A 0-0 result in the Bulgarian League

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Bulgarian Team ChampionshipLike we see in more and more events, this week's Bulgarian Team Championships also applied a variation of the Sofia Rule. In the third round this led to an incident: the result of one game was declared 0-0 for breaking the tournament regulations.

By Dejan Bojkov

This year's Bulgarian Team Championships took place 1-7 October in Borovetz, Bulgaria. Lokomotiv Sofia (with GMs Chatalbashev, GM Kr. Georgiev, GM Velikov, and IMs N. Ninov, J. Ivanov and IM Andonov) won the final, scoring five consecutive wins and drawing their last two matches. In the women section Lokomotiv 2000 Plovdiv (with WIM R. Genova, WFM A. Nikolova, WFM I. Videnova and WIM S.Savova) won the title.

Bulgarian Team Championship



This year the organizers of the championship have been experimenting with the Sofia Rule. The players were not allowed to offer a draw before move 30 without the permission of the chief arbiter, unless a theoretically drawn position was reached.

So what happened in the third round? In the game Bratanov (Lokomotiv 2000) - Stojanov (Bulmex) White offered a draw on move 22, which was accepted by the second player. While signing the score sheets one of the arbiters approached and warned them that this was not in accordance with the rules, and that they needed to proceed to move 30.



Both players did not know about the new rule (Jivko Bratanov arrived some 15 minutes late for the first round, while Svetlin Stojanov came straight for the second.) They refused to continue the game, for which they were both "rewarded" a zero. Bratanov tried to speak with the chief arbiter GM Venzislav Inkiov, asking him: "Why do we need to continue a totally senseless game?", but the decision of the arbiter was final and over.

"This is simply nonsense", said the frustrated Bratanov, "if the chief arbiter can decide the outcome of a game, he may even decide to shoot me." Both players wanted to protest to the tournament committee, but none of its members wanted to support them, so they abandoned the idea.

Now a purely technical question arises, and it's not quite clear to me. How will this game be counted for ELO rating? Will they both lose rating points?

The new rule was met with mixed feelings. Some of the players support it, while others consider it a limitation of the players' rights and an attempt to artificially increase the arbiter's importance. There are really pros and cons to this rule.

Among the advantages is the fact that the game might become more attractive, and the sports element increases. The latter can be important for the prestige of chess, and the desired status of Olympic sport.

My personal opinion is that it might be very useful in super-tournaments or tournaments where people receive conditions (fees for participation, prizes, etc.). In that case chess professionals are obliged to do their job, and not to skip it, which I consider fair enough.

However, how can one force an amateur player, who is paying a fee to participate in a tournament for having fun (he may go there with his family on a vacation, etc. and chess might not be his main concern) to play at least two hours for example, and to make 30 moves at least?! Would this not just chase him away from the playing hall?

At the playing conference the chief arbiter explained what is a theoretically drawn position (quite a vague concept, indeed) and warned that we cannot play 30 moves ?ɬ† tempo and then offer draw. Still, those who want to share the point cannot be stopped, and there was a boom of 31-moves games! On the other hand, some of the players make their decisions to play for feeling bored being so long behind the board for no good reason.

There are players who find a more practical solution to draw. They use a forced opening line which ends by a perpetual check, or forced repetition of moves. But how can you decide if they played, or not? Below you will see two games of that kind. One was really played, the other was not, but can you figure out which of the two was a real game?!



We are trying to make chess more attractive. But will the cure treat the drawing disease in our particular case?

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