you can briefly and concisely explain why you pressed the clock back without breaking that rule of putting your opponent off. In fact you're kind of warning him that you've done it.

>As 7.3 says, the "press back" method isn't the >rule anymore,

I don't read that rule that way at all. I read it as if the board is a mess then you can call the arbiter to help the reconstruction, but it doesn't say you have to. It does say the error should be corrected on the player who makes the error's time.

Mig - Is there a another set of rules somewhere I'm not seeing?

I particularly ask this because you say "Apparently you are supposed to stop the clocks and then you'll get a time bonus" which is nowhere in the rules, in fact in 7.3 time penalties are called for, and at the very least the correction should happen on time of the player who makes the error.

Which arbiter is going to have the bottle to flag a famous player?

But adding time to the other player is no-where in 7.3. If you stop the clock, Radjabov can set up the pieces properly whilst they're getting the arbiter and suddenly he's effectively gained time. That can't be right.

I would like to know what Smeets was entitled to do in this situation.

OK I just realised that

"The arbiter may penalise the player who displaced the pieces."

could be used to give say 5 minutes to the sinned against player, but in this situation that's not any kind of penalty at all. But that's the last sentence.

The first sentence one in 7.3 is "If a player displaces one or more pieces, he shall re-establish the correct position on his own time." to me that says press the clock back as the main option. The rest looks like it has been written as clarification.

If arbiters are interpreting the rule differently then they're simply wrong.

hm... Two wrongs make a right, where did we have this kind of argument?

The player who displaces his pieces has to correct the position on his own time. But if he does not, that does not give the other player the right to do whatever he wants, e.g. pressing the clock back, or distracting his opponent.

I have to agree with Mark Crowther on this one. The language in 7.3 says the offending player must reset the pieces on their own time.

If the victim stops the clock, then how on earth will the resetting be done on the offender's time?

I read it as:

1. Offender displaces pieces and presses clock
2. Victim presses clock (either with or without short verbalization of "fix the situation")
3. Offender fixes situation and presses clock

IF the offender either disagrees with the victim's clcok press (i.e., keeps pressing clock back without fixing situation) OR there is such a jumbled mess that nobody can fix it...THEN the victim stops the clock and gets the arbiter.

That's the only way that makes any sense at all.

One has to run like GM Short did and tell the arbiter to do something ...

We should stipulate some phrases which the players are allowed to say to the opponent , here is my list:

" I think that's my coffee."
"are sure of that ?"
"you are running out of time"
" check "

If players stopped the clock and asked for arbiter every time their opponent displaced the pieces, that would lead to absurd situations. For example, a player is short of time in a winning position. He simply starts knocking pieces off. Following the rules, his opponent stops the clock and asks arbiter's assistance. During all this (which can happen for several minutes) the player who is short of time can think about the position. If his opponent gets extra 2 minutes for this incident, that's nothing compared to the possibility of thinking for 5 minutes when you are down to 5 seconds.

As usual the FIDE rules are badly thought-out, badly-written and unclear, which is the reason for all the arguing. But since FIDE and its arbiters never follow their own rules anyway, it doesn't really matter that much that they don't make any sense to start with.

Nicely put, J-M. Bad rules that are followed poorly. As I said and as Andrey story-boarded, Smeets would probably have been worse off had he followed the rules. It's my understanding of the rule, and the recommendation of the arbiters in Corus post-facto, that this is what is supposed to be done and that the press back is wrong. According to Macauley my "well and good, but what is the right way to handle it if this happens again" question was met with "stop the clocks and call the arbiter." That is, just because the first part of the rule says the position must be corrected on the offender's time doesn't mean you can start his clock.

Had Smeets done this, Radjabov could have collected himself and prepared his move. Unless he was under .1 seconds he would have made control and likely won the game. Unless of course they followed the first part of the rule and made Radjabov pick the bishop up off the floor after they gave Smeets two minutes and restarted Radja's clock. It could be like taking a drop in golf. If the piece has already been replace, the arbiter drops it and the player has to play it where it lies, as it were.

So, silly. There are no disadvantages to knocking over pieces in extreme zeitnot and several obvious advantages. Unless the arbiter has the cojones to flag the offender, it's clearly the right way to go if you're down so low it's better to gain a chance to think and give your opponent a time bonus. And you might get really lucky if your opponent presses back or says something about the pieces you just knocked off the board before pressing your clock. Then you get a free half point. Remember that the position supposedly doesn't matter here. Smeets might be feeling a little relieved because he was lost for most of the game and in the final position, but this decision would have been identical had Radjabov been completely busted. Or maybe then Smeets would have felt more justified in fighting for his time win.

Addressing your opponent to say anything other than "draw?" could definitely be considered distraction and annoyance.

"Add another to his list of incidents."

The trolls are blowing out of proportion the imaginary imperfections of yet another son of Azerbaijan. Teimour badly needs to have a chess writer on retainer to put these things in their proper perspective.

