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Jesper Norgaard
23-08-2009, 09:44 AM
Geurt Gijssen in his latest ChessCafe article http://www.chesscafe.com/geurt/geurt.htm has evaluated a number of positions that Mathijs Janssen from The Netherlands had sent him. The general point seems to be that once a piece has been touched it must be moved, and thus if there is a flag fall of the player who touched a piece, the touch-move rule should be taken into consideration when evaluating if the opponent can checkmate with any series of legal moves. I sort of agree with Geurt's opinion that this should be considered even though the move has not been "made", however it seems that Geurt has changed his mind over time. Perhaps a clarification of the rules for this would be in place.

I was surprised that it seems they were analyzing an illegal position, although my strength in retrograde analysis is not that great.

See this:

k7/P7/KP6/8/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1

This is not an illegal position with Black to move, for instance the last moves could have been 1...Rb6+ 2.cxb6 (stalemate). However the claim is that it is White's move and he grabs the b6 pawn to play the only legal move 1.b6-b7+ checkmate, but then loses on time. Geurt's point is that the loss on time should be counted as a draw, because no series of legal moves (there is actually only one move legal: 1.b6-b7+) will lead to Black checkmating. But I fail to find a way this position could be valid with White to move. Perhaps from a Blitz game where Black just played 1...Kc8-a8? But then White could claim the illegal move of course.

Capablanca-Fan
31-08-2009, 01:22 PM
k7/P7/KP6/8/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1

This is not an illegal position with Black to move, for instance the last moves could have been 1...Rb6+ 2.cxb6 (stalemate). However the claim is that it is White's move and he grabs the b6 pawn to play the only legal move 1.b6-b7+ checkmate, but then loses on time. Geurt's point is that the loss on time should be counted as a draw, because no series of legal moves (there is actually only one move legal: 1.b6-b7+) will lead to Black checkmating. But I fail to find a way this position could be valid with White to move. Perhaps from a Blitz game where Black just played 1...Kc8-a8? But then White could claim the illegal move of course.
It's a poor example anyway since Black can't checkmate with only a K no matter what legal moves are played. Add a black R to c8, say, and then it matters whether the touch-move rule counts.

Kevin Bonham
31-08-2009, 02:42 PM
It's a poor example anyway since Black can't checkmate with only a K no matter what legal moves are played.

I wonder if the point of the example is that some people would think that white should win despite the flagfall, since he has touched a piece that can only deliver checkmate. I don't agree with them. Quite frequently someone writes in to express that sort of view although it wasn't explicit in this instance.

I am not absolutely happy about Geurt's response to the other parts of the question since it seems to fly in the face of the illegal move/illegal action distinction he has used at other times. Touchmove violation is an illegal action not an illegal move, however the player is still compelled to move the touched piece. Strictly speaking (examples one and two) it is not the position on the board that makes checkmate impossible; it is the position plus an action of the player who has the move. Perhaps the Laws should be reworded to allow the impact of touching a piece on a position where a flag falls or has fallen to be taken into account. Until this is done I would award both these positions as wins on time upon a valid claim being made (or the flagfall being observed at those time limits where it need not be claimed.)

I was also amused that in his answer Geurt used the following example:

4k3/4Q3/8/1K6/8/8/8/8 b - - 0 1

He writes:

"It is obvious that Black has the move. In this position the player of the black pieces oversteps the time. Is it lost for him? I do not think so, because the player of the white pieces cannot win by any series of legal moves. The only legal move is forced: Kxe7 and the remaining position is a draw. I consider positions one and two analogous to this example. "

But they are not at all analogous because his example is a dead position and the game immediately ended with the move Qe7+ before the flag fell.

Jesper Norgaard
17-09-2009, 02:33 PM
I wonder if the point of the example is that some people would think that white should win despite the flagfall, since he has touched a piece that can only deliver checkmate. I don't agree with them. Quite frequently someone writes in to express that sort of view although it wasn't explicit in this instance.
I agree with this. Checkmate can't be granted if you have not released the checkmating piece, even in the case where the checkmate move is now the only legal move. And I think the rules should stay like that.


I am not absolutely happy about Geurt's response to the other parts of the question since it seems to fly in the face of the illegal move/illegal action distinction he has used at other times. Touchmove violation is an illegal action not an illegal move, however the player is still compelled to move the touched piece. Strictly speaking (examples one and two) it is not the position on the board that makes checkmate impossible; it is the position plus an action of the player who has the move. Perhaps the Laws should be reworded to allow the impact of touching a piece on a position where a flag falls or has fallen to be taken into account. Until this is done I would award both these positions as wins on time upon a valid claim being made (or the flagfall being observed at those time limits where it need not be claimed.)

