Reports | July 01, 2009 18:00

The new Laws of Chess: what has changed?

Laws of Chess July 2009As of today, July 1st, 2009 our beloved game of chess has a new edition of its official rules: the Laws of Chess. The best known, and most-feared change is the so-called "zero-tolerance" rule: a player who arrives just a few seconds late at his board, loses the game. We asked top arbiter and chairman of the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Committee, Geurt Gijssen: what has changed, and why?

Every four years the official Laws of Chess may be revised and improved by the General Assembly of FIDE after a proposal of the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Committee. The current version took effect July 1st, 2005 and this means that as of today, July 1st, 2009 there's a new version (although at the moment of writing the old text is still on the FIDE website).

Geurt Gijssen, chairman of the FIDE Rules and Tournament Regulations Committee, explained to us that the four-year process always starts with many suggestions from different directions: "I always receive many proposals for rule changes, from arbiters, organizers... this time I think 122 in total. Of all that I receive, I make one big document. Yes, quite often I also include suggestions from my column at Chesscafe."

"I ask which members of the Committee want to look at this preliminary document, and this time six members voted about all collected suggestions, by filling out a form. Please note that I don't vote myself; I only act as, let's say, a secretary. All suggestions for changes that are agreed upon 5-1 or 6-0 were included, and I threw away all suggestions that were rejected 0-6 or 1-5.

All suggestions that were answered with different proportions were put together in a new document and taken to the Rules Committee which came together at the Olympiad in Dresden this time. There, many arbiters interested in the subject were present, and they were allowed to join the meeting - a total of about 85.

I let everyone vote, and the results I treated as a first poll of opinions. In cases where some proposals were met with big majorities agreeing with the changes, I included them for the next draft; only in cases where there where big differences of opinion I let the Rules Committee vote and decide. Sometimes I started with the Rules Committee and then the whole meeting to vote.

The results of such a meeting at an Olympiad, which often include new suggestions, is taken to Executive Board, who discuss everything but usually don't propose new changes. The final draft version is taken to the General Assembly, who give their final vote. This time it went a bit differently as the General Assembly couldn't come to an agreement about rule 6 [the "zero-tolerance" rule - PD] and let the Presidential Board decide during its meeting in Istanbul, March 2009.”

New Laws of Chess - what has changed?

We'll start by discussing the infamous change of arriving late at the board, the so-called "zero-tolerance" rule: a player who arrives just a few seconds late at his board, loses the game.

Arriving (late) at the board

Old rule:

6.6 If neither player is present initially, the player who has the white pieces shall lose all the time that elapses until he arrives; unless the rules of the competition specify or the arbiter decides otherwise.

6.7 Any player who arrives at the chessboard more than one hour after the scheduled start of the session shall lose the game unless the rules of the competition specify or the arbiter decides otherwise.

New rule:

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

b. If the rules of a competition specify a different default time, the following shall apply. If neither player is present initially, the player who has the white pieces shall lose all the time that elapses until he arrives, unless the rules of the competition specify or the arbiter decides otherwise.

This rule was already tested at the Olympiad in Dresden, November 2008, where the one-hour margin was changed to zero, which was possible because the October 2005 Laws of Chess already state that it's possible to arrive late one hour unless the rules of the competition specify or the arbiter decides otherwise.

The "zero-tolerance" rule was widely criticized after it became clear that the arbiters were applying it a bit over-enthousiastically. For example, a player who had already been at his board, but was away looking for a pen, was forfeited. Something similar happened at the recent Chinese Championship, where Hou Yifan was forfeited despite the fact that she was in the playing hall.

Geurt Gijssen

Geurt Gijssen

According to Gijssen, the rule in fact didn't change that much. "Tournament organizers are still allowed to change the rule. Whether the basic text says one hour or zero time, in both cases an organizer can decide to make it, let's say, fifteen minutes."

The critical part of the "zero-tolerance" rule, "Any player who arrives at the chessboard after the start of the session shall lose the game", might still lead to debate since it's not clear whether a player should actually sit behind his board until the round has officially started. According to journalist IM Stefan L??ffler, "for the German chess federation presence in the tournament area is enough, which includes toilets, catering or refreshment areas." Organizers are recommended to include some clarification about this in their tournament rules.

