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16-year-old Ding Liren Wins Chinese Ch

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Wang Hao was running away with the powerful Chinese Championship, racking up win after win. The only competitor to even keep him in view was teenager Ding Liren, but even he was 1.5 points behind with two rounds to play. Then something interesting happened on the way to the celestial city. Ding Liren beat Wang Hao in their 10th-round game, which had the additional plus of giving him better tiebreaks, if my interpretation of the google translation of the official site is to be trusted. So a Wang Hao loss or draw and Ding Liren win (or WH loss and DL draw) in the final round would give the title to the 16-year-old.

As it turned out, tiebreaks weren't necessary. Ding Liren's final-round opponent, Zhou Jianchao, became the second player of the event to be forfeited under the new FIDE "zero tolerance" rule because he wasn't at his board when the games began. Supposedly he overslept. (A few days earlier Hou Yifan was forfeited even though she was apparently in the room at the time and headed to her board.) What a joke to have this happen in the final round of a national championship. Then something almost as odd happened. Wang Hao lost with white to the tournament tailender Liang Chong (who was the recipient of the free point against Hou Yifan). The leader missed a trivial draw in a knight endgame with 59.Nxa5, though to be fair, and again assuming my understanding of the tiebreaks is correct, he knew from the start that he needed to win to take the title because Ding Liren reached 8.5/11 without a fight.

An incredible turnaround for Wang Hao, losing his last two games and the tournament after completely dominating the event for nine rounds. And despite the ridiculous nature of his last-round win, an impressive accomplishment by the young Ding Liren, who doesn't even have a title to go with this nearly 2800 performance rating. Yikes. Not counting the forfeit, +5 undefeated in this field is very impressive. He also got three of his wins against three of the top four rated players.


I can understand FIDE coming up with idiotic rules such as this forfeit rule. After all, its an organization full of idiots. But why do organizers subscribe to these rules? The organizers are not *REQUIRED* to follow them, are they?

To a lesser extent, I also don't understand the players. If you are the recipient of a forfeit (e.g Liang Chong), and assuming you agree that the rules are ridiculous, why don't you protest the 'free' point you received? If players take a stand, the rules can change (just to give an example, when many NBA players didn't like the new ball being introduced, the commissioner reverted to the old one).

What irritates me most is that there isn't enough material in the story for a decent conspiracy theory...

Mig wrote
Jianchao, became the second player of the event to be forfeited under the new FIDE "zero tolerance" rule because he wasn't at his board when the games began. Supposedly he overslept. ... What a joke to have this happen in the final round of a national championship.

A "joke" yes; and intolerable to any audience that already bought its ticket or www fee.
But one bad part is the player not being there and ready on time. The goal of the rule is good.

It seems out of proportion to suffer a forfeit for being one minutes late, but what alternative penalty would be better?
A 5 minute deduction from their clock might have no impact.
A 60 minute deduction might or should make the game unrateable. Any time penalty big enuf to hurt causes the game to become an odds game, by definition. I trust that odds games are not rateable.

A deduction from prize money or appearance fee is not always applicable, but where applicable it might be a better penalty.

They do not make Tiger Woods' playing partner wait for ten minutes just because Tiger dawdled in his hotel that morning.

This rule is incredibly good for selling of games; you do not to do anything stupid, just come a minute late and even keep your rating.

Surely they can come up with something more reasonable for classical chess and FIDE time controls? Perhaps give a player a 15-minute grace period, then forfeit them? I think 15 minutes sounds fair.

Dump FIDE. And let players not show up on time. When their flag falls, that's their problem.

You have a clever mind!

All new FIDE-rules will be effective only from the 1st of July; see e.g. http://www.chesscafe.com/text/geurt128.pdf It seems that the Chinese are ahead of that.

I guess Ding Liren gets the GM title automatically.

Why not just start the clocks and let the absent player suffer the loss of minutes. The penalty will be commensurate with the delay in arrival, giving both the players to be there in time.

However if the delayed player can justify to oneself that spending a few minutes with something is worthy enough losing that much time on the clock, whats wrong with it? How is he hurting his opponent or anything else?

Why to not treat the players as if they are responsible adults and perhaps they had a reason for the delay. This is unlike say tennis where both the players are required to start the proceedings. The clock of the absent player can be started and that should be an incentive enough to be there on time.

Please educate me about what is wrong with this. I have played competitive chess 15 years ago and perhaps where is something obvious I am missing.


"giving both the players ^reasons^ to be there in time."

I am sorry for those who call this FIDE rule "idiotic".
It is time to put things clear. If FIDE changes the rules is for better. Everybody (especially chessplayers)put little attention to the time. They are spoiled !
Time is time ! Let's suppose you are a teacher. And today is your forst day of work (teaching)...are you going to be late? Do you have the right to call the School where you are going to work "idiotic"??
Come on....I have something to say to everybody who says this rule is "idiotic" : Get mature !!
Rafael Llanos.

I have to agree with the previous poster that if chess players want to be treated like professionals, they need to behave like professionals - which, in just about any non-chess context, means showing up on time.

Yes, that is the change from "the way things have always been," but we want to improve the way things have always been, isn't that right?

IMHO the arbiter should start the clock at the proper time and that´s it.
Chess cannot afford to lose its peculiaritys , and at the same time professional play must be honored.
If you start the clocks of the game , you are adding some tension and magic to the situation , that would be prefereable for the broadcasting of the event.

The story said the first forfeit was for a player who was actually in the playing room (presumably seconds away from arriving at the board).

That is poor judgment on the part of the arbiter, if true.

The old rule was quite sufficient -- clocks start at the appointed time and if a player is a full hour late (easily shown by flag fall), they lose.

Under an hour late, the penalty is the elapsed time.

It seems these rules are designed for elite events where there is television or internet coverage. The problem is that the rules must also cover less high level events, where no-tolerance policies make zero sense.

And for those who think the players could refuse the free points -- it is a communist country, after all...with state-supported chess.

