Friday, June 15, 2007

Playing by the Rules

During this week's Thursday Night BCC tournament, I was involved in a dispute over rules vs. "fair play". I would love to hear comments about this situation, especially how other people would have handled it.

Here is what happened:

At the start of the game, my opponent was about 10 minutes late. I was White, and I started my opponent's clock. He finally arrives, and he stops the clock and gets the TD. I was following an old rulebook, and I didn't make White's first move. After looking up the rule, we learn that I was in error, and that this rule now states that White should make the the first move. We reset the clocks and started play. Please remember who set the rulebook tone for this match.

Fast forward to a cliffhanger position. I had sacked two pawns for the initiative, but now, with 15 seconds vs. 40 seconds, my attack was slowed, and I was still down a pawn. With two moves to play for the first time control, my opponent inexplicbly stops the clock for a rule clarification. With the seconds ticking, I found this break to be most annoying and distracting. A little rude.

He wants to know what happens if time runs out, but neither of us have a complete scoresheet. He is told that, in order to claim a win on time, the player must have a complete score, missing up to three moves. So, if both sides have stopped taking score, then the clock will advance to the next time control, with neither side able to claim a flag. During this discussion, I looked down at my scoresheet, and I realized that I was missing 5 or 6 moves. I WAITED UNTIL HIS CLOCK WAS RESTARTED, and then I quickly filled in the missing moves, and watched as my opponent inexplicibly let his time run out, perhaps thinking that we both still had incomplete scores.... So I claimed a win on time.

He was very angry about this and claimed that the TD had misled him, that he was told the time didn't matter, even though another witness supported the account of the TD. He complained about this for about 30 minutes, when the TD finally said that this is his ruling. He also said that we could keep playing, but it was my choice. I was tired, this argument ran the game very late now, and so I claimed my win. I pointed out that he may have misunderstood the rule somehow, but he wasn't very shy about implementing the letter of the law at the start of the game. I thought it only fair to the TD, who would have to stay past midnight, and to the rule-laden spirit of this encounter, to take the gift win and go home.

He tried to shame me for this cheapo, and I do feel a little bad about the win. But didn't he, in a way, start it? What do other people think?


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