Gijssen continues: "I'd like to point out that the most important change, in my opinion, is that in the new Laws of Chess the part is deleted where it says ...or the arbiter decides otherwise. This means that an arbiter cannot decide anymore that it was a case of force majeure, in an exceptional situation, which would allow someone to play even after arriving late for more than an hour."

"By the way, the mentioned ‘or the arbiter decides otherwise’ is applicable in case both players arrive too late. Example: the rules of the tournament stipulate that a player shall lose his game if he arrives 15 minutes after the start of the round. Suppose both players arrive after 10 minutes. In this case the arbiter can deduct 5 minutes of both players’ time instead of only 10 minutes of White’s time."

It may be expected that many organizers of tournaments or even competitions won't bother checking all details of the Laws of Chess, and will simply hold an event in which "FIDE Laws of Chess apply". In a worst-case scenario, a club player will travel for several hours to play a team match somewhere far away, arrives two minutes late, gets a zero and can take the next train back home.

Gijssen: "True, but one shouldn't blame the Laws of Chess, one should blame the organizer for not thinking for himself and the arbiter of the event, who did not point out that there is from July 1 a new situation. In general I think organizers will have to think more about how to apply the rules from now on. Take rule 9, for instance, which means for the first time the Laws of Chess officially allow the so-called Sofia Rule. A tournament organizer has to decide for himself whether he wants to apply the Sofia Rule."

Optional: no short draws
In the July 1, 2009 version of the Laws of Chess, Article 9, which is about the drawn game, starts with a new, extra rule:

9.1 a. The rules of a competition may specify that players cannot agree to a draw, whether in less than a specified number of moves or at all, without the consent of the arbiter.

This means that the Sofia Rule hasn't become part of the Laws of Chess (yet) but at least it has now been specified that organizers are allowed to include measures to prevent short draws.

Besides, the rule about incorrectly claiming a draw is now a bit simpler:

Old rule:

9.5 If a player claims a draw as in Article 9.2 or 9.3, he shall immediately stop both clocks. He is not allowed to withdraw his claim.

1. If the claim is found to be correct the game is immediately drawn.
2. If the claim is found to be incorrect, the arbiter shall add three minutes to the opponent`s remaining time. Additionally, if the claimant has more than two minutes on his clock the arbiter shall deduct half of the claimant`s remaining time up to a maximum of three minutes. If the claimant has more than one minute, but less than two minutes, his remaining time shall be one minute. If the claimant has less than one minute, the arbiter shall make no adjustment to the claimant`s clock. Then the game shall continue and the intended move must be made.

New rule:

9.5 b. If the claim is found to be incorrect, the arbiter shall add three minutes to the opponent’s remaining thinking time. Then the game shall continue. If the claim was based on an intended move, this move must be made as according to Article 4.

Gijssen: "Many found this rule too complicated and they might be right. Now in case of an incorrect claim, only the opponent receives three minutes extra. In my opinion someone who comes with an incorrect claim should be punished himself as well, like in the old rules, but OK, this is how it will be."

Mobile phones
The most famous story about a player losing his chess game because his phone rings is still that of Ruslan Ponomariov. His phone sounded during a match between Ukraine and Sweden at the European Team Championships, Plovdiv 2003.

The article about mobile phones needed a change as well, since the 2005 version of the Laws of Chess did not sufficiently deal with fact that phones sometimes make a sound even if they're switched off, which happened to no-one less than Nigel Short at the 2008 European Union Championship.

Old rule:

12.2 b. It is strictly forbidden to bring mobile phones or other electronic means of communication, not authorised by the arbiter, into the playing venue. If a player`s mobile phone rings in the playing venue during play, that player shall lose the game. The score of the opponent shall be determined by the arbiter.

New rule:

12.3 b. Without the permission of the arbiter a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off. If any such device produces a sound, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. However, if the opponent cannot win the game by any series of legal moves, his score shall be a draw.

Blitz and rapidplay

The Laws of Chess also include Appendices, in which special subjects are treated, like rapidplay, blitz, algebraic notation, quickly finishes when no arbiter is present and rules for play with blind and visually handicapped players.

In general one could say that rapid, but especially blitz competitions, need special rules because almost always there are not enough arbiters around. At blitz tournaments with many boards, many small incidents happend during every round which aren't even considered incidents, like an illegal move, or a flag that falls.