Just wanting to point out again that I was getting the info from messy Google translations of the Chinese official site and a Chinese blog covering the event. And one might be quoting the other. But they do seem to say Hou Yifan was "five seconds" away from her board when the axe fell. The guy who was forfeited today showed up a few minutes late.

I have no problem with serious penalties for players in elite events who aren't at their boards. If we want media attention you have to have something for the media to look at. Players need to be at the board. But forfeiting interferes with the sporting integrity of the event, as we saw today. Draconian I'm okay with -- take half their prize money, perhaps -- but why punish everyone else by messing with the event outcomes?

Welllets forget players like Ben "Bottem Feeder" Finegold" who by the way drew in 3 moves today..LOL that do noithing but position themselves to face an opponent 300 pts lower in the last round to win money...what a joke

I don´t agree on that Mig , for the sake of media coverage it is better to see a player starting the game with little time on the clock rather than the auto-forfeit.
And i also believe that a player should have the right to manage his time like he wants , if he wants to play with no time on the clock its his problem but also his choice.

Yes, manage your time as much as you like after you start the game. Make your first move and then walk around in circles away from the board all you want. You are an elite professional in a sponsored event and there are media and photos, we hope. Showing up is the bare minimum we can expect.

And as with five-move draws, if the players exploit the rules to destroy the professional game, the rules must be changed to protect it. I don't blame the players entirely for such exploitation, and shaming them into a competitive disadvantage isn't right either. So take it out of there hands so professional behavior becomes the norm. "Show up on time and play chess" isn't exactly waterboarding.

I don´t see the need , if the arbiter starts the clock at the time stipulated nobody gets hurt .
I also dont see any shame on being a little late for whatever reasons and find that the game started without me , i believe is better than being forfeited by an arbiter over some accident.
Starting the clocks is a clean and just method , losing the game is simply not necessary.

¨ You are an elite professional in a sponsored event and there are media and photos, we hope.¨

You will have more photos and such if you allow the player to play (with his/her remaining time) than if you forfeit him .
Of course if this becomes a habit it will cost you your relationship with the organizer, and you may not get invited very often.
But it can also be the case that they really dont care and/or consider your behaviour harmful only to yourself.

The forfeit rule is perfectly resonable for any serious chess event. Its pathetic that people complain about it - imagine someone not showing up for a tennis match or any other major sporting event. Get there for the start of the game if you cant do that then you shouldnt be playing!

I can understand a cut off point at the start of a game. But forfeiting a player in the room is absurd. The other side of the story is a player turning up really late as happened to Nigel Short. I've had this, its really hard to get going when a player arrives really late. If you don't know if your opponent is or isn't going to turn up.

I would suggest that the rule says something like, players should be sat at the board at the start of play. If they are not present after 10 minutes then they are defaulted.

So if the guy slept in and was more than 10 minutes late I don't have too much of a problem with him being defaulted. Its good to have professionals at the board at the start of play for all sorts of reasons. But I can't imagine Wang's state of mind after seeing what happened, pretty unfair on him.

In general my view is that the way games should happen is that they sit down at the board and play, and hand the result in at the end of the game.

Arbiters should not interfere with a game unless there is a dispute. To me far too many of recent rules are about giving arbiters power and things to do when they should not be involved.

"But I can't imagine Wang's state of mind after seeing what happened, pretty unfair on him."

Very good point. Also the point made above about how easy it is to throw games now. Perhaps Ding's opponent - and even Ding himself! - will be under (unfair) suspicion for what transpired.

People say in tennis matches they show up on time. That time isn't counted to the second, and they wait some seconds when they sit it's not as if there's a guy with a chrono awaiting to default them. In soccer matches they just show up, but if a team takes 1-2 minutes it's no big deal. Such forfaits are ridiculous and can't but damage the image of chess. But what can we expect from FIDE?

If someone gets forfeited if his cellphone rings (even if he doesnt answer it!) then by all means forfeit the player who doesn't show up for the game. I know this for a fact that at SuperNationals Open Category, many players intentionally arrive late at the game (since the pairings are put up 5 min before the start of the rounds), preparing specifically for their opponent that they had no idea about minutes ago. All this, while the punctual guy is just sitting at the board without any laptop or book waiting for his opponent just to show up! I think a professional event should be handled in a professional manner where all rules should be followed (and all the rules should be notified beforehand!). That way there is no way you can complain about them. You don't like the rules then don't play! simple as that. Would Fifa let Brazil arrive 5 min after the kick-off time at a World Cup game without a proper censure? I think not.

You're not getting it. The kick-off is only done after both theams are in place. They usually wait for teams to show up before, since it would be indeed uncomfortable to start with only one of them. If they're late, which happens sometimes, just because the coach gave some late advice or for whatever the reason, i believe nothing happens. They may get fined after the match is finished, especially in case of repetition. Besides, a game of chess doesn't need both players to be there since there's a clock. Fine the player, don't invite him back, but this way of managing the issue only invites to cheats and bad image.

We already showed that chess cannot be measure by the same rules as other sports , anyone remember the doping situation with Chucky?
What´s wrong with just starting the clocks?
Want to punish the player ? Do it afterwards , not in situ .

Nishant had a good point about the late players doing some last-minute cramming and thus getting an advantage while the person on time suffers the relative disadvantage of not being able to do so. One could argue that the punctual player should take a page from his opponent's book, so to speak, and also come late to the board so as to get in some prep specific to his/her newly revealed opponent. But what would that say if there's an empty board for half an hour or so? Yes, I know the first player to get there splits the total time late between the two of them, but it's poor form in a world where punctuality is still valued, at least by some.

I suppose the players in question could put the blame on the TD, saying, "Well, if they don't want us to do that, put up the pairings in advance! I have a right to prep for my opponent, don't I?" I certainly agree that people have a right to prepare for a specific opponent. But is this to be done essentially during the round? Is that the most proper thing? Maybe the solution would be to just always have posted pairings available far enough in advance of the round time (1 hour?) that people who want to do that have at least some time for it, and both players can book up without feeling guilty about the punctuality problem.