I agree with Mig as to the way that the arbiters want to interpret the laws of the game. But in my view this is an absolutely bizarre reading of the regulations. Chesspride summarises my view very well.

The fact that Rajabov was winning is irrelevant. The fact that Smeets spoke should be irrelevant (he didn't mean to disturb his opponent only inform, so what did he do wrong under the rules?).

Radjabov never presented a legal position to his opponent after black's move 38 and lost on time is the straightforward and correct interpretation of the rules. Anything else is just ... odd.

Running to the arbiter should be the last not the first option. You don't present a legal position? The clock is getting pressed back on you.

Incidently the Keres game I was talking about in my article was against Benko in the 1962 Candidates. Benko knocked a load of pieces over in a drawn position and lost on time after Keres pressed the clock back. Apparently it enraged Benko and he beat Keres later. The problem has been around for a while!

Good one on the Keres, doesn't ring any bells here at all. Ah well, at least they didn't find some way to make Smeets play on in the lost position after his opponent flagged. That wouldn't have been surprising at all. Again, according to the Corus arbiters' remarks to Macauley, that is pretty much what would have happened had Smeets followed their post-facto recommendation during the game! Let's say Smeets had ten minutes on his clock and Radjabov 1 second. If Smeets calmly stops the clock to call the arbiter to complain that Radjabov hasn't replaced the piece, then what? Either the arbiter flags Radjabov or he gives Smeets some worthless time and then allows the collected Radjabov to bolt out his 40th move (and here, to then win the game). Silly.

I'm taking the press back more to heart now considering misplacement as basically not completing a legal move. If you just randomly pressed your clock without making a move at all, anything other than a press back (and a complaint, I assume) would be bizarre. Correctly placing the pieces should be requisite for completing your move.

I can see the point about calling the arbiter over though. Otherwise you've just lost a second or two on the press back and your opponent has lost nothing. Doesn't seem too good either and opens the door to sharp play. It's a violation akin to an illegal move and the arbiter should be summoned, no?

Amidst all this, Sasikiran, the top seed in group B is crashing and burning to an all time low.

The rule does a good job to protect you if you have a won position, just a few seconds left, and your completely lost opponent starts knocking pieces over. Pressing back might be self-destructive in this case, stopping the clock and calling the arbiter is the way to go.

In theory, the arbiter will take into account anything that has been said in the posts above:
- that you already lost 1-2 seconds to stop the clock (time bonus);
- that your opponent might have got an unfair advantage by composing himself (time penalty).

On first offense he will usually get an admonishment not to do it again. If he repeats the behavior, the arbiter will forfeit him sooner or later.

i don't understand under which chess law was Smeets allowed to push back Radjabov's clock. he should have just stopped the clocks and asked Radjabov to correct the bishop and restart his clock. seems that Smeets had enough time anyway and he didn't really lose anything by Radjabov accidentaly knocking down a piece.

In answer to Jean "i don't understand under which chess law was Smeets allowed to push back Radjabov's clock."

The only way for a player to enforce rule 7.3 "If a player displaces one or more pieces, he shall re-establish the correct position on his own time." is to press the clock back. Radjabov didn't complete his move properly and so wasn't entitled to press the clock in the first place.

Actually Radjabov's decisive mistake was 39.Re7. 39.Rc7 would be faster to complete and no pieces would fall. :)

Modern clocks are programmed. And I guess that is the case with the clocks at Corus as well. Which of course means that pressing the clock back will create more mess than already was there. It may even work against you (one move closer to the time control as interpreted by the clock). Of course players can't be allowed to do that.

In general rules are written not too specific so as to include more cases and make more room for common sense. I guess that is the case with chess rules as well. In this case it means that the arbiter could actually check how much time there was left. He could then flag Radjabov if he felt that there was not enough time to replace a piece and finish the game, or if he believed that he gained too much from the incident.

I think draw was a good decision from the arbiter, and I also guess that this is the decision that is by a huge margin easiest to accept for both. 1-0 or 0-1 would certainly feel like an outrage for the player who lost. I think they both see this and are reasonably satisfied about the outcome.

thank you Mark. In my opinion this rule is just stupid, imagine a situation where both players are in a big time trouble and both of them start to blitz their moves and knock down some pieces. then i can easily see a situation when both of them are trying to press the clock down in the same moment claiming oponent knocked down a piece!

regarding Radjabov-Smeets if something like that would have happened to me i wouldn't have even touched the clock. i'd just politely asked the oponent to correct the knocked piece.

As several people wrote, Smeets pushing back the clock made sense (no matter what the rules say) - because the other player only has the right to press the clock once he completed a legal move ... .

