14H, a dispute...

Aug 8, 2007, 8:36 AM |
At a club tournament last month, my opponent, with three seconds left on his clock, stopped it and declared the game drawn based on Rule14H. The rule centers around the concept of insufficient losing chances. Nearing the end of the time control (5/0), the position whittled down to a king and rook ending with my opponent having a passed F pawn. With my king in front on his pawn and my rook behind his king, it looked like a drawn position. I had more than a minute left on my clock.

My opponent, a tournament director in his own right and the club president of another club, did not grant me an explanation but stood up and walked away, muttering words of disgust about his bad play. He, thus, scored the sheet a draw and went on to play his next round. Pretty arrogant stuff, don't you think? My opponent's demeanor can lead anyone to believe that he calls the shots in the tournament. If I had the presence of mind, I should have summoned the official TD to adjudicate the matter. This was my mistake, not to recognize the proper adjudicating authority in the tournament at the moment of the infraction. I feel pretty dumb about that, even today.

The next day, after some thought, I sent an email to the club President about the matter in which I argued that if my opponent cannot properly and exactly cite the provision in 14H that accorded him a draw he should lose the game. So, in effect, I filed a formal complaint. I cited two witnesses to our game. Both witnesses did not come through for me since they essentially took a neutral stand. People don't want to get involved, you know. My opponent, when questioned via email, argued that the position was a well-known drawn position, and if he had more time he could even win it.

After almost a week, following consultations with my opponent and the witnesses, the club President delivered his decision. His strong point was that 14H is a " draw claim " and not a " draw declaration. " My opponent, in order to achieve a draw, should have asked the TD to adjudicate the situation and not to grant himself a draw in a tight, usually losing situation. It was my opinion that my opponent acted as the judge, jury, and executioner of his own case, and the decision essentially agreed with me. That game result was ruled a win for me, much to the displeasure of my opponent who accused me of being unsportsmanlike. He, also, requested that he not be paired with me again. This request was denied as it would wreck havoc in the pairings of future tournaments. Interestingly enough, the president argued that if his request was granted the club would run out of people who could be paired with him. Ah, so it seems, my opponent has had previous run-ins with other club members. Sometimes, the ghosts of your former enemies rise up from their graves and haunt you.

Now, the President did not completely let me go scotfree. He reprimanded me for not knowing the provisions of 14H, and I assured him that I will familiarize myself with the many provisions of the rule. In my complaint, I admitted that I did not have a good understanding of the rule. It's a complicated rule requiring some knowledge of known drawing techniques, textbook draws, and many combinations of pieces that could very well end in a draw. The President further argued that my opponent use his vast experience as club president and TD for the benefit of the club rather than to gain an advantage over his less experienced opponents by aggressively applying the rules against them. In an effort to maintain harmony, the President asked that we shake hands at the next meeting. I sent word that I would shake hands and play whoever i was paired with in the future. It's about rules, nothing personal. No reply from my opponent. Two meetings have gone by, and no show. Too bad. My opponent was club champion at least once and he is master-rated---credentials that could have a positive influence over the club, otherwise.