07 January 2008

3 Illegal Moves = KO

A footballer who does not understand the offside rule is at a big disadvantage. He wastes goal scoring opportunities by continually being caught offside. When defending, he plays opponents onside by taking up wrong positions. It is important to know the rules of the game in order to compete properly.

It is no different for chess players in competition. However, I strongly suspect that many Malaysian players, me included, who are not sufficiently aware of some critical rules. A few posts ago, I described a situation in the recent Perak Closed where Fadzil Nayan claimed two minutes additional time for an illegal move by his opponent, Johan Jamil. After reading the FIDE Laws, my understanding of the applicable rule is as follows.

Structure of the FIDE Laws
The FIDE Laws has a general section that is applicable to all time controls, whether classical, standard, rapid or blitz. These rules apply unless a specific rule in the Appendices override. Thus we should understand the general rule first before looking for exceptions in the Appendices.

Article 7.4 states that when an illegal move is discovered, then the position immediately before the illegal move shall be reinstated. The game then continues from the reinstated position. Thus the illegal move may be discovered only 5 moves later, but the position before the illegal move should be reinstated.

The arbiter should use his best judgment to reset the clock. This should be no problem if the illegal move is discovered early enough. But if the illegal move is discovered 5 moves later, then I suppose it would be more difficult especially in a long game.

After clocks has been reset, then the arbiter is to give the innocent player (who did not make the illegal move) two additional minutes.

An interesting point is that the illegal move can possibly occur at any stage in the game and not necessarily in time trouble. The same rules apply.

Rapid Rules (in Appendices)
However, in Rapidplay where the time control is from 15-60 minutes for the whole game, there is an exception to the general rule. In Rapidplay, Rule B6 states that a player must claim his opponent made a illegal move only after the opponent has pressed his clock (i.e. completed the illegal move) and before the claimant make his own move.

Thus in a 90/G time control game, a player can claim an illegal move by opponent even a few moves later (under general rules), but in a 40/G game, the claim must be made after the illegal move is completed and before the claimant make his own move. If the claimant has made his own move, he can no longer make the illegal move claim.

In the Fadzil/Nayan situation (refer my earlier post), Fadzil made the illegal move claim after making his own move. Fadzil’s claim was thus invalid and should not have been allowed. Hairul and an anonymous poster in the comments thus got it right in my opinion.

However another interesting matter caught my attention when reading the rules. In Article 7.4b, it is stated that for the first two illegal moves by a player, the penalty would be 2 additional minutes for the opponent. But the player loses the game if a third illegal move is made. Sounds like green card, then yellow card and finally red card.