I think that Geurt is terribly inconsistent in these cases, perhaps has changed his mind over time. I agree in principle that it would be most sensible that the touch-move rule is considered binding both for which move the player can make, as well as for which legal series of moves are possible after touching the piece. In my thinking if there are obligations connected with touching a piece, then you should also have the benefits when this obligation could be an advantage. However I don't think that the rules can be interpreted to do that with the present wording. To be able to include the touched piece(s) I would suggest the following (added text in bold)

6.9
Except where one of the Articles: 5.1.a, 5.1.b, 5.2.a, 5.2.b, 5.2.c applies, if a player does not complete the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by the player. However, the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves, taking into consideration the touch-move article 4.3.

12.3(b)
Without the permission of the arbiter a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off. If any such device produces a sound, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. However, if the opponent cannot win the game by any series of legal moves, taking into consideration the touch-move article 4.3, his score shall be a draw.

There are two other "series of legal moves" in the Laws of Chess, but I don't think that taking touch-move into consideration are relevant there.



I was also amused that in his answer Geurt used the following example ...

4k3/4Q3/8/1K6/8/8/8/8 b - - 0 1

But they are not at all analogous because his example is a dead position and the game immediately ended with the move Qe7+ before the flag fell.

I completely agree, this should be terminated with 5.2(b) and thus it is not really blacks move, as the game already ended, and so he can't lose on time and 6.9 could not come into play.

I will try to show some examples of Geurt, present and past, and discuss his comments. To not have too unwieldy a post, I will post each example separately.

Jesper Norgaard
17-09-2009, 02:46 PM
Geurt has commented on some positions in the August and September columns

Question Dear Mr. Gijssen an interesting discussion online lead to the following questions regarding K+N vs. K+P. If the player with the pawn suffers a flag fall, he usually loses because mate is possible. However, what if

1. Black to move in the following position:

8/8/4k3/4p3/4KN2/8/8/8 b - - 0 1

Black touches his pawn, but fails to complete his only legal move (exf4) before his flag falls and the flag fall is claimed?

In my opinion, the principle mistake Mathijs commits here is calling exf4 the only legal move. Is Kf6 or Kd6 then illegal moves? Certainly not. Black is obliged by the touch-move rule to play exf4, but he has other legal moves, that however should not be allowed if the game continues.



2. White to move in the following position:

7N/8/8/8/8/8/7p/5K1k w - - 0 1

Black’s flag has fallen. White (not aware of the flag fall) touches his knight, but realizes before making a move (which would lead to stalemate) that Black’s flag has fallen?

Again here White has the legal move Ke2, which will allow Kg1 or Kg2, so the stalemate is not yet a reality. With present wording, Black should lose after the flag fall claim by White.



On a related issue, what if, in the position

k7/P7/KP6/8/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1

White touches his b-pawn, but fails to complete his only legal move (b6-b7) before his flag falls and the flag fall is claimed? Thank you sincerely in advance, Mathijs Janssen (The Netherlands)

Answer I refer to Article 6.9

Except where one of the Articles: 5.1.a, 5.1.b, 5.2.a, 5.2.b, 5.2.c applies, if a player does not complete the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by the player. However, the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves.

In my opinion position three is the simplest to answer. The player of the white pieces overstepped the time, but the position is such that the player of the black pieces, having only a bare king, can never checkmate the white king. Therefore, the draw is completely covered by Article 6.9.

Positions one and two are more complicated. The question is: Do we have to consider the position after the touched piece was played? I am inclined to say “Yes.” These two examples are of forced moves, but I would like to add another position:

4k3/4Q3/8/8/1K6/8/8/8 b - - 0 1

It is obvious that Black has the move. In this position the player of the black pieces oversteps the time. Is it lost for him? I do not think so, because the player of the white pieces cannot win by any series of legal moves. The only legal move is forced: Kxe7 and the remaining position is a draw. I consider positions one and two analogous to this example.

Jesper Norgaard
17-09-2009, 03:15 PM
Question Dear, Mr. Gijssen. I would like to comment on the fourth question from the August 2009 column. I understand the analogy between the position that you give and the first and second positions; because if we considerer that the pawn (position one) and the knight (position two) were touched, the only legal moves result in draw. Therefore, the opponent can’t win with legal moves. But, in my opinion, position one and two aren’t equal to the third position; therefore, the analogy doesn’t apply.