BTW, did anyone notice that reports on the incident by several sites differ in (relevant) detail?
1) This site sort of leaves the impression that agreeing a draw was the players' own idea.
2) Chessvibes states that the arbiters proposed this solution to both players.
3) And the official tournament site:
"Just before the arbiters were about to award a time win for the Dutchman (a decision that would have been sure to prompt an appeal), and upon the initiative of the arbiters, the players decided to meet half way and the game was declared a draw."
In principle, this should be the most reliable account, making the situation even more odd - "Mr. Smeets, please accept a draw to avoid a scandal. Mr. Radjabov, you better accept a draw or you will lose !?"

Another interesting question: Would other players have the right to intervene? After all, Aronian and Karjakin might benefit if Radjabov had lost - assuming that Radjabov is a more serious competitor for first place than Smeets. On the other hand - hypothetical, I doubt that Van Wely would even think about this - Smeets losing would finally give clear first in the internal Dutch competition to King Loek.

@GM Shirov: Of course you are right. But if you find _one_ winning move, in most situations (even with sufficient time on the clock) it may not be wise to search for second one. If you see two winning moves, it may not be wise spending lots of time to find out which one is 'more winning'. This probably applies to all levels, yours and mine (ELO~2000).

And in the given situation, it was most important to find a move quickly which is nnot spoiling anything - you can postpone winning until after the time control ,:)

Thomas, with due respect, the super GM is probably already very aware of all that.

Come on, I didn't mean to be taken seriously, the remark was that the e7 square was too close to the bishop on e8. And 39.Rb8 might have dropped the rook on a8, therefore 39.Rc7 would have been the most precise continuation. :)

@Thomas, you seem to miss that Shirov's point was tongue in cheek, he even put a smiley at the end.

The point is not that Rc7 is "more winning".

The advantages of Rc7 are that: (1)it places the rook far enough from the bishop to avoid tipping the clergyman over, and (2) c7 is right next to the b7 square where the rook was, so it saves precious milliseconds to move there than e7.

There's at least one thing players can say during a game, even if draw offers are prohibited: 'J'adoube'.

And: "I resign, though it pains me to lose to someone like you" and "What about a draw, your position is lost"

"It may even work against you (one move closer to the time control as interpreted by the clock). Of course players can't be allowed to do that."

The "programming of the clock" in only informational for most circumstances. Even if the clock "thinks" you've made a time control (due to an extra clock push or two), it's actual number of completed moves that count.

The first digital clocks weren't too well designed, so that when you played time controls with extra time after move so and so, the clocks immediately added the time when you passed the required number of moves. Newer clocks don't "help" the players to check if they've made the time control or not, they simply keep ticking down to zero, regardless of the moves made, and then only adds the extra time when the clock reaches 0.

If the players or the arbiter(s) at some point discover that the clock isn't giving the correct additional time (automatically), I think the rules state that it should be "easy" for the arbiter to correct this. Also, an arbiter is recommended to check that he knows how to operate the clocks _before_ the games begin. Of course, with the habit of players bring material (including clocks) in some countries, this might become pretty impossible for the poor arbiters, if there are say 10 different brands of digital clocks, all with their own subtle differences.

"Luckily" the diversity isn't really that big in the digital clock market, and newer models are in general better thought out than older ones.

Of course I wasn’t all-too-serious either …. . I think it is understandable that Radjabov preferred 39.Re7 (or that it was the first move coming to his mind, played immediately). It attacks a second piece (the knight on e5) “just in case” and also looks at the bishop on e8, which turned out to be a disadvantage in the given situation ,:).
“Next time”, Radjabov (or anyone else) may rather play a move as 39.Rc7 – it is even better/safer to avoid extreme time trouble altogether, but that’s easier said than done (again at all levels).
Otherwise, my remark on “more winning moves” was a general one, also for a general audience, so “@GM Shirov” at the beginning of the post wasn’t really necessary.
Enough on this, a sideline of the present discussion anyway.

Alexie, good to have your comments here every now and then. Could you by any chance give your opinion on the Anand Kramnik match? Were you suprised by the ease with which Anand crushed Kramnik, or do you think it was to be expected, and a fair reflection of their relative strengths?

I mean to say Alexei of course, forgive my typo

Really, the easiet way is the play with mouse+screen.
Why this easiest way excluding all these silly problems is not used at least in such super-tourneys as Corus (though why not also in official FIDE tourneys)?!

I expected more or less an equal fight with Anand winning at the end, maybe on the tie-break. But Anand is more an universal player than anyone else in the world, so if you get a position that is 'not yours' against him you are at the disadvantage. And this is what happened to Kramnik in my opinion.

Thanks, GM Shirov, for your opinion on the Anand-Kramnik match. Though brief, it is very insightful.

If you could be so kind to share your opinion/prediction for the Topalov-Kamsky match, I would be very grateful.


Great question Kapalik .

I guess the big problem with pushing back the clock is if you paly with increment time pr move, because then both playewrs would get extra time.

But the important thing to remember is that Nosher is leading in Group B...albeit with a pack at his heels.