In classical chess an arbiter should be called in such a situation, but this would be impossible in a blitz tournament, and that's why an illegal move instantly loses at blitz, for example, to prevent the need of many more arbiters.

However, Gijssen and many others of the Rules Committee agreed that for example a (Blitz) World Championship shouldn't be decided by something trivial like an illegal move played by accident. In general, they asked themselves, why can't a (Blitz) World Championship be played according to the normal rules? What if we just assign one arbiter per board?

Therefore, the following changes have been made.



Old rule:

B2. Play shall be governed by the FIDE Laws of Chess, except where they are overridden by the following Laws of Rapidplay.

New rule:

A.3 Where there is adequate supervision of play, (for example one arbiter for at most three games) the Competition Rules shall apply.


Old rule:

C2. Play shall be governed by the Rapidplay Laws as in Appendix B except where they are overridden by the following Laws of Blitz. The Articles 10.2 and B6 do not apply.

New rule:

B.2 Where there is adequate supervision of play, (one arbiter for one game) the Competition Rules and Appendix A.2 shall apply.

Another change is the section on Adjourned Games. These days there's probably not a single tournament left where games are adjourned, but an organizer might want to. Besides, there are situations in which a game simply cannot be continued, and has to be resumed at a later stage. For this, guidelines for adjourned games have been included in the Appendices.

Introduced for the first time in the Laws of Chess are the rules for Chess960, also called Fischerrandom. We quote the articles in full:

F. Chess960 Rules

F.1 Before a Chess960 game a starting position is randomly set up, subject to certain rules. After this, the game is played in the same way as standard chess. In particular, pieces and pawns have their normal moves, and each player's objective is to checkmate the opponent's king.

F.2 Starting position requirements
The starting position for Chess960 must meet certain rules. White pawns are placed on the second rank as in regular chess. All remaining white pieces are placed randomly on the first rank, but with the following restrictions:
a. the king is placed somewhere between the two rooks, and
b. the bishops are placed on opposite-colored squares, and
c. the black pieces are placed equal-and-opposite to the white pieces.
The starting position can be generated before the game either by a computer program or using dice, coin, cards, etc.

F.3 Chess960 Castling Rules
a. Chess960 allows each player to castle once per game, a move by potentially both the king and rook in a single move. However, a few interpretations of standard chess games rules are needed for castling, because the standard rules presume initial locations of the rook and king that are often not applicable in Chess960.

b. How to castle
In Chess960, depending on the pre-castling position on the castling king and rook, the castling manoeuvre is performed by one of these four methods:
1. double-move castling: by on one turn making a move with the king and a move with the rook, or
2. transposition castling: by transposing the position of the king and the rook, or
3. king-move-only castling: by making only a move with the king, or
4. rook-move-only castling: by making only a move with the rook.

1. When castling on a physical board with a human player, it is recommended that the king be moved outside the playing surface next to his final position, the rook then be moved from its starting to ending position, and then the king be placed on his final square.
2. After castling, the rook and king's final positions are exactly the same positions as they would be in standard chess.

Thus, after c-side castling (notated as O-O-O and known as queen-side castling in orthodox chess), the King is on the c-square (c1 for White and c8 for Black) and the Rook is on the d-square (d1 for White and d8 for Black). After g-side castling (notated as O-O and known as king-side castling in orthodox chess), the King is on the g-square (g1 for White and g8 for Black) and the Rook is on the f-square (f1 for White and f8 for Black).

1. To avoid any misunderstanding, it may be useful to state "I am about to castle" before castling.
2. In some starting positions, the king or rook (but not both) do not move during castling.
3. In some starting positions, castling can take place as early as the first move.
4. ll the squares between the king's initial and final squares (including the final square), and all of the squares between the rook's initial and final squares (including the final square), must be vacant except for the king and castling rook.
5. In some starting positions, some squares can stay filled during castling that would have to be vacant in standard chess. For example, after c-side castling (O-O-O), it's possible for to have a, b, and/or e still filled, and after g-side castling (O-O), it's possible to have e and/or h filled.

