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  1. #1
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    Incorrect piece setup?

    Hello everyone,

    I observed a game in a FIDE rated tournament, before july 2017, in which Black put his king and queen on the wrong squares. Both players didn't notice until move 8 when Black corrects it himself.

    I have some questions about this.

    1) Does this incorrect setup constitute an illegal move, seeing as moves have already been played?
    2) If the arbiter passes by and notices, is he obliged to intervene?
    3) Can other players intervene, if they notice?

  2. #2
    CC Candidate Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by smellysocks7 View Post
    Hello everyone,

    I observed a game in a FIDE rated tournament, before july 2017, in which Black put his king and queen on the wrong squares. Both players didn't notice until move 8 when Black corrects it himself.
    For tournaments beginning on or after 1 July 2017, we have the following rule:

    Code:
    7.2.1.
    If during a game it is found that the initial position of the pieces was incorrect, the game shall be cancelled and a new game shall be played.
    This rule was 7.2.a in the previous version of the Laws and has not been changed in the most recent revision, so it applies to the case you describe.

    Note that in Rapid (and Blitz) we have:

    Code:
    A.4.1
    From the initial position, once 10 moves have been completed by each player,
    ...
    A.4.1.2
    no claim can be made regarding incorrect set-up or orientation of the chessboard. 
    In case of incorrect king placement, castling is not allowed. In case of incorrect 
    rook placement, castling with this rook is not allowed.
    So given that only 8 moves have been played, this does not apply even if it is a blitz game. 7.2.1 should still apply.

    Quote Originally Posted by smellysocks7 View Post
    1) Does this incorrect setup constitute an illegal move, seeing as moves have already been played?
    2) If the arbiter passes by and notices, is he obliged to intervene?
    3) Can other players intervene, if they notice?
    1) Strictly speaking, yes. Though I don't believe any reasonable arbiter would rule it as such.

    2) The arbiter should certainly act to correct the piece placement. The Laws state that the game shall be cancelled and a new game shall be played. If either player wishes to restart the game, then this is what should happen. Though personally, if it were a standard club tournament and both players were happy to continue the game with the king and queen placed on the correct squares, I would not usually intervene.

    3) No, but they can (should) inform the arbiter:

    Code:
    12.7
    If someone observes an irregularity, he may inform only the arbiter. Players in other games must not to speak about or otherwise interfere in a game. Spectators are not allowed to interfere in a game. The arbiter may expel offenders from the playing venue.
    Southern Suburbs Chess Club (Perth)
    www.southernsuburbschessclub.org.au

  3. #3
    Monster of the deep Kevin Bonham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smellysocks7 View Post
    1) Does this incorrect setup constitute an illegal move, seeing as moves have already been played?
    No. A setup is not a move. Even if the position on the board is illegal (which a start position with reversed king and queen is) but the player makes a legal move in it, then that is not an illegal move. FIDE make this very clear by defining "illegal position" and "illegal move" separately.

    It could be argued that correcting the incorrect piece placement and then making a move and pressing the clock constitutes an illegal move and that the opponent could then claim it. Many - hopefully nearly all - arbiters would dismiss this claim, but the players should adopt the correct procedure which is to stop the clock and tell the arbiter.

    2) If the arbiter passes by and notices, is he obliged to intervene?
    If the arbiter notices the pieces have been incorrectly placed in this way then they are required to intervene (see Andrew's comment above re rapid and blitz).

    If the arbiter notices that there has been this mistake but the players have corrected it themselves and are clearly happy to continue, then the arbiter might allow that. However it is necessary to be very clear about this, especially if the error might have affected the previous moves.

    3) Can other players intervene, if they notice?
    No, but they can inform the arbiter.

    I saw a rated blitz game involving Johansen back when errors in blitz had to be corrected in the first three moves (this was pre-2014). After five moves one of the players swapped their king and queen to fix this error. Both players kept playing and the arbiter, who saw this but hadn't noticed the error before, did nothing. That's OK when it's totally clear the players are happy to carry on but not if there is any doubt.
    Last edited by Kevin Bonham; 27-08-2017 at 05:07 PM.

  4. #4
    CC Rookie
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    Thanks to all for the clear explanations.

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