A Rules Proposal by Paul Keevil
A particular interest of mine, over the years, has been rules relating to chess.
When I lived in Cardiff, I was more heavily involved in FIDE matters and used to assist Stewart Reuben, and others within FIDE, in relation to General Rules and Rating rules. At times I also assisted the FIDE Technical Committee.
Having played many years within the ICCF, and now playing at a level where I am happy at, I have been fortunate enough to consider how the ICCF rules effect the “Playing Experience” for its members
Each year we see new proposals placed before the ICCF and this is indicative that, to benefit our members playing experience, some rules need to change.
As an individual within an ICCF federation I cannot change rules myself. Such rules would need to be adopted by the WCCF (or others) and presented to the ICCF in the normal format for approval
However, I can share my interest in ICCF rules (by way of this article for the WCCF and the ICCF Facebook page) and invite comments from those who either agree or disagree.
The following is a proposal I have put together which, I believe, would benefit the playing experience for all members of the ICCF.
Rule 5.1.4 of the International Rules on Correspondence Chess (1.1.20) states “The game is won if it is decided as a win through an adjudication process”
This proposal would allow, after a set number of moves, for either player to make one request for the game to be adjudicated if it meets specific criteria
Players would be allowed to request an adjudication of the game (once only) subject to the following conditions:
- 39 moves have been completed by both players (so from white 40 move onwards)
- According to the latest version of Stockfish an assessment of the position reaches a minimum of +10.00, in favour of either black or white, and with a minimum depth of 45 (with tablebase)
Once an adjudication is requested that claim would go, without any accompanying analysis from either player to an ICCF adjudicator (along with timestamps for the players' moves and recorded leave).
The assigned adjudicator would determine if the game was clearly won or lost.
If the adjudicator decides yes that the claim was clearly won then, at that point, he will inform the opposing player of his “likely decision” and give the opposing player a period of 7 days to provide analysis as to why the game was not lost.
If no analysis is provided, within 7 days, the adjudicator could then declare the game as a win for the Claimant.
If analysis is provided, and the adjudicator disagrees with the analysis, the adjudicator could then declare the game as a win – subject to normal appeal rules
If analysis is provided, and the adjudicator agrees with the analysis, the adjudicator would ask the players to “play on” and apply a “Time Penalty” to the Claimant.
All players will be limited to making no more than 1 request for an adjudication in any game
Only adjudicators who volunteer will be assigned to do them. These volunteers would also receive the training considered necessary to make them experts and consistent in making these judgments.
There have been many attempts, over the years, to resolve the practice of DMD
DMD is a practice contrary to the ICCF Rules and one which causes anxiety for those a victim of such a practice.
Additionally, the practice of playing on, in a clearly lost position, is also frowned upon and not in the spirit of the ICCF.
In making this proposal I am looking at the matter from a different perspective. Those who play Over the Board (“OTB”) will often resign a game where they lose a queen – A queen being worth 9pts – because the game is considered clearly lost.
It follows that in a game of Correspondence Chess (where there are less mistakes due to the use of engines) that where an analysis of +10 (to a depth of 45 minimum) is attributed by a recognised engine – that game is also clearly won or lost.
This rule avoids any awkwardness, between players, where one player chooses to play on in a clearly lost position.
The rule requires a significant number of moves to be made within the game (similar to most OTB adjudication rules)
The rule allows for one claim, per game, for each player so as to avoid repeated, and spurious, claims
The rule requires a significant depth of analysis (i.e., 45)
The rule requires a tablebase to have been part of the engine analysis so as to not overlook any relevant scenarios.
The aim of this rule is to avoid those situations whereby individuals choose to play on in a clearly lost position. At the same time this rule will provide some benefit to those seeking to wipe DMD from the ICCF
The rule has been written in such a way that the opposing player as the opportunity to oppose a “Win Claim” by providing the adjudicator with analysis as to why the game should not be declared won or lost. The Appeals process is also in place.
In a previous proposal (2022-31) our Rules Commissioner, Dennis M Doren, stated “Notably, it is the only code of conduct violation that cannot, within the current rules, be terminated by any official! Recognizing a code of conduct violation exists but then necessarily allowing it to continue makes no sense”. This rule, if accepted, would minimise the number of DMD scenarios in clearly lost positions. Rather than seeking to penalise an offender the game, if it fell within certain parameters, could be awarded as a win to the Claimant.
This proposal offers a player-friendly approach that would ultimately be governed by the people we have been trained and trusted with decisions about game outcomes for years - our most highly rated and decorated players - our adjudicators.
Rule 5.1.4 is already in place to allow games to be determined by adjudication
The wording to accommodate this rule change could be inserted, very easily, at 2.13.5 of the ICCF Rules (2022)
The adjudication team could maintain records of the number of claims and their findings, along with the same for appeals. The purpose of these data would be to determine any time in the future to what extent player experience has improved along with an assessment as to whether DMD claims have decreased.
I am assuming there would be some programming cost to implement but I would not envisage this to be excessive.
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