With this article we hope to have provided our readers a basic idea of the changes in the official Laws of Chess that come to effect as of today. In general we'd like to say that it's highly recommended to take some time and study the Laws thoroughly, at least once in your life! From experience we know that it can save you from losing half or even full points, and from many heated debates in the playing hall...

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Dimitri's picture

Do note that Gijssen does give a reason for the change in default from one hour to zero, he only tries to argue that it isn't a big deal. That implies that it should not have changed at all...

Dimitri's picture

s/have changed/have been changed/

guitarspider's picture

"Gijssen: “True, but one shouldn’t blame the Laws of Chess, one should blame the organizer for not thinking for himself and the arbiter of the event, who did not point out that there is from July 1 a new situation."

So he's arguing "Fide created a bad rule but the organizers are the ones to blame if something goes wrong because they could've chosen to not use it"? That's ridiculous.

I do support a shorter time period for forfeits, but this is sooo FIDE. Always throwing out common sense with the bath water.

Horst's picture

Good to know! So whenever you are in bad time trouble in a complicated position, and there is no increment, stop the clock and claim a draw! (Just proclaim that your opponent is not trying to win, or invent some other reason.) You'll win at least the time it takes for the arbiter to arrive at your table and declare his verdict. I am sure that this new rule (without any punishment) will lead to such abuse. This is probably why Mr. Gijssen does not agree with it himself. I guess the process was a bit too democratic in some cases...

Joost van Steenis's picture

I have been tournament organiser, tournament leader, team leader, player in the Dutch national competition up till the second highest class of the Dutch competion and member of the Council of the Dutch Chess Federation. And in all these years rules are more and more dominating pleasure in chess.
In a rapid or blitz game it is a pleasure to take the opponents king - not allowed anymore. In the competiton there are always some people who seem not to be interested in the games but who have some weight - arbiters, even in lower classes. And I have had several conflicts with them - and most of the time they were just incapable, knowing less of the rules than I do. The mobil phone may not ring while somtimes there are other noises from outside - maybe also disturbing, that are interfering with chess that are allowed. And now we have to sit behind the board when the game starts. And there are many more silly rules that interfere with our pleasure.
This is all ordered by dinosaurs as compatriot Geurt Gijsen, people who love rules but it seems that they do not like that people want to have pleasure in playing chess, they want to canalise the pleasure within their rules.
As a result at least my pleasure to play chess has been going down. I even think of stoppig playing chess. Chess is a game played by two people and I want to play a game with someone else without being controlled by others and certainly I do not want to be interfered in such a way that my pleasure is dwindling away.
I propose to do away with all these small dictators, called arbiters, in amateur chess. What people do who want to earn money by playing chess is another chapter. I see that the rules that maybe are suitable for professionals are also applied to amateurs, who do not want money but just want pleasure. And the pleasure is enhanced when there are not so many - often imcomprehensible - rules as the rule that demands that you have to write somewhere down when your opponent or yourself offers a draw.
Make the game again a game and not a way to earn money. Maybe professional games should be organised by the dinosaurs but let amateur games be organsised and ruled by amateurs, who want that pleasure and not rules the most important guiding line.

Joost van Steenis

Frits Fritschy's picture

Don't even think about it in a tournament with a sensible arbiter. Check the Handbook:
"12.1 The players shall take no action that will bring the game of chess into disrepute.
12.6 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims or unreasonable offers of a draw.
12.7 Infraction of any part of the Articles 12.1 to 12.6 shall lead to penalties in accordance with Article 13.4.
13.4 The arbiter can apply one or more of the following penalties: [etc.]"
So if it's clear to a sensible arbiter that you just claimed a draw to extend your thinking time, he can rightly proclaim the game lost for you.
That is the nice thing about these articles: the bad guys can be creative, the arbiter has the right to be creative too.

Felix's picture

"A.3 Where there is adequate supervision of play, (for example one arbiter for at most three games) the Competition Rules shall apply."

Does this mean the players have to record the game?!

Bert de Bruut's picture

Joost is right, let the professionals suffer, but let us common players not continue to apply these ridiculous FIDE standards to our lower level chess events. Parallels that have been made with other sports are flawed. Not even in soccer/football for instance, where my children regularly meet opponents that arrive late with their entire squads, is any punishment exacted in such cases, and that while the whole schedule suffers from it and also all later matches on the same field are delayed. A nuisance for all involved, but we gladly suffer it and these matches are of course always played.