Thanks a lot Alexei, for your response. I am still hoping for the day when you and Moro fight for the WC title :-)

I reckoned Kramnik would win. How do we know it's really the great Alexei Shirov contributing ??

"How do we know it's really the great Alexei Shirov contributing ??"

well we can't know for sure but probably Mig checked his IP and found out that it's from the place where Shirov lives so very probably it's the real Alexei Shirov.

I train Shirov. He is right always.

Kamsky win match. Topalov not good match player.


P.S. Me not really dead. Me real Tal.

@Thomas 4:09 AM - On what sites does the reporting of the account differ substantively?

Mig's account is based on my reporting on the Chess.FM LIVE broadcast.

ChessVibes, Chess.FM/blog, and Ian Rogers writing for USChess.org are all consistent because we were there.

I'm no FIDE rules expert, and defer to Mark at TWIC. The "add two minutes to Smeets' clock" remark from Mig was something I said off-the-cuff on the LIVE broadcast based on my experience with USCF rules, but it seems to be wrong here. The point is Radjabov would be penalized in SOME way.

On the Chess.FM video he mentioned subtracting half his remaining time, but implied that that would be senseless in this case because he had less than two seconds left.

"How do we know it's really the great Alexei Shirov contributing?"

And how do we know it's really the great Thomas giving him pointers?

Talk about splitting hairs, now we're splitting seconds! I wonder if you can even set a digital clock to 0.5 seconds... I thought your remark about the two minutes was a suggestion from the arbiters, Macauley. No biggie. I'm still curious how you penalize someone down to two seconds without forfeiting them. It's comical that the rules become meaningless precisely in the critical situations in which they are most needed.

It's GM Shirov. Even super-GMs can't spend all their time looking at the Semi-Slav, guys. And as the last person to beat Kramnik in a match (he loses one every ten years, you know) it's interesting to note the similarities and differences. All Petroff from Kramnik, with good success overall despite losing one long opposite-colored bishop endgame. All sharp Grunfeld from Shirov, including the spectacular decisive final game nine. Funny, just noticed the similar structure in that Grunfeld with that of Carlsen-Dominguez in the last round of Corus even though the line starts quite differently. Sakaev even looked at a quick ..f5 for black in his notes to the 98 game.

But the post from Mikhail Tal, I'm less sure!

"Otherwise, my remark on “more winning moves” was a general one, also for a general audience, so “@GM Shirov” at the beginning of the post wasn’t really necessary."

The post specifically states:
"This probably applies to all levels, yours and mine (ELO~2000)."

Therefore one would naturally conclude that it was addressed to GM Shirov.

Btw, I for one am convinced it is M. Tal. I wonder what his playing style is now.

Pressing back has been standard for some decades.

In 1972, the Yugoslav Chess Federation and the organizers of the Skopje Olympiad published a booklet containing all of the Interpretations to the FIDE rules, as approved by the Rules Commission. When I inherited this booklet (sent one per national federation) in 1975, it was a real eye-opener. I hadn't known that "Interpretations" existed, and they answered some of my own questions. As the contact (not the delegate) to FIDE for my national federation, I submitted over half a dozen questions, including the one at hand, and FIDE answered that the offended player should press back. That was added to the Interpretations.

Some years later, FIDE discontinued "Interpretations" (which although invaluable, weren't that well propagated) and decided that everything should be in the Laws themselves.

Pressing back became part of the Laws proper. Then, I'm guessing, digital clocks came on the scene, and the flipping over of the time control (adding an hour at move 40 and showing minutes only, not seconds), combined with most controls being incremental (both of which have been mentioned in this thread) made them change the procedure.

With increments, old-fashioned time scrambles no longer happen, and the vast majority of displaced piece incidents should be resolved without immediate loss of the game coming into anybody's mind. Surely that was the default situation which the drafters of the rules had in mind.

However, in a tournament like Corus 2009, which although it uses up-to-date digital clocks, has no increment for the first or second time controls, it seems to me that Smeets's action, to press back, is correct. The rules specified something else because they were written for old-style digital clocks and/or increments. Also the arbiters' decision that Smeets won on time seems correct. Allowing him to agree to a draw may not be correct, but it saved a lot of potential ill-will.

FIDE and the arbiters have been blamed by some. I don't see any fault with the arbiters. But I would question why the organizers even in 2009 have no increment. Well, it's obviously to maintain the excitement of time scrambles at move 40 and at move 60. It is a kind of old-time religion. The Corus press officer was crowing about round 10 being possibly the most exciting Wijk round ever. Why? The Smeets and Radjabov incident was a big part of it, and the latent cause was the time control.

I recommend a 60-second (not 30) per move increment. That stands both as a player and as an arbiter. Sponsors who like incidents and scandals may view it differently.