This all assumes, of course, that the reason one of the players is late to the board is in fact that s/he is preparing at his/her desk. Obviously, there is a variety of other possible reasons.... I think Nishant had an interesting point.

¨ Yes, I know the first player to get there splits the total time late between the two of them, but it's poor form in a world where punctuality is still valued, at least by some.¨

I dont agree with that , in that case only the white player should lose time (only his clock is running).
If the flag falls and the black player is not there to sign the scoresheet, he should lose the game too .I mean , with zero points for both players and the same effect on their ratings as it they lost their games.
Again , what is so wrong with starting the clock?

I've been discoursing on this in the corresponding item in Susan Polgar's blog, here: http://susanpolgar.blogspot.com/2009/06/biggest-dramatic-upset-of-year.html. The main points are:

(a) If chess is going to follow other professional sports in having strict start times, then it should also follow many of them in moving those start times 5-or-10 minutes off the hour. This is for spectators as well as players.
It's not just a matter of building a buffer for the natural human tendency to focus on the :00 and :30 points of the hour: If you're going to have the Mayor of Sofia or Czech PM come up for smiles and photos and handshakes and making the first move between 4:00 and 4:05, don't say the official start-clocks time is 4:00.

(b) To my surprise, the ATP pro tennis rulebook has an official grace period up to 15 minutes with fines, though only for players who are "on site". Although my point (a) wasn't meant to be a "grace period" as one replier thought, I do feel that chess should not be leapfrogging its traditions over peer professional organizations' rules to become more strict than them.

Both of these points are directly relevant to the Chinese championship cases: (b) Hou Yifan was clearly "on site", and (a) from the source blog's story it seems Ding Liren's opponent was defaulted right after the 14:01:47 time shown in one photo, and well before 14:05.

I think all this talk about special prep for the opponent overlooks a very human reason for being late to the board.

Some players are stuck in the bathroom.

Do you really want to force someone to run to the board...make a move...then run back to the loo?

There's no reason to forfeit someone who does not show up at the beginning of the game. What a player does with the time allocated for the game is his or her business. This stupid rule that players have to be present at the beginning of the game is another instance of FIDE officials trying to exert their influence where it's not needed. The clock is there for a reason -- if a player's time runs out, he/she loses.

Yes soon GMs will have to sit at the board for the whole game, except for getting a bathroom pass from Geurt. You could not imagine a tennis player stopping at mid-set to pee or have a smoke, or to wander around releasing tension, so a chess player may not, either. Remember the tv cameras are expensive, and a table with no players is boring tv.

Yes, soon GMs will be required to do not just a post game interview, but also a bit of analysis at the board. Tennis players discuss the games afterwards, their plans and strategies, so the chess players must, too

Yes soon GMs will have to wear cute white shorts or skirts, with knit shirts and sponsors logos (as tennis players do) so we can see their chessletic bodies on our tv screens. No more sloppy dirty drunk players, and the girls - makeup and cleavage required, for the tv ratings, just like in tennis!

Perhaps the female chess players will begin to grunt loudly as they move their pieces, because the tennis girls grunt like crazy! The tv ratings will spike up, even if the chess ratings do not.

Tennis anyone?

Don't the organisers have discretionary powers to do away with the 0-second forfeit? It was my understanding that they could reset the grace period for anywhere upto the old 60 mins.
Then they should do so to take vagaries of local traffic, opening ceremonies, upset stomachs, whatever, into account. Perhaps in that case, one should blame the organisers for being unreasonable rather than wholly blame Fide for formulating an unreasonable rule.

But the old one hour rule is so harsh. Why should you be forfeited just for arriving 1 second after one hour on your clock has elapsed? The arbiter should have discretion on that too. You might be his best friend and and he can't even help you.

We will have much fun with this new rule.

Correct. Now they've played a whole tournament and the final crosstables essentially mean nothing in chess terms. Great. Wonderful waste of time and energy.

I can't remember who said this originally, but:

"Control what you must, not what you can; control when you must, not when you can."

(I'd appreciate it if anyone can supply the source of this.)

MMan: The source is page 23 of Richard Foster and Sarah Kaplan's book /Creative Destruction/ (Broadway Business, NY NY, April 3, 2001). Amazon link, Search Inside on the word 'essential".

ChessBase has a new item about this---as I write the photos of Ding Liren's forfeit win are in the wrong order from the original source---and it has a tidbit on Hou Yifan I hadn't seen before (Quoting ChessBase itself, not a source):

"Hou was in the hall, we are told, had filled out her scoresheet and was waiting for the game to start. But when it did, at 14:00:00h, she was not actually sitting on her chair in front of the board. 0-1."

The question that needs asking now is, how was the new rule explained to the players? Necessarily we are talking about the local implementation of the rule, because the FIDE statement does not prescribe in detail. I don't know Chinese semantics, but I can give an example in English: Suppose the players were told, clearly and strongly: You must be in your chair BY 2:00pm. In English, "by" means then or at some time pertinently before. Since signed scoresheets are the formal end of the game, it would be reasonable for a player to interpret that initializing the scoresheet is a formal beginning that complies with "BY". Tennis and other sports in similar contexts have an act of signing-in. If my conjecture in any way approximates the truth, then IMHO the fault is clearly with the arbiters---in Hou Yifan's case, not the last-round case.

Actually, it seems ChessBase has the photos in the *right* order---the source blog and its narrative are misleading. The clue is that the Kings are already in the center of the board (DGT signal for game-over), and the game in the background is farther along. Thus Ding Liren's opponent was forfeited before 14:01:47.

Many games are bought/sold so that a player can win an infusion of ratings points, or earn a point that counts toward a title norm. A forfeit win does no good in those circumstances. But it does count toward final placement, and hence, Prize money.

It is a stupid policy, and absurdly implemented in the case of Hou, who was actually in the Playing Hall at the time, and just a few seconds away from the Board. The arbiter need only have beckoned her to come to the Chessboard.

