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    « Baku Olympiad, Round 3: The Plot Thickens | Main | Baku Olympiad, Round 2: Still Business As Usual, Except for the Georgian Women »
    Sunday
    Sep042016

    More Controversy with Chess and the Bathroom: Is There No End In Sight?

    No pun intended, of course.

    At the Olympics players are apparently required to tell the match arbiter that they're going to the bathroom, which could be both mildly embarrassing and potentially useful to their opponents, who might try to use the information to time the execution of their next move. It isn't clear what the match arbiter is supposed to do with the information, nor is it clear why it should be their business in the first place, so many team captains have filed a petition seeking to have this regulation rescinded.

    Hopefully they can quickly get to the bottom of this silliness, put a lid on it, and emerge from the fray flush with success.

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    Reader Comments (5)

    Leontxo Garcia for El Pais (mentioned/partly quoted by Europe Echecs where I saw it) has more on this: Technical tournament director Nikolopoulos plays it down - a simple nod to the arbiter suffices, and further action might, "depending on circumstances", only be taken in case of very frequent toilet visits. But some "big ego" arbiters actually gave players written permission to visit the bathroom. According to Garcia ("confirmed to me by two sources") Russian team captain Filatov insists that the rule is strictly enforced, whatever this exactly means - and Garcia wonders if Filatov explained things to Kramnik "who has the habit to visit the bathroom 20 times per game".

    Another article by Garcia includes this dialogue (no names given): Arbiter to team captain "Why did one of your (female) players go to the bathroom five times during the game?". Team captain "I do not discuss such things with my players." Player (later after the game) "I didn't go to the bathroom at all. But as my opponent took a lot of time, I got bored and went watching at the top boards".

    September 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterThomas

    Jokes aside

    [DM: No, never jokes aside when it comes to this topic.]

    , what to do to prevent cheating in the bathroom is at the heart of the anti-cheating issue. The bathroom is the most convenient place for a cheater to cheat and the least enforceable.

    Is there a reasonable solution?

    [DM: If the bathrooms are off-limits to outsiders, the players have been checked and the bathrooms were also checked before the round, then what's the issue?]

    September 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Karen

    Groan...

    And you said "No pun intended."

    [DM: You should never believe anyone who says that.]

    September 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Henderson

    A comment to the petition (though no justification of occasional silliness):
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/fidechessarbiters/permalink/700992940050512/

    September 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDarkHelmet

    @DarkHelmet:
    Just a few comments to the link you provided.

    It's stated there that the first point of the protest is just wrong:


    1. The lavatories have always been considered part of the Playing Area, rendering the rule absurd.

    Unfortunately this is true and it makes always a bad impression, when your protest has obvious factual errors. Mixing up "playing area" and "playing venue" might be understandable from a player's perspective, but nethertheless shouldn't occur in an official protest with so many signers. It just gives the impression you have not read the rules and makes it easy to disregard the protest as a whole.

    This aside I do think the protest has its point and the reply at the arbiters facebook group is not free of polemics. The reply is trying to give the impression that the Olympiad rules have always been there in the laws of chess (11.2b) and simply wasn't enforced in the past - hinting at players not reading the rules (see above). While the rule is certainly there:


    Only with the permission of the arbiter can
    ...
    the player having the move be allowed to leave the playing area.


    the important detail "having the move" is omitted in the Olympiad rules - so we are talking about two different things.

    Furthermore, from the reply:


    In the Olympiad players are asked simply to inform (not even ask permission) the arbiter that they are leaving the playing area. It does not say that they have to state where they are going (although the options are limited).

    One could argue that the Olympiad rules are at least ambigious in that regard:


    Players of every match MUST inform their Match Arbiter when they leave the playing area in order to go to the toilet, to the bar or to the smoking area.

    Why not finishing the sentence after "playing area" if it doesn't matter where you go?
    Also, if the reports given by García in Thomas' comment above are true, it would not fit with this.

    Another point from the reply:


    5. Informing the arbiter about the player leaving the playing area gives to the opponent no more information than if he would watch the player stand up and leave the area without informing the arbiter. It is obvious that the player is leaving the area, one way or another.

    The playing area is quite large at an Olympiad. If you leave your board for watching other games you don't leave the playing area (and might return at any moment). You don't have to inform the arbiter. If you go to toilets you have to inform the arbiter. So there is obviously a difference that is not obvious from the simple fact that you are leaving your board.

    September 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterReyk

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