Finally, in the Krush-Zatonskih incident at the US Women's Championship, White more than once knocked over pieces, which would have (further) complicated matters had Black decided to press back without moving.

Jonathan Berry, IA

Mig says: "I'm still curious how you penalize someone down to two seconds without forfeiting them."

I would have thought in this precise situation any rule that doesn't forfeit Radjabov is wrong. He pressed his clock rather than lose on time, he should lose on time rather than be rewarded by that.

I'm not a rules expert, I just looked at the rules!

Oh and the different reporting I think probably comes down to emphasis. The official site basically says the arbiters told the players to agree a draw so they didn't have to rule which was new to me.

Mig on Kramnik's matches: "he loses one every 10 years you know." And wins with a similar frequency.. Namely Yudasin and Kasparov. Draws a bit more often though..

I guess it was more of an arbiter request. Had either player refused to agree to the draw, a ruling would have been required. As it stands, no ruling was made at all. It goes down as an agreed draw. I imagine a draw would have been the only thing that couldn't have happened had a ruling been required. Either they say Radjabov flagged or they have them continue the game and White surely wins.

Agreed on the forfeit requirement for such situations. You can't reward knocking over pieces. It's your problem if you didn't leave yourself enough time to accurately place the pieces on the board!

Have anyone noticed that the A-group table is mostly ordered by age?
Is like one of the first tournaments in a while were the leading group is also the young group.
Like a flash forward vision.

"@Thomas 4:09 AM - On what sites does the reporting of the account differ substantively?"

I didn't say "substantively", but "in (relevant) detail" - which is of course a matter of semantics. In hindsight, it may also reflect the order in which the reports were posted, with additional information gradually becoming available. To rephrase my points 1-3) in my original post:
1) On this site (the first one to post or the first one where I saw the story) I had the initial impression that (one of) the players came up with the idea "OK, let's just make a draw" [reading Mig's text again, at least it doesn't rule out version 2) below]
2) Chessvibes then added (explicitly) that the arbiters proposed this salomonic solution to the players
3) The tournament site added that Radjabov may have had little choice - the alternative would have been losing or hoping for the uncertain outcome of an appeal by him.

Later, additional details became available. The videos on both Chessvibes and Chess.FM show that Radjabov "back-backpressed" the clock, and then the arbiter intervened. And Chessvibes added that Smeets didn't say anything like "correct the piece", but just something like "Jaaaa" in an outraged tone ... this was based on a post by an 'amateur' (I mean, apparently not a journalist) who happened to be closer to the board than Peter Doggers himself.

In any case, kudos to both players for helping to find a way out of the entire situation and analysing amicably afterwards. What on earth would have happened if such an incident occurred in Short-Cheparinov or Kramnik-Topalov??

The regulation forbidding a player to talk to the other person is a sad testament to how everything in modern culture has been depersonalized, wresting the human element out of an interaction. It is as if two computers inside the players' brains are playing, not the humans themselves. What is wrong with complimenting your opponenet on a good move he/she just made? or what is wrong with making a muffled, good-natured remark or perhaps a joke once or twice during the game? Such a regulation validates and then propogates the process of objectification we have all gone thru. It objectifies human interaction and activity. It's but one story of the disease of civilization and pathology of legal-mindedness.

A separete, unrelated issue: I think the present form of chess should be discarded altogether and replaced by chess960 (Fisher chess). Only then would many people get the chance to win a game without having to go thru the masochistic preparation of all the moves of the plethora of openings and their variations. It will democratize chess and prevent a rather small elite cirle of players from privatizing chess and fame. It seems winning nowdays can only be achieved by studying all the pre-evaluated moves and introdcing a novelty here and there--thanks mostly to computers. The way chess is played now is truly discriminatory.

Last word on my 4:16AM post: I admit it was not the most brilliant one I ever wrote .... (some fellow posters may think that I never wrote anything brilliant or only nonsense, but I also had some positive feedbacks).
Concerning chesshire cat's quote, instead I could have written "this applies to all levels (ELO1200-2800)", thus avoiding to address GM Shirov directly. In any case, my post started with "of course you are right" and was not meant as an insult or criticism, only as a - maybe unnecessary - addition. If Alexei Shirov felt insulted (I didn't have the impression from his reply), I duly apologize.

GM Shirov is not made of glass , spare the cotton my friend.

As good as they are for arbiters and peace on Earth, I've never been fond of increment in any but the last time control. It distorts the natural pace and tension caused by the clock. From a management perspective it removes the threat of a real deadline. Even a five second increment is essentially telling the players they can never lose on time. This would lead to even worse clock handling and would also fail to punish people for mishandling their clocks.

Having increment in the final control dissuades people from playing on endlessly in equal positions to win on time. It also allows a game that has already been doing for over six hours to come to a chess-based conclusion instead of insanity. But removing the element of deadline at the four-hour mark seems like it fundamentally alters the nature of the essential romantic relationship between the game, the players, and the clock.

