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chessnovice 238 ( +1 | -1 )
Tournament theory I just thought i'd throw some questions at you all, and see what your thoughts are. Last month, I participated in my third over the board tournament (winning second place in my section!), and got to witness my first GM game live - played by GM Alexander Ivanov. But the most interesting stuff was in the arguments that arose at the TD's desk.

1. In the first round, Player 1's flag had dropped after he made a capturing move that took the last of Player 2s mating material. Apparently, after the clock was punched, Player 2 pointed out that Player 1's flag had dropped. Player 2 said that the flag had dropped before the clock was punched, and therefore the game was a victory for him (Player 2). However, Player 1 said that the time issue wasn't called until after the clock was punched, and that there was no evidence that the game was really lost on time (Player 2 could be lying to gain a point). This resulted in a deep conversation on what counts as a complete move. Is it the moment you let go of the piece? Is it the moment you punch the clock enough so that the opponent's time runs? Note that if Player 1 wins the argument, the game is a draw. If Player 2 wins the argument, the game is a win for Player 2.

2. The next round brought on another interesting dilemma where Player 1 had a king, a pawn, and a promoted queen, and Player 2 had a king and a bishop. Player 1's flag fell, and Player 2 declared victory. However, under USCF rules, a game cannot be won on time if you have insufficient mating material (it can only be drawn on time), and as Player 1 pointed out, a king and a bishop is not sufficient mating material. Player 2 protested, though, that a king and bishop IS sufficient mating material if the queen is out of the way, Player 1's king is backed into a corner, and the bishop is directly attacking Player 1's king, qith escapes blocked by the opposing king and the pawn. Can a "helpmate" be included in the insufficient material ruling?

I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

As an aside, I played a 5-minute blitz game recently where I lost my queen in trade for two rooks. The game ended where I delivered mate as the flag fell. I believe that the flag fell as I punched the clock. Now, this wasn't tremendously important compared to the tournament games, but I offer this as an interesting experience as well.
baseline 22 ( +1 | -1 )
chessnovice It really doesn't matter what we thinkl, the Tournament Director handles these matters, he has a rule book and people (regional tournament directors) he can call if he has a problem understanding the rules. Helpmate? you got to be kidding me.
honololou 40 ( +1 | -1 )
baseline… Perhaps it doesn't matter what we think, but that doesn't preclude us from discussing what
seem to be some interesting and valid questions brought up by chessnovice. I have no
tournament experience myself, and would be interested in hearing the responses from
others who have more patience and respect for curiosity.
chessnovice 31 ( +1 | -1 )
... Indeed, the TD made the decisions efficiently. However, I thought they were interesting little gray areas that the rulebook does not go into, and I thought it would be interesting to hear some peoples' thoughts here. I know it brought up many interesting discussions at the tournament that day.
baseline 47 ( +1 | -1 )
honololou I was a tournament director for several years, I have little patience for people who don't know the rules and and are willing to argue endlessly over rules that they won't take the five minutes to look up. If player one's flag was down after he punched his clock it was obviously down before he punched it, player two should have no problem claim the win on time asl long as he does so immediately.

helpmate? please! we assume that the players are both playing to win.
caldazar 217 ( +1 | -1 )
My comments are based upon the 5th edition of the USCF's Official Rules of Chess and may or may not apply depending on what set of rules your particular chess federation uses.

1. A player's flag is considered down when either player points out the fact that the player in question has run out of time (rule 16E). The digital clock reading 0:00, the little plastic piece falling on an analog clock, red LEDs lighting, buzzers sounding, none of these are downed flag conditions; they are flag falls, which are not the same thing. You need to claim a flag-down situation to win on time; the flag fall is the physical evidence that your flag-down/win-on-time claim is valid. So if Player 2 called the flag down after Player 1 punched the clock and Player 1's previous move left Player 2 with insufficient mating material, the game is a draw.

A determined move is when you physically let go of the piece. A completed move is when you physically let go of the piece and punch the clock. In this case, the move must be completed without the opponent declaring a flag fall for a draw claim to be valid (rule 9G2).

2. No, helpmates are not considered in considering insufficient material to win on time. Rule 14E2 says the game is drawn even when a player exceeds the time limit if his opponent has only a king and bishop or king and knight and does not have a forced win (I would imagine the player trying to claim a win on time would be required to demonstrate the forced line to the TD without assistance; not sure on this, though).

On the aside: Unlike the draw example (where the player has to complete his move), determining a checkmating move (that is, moving and physically letting go of a piece to deliver a create a checkmate position) wins the game. You do not need to complete a move that delivers mate to win the game. So if you physically move your piece to deliver mate, you run out of time, your opponent calls that your flag has fallen, and then you press the clock, you would win because anything after the determination of a move that delivers mate doesn't count. (rule 13A).
spurtus 72 ( +1 | -1 )
Q1. 'Player 2 pointed out that Player 1's flag had dropped.'