In any case, it ought to be the Players' choice as to whether to accept a forfeit win due to an opponent's tardiness at arriving at the Board. As long as the late player still has time left on his clock, the opponent should have the option of allowing the game take place.

Hou Yifan played in the Olympiad in Dresden, so she understands the new rule perfectly well. Being in the room isn't enough.

Arbiter (or opponent) discretion would be a sure recipe for all sorts of pressure and corruption.

The rule is no more absolutist than having to move and press your clock before an hour has elapsed.

Yes it is. With less than one hour remaining one side is playing rapid chess, the other classical, making it an uneven contest. This puts extra pressure on the guy with the most time to play for a win from move one. And that is not fair. He or she is entitled to an even contest.

The transition point from classical to rapid can be debated, but I am pretty sure it exceeds five seconds.

This rule takes silver in the ongoing "Fide silly games", gold being rewarded to the pissing contest.

It punishes both players for something that most people would be hard pressed to regard as an offense. One player gets defaulted, the other get robbed of his/her chess game.

Which is why we are all here. The game is the issue, not the result. First priority is to have a decision on the board.

But not to FIDE. Here, first priority is to demonstrate just how much the president has taken offense.

CBC, is that really so? The new rule reads:

Any player who arrives at the chessboard after the start of the session shall lose the game, unless the arbiter decides otherwise. Thus the default time is 0 minutes. The rules of a competition may specify a different default time.

As I pointed out, Hou Yifan had already *arrived*. Was the distinction observed and explained at the Olympiad?

To follow up with CBC, the answer is apparently yes: the "arrival" issue came up several times in Dresden. I found http://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2008/12/18/do-rule-changes-ruin-olympiad-spirit/

"...Yet other cases occurred such as Palestine-Jamaica and Gabon-USVI where players had arrived prior to the match, but stepped away from the board. In the first case, Evgeny Ermenkov stated that he has stepped away to get a pen for 30 seconds at the arbiter’s table. Jomo Pitterson of Jamaica disputes this and stated that he was gone for as long as five minutes. Nevertheless, when Ermenkov returned, he had forfeited. the match arbiter was summoned and he allowed Ermenkov to play. Jamaica launched an appeal and Ignatius Leong ruled it an immediate forfeiture. The Elliott-Ermenkov game was abandoned after 12 moves.

In the Gabon-USVI match, Jean-Pierre Moulain was on 8.5/10 and sat to play Michael Smith who was on a winless score of 0.5/10. Moulain had arrived early and apparently greeted Smith, but went to the bathroom minutes prior to round starting. When he returned, he had forfeited and Smith insisted on the ruling despite acknowledging his earlier presence. The Gabonese players decided to abandon their games."

I still think the rule's wording is inadequate to support these distinctions. To be this strict, the rule must prescribe an audible time signal, at which all players must be seated and after which they may exercise their normal right to rise. This is indeed a players' issue---as with other debates about allowable player movement during games.

OK, these Olympiad examples are even more absurd than the Chinese Championship.

A player is at the board, greets the opponent, goes to the arbiter's table to get a pen...and then is forfeited??? WTF???

A player is at the board, greets the opponent, goes to the restroom...and then is forfeited??? WTF????

Is there no common sense? This is a rule that is supposed to be an improvement over the old 1-hour rule??

Absurd! God forbit a player needs to get a pen or a scoresheet. If this rule is for professional events, then the organizers are at fault for not having pen and scoresheet at the board (along with the pieces).

If it is for professional and amateur events, it is a recipe for disaster.

The old 1-hr rule was better...and is more widely known.

I do not remember details or names, but maybe it is worthwhile pointing out why FIDE came up with the new rule in the first place: An IOC representative was visiting an Olympiad and was rather puzzled that the playing hall was half empty 10 or 15 minutes after the 'official' start of the round. People may answer "chess shouldn't become an Olympic sport in the first place", but sponsors may be similarly puzzled.

It is "hard to predict the future", but I think one, two or five years from now the new rule might be as widely known and accepted as other rules introduced roughly 10-15 years ago:
- no smoking at the board
- capturing the king in blitz games is an(other) illegal move and loses the game
- if your cell phone rings, you lose the game.

Maybe the arbiter should have some flexibility, just as a football (soccer) arbiter can choose between an oral warning, a yellow card, or a red card - but where to draw the line? Is it enough if a player is a) within five meters of the board, b) in the playing hall but farther away, c) in the lobby just outside, d) on the street outside the building? There may be plausible reasons for being up to five minutes late, but the players could simply strive to be at the board five minutes before the round starts, is this too much to ask???
For longer delays, there may also be valid reasons (public transport problems, car breakdown, ...) but all this should be or become the exception rather than the rule.
Also, it would be odd IMO if the decision depends on whether the game is 'important' or not, or whether the player(s) involved are GM's, IM's or 'anonymous' amateurs - again: where to draw the line?

Finally, @chesspride:
"The old 1-hr rule was better...and is more widely known."
See above, in due course new rules will also be 'widely known'. I don't know if rules such as en passant capturing or castling were part of the game from the very start (in the 16th century?) or introduced at some later stage. If the latter is true, I am sure though that there were no heated Internet discussions about advantages and disadvantages of such new rules ,:) .

You finally get chess back on live TV. The cameras are rolling. It's all over in 5 seconds. Do you really want that?

If chess players are accused of game-fixing, it's just too easy for cheats - they only have to be seconds late. There's no need to pretend to play chess. Again is this what you want?

Other sports have leeway on start times. How many "not present" defaults do you get in lawn tennis or boxing? When was a top-level soccer game ever defaulted?

Turn up at the board to play your game on time, no forfeit, no problem, it ain't asking a lot, these examples above are exceptions rather than the rule. If you need a pen or scoresheet fetch the thing in advance, that does not tax one's mental or physical energies overmuch. This whole thing reminds me of the prevailing attitude among tournament chessplayers of my experience, they turn up at tournaments and matches without sets, clocks, scoresheets, register at the last possible moment, etc etc, a few forfeits might change the attitude a little, I'm all for it.

