Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Some worst case scenario for chess arbiters

Since a major chess arbitration seminar is set to take place this coming September (scroll down this page) in Quezon City, here's a piece of note that may interest both wannabe and well experience arbiters alike. Only few can argue with the fact that chess is one of the most difficult of games to implement proper rules because most of the time, during the game, the players were basically left on their own. The arbiters usually plays the part of a "barangay tanod" more than a referee, I guess you know what I mean. Like the tanod, they're usually there to respond when problem breaks between the players. I often observed that some arbiter here in the Philippines, are there, more to pacify and make alegrohan (amends) with the players, especially with boys and girls, than to implement rules, I should say. Although not a bad approach, this may somewhat reduce the competitiveness of the game. So I beleive this issue should be among the list of lessons in the upcoming seminar other than according to article such as such.

The following are tricky questions. If your an arbiter, what would you do? Check this one out, this is a MUST READ for everyone:

Scenario: What does it mean “to declare to resign”? Let’s examine the following: A player proposes a draw to his opponent in front of the arbiter and after this proposal the two opponents shake hands. Does it mean the end of the game? Or should the arbiter ask the players to write the result on the scoresheets and only then accept the result as final? Can a verbal declaration of resignation be accepted as a final result? Can a player ignore a clear verbal declaration and pretend that it was misunderstood?

Now, even if you're not an arbiter and just a casual player, try to come up with an opinion of your own before reading the following. See if yours will match.

Arbiter: I know it sounds very bureaucratic, but to avoid all kinds of misunderstandings arbiters are advised to ask the players to confirm the result by writing the results on the scoresheets and to confirm it by signing the scoresheets. This procedure also benefits the players, and it should be done before the players begin to analyze the game.

Let me share with you one of my experiences. I saw two players analyzing their game. I went to their board and asked the result, because it was not written on the scoresheets. Each player claimed to have won. The player of the white pieces told me that White sacrificed an exchange and it looked winning; therefore, Black resigned. During the analysis White demonstrated that the sacrifice was unsound and that Black was in fact winning. The player of the black pieces said that immediately after White had sacrificed the exchange, the player of the white pieces saw his mistake and resigned.

Whom should I believe? Playing another game was no option and declaring the result 0-0 was unfair to the player who told me the truth. I saw only one option: I convinced the players to agree to a draw, although I was completely sure that the player of the white pieces told me the truth. I based my opinion on the body language of both players: the player of the white pieces was a young boy who started to cry, while his opponent remained very cool and told me that there was no proof that he was lying. I tried to find witnesses, but there were none available. The next day someone came forward and told me that the player of the black pieces had really resigned. I asked him to confirm it in written form, but he refused. Probably I should have followed my intuition.

Excerpt from An Arbiters Notebook of

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