And that's the whole point in chess as well: we just want to enjoy our game, and not have our fun spoilt by the RulesGestapo. It's wry irony that the crazy rules about cellular phones and late arrivals that are forced upon us, all originate from an organisation that has not shown at a single occasion in the past 25 years that it truly represents chessplayers world wide, or is able to organise or execute anything for the benefit of global chess herself. Quite the contrary: FIDE = FUBAR

For 99% of the games, give or take a few, there is no problem whatsoever with chessplayers arriving late at their boards, for instance in district matches and local tournaments. To only hand out forfeits after an hour is common sense, since by then it is clear the player involved obviously won't make it to arrive at all (and in team matches even can still be replaced). However: amends won't be made until our federations finaly realize that secession and regrouping is the only viable option.

Frits Fritschy's picture

I would like to say again: check the FIDE Handbook. But there is a problem here. FIDE hasn't updated it's website yet - the old rules are still there.
I wonder if rules can be lawfully used when they are not properly published.

However, you can check them on the website of the Dutch chess federation ( - reglementen - FIDE regels voor het schaakspel - Fide Laws of Chess), and there you'll find the answer:
"[A Rapidplay]
A.2 Players do not need to record the moves.
[B Blitz]
B2 Where there is adequate supervision of play, (one arbiter for one
game) the Competition Rules and Article A2 shall apply."

But the new rule does make it clearly possible to claim a draw in deciding blitz games in knock-out tournaments. With the last women world championship in mind this is an improvement, in my opinion.

Frits Fritschy's picture

The usual FIDE bashing. It is getting a bit tiresome. And this time FIDE is hardly to blame.
Just check it: the handbook leaves a lot of freedom for organisers and arbiters. For instance, the Dutch chess federation will not use the 'zero tolerance rule' in the team competition. Again, check the facts: they are available for anyone who is willing to take some trouble.
And you can still organise tournaments just as you like, but if you want to let them count for the rating list, you will have to stay within certain borders. Logical, if you want their service, stick to their rules, with the freedom they give.
And all those big words: 'dinosaurs, little dictators, Rules Gestapo.' Get real.

Bert de Bruut's picture

Sure Frits, just becauze some of the rules need not (yet) be enforced, should we tolerate them being made into FIDE-law. Who needs to get real here?

Arne Moll's picture

Indeed, Bert. If we all agree those new rules are silly or unclear, they should not be in the official Laws of Chess, regardless of whether organisers are absolutely forced to implement them or not.

Castro's picture

I obviously and strongly disagree with the Sofia-like new rule. For me, restricting any rights of the players to agree to a draw (at any time!) is simply denying chess, as I love it.
And remember: Sofia (as some other tournaments until now) has been simply "outlaw", and it's results should never be counted for rating porposes, for instance. (It's amazing no one "important" haven't yet claimed the corrections to these injustices. Maybe that's how some "rules" are made: first acepted, imposed, then apparently voted.)
And now, notice that Sofia becomes simply the extreme case of the new rules! In fact, no draw offers are alowed, ever! Because what they allow via arbiter's permision are no offers, but merely claims (that of course they had always to allow, if not breaking the rules again in that).
Sofia stinks, thats my veredict on that.

Bartleby's picture

I like the change of the rapid/blitz when arbiters are present. There have been a couple of ridiculous cases in high-stakes armageddon games.
The zero-tolerance rule is just plain crazy. Organizers can require a paid GM to be present at the start, if they want so, but why make this a law of chess? When I want to play a game of chess, my opponent wants to play a game chess, why should a rule comply the arbiter to interfere?
@ Joost van Steenis: Chess is a game played by two people, and at the amateur level, silly rules tend to be ignored. I enjoy taking the king in blitz.

Felix's picture

"In my opinion someone who comes with an incorrect claim should be punished himself as well, like in the old rules, but OK, this is how it will be."

From the new rules:
"12.6 It is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any manner whatsoever. This includes unreasonable claims, unreasonable offers of a draw or the introduction of a source of noise into the playing area.

