Question Dear Geurt, I have a different opinion in regards to your answer to Mr. Krzewinski from Belgium in last month’s column. Player B checkmated his opponent’s king, and According to Article 5.1a:
The game is won by the player who has checkmated his opponent’s king. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the checkmate position was a legal move.
There is no difference between normal chess, Rapid and Blitz. The game ended once Player A was checkmated, anything that happened afterwards is insignificant. The arbiter presumably saw what happened and did not object to the course of events as presented in Mr. Krzewinski’s letter. So the arbiter’s decision was correct; Player B was declared the winner. I don’t understand how the player whose king was checkmated must be declared the winner. Blitz is chess too. With best wishes, Lembit Vahesaar (Estonia)
Answer I also received similar letters from Sigvat Stensholt from Norway and Peter Anderberg from Germany. First I would like to refer to the following Articles of the Laws of Chess:
B5. The arbiter shall make a ruling according to Article 4 (The act of moving pieces), only if requested to do so by one or both players.
B6. An illegal move is completed once the opponent’s clock has been started. The opponent is then entitled to claim that the player completed an illegal move before the claimant has made his move. Only after such a claim, shall the arbiter make a ruling. However, if both Kings are in check or the promotion of a pawn is not completed, the arbiter shall intervene, if possible.
B7. The flag is considered to have fallen when a player has made a valid claim to that effect. The arbiter shall refrain from signalling a flag fall.
In “normal chess” the arbiter must signal a flag fall, but in Rapid and Blitz chess that is not the case. Only the player is responsible for signaling (i.e. claiming) a flag fall.
Articles B6 and B7 explicitly explain the role of the arbiter in Rapid and Blitz chess. There are only two situations in which the arbiter may intervene without a claim from either player: an uncompleted pawn promotion or if both kings are in check.
One problem, especially in Blitz, is the fact that it is very difficult for the arbiter to be present at the each board. It occasionally happens that games continue after a checkmate and that even the checkmated player wins the game.
I do not see any reference or indication that the arbiter may intervene when a player has overlooked that he has checkmated the opponent’s king or that the game has finished by stalemate.
I am not against adding an Article to the Laws of Chess stating that the arbiter should intervene in Rapid and Blitz games when he observes a checkmated king or a stalemate, but at the moment no such Article exists.
By the way, Eddie Price of South Africa once suggested changing Article 5.1 as follows: “The game is won by the player who has checkmated his opponent’s king, if noticed.” In which case even a normal game could continue after checkmate or stalemate, but I am not in favor of such a change for normal games.