"You finally get chess back on live TV. The cameras are rolling. It's all over in 5 seconds. Do you really want that?"
Yep, this would be truly embarassing - but first and foremost for the (late) player who would be responsible for such a scandal. However, I guess under such circumstances organizers and arbiters may well be a bit more lenient. And generally, I suggest to separate two issues: 1) does the new rule make sense? 2) just how strictly should it be applied?
I also think in the given case(s) organizers/arbiters were too strict - at least they were consistent in punishing both the young prodigy Hou Yifan and the 'unknown' tailender (also remarkable that Liang Chong scored 1/2 out of two non-games). Being THAT strict may be "typically Chinese" as stated in other forums - even if bernd's comment on Chessvibes "What to expect from a country that still has the death penalty?" would be a bit, hmmm, odd on this US-American site!?

On game-fixing: I find it rather easy and/or far-fetched to discard a rule just because it might be (ab)used for such purposes. Then we may also need to abandon
- the cell phone rule (are such losses ELO-rated?)
- time controls, because in principle someone might flag on purpose
- handshakes before the game [though I don't think Cheparinov had THIS in mind ... ]

And you are wrong , because as it is evident the punishment has got out of proportion in comparison with the offense.
IMO That is the real point of this argument , people who is against this rule is not cheering for anarchy , it is just obvious that this rule is not accurate enough and allow unfairness , that´s all.
If the offense is about time, it should be paid with time .

TV interview in 2011:

Analyst: "You seem to be on a hot streak -- how do you explain it?"

Player: "Yes, I've had my share of good luck lately. My first round opponent was stuck in the bathroom for extra 2 minutes, so I won that contest with a forfeit."

Then in round 2, my opponent went to the arbiter's table to get a pen, and I wrapped that one up in record time."

In round 3, my young oppnent's fanny wasn't quite in the seat..."

Analyst: "Wasn't he about 12 yrs old?"

Player: "Yes, that's right...so the arbiter decided that he wasn't fully at the board...so that one went my way pretty fast."

I ran into a bit of hard luck in the fourth round...as my grossly overweight opponent just sat in the chair overnight and just let everything go -- I mean, he just did number one and number two under the table. I guess he didn't want to miss the opening bell. I couldn't think straight and lost a 66-mover.

So going into the final, I'm 3-1 and looking to clinch at least a share of first place."

Analyst: "What's your strategy for this game?"

Player: "I'm hoping my opponent refuses to shake hands at the start."


Professional sports competitors need to be "on the field" when the contest begins. The FIDE rule is a good one, and the punishment of forfeiture is not only appropriate, it may be too lenient. Expulsion from the tournament or match is the correct penalty.

If Roger Federer wasn't ready to begin his French Open quarter-final match on time, then he would have forfeited the match, been knocked out of the tournament, and faced further sanctions.

If you you want to dress any way that you want, start the game whenever out feel like it, and prematurely end the contest for any or no reason at all, than you should play chess with your buddy in your living room. None of those kinds of behaviors has a place in a true professional sport.

"If you you want to....and prematurely end the contest for any or no reason at all, than you should play chess with your buddy in your living room"

Not sure what's meant here, since it seems to contradict his initial paragraph that clearly supports the automatic-forfeit rule - the ultimate means to "prematurely end the contest for any or no reason at all."

Also, can anyone cite chapter & verse from tennis or soccer rules? I've seen conflicting assertions on this and other Dirt threads, as to whether professional tennis has any comparable automatic forfeit rule if a player isn't at his post at the pre-announced offical start time.

In fact, I think one of those asserting there is NO SUCH rule in pro tennis, and players can be a few minutes late without immediate penalty, DID quote or post the text of the relevant rule.

So, rp, that leaves the ball in your court. Please back up your claim about tennis rules, or retract your above comment.

My understanding is that in tennis you have a certain amount of time to "arrive"...so if you are stuck in the loo, you don't lose on the second.

And no, I do not believe that -- with television cameras ready -- they would forfeit Roger Federer for being 2 minutes late. Everyone would play along and try to keep the "event" going (because once the sporting contest is large enough to have TV, it is no longer a pure sporting event...it is a production).

However, I made the claim some years ago that sometimes players are said to "withdraw due to stomach ailment" when what is really happening is that they cannot make it out of the bathroom within the allotted time.

I was contradicted and told that no, tennis does allow players in need a reasonable amount of time for a bathroom break or time allowance at the start (especially if everyone knows the reason).

None of that applies to chess -- where the rule as applied at the Chinese Chp and the Olympiad was absurd:

1. Player at the board gets up to get a pen, only to return and find he has lost

2. Player at the board (and opponent knows it) gets up to go to the bathroom...only to find he has forfeited.

3. Player is in the playing hall (after previously been at the board) only to be forfeited at the opening bell.

I mean...it is not a track meet or race. You *can* start a game of chess while someone is up getting a pen. Once you "check in" then you should be able to move about.

In fact, that might be the solution. Players need to "check in" at the arbiter table.....then (and only then) can they get a pen, walk around, go to the bathroom, etc. This makes perfect sense as it sets a very clear standard for what "being ready to play/arriving" really means.

Shame on any player who knows his opponent is in the room (but not in the chair) and accepts a forfeit.

Perhaps the "check in" rule can be adopted for these pro events. Events often use a variant of this anyway for the first round -- they want to be sure all players are present and not have a rash of first round forfeits. That satisfies the sponsor's need to have the players there on time...while granting sufficient flexibility to the players.

Once you have checked in...your part is done, etc. Players do this for basketball or other sports (i.e. they check in to the scorer's table).

''Shame on any player who knows his opponent is in the room (but not in the chair) and accepts a forfeit'

Is a player able to refuse a forfeit win? Methinks not!

Yes, it is called a double forfeit.