12.7 Infraction of any part of Articles 12.1 to 12.6 shall lead to penalties in accordance with Article 13.4."

So you can still punish the guy who claimed a draw wrongly - you have to add the 2 minutes, but the arbiter seems still to be allowed to do more than that :)

Nick Faulks's picture

One important change has not been mentioned, although strictly if falls in the Title Regulations.
Any tournament offering title norms must now use one of a short list of time controls. Among those FIDE have banned are the one most favoured by elite players, which is used at Corus, Linares and in their own Grand Prix series. Can anyone see the logic in that?

Felix's picture

btw., I think the only bad rule is the zero tolerance for coming late rule. 1 hour should be the standard and everything lower (including zero) optional for organizers.
At least for events with no clear start time for the rounds, first rounds of tournaments or team fights, where you have to travel to another place, the time should be 1 hour.
15 minutes may be ok for normal tournaments, but zero is clearly producing a lot of problems and makes sense only at the highest level. Now every organizer needs to say something about which rules the apply, otherwise there will be chaos. So no good rule.

Nick Faulks's picture


You are entirely correct that until yesterday tournaments using anti-draw rules were in clear breach of the Laws of Chess. I mentioned at last year's meeting of the Rules Commission in Dresden that the Olympiad was itself in breach - the members all smiled in agreement, thinking this was a fine joke.

Frits Fritschy's picture

On what grounds do you think we 'all' agree these rules are silly or unclear? I don't. I remember you saying something once about rethoric tricks... Or was this sarcasm?
I think it's rude and annoying to your opponent to be late for your game without prior notice. The freedom for organisers to implement the rules is part of the laws of chess. It is good to have a set of rules that everyone knows - the organisers or arbiters can decide how harshly they will be applied, depending on the character of the competition or on the circumstances respectively. And for amateurs I agree it's a bit different compared to professionals.
My view is that what happened at the Olympiad and in China recently will soon be viewed as incidents, coming from inexperience.

What I particularly objected against was the tone Bert and (to a lesser extent) Joost used. It was a bit too much like "those big guys in the government never listen to what the common people think", and I think that 'government' is rightly acting so when people just complain and don't come with anything constructive. Geurt Gijssen invites people to come with ideas and is open about the procedure. Discuss the procedure instead of calling him a dinosaur because he has devoted many years to this work.

The only new part in the rules you quote is the extension to "?Øntroduction of a source of noise". Gijssen talks about incorrect claims, Horst came up with an example of an unreasonable claim. It's the difference between causing a traffic accident by carelessness or by purpose.

Arne Moll's picture

@Frits, surely it's equally condescending to dismiss all criticism on governments as some form of inconstructive complaining of the people. Sometimes criticism is justified.
Anyway, the Sofia rule and the 'late arrival' rule are examples of what we so nicely call 'betutteling' in Dutch: a way to impose one's personal values and views of how chess shoud and should not be played (draws suck, arriving late is a form of disrespect) on the chess playing community.
By incorporating these rules in the official Laws of Chess, FIDE gives off a signal of approval, whether organisers can still decide otherwise or not. And why should FIDE do that? Surely it's their personal view of our game, and it has nothing to do in the official laws of chess which always have and should still deal only with how a knight moves and when you lose on time and so on. The rest is just politics, and it's absolutely right to raise questions when this happens.

Frits Fritschy's picture

You're doing it again: I do not dismiss all criticism on governments as some form of inconstructive complaining of the people; I do dismiss all inconstructive complaining of the people as inadequate criticism on governments.
The same with the Sofia rule, you are turning things around. It's not FIDE that came up with the idea, they are just reacting to what a not unimportant part of the chess community wants (I'm not with them, by the way). They aren't saying that people like us who don't mind an occasional quick draw are out, they are saying that the others are in. Even that weird nephew, Chess960, can be part of that big (and quarrelsome) family. They are approving that chess evolves, like it has done since its invention.

Arne Moll's picture

Peter, but this is exactly my (our) point! The problem is not the rules itself, the problem is their incorporation into the official Laws of Chess. It gives those 'optional' formats and rules a 'stamp of approval' from FIDE which could then easily be confused with 'advice' or even 'obligation' - a bit like you're obliged to move the bishop along a diagonal. That would be bad news, wouldn't it?

