Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rules and Regulations

Ok, it's time to have another moan about rules and regulations, or more to the point, the application of rules and regulations by FIDE. My problem with FIDE is the inflexibility of their rules, which means that the same rules apply for full time professional players, as they do for part time amateurs. These players have widely different needs and expectations from their chess experiences, and as such should not be treated in the same way. In the Olympiad in Norway the rule that is causing much discussion is again the zero tolerance to lateness at the board. I can kind of understand that it would seem preferable to have everyone at the board at the start of a round, but should someone really be defaulted for being 1 second late?

This is a "professional" rule which makes sense to sponsors who want to see players present at the start of a game. However, the Olympiad is over 50% amateur and penalising players, such as 11 year old Murara Layola of Rwanda, with immediate default seems rather harsh. To be honest, it is a law that I've never liked. If it was enforced in all FIDE rated events, then club tournaments would be devastated as people get to the club late from work, struggle through traffic, or couldn't leave the house on time because the babysitter was late. From an amateur's point of view, it is a draconian and ridiculous regulation. I'll leave this rant with a quote from England's number 1 player Michael Adams:

"The zero-tolerance rule is just stupid. They should just remove it right now"

Last night saw another rule trying to surface in a completely different circumstance. The board 2 game between Zimbabwe and Togo in round 3 of the women's event saw the incredible 1.e4 g5 2.d4 f6?? 3.Qh5 checkmate. The question was whether this play by the black player brings the game into disrepute. Twitter accounts were finding it hard to believe that the black player didn't know this sequence, and by inference had lost the game on purpose. If this was the case, then the the arbiters would have the right to impose penalties from a warning through to expulsion from the event according to the FIDE rules. Of course, at the other end of the scale, one could argue that refusing to shake hands with an opponent before the game could also be bringing the game into disrepute. Kramnik's refusal to shake hands with Topalov before the 5th round match between Russia and Bulgaria is rather sad. And it's a weird twist that it was Bulgarian GM and Topalov's team mate Ivan Cheparinov who famously lost a game because of a refusal to shake the hand of Nigel Short in the 2008 Corus tournament. According to FIDE's behavioural norms of 2007:

"Any player who does not shake hands with the opponent (or greets the opponent in a normal social manner in accordance with the conventional rules of their society) before the game starts in a FIDE tournament or during a FIDE match (and does not do it after being asked to do so by the arbiter) or deliberately insults his/her opponent or the officials of the event, will immediately and finally lose the relevant game."

It's not a good position for a role model to display. At junior chess tournaments throughout the world, organisers are telling the kids before the games, "shake hands and start your games". If our top players aren't prepared to do that it is not a good message to send to the millions of chess fans across the globe.

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