In the last position Black moves and the flag falls. I agree that White can’t win with legal moves, because the only legal move is Kxe7. In the first and second positions the piece was touched, but the flag fell, and according to Article 6.7.a the move is not considered to have been completed until the player has stopped the clock. With this in mind, in both cases the player whose flag fell loses the game. Even, in the second position, the knight was touched after the flag fell and the game was over; as a result it doesn’t matter if the knight was touched or not or if this draws the game. Please, let me know your opinion. Thank you and my best regards, Carolina Muńoz (Costa Rica)

Answer You mention Article 6.7.a. I would like to mention Article 6.9 and especially the last part of this Article:

Except where one of the Articles: 5.1.a, 5.1.b, 5.2.a, 5.2.b, 5.2.c applies, if a player does not complete the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by the player. However, the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves.

Let us consider the first position of the previous column:

8/8/4k3/4p3/4KN2/8/8/8 b - - 0 1

Black touches his pawn, but fails to complete his only legal move (exf4) before his flag falls and the flag fall is claimed?

There is no doubt that the only legal move the player of the black pieces can play is …exf4, because he touched this piece. And there is also no doubt that the player of the white pieces cannot win the game after …exf4. I assume you agree with me that these statements are correct. We differ only on one point: I include the move …exf4 in the series of legal moves mentioned in Article 6.9 and you do not. I do not see any reason why this move should be excluded from the series of legal moves.

First of all the statement that exf4 is the only legal move is wrong as mentioned previously. It is the only legal move that does not violate the touch-move rule, a different concept. When Geurt says that they differ only on one point: that Geurt includes exf4 in the series of legal moves and she does not, he expresses himself in an incorrect way, with bogus thinking. In fact, none of them excludes exf4 in the series of legal moves, but she also includes moves like Kf6 and Kd6, which with helpmate could bring Black to checkmate White.



The same applies to the following position:

7N/8/8/8/8/8/7p/5K1k w - - 0 1

Black’s flag has fallen. White (not aware of the flag fall) touches his knight, but realizes before making a move (which would lead to stalemate) that Black’s flag has fallen?

The player of the white pieces touched the knight. He must play the only legal moves Ng6 or Nf7, and I again include these moves in the possible series of legal moves. By the way, I was aware that my answer in the previous column might elicit this kind of reaction.

It apparently doesn't occur to Geurt that using bogus argumentation will not help his case, and if his case is that these positions should be drawn using the current rules, I think he is not only going against common sense, several other people sending questions, and current established practice, but he is also trying to give the impression that his new inclination towards consider touch-move for 6.9 is the only way to interpret 6.9. I think we need a rephrasing of 6.9 to be able to solve this gordic knot.

Jesper Norgaard
17-09-2009, 03:56 PM
Question Dear Sir, I have a question concerning Blitz chess. Does a rule like “Matt vor Klappe” exist? For
example: White to move is about to mate, but his flag falls. Black claims a win on time, but White claims mate
has priority. In Austria I have discussed this many times, but I cannot find such a rule. With regards, G.H.
Brunner (Austria)
Answer The term “Matt vor Klappe” means that an eventual mate is valid, even after the flag has fallen.
However, in Blitz games the flag fall must be claimed. If a player mates his opponent’s king, even after a flag
fall, and the flag fall has not been claimed, the mate stands.
So in the scenario you describe: a player starts to execute the mating move, but his flag falls before he finishes it
(meaning: the mating piece was placed on the new square and the player’s hand released the piece). If the
opponent claims the flag fall before the move is finished, the game is lost for the player whose flag fell. If the
flag falls after the king has been mated, the mate stands, not only in Blitz and Rapid games, but also in normal
games.

Right this time, Geurt!



I received two letters regarding my answer about Matt vor Klappe:
8/8/8/8/pp6/k7/7q/KQ6 b - - 0 1
Black plays 1...Qa2ch and White’s flag falls.
It is, of course, a draw, as White’s only legal move is 2 Qxa2++, which
renders him incapable of losing.

7k/3RP3/2K5/q7/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1
White to move. White plays 1 e8, picks up a queen, touches it to the
square, but before he releases the queen, White’s flag falls. Is it mate
or did White lose on time? The move 1 e8Q cannot be changed.
I refer to Article 4.4d:
If a player promotes a pawn, the choice of the piece is finalized, when
the piece has touched the square of promotion.