Arne Moll's picture

I guess you could interpret it that way, Frits. I just don't see the point of incorporating all these news rules. I mean, isn't the Laws of Chess supposed to be about the rules of the game, rather than the preferences of tournament organisers? What's next? Being allowed to organise a FIDE rated tournament where the first moves must be 1.e4 c5? Besides, you never know how the new additions will be interpreted. Include it in the official Laws and I'm sure many people will think it has become common practice. Next thing you know, you're playing in a tournament that has always been 'normal' and is now suddenly applying all kinds of weird rules like you can't make a draw when you want to. I would definitely be annoyed and confused.

Peter Doggers's picture

Kudos for leaving a sharp comment under your own name - more people should do that. However, calling Gijssen (double s!) a "dynosaur" who doesn't take "pleasure" into account is nonsense. For one thing, in this particular case he mainly acted as a secretary in the process and didn't even vote himself, which btw can be read in the article.

I'm with Frits here. It's easy to critizice FIDE but I think their general strategy isn't that bad: create Laws of Chess that work best for professionalizing the elite tournaments (where empty boards during the first five minutes are just ridiculous if we want to attract bigger sponsors), and by allowing tournament organizers to differ here and there (e.g. make it 15 minutes) it's possible to keep the rules "pleasant" for us amateurs.

I think the crucial thing is that rules for professionals and amateurs can't be the same, so perhaps in the next edition of the Laws of Chess there should be separate sections for, let's say, closed round-robins and opens.

Peter Doggers's picture

Now you're even using the slippery slope. Society changes, and chess changes too. Internet and computers have a big influence on language, and also on e.g. tennis, poker and chess. The game evolves, and so the rules evolve. Again, I think a lot of what you and Joost and Bert worry about can be solved by creating two sets of rules. Or perhaps still one set of Laws of Chess, to avoid confusion, which apply for both amateurs and professionals, but in which some rules are printed in blue (like in Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual) to point out that these rules might be changed by tournament organizers.

Nick Faulks's picture

Arne is correct, and we've been through precisely this process with the ghastly "FIDE time control" of 90 minutes for the game plus an increment of thirty seconds. This destroyed the quality of ending play by even the very best players, and was popular only with administrators and arbiters whose aim was for games of chess to cause as little disruption as possible to their daily routine. However, even after it was driven out of FIDE's own events, many national organisers continued to use it on the pretext that it was somehow "the norm".

The zero default time is favoured by many officials, we needn't speculate on their psychological issues. Remember that in Dresden, if the General Assembly had voted on a motion to make the concept compulsory in every official game of chess played throughout the world, this would certainly have passed. Since the delegates who were there are typically the same group of people who run national tournaments, it will be no surprise when they use the new rule to impose the toughest possible penalties upon their players.

Castro's picture

Zero tolerance is ok for me too, specialy given the option to alternatives. The game is scheduled for a certain time. If you're not there, you loose (unless the organizer sets it different, ok). It's only meant for competitive chess, remember!
And even if it was a force majore motive, the stakes are at most a game of chess, and maybe a few dollars. The force majore reasons were there before, and could delay you for more than a hour. So, how about everybody trying to be on time (even pointing to a hour earlier, if your punctuality demands so)? Get serious!

The thing I (continue to) hate about that rule is the white's burden to be the only one to loose time, when tolerance is different than zero, and his obligation to make a first move in the absense of the opponent. It's outragious.

Castro's picture

Ah! Maybe a change to that rule I'd find most interesting would be that, for some period of time before the delayed player arrives, not the arbiter nor the organizes, but THE OPPONENT should have a word, stating if he waits some more time or if he wants the win right away. (Just a "minor" idea aimed at "returning chess to the people" :-) --- But in fact I'd approve it!)

Nick Faulks's picture


Your ideas have logic, but the problem you face is that 99% of chessplayers have been perfectly content with the old rules for decades - I know Nigel Short isn't, but he isn't content with anything.

As Geurt has told us, the reason this has come about is that a Russian politician was once very angry when Karpov kept him waiting for ten minutes, and has been plotting revenge ever since.

Bartleby's picture

@Peter Doggers
> perhaps in the next edition of the Laws of Chess there should be separate
> sections for, let’s say, closed round-robins and opens.

That's why we have the distinction between the Laws of Chess and tournament rules.