Answer ... at this point the game is determined by the situation at this very moment, in time at the point of starting to make the call I reckon.... the moment of calling the game result... otherwise when you involve time and breech of rules, all manner of chaotic things may the taking of kings, followed by stalemate from the other side!...( think about it! illegal moves I hear can be legal! ) Caldazar points the fundamentals of your point clearer I think, and I agree.

Q2. 'a game cannot be won on time if you have insufficient mating material ' ...???
Are you sure about this rule,if so? is it 'chess ethically' correct?

baseline 24 ( +1 | -1 )
chessnovice Caldazar is setting you a good example. Get yourself a copy of the book Caldazar is reading from. Then you'll have the answers in your hand. You'll find alot of players you meet have a rather loose grip on the rules.
chessnovice 163 ( +1 | -1 )
... Thank you all for your comments so far. caldazar especially for picking out the relevant rules on the topic. baseline, you're right that I should get a copy of the rulebook to read them myself - it is interesting to bring up the intricacies of these rules.

spurtus, indeed it is true that if Player 1 has insufficient mating material and Player 2 does have mating material (which would be the only reason for the match continuing), Player 1 cannot win the match on time. He can only obtain a draw if Player 2's time is up.

Spurtus' comments reminded me of two more interesting happenings in the tournament, as well. So, I continue with these:

3. Player 1 and 2 were playing along in the game, until Player 1 pointed out that Player 2 had made an illegal move a few moves back. However, it seems that the illegal move must be noticed within a few moves, or else it is legalized (I saw this once brought up when a player castled a record three times). The illegal move was playing a white-squared bishop on a black square, resulting in two black bishops (which are not very powerful, actually).

4. Player 1 was running out of time very desperately, and began a sequence of threefold repetition. Player 2 was in a comfortable position timewise. However, since Player 1 was in such a bind on time, he could not write his moves on the score card, and therefore had no proof that he had done threefold repetition once his flag ultimately fell (and Player 2 called it). Player 2 also did not write down the final few moves. Player 1 accepted the loss very reluctantly, but really was this a loss or a draw?
atrifix 137 ( +1 | -1 )
Rulings You can find the FIDE Laws of Chess at under section E.I. The USCF rules are published in a book (US Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess), and I don't believe they are online. These may or may not apply to your chess federation.

According to the FIDE rules (7.4a): If during a game it is found that an illegal move has been made, the position immediately before the irregularity shall be reinstated. If the position immediately before the irregularity cannot be determined the game shall continue from the last identifiable position prior to the irregularity. The clocks shall be adjusted according to Article 6.14 [if the correct time cannot be established, the arbiter will use his best judgment to determine the correct time]. Article 4.3 applies to the move replacing the illegal move [touch move rule]. The game shall then continue from this reinstated position.

Therefore, in the case of 3., the position will be reset to the last identifiable position, and the clocks adjusted.

In 4., if you do not have a record of the game, you cannot claim threefold repition (or 50 move rule, etc.). Therefore the result would be a loss. If you do not have enough time to notate your game and believe your position is going to result in threefold repition or the 50 move rule, you should ask the arbiter to come and watch your game in case of a draw.
honololou 34 ( +1 | -1 )
baseline… Thank you for your clarification and please forgive my ignorance. As a TD, I'm sure that it
must be very frustrating having to deal with these issues over and over again with
participants who should know better. You have my sympathy. Nonetheless, it is interesting
to hear these rules interpretations—I had no idea it was so complicated.
baseline 44 ( +1 | -1 )
Good Tournament Directors Are prepared for many of these problems, I use to arrange the site that my position would allow me to observe all the clocks, I would also enlist a couple of helpers from among the more respected players to help observe games involving time trouble. If in example 4. I or one of my assistants observed the 3fold repetition then as tournament director I can declare the game drawn. This is stipulated in the USCF rule book.
spurtus 27 ( +1 | -1 )
In regard to time rules,... Is the 'insuficient mating material' equal in any way to unmobilisable mating material?... due to forced mate, illegal moves etc?

An ending I have lost games on before I should say!... purely lost to time to complete the mate!

atrifix 22 ( +1 | -1 )
I should note in case 4), if Player 2 has more than 5 minutes on his clock, he is required to write down his moves--not keeping a record of the game is illegal, and Player 1 should notify an arbiter if Player 2 is not keeping a record of the game.
baseline 28 ( +1 | -1 )
atrifix I have the 4th edition, did they change the rule for sudden death time controls? The rule then was that neither player was required to keep score if either player had less than 5 minutes left under sudden death time controls.
caldazar 429 ( +1 | -1 )
Again, my comments are based upon the 5th Edition of the USCF's rules; your mileage may vary.