What would happen if, for instance, M-Tel adopted this rule through pressure from FIDE, and, at the start of the first round, all six elite grandmasters stood behind their chairs, backs turned, until the 'official' start of the round?

(I'm not here to start an argument about who would or wouldn't do this {or who would sneak into their chair at the last second while their opponent's back is turned -- lol!} -- the supposition is that all six join the protest!)

Do you double forfeit all three boards? What if they do it again? And again? These are the world's most elite players, and cannot be sanctioned to the effect of reprimand (prize money notwithstanding) without seriously endangering the existence of whatever body chooses to sanction them. Would the rest of the top 20, after replacing them on the invitees lists, do the same?

Just what would Fide do?



Your scenario is logically moot.

If professional chessplayers, whether elite or not, were prone to make protests of any kind (let alone the scenario you describe), the conditions we're discussing here wouldn't even exist. Kirsan would not be in charge of FIDE - indeed, he probably would have never gained control of FIDE in the first place. So, no one would ever have heard of an instant-forfeit penalty for not being in the exact spot at the exact start time. (Probably no one would have heard of anti-doping rules for chess, either.)

I think we all understand that GMs - "elite" GMs most of all - will do whatever they are asked to do in order to be paid by Kirsan. That is what makes Kirsan Kirsan, and what makes FIDE, FIDE.

It is fashionable to complain about Kirsan, and thre are many good reasons for doing so. Yet, I find it odd that (at least) the last two posts leave the impression that Kirsan personally imposed this new rule, and did so just to demonstrate his dictatorial powers and to annoy the players. However ... :
1) He can propose, but cannot impose such a rule all by himself, at least it has to be approved by some FIDE board or committee.
2) He had (IMO valid) reasons for the new rule. Leaving aside whether anyone (else) really wants chess to become an Olympic sport, sponsors are interested in media coverage of events, and photos can be taken only during the first ten minutes. This (whole) time is needed if the same photographer wants to cover several boards. So basically, the protest which chess observer sugggests would not only 'attack' Kirsan, but also the tournament sponsor - so at least Topalov would presumably not participate.
It also wouldn't make sense to change the rule to "photos for ten minutes after the second player arrives" - this would disturb those players who care about, or bother to start their game in time.
BTW, this is also a difference to other sports (tennis, football) where photos can be taken any time during a match ... .

Again, I do not mean to defend or endorse "five-seconds forfeits", but: the Chinese championship had a total of 66 games, 64 started in time with no reason for a forfeit or scandal. So it cannnot be THAT hard for players to respect and follow the new rule!?

First priority is to have a decision on the board.

If the organisers want to sanction, there are other ways than to abandon the game. That punishes both players. Apart from Topalov, nobody wants to win by forfeit.

In Ermenkov's case, he had a pen, but it was not working, so he went to find another. Of course hindsight is clear... you 'll say he should have checked his pen, etc.

However, it's an absurd rule.


There was a player vote in Dresden on the rule. Players overwhelming chose to allow a grace of 15 minutes.

I don't buy this issue of publicity suffering during the first 10 minutes. If a player is not present, you shoot the board anyway. I took plenty of shots like that at Olympiads. Besides, there are plenty of other boards to shoot.

At the Olympiad, players were forfeited after the arbiter heard legitimate reasons and some were allowed to play for illegitimate reasons. One arbiter told the other team captain, "Have a heart."

Eventually there will be a protest by one or more elite players and FIDE will have to take the "zero default" out of the rule. They should do it before the controversy happens.

Notice that organizers of major tournaments have not enforced this rule since a controversy of forfeiting a top player could endanger the sponsorship it is trying to attract. What does the most damage for sponsorship...a forfeit verdict of a top player or that player coming minutes late and playing a hard-fought game?

You are right of course , for what is worth i have extense experience on broadcasting events and feel the same way about this silly rule.
Games should start on time , the punishment for the player who is late should be his own lateness.

> First priority is to have a decision on the board.

Absolutely. Sad enough that the rulemakers have to be reminded of the first principle.

First of all, the rule change is unnecessary. The one-hour-rule has been a viable minimal requirement for all kinds of tournaments. The right place for making stricter requirements would be the tournament rules, not the Laws of Chess.

Professionals who get entry fees can be expected to cooperate with the organizers/sponsors. But it doesn't make sense to forfeit someone for being a few minutes late. There can always be valid reasons, you don't want to investigate case by case, so use a grace period. In handling such a rule, use some common sense. Don't stand at the loo with a stop watch. It makes a comedy out of chess, not a sport.

Amateurs who pay entry fees should be treated as customers. Someone shows up five minutes late Sunday morning, and you tell him he lost? You zero both players, when they are not at the board? Absurd. No way. Most chess tournaments are organized for playing chess, not for approaching some functionaries' dreams of perfection.

And what about kids? You expect them to sit at their boards waiting for the round to start?

Daaim, interesting and informative post - some questions/comments arise:

1) the players' vote in Dresden: I am not surprised by the result. Noone (except game throwers) likes to be forfeited or at least risk doing so, and at least some players also don't like winning by forfeit [@jwoge: not sure if Topalov is the only exception]. Did the poll also mention the established 1h grace period, if so, how many players thought that 15 minutes isn't enough?

2) Photo shots of empty boards might appear on chess webpages, but presumably not in 'mainstream' media.
"there are plenty of other boards to shoot" - true at Olympiads and major opens, actually the type of event where it is more understandable to be up to a few minutes late (simply couldn't find the table in time). And then true mostly for those who do not focus on the top or any other particular table - you partly concentrate on African and Caribbean players, Chessbase looks for pretty women seated at _any_ table (#1, 10 or 52) ... hope you don't mind this tongue-in-cheek comparison.

3) inconsistent application of the rule at the Olympiad: odd indeed, at the limit maybe the Chinese way (zero tolerance means 0.0000) is even preferable?!