The horrible messes we've seen with the 90'+30" from the start have increased my dislike for starting increments. Players allow themselves to drift into time trouble early because of the safety net of the increment and entire classical tournaments look like rapid games.


> The regulation forbidding a player to talk to the other person is a sad testament to how everything in modern culture has been depersonalized, wresting the human element out of an interaction.

I would agree with you, only there is no such regulation. You can talk amicably with the other person. No rule against that. Only when the other person feels distracted or annoyed he/she can demand of you to shut up.

"Chessvibes then added (explicitly) that the arbiters proposed this salomonic solution to the players."

Agreed, Thomas. There was something fishy about it.

@Zak: "Mouse-slip! The left button is defective!" "I want a trackball, not a mouse!" "I demand the screen colors be changed!"


Another way to read 7.3 is that if the tipping player cannot correct the board on his or her own time because he or she punched the clock that would be a circumstance where it is necessary to summon the arbiter. (Or that it is only unnecessary to summon the arbiter if the offending player's clock is still running.)

This would be in concert with 6.8, the sum of which I read as while it is always legal to stop one's clock (to seek an arbiter per 6.13b,) it is only legal to start your opponent's clock after you have made your own legal move.

I'm not saying that this is "right" or that it shouldn't be changed. Points above that it has the potential for the offending player to analyze the position are not unfounded.... And my own interpretation could be wrong.

Of course, we could always go back to the old folk rule that knocking over a piece or pieces is an automatic forfeit... ;)

Why can't they rig up a digital clock, with no increments, but which shows minutes and seconds remaining, moving towards zero? Let them time-scramble. They can always see what time they have to play with. If pieces get knocked over, allow the offended player to press back and have the offender reset the pices before pressing his clock again. What is the objection to this? Shouldn't the players learn to manage time?

Too many ways to make veiled aggravating comments(seemingly innocent). -- tone of voice, inflection, sarcasm, etc. Truly good natured quiet comments are ok, but it would be difficult to referee.Even if it was done right, most players just prefer silence to think even though there was no intention to disturb the opponent.


I see that you have the old-time (chess) religion, praising the heart-stopping time scramble. That's good enough for many. Increments are unnatural. I love it.

Gibraltar has a 60-second increment "The rate of play is 40 moves in 80 minutes plus 20 more minutes for all the remaining moves, with one minute per move added from the start." Not to be likened to 30-second increment, it is much a different game. Another variation that has appealed to tournament directors (especially when you have to fit two games in a day) is game in 90, plus the 60-second increment.

I read and read but now I am moved to write, "Where the H*** are the arbiters/tournament directors during impending time scrambles??" Does it take a rocket scientist to figure out there may be problems as time controls loom? Be there and be ready to witness and act!

Smeets should have backpressed with the chessically appropriate comment "T'adoube".

@David Ottosen:

lol, you are right, we need the "tu adoubes"-rule!

@Mark's very old Keres example:

There was a major change in the history of clock-handling rules: In former times only the arbiter was allowed to stop the clock. The players were explicitly forbidden to do so. This was changed. Nowadays the standard procedure in any case of rule-breaks, protests, repetition claims, and the like, is to stop the clock and call the arbiter.

Tech solution: a DGT board can check the legality of a move/position and a connected digital clock can refuse to switch over in case there's no legal position, warning players with a quiet beep. (Of course, in case of a tech malfunction arbiters can be called and times/positions reset.)

Well, the rules aren't just for super tournaments, but for every tournament ins the world.
You can not possibly enforce this proposal on the federations, it is definietly way too expensive for the average.

Pressing the clock back is not only wrong according to the rules but also complicates things with the clock because the move counter will be wrong, and it takes even a savvy arbiter a minute to correct this.
The main principle should be that the game should be decided on the board and not by circumstances outside of the game (maybe the fall-over wouldn´t happen with different pieces, different lighting, Smeet´s hands elsewhere...). As any time-penalty for Radjabov would have resulted in his loss, Smeets should have been awarded a bonus, even though worthless in the situation.
But according to Radjabov´s own understanding, as documented in Macauley´s video report, knocking over a piece is a serious matter and he seems quite happy with the compromise that saves the peace in the tournament but doesn´t satisfy from the chess point of view.
Even though not flawlessly played by White, a spectacular, attacking game is overshadowed by an unfortunate incident.

@westbynorthwest: If you had watched the chessvibes video, you would have seen that an arbiter was in fact right there. The issue under discussion took about four seconds from the first punch to the arbiter stopping the clock.

The video, to me, reinforces the notion that the correct action would be / would have been to stop the clock. Also, it looked like Radjabov in punching back genuinely didn't see the problem / may have been confused.

The press conference wasn't quite clear - it sounded like they acknowledged the first punchback by Smeets was OK, though?

