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    « Vitiugov Wins Gibraltar | Main | More On An Old Cheating Scandal (Revised) »
    Thursday
    Jan312013

    A Non-Cheating Scandal

    The Sophia/Corsica Suggestions, nee Rules, were violated by Vassily Ivanchuk and Le Quang Liem in round 7 of the 2013 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival. According to those "rules", or at least the modified version in use in Gibraltar, players could not agree to a draw before move 30.* Ivanchuk and Le Quang apparently weren't terribly impressed by this, and uncorked the following:

    1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Bf4 Nc6 6. e3 a6 7. Rc1 Bf5 8. Nf3 e6 9. Qb3 Ra7 10. Ne5 Nxe5 11. Bxe5 Nd7 12. Bg3 Be7 13. Qd1 O-O 14. Bd3 Bxd3 1/2-1/2

    The position is level (and dull), but it's by no means a forced or otherwise dead draw. Clearly the players wanted or were very willing to draw, but even so they could have made eye contact and tacitly gone on to move 30. (A series of exchanges, harmless moves or a long series of repetitions could have done the trick.) Instead, they decided to provoke the arbiters,** who faced a decision. The penalty given in the tournament "regulations" was that the players would have a choice: replay the game from scratch, or suffer a double forfeit. This "rule" was apparently carried out on lower boards.

    Our heroes (especially Ivanchuk) being super-GMs, however, it was decided that such fundamental skills as the ability to read the "rules" did not apply to them, and apparently they weren't interested in submitting to them after the fact either. And so an expedient was worked out - here's GM Stuart Conquest on the matter:

    We had a long talk with them and they stated that even though the rule is mentioned in the regulations, it was never announced before the rounds. And they are right about that, so tomorrow we will make the reminder to all players at the start of the round.

    Indeed. Perhaps they should also mention the touch-move rule (Garry and Zurab might appreciate that), and for that matter they might want to explain how the horsie moves.

    Of course, I'm being naive. There is one set of policies for GMs and especially super-GMs, and another one altogether for the rest of us. Therefore, even though no one outside the circle of their friends probably cared at all about the games on the lower boards that prematurely finished in draws and plenty of spectators were interested in the high-rating, high-board fight between Vassily Ivanchuk and Le Quang Liem, the latter was allowed to stand and the former wasn't. (Not to mention that the latter two surely received conditions while the amateurs surely did not.) No matter.

    It would be better to end the hypocrisy one way or another. Either turn the "rules" back into rules and apply them to everyone, or eliminate the sham altogether. (I'm still a fan of my old suggestion: when a player who's getting paid to play makes a habit of quick draws, disinvite him and encourage other organizers to do the same.) The Solomonic solution here (ironically, splitting the point!) is slightly absurd.

    [HT: Hylen]

    * I suppose that means that followers of Sax-Seirawan and Kovchan-Peralta must repeat the sequence ...Be3+ Ke1 Bf2+ Kf2 ten times so the arbiters can be happy.

    ** A strange species of human being characterized by a talent for getting in the way of the webcams and an inconquerable inability to master the DGT technology at the end of a game.

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    Reader Comments (9)

    Some comments:

    1) Not every super-GM got away with breaking anti-draw rules: Last year at the European Championship, Mamedyarov agreed a draw after 19 moves with a much lower-rated player - the imposed limit was 40 moves and the result was fixed as 0-0. Unclear if he/they got a chance to play on or start another game. Mamedyarov then dropped out of the tournament, according to the bulletin "for personal reasons". It may have played a role that the tournament didn't go well for him anyhow (and one round earlier he had been forfeited for being a bit late at the board).

    2) The "penalty" at a lower board between two players from Venezuela was more symbolic than anything else. In their second "game" they apparently blitzed out 30 moves and then agreed a draw. Would it have added value if Ivanchuk and Le Quang Liem put up a similar 'show'??