3. If an illegal move occurred within the past 10 moves of one player pointing out the irregularity, the position before the illegal move is reinstated. The player who made the illegal move is considered to have touched a piece and is required to make a legal move with the piece he had originally moved illegally if at all possible (if the touched piece has no legal moves, he is free to make any move). Clock times are only adjusted if the illegal move occurred during a sudden death time control period; illegal moves made in non-sudden death time controls do not require a resulting clock correction after the position is corrected. If the position before the illegal move cannot be reinstated for whatever reason (for instance, incomplete scoresheets, no observers, players can't agree on what the position looked like before), the illegal move stands. If the illegal move occurred more than 10 moves ago, the illegal move stands. The exception to this is an illegal move where a king is left in check; this position is never allowed to stand. If a king is left in check and a position cannot be reconstructed to the point when the king was first in check, the TD has discretion as to what should be done to remedy the situation. Another exception is when either player has fewer than 5 minutes remaining on his clock during a sudden-death time control. There, if a player makes an illegal move, the illegal move stands after his opponent completes 2 more moves, rather than 10.

4. You cannot claim a draw by threefold repetition of the position or a draw by the 50-move rule without a reasonably complete scoresheet. Further, you cannot claim a win on time in a non-sudden death time control if you have an incomplete scoresheet (you can claim a win on time in a sudden-death time control wtihout a complete scoresheet, though). By USCF rules, if either player has fewer than 5 minutes remaining on the clock to make any time control, both players are excused from keeping score.

So the answer to #4 depends on whether or not the players were under a sudden-death or non-sudden death time control. If it was a sudden-death time control, player 2 wins on time. If it was a non-sudden death time control, two minutes are added to Player 1's clock and Player 2 forfeits the right to make any further claims in that particular time control.

Which leads me to a weird situation I've always wondered about:

In a non-sudden death time control, Player 1 gets into time trouble and both players stop keeping score. Player 1's flag falls, and Player 2 tries to make a claim of a win on time. The claim is denied, Player 1 gains two minutes on his clock, and the game continues. Player 1 uses up his additional two minutes in the same non-sudden death time control and is once again out of time, but since Player 2 has already made an improper claim, he may not attempt to make a second claim. Player 2 then decides to use up all his time too in the same time control. Player 1 may not make a claim of a win on time because you are not permitted to win on time if your own flag has fallen in a time control. So neither player has any time left on their clocks in the non-sudden death time control, neither player can claim a win on time, and by the rules the game must continue (when both flags are down in a sudden-death time control, the game is a draw, but not in a non-sudden death time control). But neither player has an obligation to move, since there is no time pressure! Either player can sit there and mull over their move for as long as he wants so long as the players do not make enough moves to reach the required number of moves for the non-sudden death time control (when they would both be required to add time to their clocks). How would this be handled? Would the TD simple allow the players to sit and stare at each other to their heart's content until the start of the next round, when the TD is allowed to declare the game a draw in the interest of not holding up the tournament?
fmgaijin 133 ( +1 | -1 )
Caldazar: Don't Forget the 2nd Control Actually, I've had to rule on your last scenario several times, including once at a US National Scholastic event (I'm a USCF Senior TD, among other things, and have been an assistant at several National Scholastics over the years). The answer depends on the 2nd time control. While neither player can claim a win on time any more for the first control, a sensible TD then "resets" for the second time control--bring scoresheets up to date, establish # of moves made if the 2nd control is not SD; simply inform them that they're back on the clock for the 2nd control if it's SD.

Re the other questions above: Yes, the rules are fairly clear in the USCF Rulebook, but please remember that (1) not all players here are from the US, and their federations may have different rules, and (2) FIDE rules may differ from ANY federation's rules.

P.S. The fact that a flag has fallen is NOT taken as definitive proof that an event did not take place prior to the flag falling, because certain events on the board such as checkmate, stalemate, etc., take precedence to what occurs on the clock. That's one reason why players in serious time pressure should make sure that a TD is present to observe the game. And as Baseline noted, the TD should not be oblivious to the games, either, and show up even when not explicitly summoned.
baseline 28 ( +1 | -1 )
fmgaijin My otb tournament participation ended about ten years ago when I started working nights. As a locol TD I was always very greatful to the Regional TD's that were so helpful. You guys make otb chess a great experience and recieve little recognition for your efforts. Thank you.