4)"Notice that organizers of major tournaments have not enforced this rule".
Players' contracts at Corus this year included the obligation to be present _on the stage_ at the start of the round (I don't know the penalty for offenders: reduced appearance fee? no invitation next year?). But "on the stage" didn't mean "at the table" - in round 1, Ivanchuk wandered around the stage for the first ten minutes to avoid photographers ... and later lost on time against Smeets.

An Olympiad anecdote from the German magazine "Schach" (my translation into English):

"Wladislaw Tkatschiew is late ... and everyone is amused. From the Russian team Kramnik, Swidler and Grischuk turn their heads good-humored to the table where the Serbian referee ... puts down Tkatschiew's forfeit on the score sheet. Alexej Schirow and Paco Vallejo are also amused, likewise the players from Azerbaijan [French opponent in the last round] and even Tkatschiew's teammate Etienne Bacrot cannot resist smiling.
[the article continues explaining the new rule and how it was enforced - or not - in previous rounds] ......
However, Tkatschiew's punishment was fully justified. He had engaged in heavy partying the evening before and arrived only half an hour later. As Jussupow commented: 'It's your own fault if you nominate Tkatschiew after a rest day.' "
It may be considered unfair to punish the entire team, but then they could have made sure that Tkatschiew is (half-)awake and at the board when required? And his behavior was, in any case, unprofessional - anyone disagreeing?

@Bartleby: From the same article/column: "The FIDE president wants to promote that the new rule will be enforced in the future at ALL [emphasis added] tournaments, including local and kid's competitions. Chess as a sport, says Kirsan, should educate the youth and help develop virtues ["Tugenden" in German] which include punctuality."
Now that is his opinion, not mine ... .

As far as amateurs in FIDE-rated events ("The FIDE president wants to promote that the new rule will be enforced in the future at ALL [emphasis added] tournaments, including local and kid's competitions," as per Thomas' citation above), we'll have an answer within 48 hours:

I am a participant in the New York International, which is FIDE-rated. Anyone wish to place bets whether the instant-forfeit rule will be enforced (OR EVEN MENTIONED) there?? If so, please email me how you'd like to arrange the wager via PayPal, and how much you'd like to bet.

Of course, my money is on NO enforcement. If anyone wants to bet separately that the TD will at least mention this alleged "rule" in the opening announcements, I'll bet NO on that too.

Finally, if anyone wants to bet that FIDE will reject the tournament's rating report due to lack of mentioning or enforcing the instant-forfeit rule, I will meet your bids from the NO side on that, too.

Jon, don't get mad at me ... as a result of my post you may lose (or rather fail to win) money ,:).
We will have to be a bit more patient - the new rule is official starting 1st July.
And it is interesting to check the EXACT wording of the new article 6.7 of the FIDE Laws of Chess:
"Any player who arrives at the chessboard after the start of the session shall lose the game, unless the arbiter decides otherwise. Thus the default time is 0 minutes. The rules of a competition may specify a different default time."
(proposed change, subsequently approved by the FIDE Presidential Board)

FIDE certainly cannot verify if the instant-forfeit rule is enforced at every single rated event worldwide, so a rating report could only be rejected partly or fully if there are other irregularities (games thrown, proven computer cheating, ... any examples from the past?).
But theoretically, starting two weeks from now, any chess player can at least try to claim a victory if his opponent is minutes or seconds late AND the organizers 'forgot' to specify a different default time?
Wisely(!?), the little phrase "unless the arbiter decides otherwise" is included in the new rule. This avoids potential chaos and - at the arbiter's discretion - players won't be forfeited if they have a valid reason for being late.

On the other hand, again starting two weeks from now, I guess the new rule does not even have to be explicitly mentioned to the players (but organizers have to mention any other default time they may choose). However, as another example, in blitz tournaments (at least those I participate in) it is usually still explicitly mentioned beforehand that capturing the king is an illegal move ... .

The link didn't pass through entirely, it should end with annex_59_2008.pdf

Well then, the World Open should make a good test case. (I won't be playing there, unfortunately.)

My guess is, organizers in the US will simply ignore FIDE's new rule, just as they ignore most other FIDE rules for both amateur and professional events that take place in the US. Typically, a TD will cover this eventuality by announcing at the start of the event, simply, "We're using USCF rules, not FIDE rules." That's all - no further specifics required.

That's enough to banish, for instance, the FIDE "zombie-pieces" rule for time forfeits. I've never heard of that particular rule being used in a US OTB tournament; all the tournaments I've heard of determine time forfeits by the traditional "forced mating material" rule I grew up with as a child. (In contrast, FIDE's zombie-piece rule says a player whose flag falls loses even if a legal checkmate can occur only when the opponent is allowed to use not only his own pieces to construct a mating position, but can use the losing player's pieces as well! Thus K+N always wins time forfeit if opponent oversteps while having King plus anything else but a lone Q; K+B wins vs King plus anything but a lone Q, lone R, or lone opposite-color B. So, K+B with flag down DRAWS vs lone same-color B but LOSES vs lone opposite-color B!!!!! Hilarious rule....Brings to mind the "Zionism is racism" rule the UN enacted in the 1970s....)

This is very likely how the instant-forfeit rule will be dispensed with in the US - without even mentioning it!


Well you're right to an extent. At the Olympiad, I actually take pictures (and interview) Africa, Caribbean players and those from other "smaller" regions since they are often not included on other major sites. That's the only difference.

If you look at my photos you will see that I covered everything else... top boards, middle and lower. That's why I was able to get some of the controversies as they unfolded. I interviewed one of the players from Gabon whose board #1 was forfeited. He sounded totally devastated.


The amount of anguish in these controversies was very unsettling.

Check out this video...

Would have been something if Carol Jarecki would have said, "Sorry Garry you've forfeited." Intel would have immediately said, "Goodbye."


Daaim, I know ... that you covered the entire Olympiad, not just "small regions" - hence I had written 'partly concentrate'. Implicitly I also wanted to say that it may not matter which team you picture (say, Uganda, Rwanda or Seychelles) or at least not in which particular round you took these photos.