Laws of Chess = universal
Tournament rules = customized for the specific competition

They are welcome to include such things in the FIDE Tournament Rules, or set some default tournament rules for the professional level.

@Nick Faulks
> Russian politician was once very angry when Karpov kept him waiting for ten
> minutes

Kirsan himself has given this explanation for the zero-tolerance rule. (It was the IOC president who was kept waiting, and made a sarcastic remark.) I think Gijssen's description of his democratic and ego-less input process is an attempt to detract from the point that the FIDE President wanted this rule very much.

Joost van Steenis's picture

Dear people,

Dinosaur is a very common word in politics meaning that some people are sitting already for ages in a certain (powerful) spot and they keep on sitting there and the distance from the life of common people is every day growing.
In the chess world the long term managers are so obsessed by what happens in the professional world that they do not see anymore what happens in the world of chess players under 2000 (and those outside the chess organisations).

At least in Holland the membership of the Chess Federation is not going up (when we exclude youth players who leave mostly the chess world when they are 13 or 14 years old).
And one of the reasons are the rules that become more and more complicated and strict and ununderstandable as the rule you may not take the opponents king in a fast game - look how the youth are taking kings whjen they can take it!.

By the way, what I am saying is nothing new, Already at the beginning of the twentiest century the Italian Roberto Michels formulated the iron Law of Oligarchy by which the leadership of big organsations put their own position (they depend on it financially) and the existence of the organsiation (even if the organisation is not anymore necessary) over the interest of the members and other people for whom the organsation was founded.
In this view the word dinosaur is quite suitable and Gijssen is not the only dionosaur in the chess world.I miss enthousiasm in managing circles and also new ideas, even when they look strange.

Joost van Steenis

Castro's picture

Now, the mobile phones rule:

That is a change I FULLY agree. At first glance that was exactely the change needed, and there is nothing I can be against! :-)

Castro's picture

Now, the rapidplay and blitz:

It's useless (and, in my view, bad) to set future doble rules for "different types of tournaments.
I like the idea of simply distinguishing when there is "adequate supervision", but
1. I doubt the supervisions stated (3 boards /1 board per arbiter) is always enough.
2. Some rules just still can't apply completely, and so they can't realy apply at all, otherwise we'd be applying different rules. The example is the 3-fold repetition and 50-move claims, as I pointed in other article (Ivanchuck's "joke"), because they depend on player's written scoresheat and having the move.
3. In fact, those variants of chess --- as for competitive regulations aspects is concerned --- have less to do with classic chess than Fischer Random (with classic time-controls) has! So, it is, for me, quite odd people insist in having exactly the same "legal" scope for them.

Castro's picture

And now, the Fischer Random.

It's inteligent of FIDE to pursuit this variant regulatings. Otherwise, someone else would, and that would be a shame, because I think both (classic chess and 960) should indeed go together. 960 is the most briliant of all chess variants aimed at securing chess alive, both by it's simplicity, and by the closest relation posible to our game of chess.
I don't play it regularly, but I will, in case chess becomes solutioned in my life time (Which I hope, sorry for those not understanding. They think that shows I don't have respect for chess, but on the contrary!).

I can see imediately a huge problem in those rules.

"The starting position can be generated before the game either by a computer program or using dice, coin, cards, etc."

They should strongly state that that "generation" of the starting position must be mathematicaly "fair", in order to make the 960 different positions equaly probable. At that is NOT assured by all "generation computer programs" nor by all use of "dice, coin, cards, etc.". There are mathematical rules one must obey, otherwise some of the 960 will appear much more often than others. (Of course the rules don't have to specify the maths involved, just enforce that they must govern the generation)
I can see Sofia-like "genious" organizing pseudo-960-tournaments by "randomly" generating just some of the inicial positions (with plausible excuses, of course!), in what would be a disguised thematic-openings tournament! As that rules are, they will not even have to break rules for that!

Lora Nay Ranas's picture

the zero tolerance law still remains to be seen.i mean, it,s still the oranizer or the ground rules who will be followed at the end and mind you..more or less this ground rules are made behind the agreement of the technical officials and sometimes with the approval of the the end, new rule is no rule at all.

aishwarya ganeshan's picture

this article proved very helpful in completing my project!!!thanks a lot

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