Question Dear Mr. Gijssen, I am confused about last month’s follow up to Matt vor Klappe:
7k/3RP3/2K5/q7/8/8/8/8 w - - 0 1
White to move. White plays 1 e8, picks up a queen, touches it to
the square, but before he releases the queen, White’s flag falls.
Is it mate or did White lose on time? The move 1 e8Q cannot be
changed.
I refer to Article 4.4d:
If a player promotes a pawn, the choice of the piece is finalized,
when the piece has touched the square of promotion.
You only refer to the promotion being finalized. However, am I
correct in interpreting that the first player loses on time?
Respectfully yours, Joshua Marquez (Papua New Guinea)
Answer You are correct that my answer was incomplete. I did not express my opinion that the mate stands,
because the move was finalized (provided it is a legal move). It is analogous to making a move that delivers
mate (which finishes the game), although the player then oversteps the time once he has executed the move.

Still wrong, Geurt!



Question Dear Mr. Gijssen, I am rather confused about your answer to Joshua Marquez in your September
column. In my opinion, the mate does not stand. I have the impression you have mixed up the termination of
“the choice of the piece” – Article 4.4d – with the completion of the move – Article 4.6c, not mentioned by
you. In the situation in question – White picks up a queen, touches it to the square, but before he releases the
queen, White’s flag falls – “the choice of the piece is finalized,” okay.
But is the move itself completed as well? The choice of the piece (or: the promotion) is just a part of the move,
Article 3.7e. “Move” and “Promotion” are not the same.
According to Article 4.6c, in the case of pawn promotion, the move is considered to have been made when
“the player’s hand has released the new piece after placing it on the promotion square.” As that did not happen
before the flag fall, there is no “Matt vor Klappe.” White has overstepped the time.
Point two: on the other hand, as White has no other choice than playing 1.e8Q mate, Black should not be
declared the winner and the game is drawn according to Article 6.10, Sentence 2, if you accept that the word
“position” in this rule relates to all circumstances including pieces and squares having been touched. If you do
not accept this interpretation, White has lost on time. Sincerely, Peter Anderberg Harmstorf (Germany)
Answer I have to admit that you scored a point. I was probably too focused on the fact that the move was
irrevocable, provided it was legal, and therefore stands, even when the player’s hand had not released this
piece. I agree with you that the move has not been made. Your suggestion in point two is probably correct.

Actually he made two suggestions, draw or win for black, in point two, so which one is it (probably)? I would say after current rules it should be a win for Black, but after the new 6.9 rule above, it would be a draw.

Jesper Norgaard
17-09-2009, 04:13 PM
Question Dear Mr. Gijssen, Your ruling or opinion would be appreciated in a
class of positions, which highlight a possible inconsistency in the Laws. We
accept that a checkmate, stalemate, or “mate is impossible” position on the
board overrules a subsequent flag-fall. What if such a position is the only
possible legal outcome of the immediately preceding situation? Consider the
following: E. Price (South Africa)
Example 1 White is in check from a pinned piece and touches a Bishop (say)
with the intention of interposing it to shield the King from check. Before
White can make the move the flag falls. It so happens that the resulting
position from the (by now) only legal move for White would be checkmate
against Black. Black claims a win on time. White claims a win on the grounds
that having touched the Bishop the only legal move results in a checkmate
against Black. That is, the game effectively ended when the Bishop was
touched.
Answer 1 My opinion is that White loses the game. The question is of course,
whether we have to take into account what a player intends to move. I don’t
think so.

I agree ... with the present 6.9 rule. With the new rule it would be a draw.

Jesper Norgaard
17-09-2009, 04:20 PM
Question This actually happened in a Blitz game. Both players basically had
no time left on their clocks. White had a Rook on f6 and King on e6. Black
had a King on e2 and pawn on f2. It is White to move. White picked up his
Rook and captured the pawn (he was holding both the pawn and Rook in the
same hand with both pieces touching the square f2). As this happened, his flag
fell and Black now said: "Your time is up". A heated argument arose. I
declared the game drawn on the grounds that it was White's intention to
capture the pawn. In doing so, Black can't checkmate White anymore. The
position (although the pawn was not removed from the board) is effectively
drawn. Was my decision correct?
Furthermore, what should be the ruling (in the same game) if the following
would have happened: "White first touches the black pawn". Does that mean
that White loses the game because he has not made a move or can one argue
that, because he touched the pawn, he must capture it with a legal move (in
this case the only legal move is Rxf2) and therefore the game is drawn (Black
can't win anymore)? Günther van den Bergh (South Africa)
Answer Article 6.2 says: “When using a chess clock, each player must make a
minimum number of moves or all moves in an allotted period of time.”
In addition, Article 6.10 says: “Except where Articles 5.1 or one of the
Articles 5.2 (a), (b) and (c) apply, if a player does not complete the prescribed
number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by the player. However,
the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate
the player by any possible series of legal moves, even with the most unskilled
counterplay”
Completing a move means making the move on the board and pressing the
clock. When I consider these two Articles together, only one conclusion is in
my opinion possible: the player who overstepped the time limit, loses the
game. I understand that you had a different opinion, but the question is if the
arbiter has to take into account how the situation on the board would be if a
player had the possibility to complete his move. Or, must the arbiter generally
take into account a forced sequence of moves? I think that this is not the case.

