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View Full Version : Interesting promotion/illegal move/stalemate incident



Andrew Hardegen
30-12-2019, 04:32 AM
Recently I was involved in a blitz tournament in which one of the games reached the following position, with Black to move, and with neither player having made any illegal moves:

8/8/3k4/3b4/8/3q4/1p3K2/8 b - - 0 1

Here Black, using only one hand:

(1) removes the Black pawn from b2 and places it beside the board
(2) grabs a new Black queen from beside the board
(3) places the new queen on c1
(4) presses the clock.

How would you rule on this irregularity?

(i) Black might argue that 4.4.4 should not apply: that is, he could claim that the choice of piece has not yet been finalised by placing the new queen on c1, as the new queen has not touched the promotion square. The promotion square is defined in 3.7.5.1 as the `intended square of arrival': Black could say that this square is clearly b1 and not c1. Has Black saved his winning chances by virtue of inadvertently placing the intended promotion piece on the wrong square?

(ii) On the other hand, is there a basis for White to argue that 7.5.2 is intended to apply to such situations (here, the pawn has only been removed from the board, but surely this is tantamount to pushing it to the furthest rank)? The pawn has not been replaced by a new piece, as it could only have been pushed to b1 and there is no new piece on b1. Thus from the diagram position, in accordance with 7.5.2, the arbiter should require the move ...b1=Q to be played.

To me, the fairest solution here seems to be to enforce the move ...b1=Q with stalemate, as this was clearly the intended legal move. This is why I would be inclined to controvert Interpretation (i) and support Interpretation (ii). I would like to hear what other players and arbiters think about this case.

antichrist
30-12-2019, 07:34 AM
Because the clock has been pressed I would declare an illegal move. Another reason being that if not accepted as an illegal move it opens the door to countless other similar dilemmas. If the reverse was the case and the same player could snatch a stalemate I feel sure he would attempt. But I am completely out of date with blitz rules

Patrick Byrom
30-12-2019, 10:26 AM
... How would you rule on this irregularity? ...
To me, the fairest solution here seems to be to enforce the move ...b1=Q with stalemate, as this was clearly the intended legal move. This is why I would be inclined to controvert Interpretation (i) and support Interpretation (ii). I would like to hear what other players and arbiters think about this case.I agree completely with your interpretation (ii) - 7.5.2 clearly applies:

7.5.2 If the player has moved a pawn to the furthest distant rank, pressed the clock, but not replaced the pawn with a new piece, the move is illegal. The pawn shall be replaced by a queen of the same colour as the pawn.

Kevin Bonham
30-12-2019, 11:45 AM
Because the clock has been pressed I would declare an illegal move. Another reason being that if not accepted as an illegal move it opens the door to countless other similar dilemmas. If the reverse was the case and the same player could snatch a stalemate I feel sure he would attempt. But I am completely out of date with blitz rules

For sure it is an illegal move if white claims it. The problem is that under the current blitz rules an illegal move is no longer an automatic win (or in this case draw). Rather, the claimant gets a minute, the position is wound back and the game continues. This is a problem for white if black now argues that because the queen has not touched the intended square of promotion, he can still choose what the pawn is promoted to, and can promote it to a knight or a bishop instead, and play on and win provided he makes no more illegal moves.

This is an interesting example. It is easy enough to say 7.5.2 applies but strictly speaking Black has replaced the pawn with a new piece, but has done so on the wrong square. Say black had played b2-c1=N, do we use 7.5.2 to force black to play b2-b1=Q instead? I'm not sure.

Another approach is to say that it's not clear that Black intended at all times to promote on b1 rather than c1. Black may have picked up the pawn on b2, misremembered it as being on c2 and hence incorrectly thought c1 was the correct square to promote on. On this approach, by loose analogy with 4.2.2 (which is used in touchmove situations to kill off "yes I played this illegal/bad move in a deliberate looking way but really I meant to pick up a different piece entirely"), c1 is assumed to be the intended square of promotion and putting the queen on c1 finalises Black's choice of a queen (although following an illegal move claim Black is now required to play b2-b1=Q instead).

I agree with ruling the game a draw since the case is not precisely regulated so it's best to preserve the player's intent which was clearly to queen the pawn, which delivers stalemate.

Craig_Hall
30-12-2019, 01:58 PM
I'd be inclined to say that the choice of piece was finalised when the Queen was placed on what the player believed to be the promotion square, and therefore when correcting the illegal move, the only move is to promote to Queen on the correct square, which will result in stalemate. If the player had promoted to a Knight instead of a Queen, I would rule the same.

