New Laws of Chess

New Laws of Chess

| 13 | Misc

The basic laws of chess hardly change at all through the years, but there can be a great deal of tinkering around the edges.

The latest official FIDE laws of chess were published on 1 July, and contained a few changes which have been much discussed.  The full text can be found here (pdf doc).

The biggest change, and the most controversial, is the adoption of a default time of zero minutes at the start of a game before a player is defaulted.  Organisers can specify a different time if they chose to do so.

6.6 a. Any player who arrives at the chessboard after the start of the session shall lose the game. Thus the default time is 0 minutes. The rules of a competition may specify otherwise.

b. If the rules of a competition specify a different default time, the following shall apply. 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 specify or the arbiter decides otherwise.

This zero tolerance approach has already caused farcical scenes at the recent Dresden Olympiad (where the rule was eventually abandoned) and the Chinese Championship where it caused players to default games in both the male and female events.

Another change is the option for organisers of FIDE events to impose the so-called Sofia Rules to attempt to prevent short draws.

9.1 a. The rules of a competition may specify that players cannot agree to a draw, whether in less than a specified number of moves or at all, without the consent of the arbiter.

The law regarding mobile phones and other electronic devices has also been clarified:

12.3 b. Without the permission of the arbiter a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off. If any such device produces a sound, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. However, if the opponent cannot win the game by any series of legal moves, his score shall be a draw.

Finally, for the first time the laws of chess have a special section of rules for Chess960 - see appendix F.  Don't forget, you can now play chess960 right here at!

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