You just hint at it, but indeed it is strange (and sad) that the rule was strictly enforced for 'weaker' teams, but maybe not so at the top tables. I also don't think that "0.0000 tolerance" will be applied in future supertournaments (with the possible exception of Nanjing?). Hans Ree's words (New in Chess 1/2009) on the Ermenkov case are also revealing:
"The Bulgarian Evgeny Ermenkow ... was forfeited [we all know why and how]. When I read this I was surprised. Would they do this to a representative of a strong chess power like Bulgaria? But then I realized that Ermenkov was playing for Palestine."

Similar for the anti-doping rule: At the 2006 Olympiad, a player from Papua New Guinea was banned for two years because he missed (or refused) a doping test, hardly anyone noticed, at most it was a footnote. Last year, the Ivanchuk case even reached mainstream media, and he eventually got away with a warning (sort of).

Note for Jon Jacobs:

USCF rules are -- and have been for a long time -- an accepted variant of FIDE rules.

They are equivalent for FIDE rated events.

Thus, it always amazes me when this USCF vs. FIDE rule debate comes up (as it does from time to time).

Yes, there are differences -- such as the minimum mating material rule you mentioned (i.e. USCF requires a positive mating plan to win on time, but FIDE allows a "mate by worst possible sequence of moves" finish).

I'm sure the World Open will not mention the FIDE "zero-tolerance" for lateness policy as they will no doubt use USCF rules.

Geurt G. often muddies the waters in these rule discussions on his chesscafe.com column when he entertains questions from USA players...as he invariably answers according to FIDE rules (and never mentions the USCF rule differences or that USCF rules are a fully accepted variant).

In the Olympiad the rule was enforced for all teams, not just weaker teams.

The zero forfeit rule was not universally enforced at the Dresden Olympiad - Mongolia, for one, got away with two players being late. (Nonetheless, at least 28 games were lost in Dresden by the new rule.)
The new rule was a huge advantage for the strongest teams, who were given hotels near the venue. Many weaker teams were put in hotels a long way away, some having to leave their hotel more than an hour before the game to be sure of avoiding the zero forfeit rule.

I would like this rule in amateur-chess.
I have 2/8 this year. Tomorrow evening I have to play again. It's easy to come 5 minutes to late.
"I had to work long time, the Train was late,I didn't get the Bus,.....".

Since this rule was implemented, nobody could succesfully explain what´s so wrong about just starting the games , this rule is so stupid that there must be something going on behing the curtains.

behing:behind , sorry no glasses.

It's a good rule for frustrated chess-players.
It's an easy way to loose the last round.

"... this rule is so stupid that there must be something going on behin[d] the curtains."

Maybe it's a conspiracy against Kramnik, who was reportedly often a bit late in his match against Anand? ,:) But he didn't forfeit any of his Olympiad games, so it appears that he adapted to the new rule: As being late is no longer tolerated, acceptable, fashionable(?) or even advantageous [last-minute preparation], professional players simply arrived on time - or rather a few minutes early to be on the safe side. The Olympiad had an announcement "five minutes to the start of the round, players take your seats".

Maybe this is also part of the reason why forfeits were more frequent on the lower Olympiad tables. Related: professional players might not insist on a forfeit if the opponent is seconds late - they might face the same person again soon, and scandals could affect their tournament invitations.
On the other hand a player from the Virgin Islands insisted that his opponent from Gabon should be forfeited (for going to the bathroom and not returning to the board in time). He knows that he will meet him again, at the earliest, at the next Olympiad in two years ... .


The US Virgin Island had zero points out of ten rounds! The Gabonese player was on 8.5/10. So it goes, the USVI player was trying to save his pride and was unsporting in not admitting the player was there on time... and I believe the round started a bit late.

Sorry Moulain (Gabon) was on 8.5/10 and Smith (USVI) was on 0.5/10. Smith wanted to salvage some pride so he took the forfeit win despite greeting his opponent at the board. I think the round start a little late too.

Daaim, I know the story ... . Indeed it is "plausible speculation" that the USVI player acted the way he did because he was disappointed and/or frustrated about his own result, and maybe also jealous about Moulain's.
To illustrate the point I wanted to make: Ivanchuk (just as an example) can also have bad results [in his worse weeks or months]. But as far as I know, then he only gets rude, tough or mad on himself, concrete pillars and FIDE doping officials ... not on the other player.
Hence, if the zero tolerance rule becomes standard practice, I would expect more problems in amateur events. Moreover, in big opens there are probably not enough arbiters around to decide if any particular claim about an opponent being late is justified on the lower tables?

This rule where you forfeit if you are a second late is absurd. Yes, being on time is a requirement that should be enforced in some way, perhaps by a fine, but not in having to forfeit the game. However good your intentions are and however professional you are, if you play a high enough number of games, the chances are you are going to be late for something due to some reason beyond your control. What if there is an accident and the road leading to the tournament hall is closed? You can plan to be well on time for the game but still be late. The one hour walk-over rule existed for a reason. Ridiculous.


This actually happened in Dresden. Malawi was 10 minutes late because a tram broke down during their usual 40-minute trek to the venue. The arbiters heard the story, but did not believe it and the decision stood (despite verification).

How pathetic is that? The most intellectual game in the world is run by the most moronic bureaucrats. There are only 24 hours in the day, so if a game is at say 1400, you can plan to be there by 1330 under sensible rules, in the expectation that 99% of the time you will make it. With the morons in charge, you have to plan to be there by probably 1100, just to be sure you dont forfeit the game because of some freakish occurence outside your control. Maybe they should camp outside the previous night?

I do not remember details or names, but maybe it is worthwhile pointing out why FIDE came up with the new rule in the first place: An IOC representative was visiting an Olympiad and was rather puzzled that the playing hall was half empty 10 or 15 minutes after the 'official' start of the round. People may answer "chess shouldn't become an Olympic sport in the first place", but sponsors may be similarly puzzled.

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