At any rate it does sound like the situation should be clarified so players know what they need to do. As to players intentionally/repeatedly knocking over pieces in lost positions... that would be the time for an Arbiter to employ their discretionary judgment and loss that player out. Then let them appeal.

How many time scrambles occur at this level of play such that an arbiter wouldn't be right there observing?


Running through the comments I see that you have again, and correctly, praised the idea of an increment during the final time control only. But why does nobody ever mention that the ACP have successfully lobbied to get this option banned?

I agree with those who think that adding additional time to Smeets would have been completely wrong. That gives Radjabov, with only one second on his clock, all the intervening time in which to study the position. That is a reward to the player who knocked the piece over, so rule interpreted in that manner could lead to players purposely knocking over pieces when they are out of time just so they can have that extra time to examine the position.

You mean the same ACP that demanded (asked,suggested, begged) FIDE to build a sustainable dialog with the players?
You mean the same ACP that is absolutely unable to prevent FIDE from making changes in ongoing WCH cycles?
Maybe ACP methods should be something more serious than lobbying.
Maybe nobody mentions it because it is a worthless institution.

LaughingVulcan already said that the arbiter was right there, what else/what more would you want?

I can add my own on-site observation from last Saturday's one-sided time scramble between Iturrizaga and Hillarp Persson in the C-group (white had 21 seconds [!!] left for the last 21 moves, black still about an hour). An arbiter (or should I write: "an official-looking guy wearing a suit, most probably an arbiter") was near the board all the time. He was writing down the moves (I guess one cannot fully trust the electronic move registration) and otherwise he was just present to intervene in case of problems - none occurred in that game.

And Corus has several arbiters, though probably not enough for the potential maximum of 21 time scrambles in grandmaster groups A-C ,:).

I'm with you. The risk of a heart attack might encourage the players to keep fit! The old time 'religion' was the best. Allow the offended player to press back, say "t'adoube", and let the offender press his clock after he has replace the pieces. This is the simplest and most beautiful solution to the problem. Those "modern" revisionists got it all wrong.

Mig wrote: {
"But removing the element of deadline at the four-hour mark seems like it fundamentally alters the nature of the essential romantic relationship between the game, the players, and the clock."

Time tension is not a natural part of chess in the first place. The clock is a necessary evil that was introduced only for compelling practical reasons.
There is nothing 'romantic' about unnecessarily harsh time limits. The softening brought by a 10-15 second increment still keeps the rounds on schedule.

Having a 10 second increment or delay on every move in every time control segment, puts the clock back in its place of solving the practical problem -- without allowing the clock to intrude into and alter the natural and historical nature of the game.

Oh, and an increment mostly solves the endless parade of petty clock issues that have emotional and other disruptive effects far beyond what they deserve.

Like a good referee, ideally the clock should not be noticed during the game. Increments help hide the clock.

Short is going to play in Group-A next year by winning Group-B.

"Especially considering that Aronian is destined to lose now that he's the clear leader."

Dominguez - Aronian 1-0, congratulations to Migstradamus!
But what are your predictions for the net round?? Once again there are three leaders, probably four (Radjabov seems to be winning) .... . BTW, I think it is not a question of "noone wanting to win this thing", rather too many players are and remain interested, not yet giving up the idea.

@freemoney: Short himself said that he is not even interested in playing in the A-group ... . Could he refuse the automatic invitation, passing the honor to the second finisher (Caruana at present - which would also be interesting, though I think it still comes a bit too early for him).

No Thomas , on the contrary, it would be nice and interesting to see Caruana in the A group next year.
Even if he finishes minus 4 like Carlsen did , it would be great for his learning, and for the show.

Having had time to reflect things a bit, there is yet another way Smeets could have won consistent with the rules:
7.3 says Radjabov has to re-establish the correct position on his own time. He didn't re-establish it, so his time was running all the time. Sure, he pressed the clock, but the clock is only an instrument to measure the time. Since he didn't re-establish the position within the six seconds he had left, his time ran out and he lost.
Sounds convincing to me.

8 players within a point of each other going into the final rounds, must be some sort of record.

Stuff all increments. Take the gloves off. No matter the system, some people will always scramble and upset pieces. Let there be an audible soft buzzer go off and a red light go on when time is up. It doesn't have to be complicated.

Thomas wrote:
Short himself said that he is not even interested in playing in the A-group

Interesting point, Bartleby - and actually taking everything into account, "at the end of the day" Smeets did not even need to back-press the clock because Radjabov certainly would have flagged anyway on the next move .... .

To recapitulate what happened:
1) Radjabov played 39. Re7 (and Be8-e9) and pressed the clock. His flag was still up - Dimitri (Reinderman, I presume) just posted on Chessvibes that he had one second left [i.e. the digital clock displayed 0.01]
2) Smeets backpressed the clock
3) Radjabov immediately back-backpressed, and his flag was down.