    3) Earlier draws by move repetition were accepted in Gibraltar. The same round had a draw in 21 moves on board 28 (final moves 17.-Na2 18.Rc2 Nb4 19.Rcc1 Na2 20.Rc2 Nb4 21.Rcc1 Na2), and round 9 had the following game IM Ibarra Jerez - GM Salgado Lopez:
    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.dxe5 Nxb5 7.a4 Nxe5 (rare) 8.Nxe5 Nd6 9.Re1 Be7 10.Bg5 Nf5 11.Bxe7 Nxe7 12.Nxf7 Kxf7 13.Qf3+ Kg6 14.Qg4+ Kf7 15.Qf3+ Kg6 16.Qg4+ Kf7 17.Qf3+ Kg6 18.Qf3+ 1/2
    Again two countrymen who didn't want to hurt each other? (This may have sealed the GM norm for the white player).
    This game was played once before (Milliet-Prohaszka, Mitropa Cup October 2011) but we might see it again (e.g. Kosintseva-Kosintseva?)

    January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    In fact, according to the twitter feed of mark crowther (twic) le actually won a special ACP prize at Gibraltar. Whatever that means.

    Seriously the idea of repeating the rules at the start of play is a joke. Are we going to get the referee telling football players not to pick up the ball unless they're the goalkeeper? Chess is a great leveller, except when administrators get involved.

    January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

    For what it's worth, the one time I played in Gibraltar (in 2010), I agreed to a draw as black on move 26 even though the 30-move minimum was in place and the draw stood as well.

    I was aware of the rule, but my opponent wasn't (I don't remember it being announced that year either, it was just in the regulations), and he offered me a draw after his 26th move. The position was quite equal (similar pawn structure, equal material, etc), but I was low on time having spent a lot of time between moves 10-20 or so. I was worried we'd be forfeited for the premature draw, but I agreed to the draw first, and then told my opponent about the rule. After checking with the arbiters, there was no real problem, and the draw stood without any extra moves having to be played.

    Maybe this is further evidence of "special" rules being in place for GMs, but my opponent was not a GM, and while I wasn't in such bad time pressure that I think I was in danger of losing, of the two of us, he was the only who could pretend to have an advantage. Later in the tournament when I was on one of the broadcast boards, I lost like a child to Movsesian. I remember that on the board next to me, Bacrot had a very quick draw against his occasional second. It finished in a repetition and nothing more was done I believe.

    January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVinay Bhat

    Nigel Short had no sympathy. He said something along the lines of: they should bloody well know the rules as they have played here before.

    February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGraham

    You are a little late on coming to the conclusion that different rules apply to GMs and weaker players. Just look at the way FIDE has enforces its drug rules - players from Bermuda and New Guinea are made examples of but if Morozevich tells the tester to 'F off' or Ivanchuk is upset and runs away from his drug test, there are no consequences.

    [DM: Not blogging about it previously doesn't mean that I only now drew the conclusion. :)]

    February 1, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterclifford

    I agree with Dennis- there's no shortage of a) GMs b) statistics on quick-draw 'offenders' out there, so let the market decide.

    February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick Funnell

    On a foot note, there might be some improvement on the DGT front : at the end of Georgiev-Adams (last rond) when the players finally agreed to a draw the arbiter put the kings in the center and the (wrong) move was immediately visible on the board. (At this point I was thinking about you, Dennis !) But, something happened, and when the result appeared on the relay, the king move was taken back and the correct final position was shown ! it happened so quickly it had to be automatic, so it looks like somebody eventually fixed that problem !

    February 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIddor

    A point worth noting, apropos Nick's comment.

    DGT boards record moves not made at the end of games. Ivanchuk drew a game versus Kamsky some years ago. Chucky held out for the 50 move rule. The last move transmitted would mean no 50 and a win for Kamsky. I asked FIDE arbiter Geurt Gijssen about that. He made enquiries to the arbiters there. That last move was not made. Chucky had called an arbiter and shown his intended move and claimed a draw. Geurt remarked that one must take care looking at game scores from electronically broadcasted games.

    February 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGraham

    Arbiters: http://chess-news.ru/node/11030

    [DM: This is probably why the Kosintseva sisters aren't playing for the Russian women's team now. I had read that it had to do with Sergey Rublevsky, and this is likely the event that occasioned their problem with him.]

    February 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterhylen

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