I agree ... with the present 6.9 rule. With the new rule it would be a draw because Black has no mating material after Rxf2+.

Jesper Norgaard
17-09-2009, 04:36 PM
Question Dear Mr. Gijssen, I have a question about the following paragraph from
the Laws of Chess:

"1.3 If the position is such that neither player can possibly checkmate, the
game is drawn."

7k/8/8/8/8/8/2q5/K5Q1 w - - 0 1
White plays Qg7+. Before black manages
to complete his move, his flag drops. Does
this position qualify for a draw according
to 1.3, or did Black lose on time? After all,
although White formally has "mating
material", a checkmate by legal moves is
impossible in this position - Black has only
one legal move, after which it's stalemate.

Or this position:
1K6/P7/2k5/8/8/8/8/r7 w - - 0 1
White plays a8=Q+ and Black responds
with Rxa8+. Again, white's flag drops
before he completes his move - and again,
checkmate by legal moves is impossible, as
White has only one legal move, after which
the position is reduced to bare kings.
What would you rule in such situations?
Alex Shternshain (Israel)
Answer There is a difference between
“normal” games on one side and rapid and
blitz games on the other side.
In normal games I accept your opinion that the game is a draw, because neither
player is able to win the game. Instead of Article 1.3 I like to refer to Article
9.6:
“The game is drawn when a position is reached from which a checkmate
cannot occur by any possible series of legal moves, even with the most
unskilled play. This immediately ends the game.”
I think the case is different in rapid and in blitz games. As a matter of fact and a
little bit strange, illegal moves are “legalised”.

I think these positions are drawn in any mode of play, and there is no difference whether illegal moves are legalised. Again, Geurt presents a problem, but no solution. But in my opinion the illegal moves should not be considered in the "any series of legal moves" so the point is moot.

Kevin Bonham
17-09-2009, 04:45 PM
The above all indicates why I stopped writing to Geurt for opinions on things years ago.

They are far too often clearly wrong.

Jesper Norgaard
17-09-2009, 04:46 PM
Question Dear Mr. Gijssen, In your Flying Rooks column [See The Chess Café Archives for
August] Thorsten Schaller asked what should be ruled in a blitz game when a player grabs a piece
to mate his opponent, but oversteps the time limit before he can complete his move. The answer
wasn't too difficult in this case, but what if the 'mating' player had only one legal move with the
touched piece?
This situation won't occur too often, but it reminds me of a blitz game where I grabbed the last
pawn of my opponent, touched the piece with which it was to be removed and overstepped the
time limit at that moment, just before completing the move. If I hadn't overstepped the time limit,
I would not have had the right to play another move and my opponent would have had no mating
potential, and the game would have been (at least) drawn. I mean, if you do not have the right to
play another move, the move 'feels' completed. What is your opinion? Frits Fritschy (The
Netherlands)
Answer As long as a move has not been made, i.e., the piece was moved to another square and the
hand had released this piece, it is impossible to claim something as mate or stalemate or no mating
potential of the opponent. And therefore my opinion is that in the situation you described above,
the player simply overstepped the time and lost the game. It is quite funny that you wrote that the
move ‘feels’ completed before the move even was made.

In my opinion it is quite funny that Geurt in 2000 was prepared to make fun of Frits Fritschy for feeling that the move was already completed, while he is in 2009 quite ready to give him a draw. I think this should only happen if 6.9 rule is changed as suggested above.

Jesper Norgaard
17-09-2009, 05:08 PM
The above all indicates why I stopped writing to Geurt for opinions on things years ago.

They are far too often clearly wrong.
Although I found a number of your questions when browsing around in Geurts old articles :clap:
Too bad Geurt is not as good at getting the nitty-gritty right when answering questions, as he is in demonstrating his great knowledge on why certain rules were implemented by FIDE etc.