7.5.2 was added to the Laws to prevent players promoting by just pushing the pawn and pressing the clock without putting a piece on the board as a way to save time, so I don't think it was really intended to cover this scenario.

(when searching online for answers to this, I didn't find anything useful, but did find a situation in which a player promoted to the wrong colour Queen, so rather than claim an illegal move, his opponent used the new Queen on the next move to checkmate him...)

antichrist
30-12-2019, 02:52 PM
I'd be inclined to say that the choice of piece was finalised when the Queen was placed on what the player believed to be the promotion square, and therefore when correcting the illegal move, the only move is to promote to Queen on the correct square, which will result in stalemate. If the player had promoted to a Knight instead of a Queen, I would rule the same.

7.5.2 was added to the Laws to prevent players promoting by just pushing the pawn and pressing the clock without putting a piece on the board as a way to save time, so I don't think it was really intended to cover this scenario.

(when searching online for answers to this, I didn't find anything useful, but did find a situation in which a player promoted to the wrong colour Queen, so rather than claim an illegal move, his opponent used the new Queen on the next move to checkmate him...)

that's a classic.

I think that an upside down rook was used a few years back but was not recognised as a queen but as a rook.

Kevin Bonham
30-12-2019, 03:17 PM
(when searching online for answers to this, I didn't find anything useful, but did find a situation in which a player promoted to the wrong colour Queen, so rather than claim an illegal move, his opponent used the new Queen on the next move to checkmate him...)

One of my opponents did this once in the days when illegal move in blitz was an immediate loss if claimed; he had KP vs K and promoted to my colour queen. I offered a draw which was accepted. There was nothing to stop me playing on using his queen if I wanted to. More diabolically, I could claim a win by illegal move arguing that I now had mating material (it's debatable whether this should fly or not).

I was once arbiter in a situation where a player captured an opposing piece on the back rank with a pawn, picked up a queen to promote to, realised promoting to a queen would be stalemate, dropped the queen in disgust (it landed on the board but far from the queening square) then, without him pressing his clock, both players sought clarification on whether he was required to promote to a queen or not (answer being no).

Kevin Bonham
30-12-2019, 03:20 PM
that's a classic.

I think that an upside down rook was used a few years back but was not recognised as a queen but as a rook.

This is standard and I have seen several incidents involving it. An upside down rook is a rook no matter what a player says otherwise. If they move it like a bishop, that's an illegal move.

Andrew Hardegen
30-12-2019, 06:45 PM
Thanks, everyone, for your responses.


I'd be inclined to say that the choice of piece was finalised when the Queen was placed on what the player believed to be the promotion square, and therefore when correcting the illegal move, the only move is to promote to Queen on the correct square, which will result in stalemate. ...

This is essentially what I did -- I ruled that the choice of the piece was finalised once the Queen was placed on c1, and that after winding back the position, the only playable move would be ...b1=Q. Consequently I immediately declared the result as a draw. This was graciously accepted without any query.

At the time, I sensed that 4.4.4 was the relevant article, but I wasn't entirely convinced that the condition was strictly met (though I knew it certainly came close). I was comfortable in applying 4.4.4 as it would produce the same outcome as the intended move (be that move either ...b1=Q, or ...c1=Q).


Another approach is to say that it's not clear that Black intended at all times to promote on b1 rather than c1. Black may have picked up the pawn on b2, misremembered it as being on c2 and hence incorrectly thought c1 was the correct square to promote on. On this approach, by loose analogy with 4.2.2 (which is used in touchmove situations to kill off "yes I played this illegal/bad move in a deliberate looking way but really I meant to pick up a different piece entirely"), c1 is assumed to be the intended square of promotion and putting the queen on c1 finalises Black's choice of a queen (although following an illegal move claim Black is now required to play b2-b1=Q instead).

I like this approach. Fortunately there doesn't appear to be anything in 3.7.5.1 specifying that the `intended square of arrival' has to be a square that the pawn can legally move to -- so I agree with you and Craig that once the clock is pressed, the arbiter could take the promotion square to be `whichever square on the furthest rank the player places the new piece on'. If we work with this interpretation, then 4.4.4 works here and can presumably be used to justly resolve a large number of other irregular cases involving illegal promotion as well.

If a new piece is placed on an `illegal' arrival square, then I guess the choice of piece should only be treated as finalised once the clock is pressed. Up to the point of completing the move, the player promoting could argue that the illegal square on which the new piece is placed is not the intended promotion square.