So how on earth could he possibly play another move in between? Particularly taking into account that he had to capture one of black's pieces in all relevant variations .... .
See also the Chessvibes report on the timetrouble game Nijboer-So in round 1: "the Dutchman had to make his 39th and 40th move in two seconds, but he managed! If So had played 39…Rxc1+, Nijboer would probably not have managed to execute the response in less than a second, I was thinking."
[39...Rxc1+ would have been a bad, but most likely winning exchange sacrifice].

The crucial point is that 0.01 on the digital clock could mean anything between 0.1 and 0.99 seconds, impossible to tell from looking at the display.

I beg to differ. Time tension should be a natural part of tournament chess. "Harsh" time controls? -- They all play by the same rules. If they can't stand the heat .....kitchen. The clock does not intrude. It is a normal part of the game now. If you want the "historical" nature of the game, why not dispense with clocks entirely and wreck modern tournament play?!

"Emotional" effects? Please, ... we are all big boys/girls.


(after Reinderman's picture and biography):
"I am sure he [Short] must be delighted with his form so far, although I also wonder whether he has mixed feelings about the prospect of winning the event, and thus qualifying for the A Group! When a similar prospect was mooted last year, Nigel expressed his attitude in rather graphic fashion to the denizens of the Press Room, suggesting that he would rather subject himself to physical dismemberment than play in the A Group!"

OK, I forgot that this quote was from last year - he may have changed his mind .... .

And you forgot that he may not be that coherent , he has changed his mind very drastically in the past.

I would definitely pay to see a Shirov-Morozevich match, irregardless of whether it's for the world championship.

(I would also definitely pay to see Tal play either of them, but Tal is being a bit unreasonable about the playing venue :-)


OK, I forgot that this quote was from last year
And he was obviously joking.

Yea , he is very funny indeed
But i would like to advertise my prediction of him playing in A group anyway, :).

"Especially considering that Aronian is destined to lose now that he's the clear leader."

Migstradamus indeed!

Of course Short was joking about "physical dismemberment". But my impression from the cited paragraph was that he really isn't (or wasn't) all-too-interested about playing in the A group. Actually, this may have been the impression of Steve Giddins reporting for Chessbase - who possibly heard more from Short last year than this one 'funny' sentence.
Does it really matter? In any case, my initial comment was either no nonsense after all, or it was based on nonsense from Short himself ,:)

"@GM Shirov: Of course you are right. But if you find _one_ winning move, in most situations (even with sufficient time on the clock) it may not be wise to search for second one."

Thomas, I haven't had a win (and Fred Reinfeld hasn't offered any advice) in f'n forever. Any tips for me?


Today in Wijk aan Zee, onsite commentator (and storyteller) IM Hans Boehm was quoting Nigel Short:
"Why should I want to play in the A group? It means a tough game on every single daÿ. OK I would earn a higher entrance fee, but I would have to hire a second so it isn't even that interesting financially spoken. No, I am perfectly fine in the B group! If I qualify for the top group I will sell my spot on the Internet."

Maybe, maybe all of this was a joke, not only the last sentence .... . But I would say it makes sense from Short's point of view. After all, he already knows what it's like to play a supertournament. And while he is presently in top form (already prior to Corus during the Olympiad), I don't think he has potential or ambition to re-enter the world top 10 [maybe his most devoted supporters will disagree].

On the other hand, the A group would be a next career step for someone like Caruana. Or, in the worst case, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Caruana will hit the top ten ,i have no doubt of that.

Dear Joe Capablanca,
Sorry I cannot be of any help, maybe you could ask Mikhail Tal?

BTW, from the New in Chess article on the Nanjing tournament:
"One [of the tournament organizers] ... had done some research on the web, searching for chess celebrities himself, and he felt disappointed that Fischer, Alekhine and Steinitz were not going to be invited. But we should blame his errror on ambition rather than on ignorance."

This is from the January issue, not the April one ... .

Ambition and ignorance are often the same thing...

Manu, I agree that Caruana has the potential to hit the top ten (my remark was about Short). Yet I am not sure if he will make it (who can be sure?) because there is strong competition.

Looking at the Jan 2009 FIDE rating list, quite a few other players are outside of the top ten, ahead of Caruana for the time being AND have potential for further improvement:
Wang Yue, Gaschimow, Dominguez, Karjakin, Bu Xiangzhi, Nakamura, Vachier-Lagrave, Naiditsch, Rodstein.
Together with Caruana, that's ten names ... you (or anyone else) can agree or disagree on a case-by-case basis [or think that some names are still missing]. Anyway, if ALL of them enter the top 10, ALL of the current top 10 players (thus including Topalov and Anand) would have to drop down on the list.
BTW, I don't have my own preferences, and the order of names just reflects their position on the current rating list.

Wan Yue and Dominguez are my favorites from your list.
Karjakin doesnt need to be liked (not for me not for chessbase),he is great.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 28, 2009 12:48 PM.

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