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We made substantial changes in the Laws four years ago and the objective this time was to make only minor changes. It is most undesirable to fiddle around with such important matters too frequently. Thus most of the changes are cosmetic and not worth mentioning here. Sometimes we lost sight of this objective and perhaps some changes were introduced for their own sake.

I hope that soon after I write this you will be able to download the Laws in electronic form from the FIDE website. Substantial changes are shown below. Comments are in {}

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 or the arbiter decides otherwise.

{This allows the arbiter, if he wishes and knows the situation, to avoid the anomaly where black may suffer no penalty for arriving late. Obviously it is easiest, for a big event, just to let white's clock run. For a round-robin, the arbiter could note when players arrive.}

7.4b. After the action taken under 7.4a {relating to correcting an illegal move} for the first two illegal moves by a player the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent in each instance; for a third illegal move by the same player, the arbiter shall declare the game lost by this player.

{This simply brings standard games of chess into line with quickplay finishes. We intended to do this in 1997 but forgot.}

8.1. If a player is unable to keep score, an amount of time, decided by the arbiter, shall be deducted from his allotted time at the beginning of the game. If a player is unable to use the clock, an assistant who is acceptable to the arbiter, may be provided by the arbiter to perform this function. The clocks shall be adjusted by the arbiter in an equitable way.

{Nothing earth-shattering here. Oddly enough, we expended considerable time on why a player might be unable to keep score or use the clock. This was resolved when I pointed out we did not have to give a reason!}

8.7. At the conclusion of the game both players shall sign both scoresheets, indicating the result of the game. even if this is incorrect, this result shall stand, unless the arbiter decides otherwise.

{New, but not life-threatening. Many players sign the scoresheet already. Problems were caused at the 1999 Smith & Williamson British Championship by two players handing in the wrong result. If you do so at gold, you are forfeited. We do not like such draconian measures in chess and have thus left it at the arbiters' discretion.}

9.5b.If the claim {of a draw by repetition or 50 move rule} 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 remaining 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.

{I disclaim all responsibility for a Laws which is now even more complex than that introduced in 1997.}

10.2. If the player, having the move, has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He shall stop the clocks and summon the arbiter.
a. If the arbiter agrees the opponent is making no effort to win the game by normal means or, that it is not possible to win by normal means, then he shall declare the game drawn. Otherwise he shall postpone his decision or reject the claim.
b. If the arbiter postpones his decision, the opponent may be awarded two extra minutes thinking time, and the game shall continue in the presence of an arbiter, if possible. The arbiter shall declare the final result after a flag has fallen.
c. If the arbiter has rejected the claim, the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes thinking time.
d. The decision of the arbiter shall be final relating to 10.2 a, b, c.

{This is a complete revision of 10.2, the 'cannot win by normal means' law. An arbiter is still expected to make a subjective decision if necessary. For example, he may take into account the fact that two 8 years olds are playing or two grandmasters. Geurt Gijssen (Chairman of the Rules Committee, john Robinson and I were aghast at the idea the arbiter's decision should be final. There was absolutely no need for this to appear in the Laws of Chess. It could have been in the FIDE Tournament Rules, or applied for specific events as the organisers deemed desirable. We three would like to be protected from our errors by an Appeals Committee.}

11.1. Unless announced otherwise in advance, a player who wins his game or wins by forfeit, scores one point (1), a player who loses his game or forfeits, scores no points (0) and a player who draws his game scores half a point (1/2).

{This comes about substantially from correspondence in Chess Magazine. It permits organisers to score 3 for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss if they so wish. I would have deleted the whole Law as irrelevant, but Geurt presumably thought this would cause confusion. I hope to experiment with 5 for a win, 2 for a draw and 0 for a loss. This is less radical than 3, 1,0 and reduces the possibility of a player leapfrogging somebody in the last round or cheating.

12.1. The players shall take no action that will bring the game of chess into disrepute.

{I had long wanted this to be returned to the Laws. I would have invoked it when Krishnan Sasikiran continued playing with king and two knights against bare king against Topalov. Of course this is totally drawn. At Hastings I would have taken the young Indian to one side and persuaded him to agree a draw. However I felt inhibited in the Olympiad.}

13.4. the arbiter can apply one or more of the following penalties:
e. reducing the popints scored in the game by the offending party,
f. increasing the points scored in the game by the opponent to the maximum available for that game.

{These are a direct consequence of the new 11.1.}

13.6. An important deletion has been made. The arbiter is now allowed to inform a player that he has failed to press his clock.

{The reason for this is that it is essential, when using the move counter with an electronic clock, to ensure the correct number of moves have been registered. It is even more important in the cumulative mode. E.g. white has plenty of time, black mere seconds. White makes his move, but does not press his clock. Black replies rapidly, but has not received the benefit of his extra 30 seconds.}

C.4. of the 1997 Laws has been deleted.

{This relates to the concept of 'mating potential'. Many wanted to take this from the blitz rules and introduce it into the main body of the Laws. We spent a great deal of time on this as the definition is so complex. I pointed out I had never come across the possibility of somebody playing on in real life. Then Sasikiran played Topalov. At Hastings 2000-2001 Keith Arkell had king and bishop against king and pawn in a blitz game. His opponent's flag fell and Keith duly entered up a win. No claim against a loss by his opponent was made until two rounds after the conclusion of the game!}

There were many minor changes such as the reintroduction of the word ' may' which was basically banned in 1997. The substantial changes are only in 8.7, 9.5b, 10.2, 11.1, 13.6 and C4.Of these only 10.2 and 11.1 are ever likely to affect you.

Stewart Reuben Secretary of FIDE Rules Committee
23 February 2001.

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