7 June 2012, Kuala Lumpur – Here is an interesting article written by T.N. on the role of arbiters in a chess tournament. It would serve as a good guide of ethics for chess arbiters to follow in future chess tournaments.
The Role of the Arbiters and their duties
The Arbiters are the connecting link between the organizer and the players of a tournament.
They have to deal not only with the games, but also to ensure the best conditions, for the players not to be disturbed and will be able to play without any problem. As they have to take care about the playing area, the equipment, the environment and the whole playing venue.
The general duties of the Arbiters in a competition are described in the Laws of Chess (art. 13.1, 13.2, 13.3) and are:
a. They shall see that the Laws of Chess are strictly observed
b. They shall act in the best interest of the competition. They should ensure that a good playing environment is maintained and that the players are not disturbed. They shall supervise the progress of the competition
c. They shall observe the games, especially when the players are short of time, enforce decisions they have made and impose penalties on players where appropriate.
In order to do all these, the Arbiters shall have the necessary competence, sound judgment and absolute objectivity (Preface of the Laws of Chess).
The number of the required Arbiters in a competition varies, depending on the kind of event (Individual, Team), on the system of the games (Round Robin, Swiss System, Knock Out, Matches), on the number of participants and on the importance of the event.
Normally one Chief Arbiter, one Deputy Chief Arbiter and a number of Arbiters (approximately one for every 20 to 25 players) are appointed for a competition. In special cases (i.e. tiebreak games with adequate supervision), Assistant Arbiters may be appointed.
Additionally we can consider the following requirements as very important for the Arbiters in a competition:
1. To show proper behaviour to the players and spectators and to be respectful and dignified.
They shall avoid any dispute during the games and take care of the good image of the tournament.
2. To observe as many games as possible during every round of the competition.
They have to take care of the games they are responsible, to observe and to check the games’ progress (especially when there is time trouble). It is not acceptable for the Arbiters to leave the playing area every 10 or 15 minutes for smoking, or any discussions with friends, spectators, officials, e.t.c., or to leave their territory unattended, in order to go and watch other games in another part of the playing hall. It is not acceptable for the Arbiters to stay seated in their chairs reading newspapers or books (even chess books!), or to sit in front of a computer, surfing on Internet, etc., leaving their games without observation It is also not acceptable for the Arbiters to speak on their mobiles in the playing hall during the games (the Law of Chess regarding the mobiles is valid not only for the players and spectators, but for the Arbiters as well).
It is sure that the biggest problems during the games are caused because of the absence or the lack of attention of the Arbiters and thus the ignorance of what actually happened in case of an incident. How an absent Arbiter will take a fair decision in a dispute between two players caused because of a touched piece (i.e. the opponents do not agree that the player said “j’adoube” in advance)? Without knowing what actually happened, the Arbiter has 50% possibilities to take a correct decision and 50% to take a wrong one, losing by this way his credibility and the trust of the players.
Of course the Arbiters are human beings and they may make mistakes, but they have to try as much as they can to avoid such problems.
3. To show responsibility in executing their duties.
The correct time of arriving in the playing hall before the start of the round and the following of the Chief Arbiter’s instructions are parameters that help the smooth running of the tournament.
4. To show team spirit and cooperate in the best way with the other Arbiters of the competition.
Arbiter’s job in a competition is mainly a team work and the Arbiters shall help and cover each other in any case, so that to avoid or correct, if possible, any problem that arises during the games. The Arbiter has to ask for consultation by the Chief Arbiter, in any case when he does not feel ready to take an important decision regarding the game he observes.
5. To study the regulations and be updated for any changes of the laws of chess and the tournament rules.
The Arbiter has to know the Laws of Chess and the Regulations of the tournament, as he has to take a decision immediately when it is needed. The players cannot wait for a long time and the game has to be continued.
6. To have excellent knowledge of handling the electronic clocks.
It is not acceptable for an Arbiter to let the players waiting for a long time, while trying to fix an electronic clock with wrong time indications during a game.
7. Τo follow the dress code.
The Arbiters of a competition shall be dressed properly, helping to the increase of the image of chess as a sport.
The following general duties are referred to the Arbiters who are acting in Individual or Team Tournaments, of any importance and any level, independently of the number of participants:
(i). Before the start of the game:
(a). Arrival at the playing hall at least thirty (30) minutes before the start of the round.
Especially for the first round of the tournament it is advisable to arrive at least one (1) hour before the start of the round and according to the Chief Arbiter’s orders.
(b). Check of the whole playing venue (playing hall, toilets, smoking area, analysis room, bar) and the technical conditions (light, ventilation, air-condition, enough space for the players, etc.).
©. Check of the equipment (chessboards, pieces, score sheets, pens)
(d). Arrangement of the tables, chairs, ropes for the playing area and put names of the players and flags of federations, if needed, or numbers on the tables for the pairings.
(e). Check of the electronic clocks (correct setting of the time control, check of batteries, correct placement).
(f). Check of the pairings (names of the opponents and colors).
(g). Especially for Team competitions the check of the players’ boards according to team’s list of participants is very important and shall be always done before the start of the games.
(ii). During the games:
(a). Define the unplayed games (players who didn’t arrive for their games-forfeited games) and informing the Chief Arbiter.
(b). Regular check (every thirty minutes) of the electronic clocks (using the time control sheets) and of the score sheets.
(c). Discrete control of the players, for very often leaving from the playing area, for contact with other players, spectators and other persons, etc, according to the article 12.5 of the Laws of Chess.
(d). Observation of all the games, especially when there is time trouble, with the help of an Assistant, if needed.
(e). Check of the players’ claims very carefully, with the help of the Chief Arbiter, if needed, before taking any decision.
(f). At the end of the game check of the recorded result by both players and check of the score sheets to be signed by both players.
(g). Update the results sheet by recording the result of every finished game.
(iii). After the end of the round:
(a). Thorough check of the results of the games, by counterchecking of the score sheets and the results sheet or the game protocol (in Team events) and handling them to the Chief Arbiter.
(b). Arrangement of all chess boards and the rest equipment (pieces, score sheets, pens, clocks), so that to be ready for the next round.
The Chief Arbiter is responsible for the full control of the competition and for the full application of the Laws of Chess and the Tournament Regulations. He shall take care of all technical matters and ensure the best conditions for the players. He puts the available arbiters in place, according to the players’ boards and assigns their duties and responsibilities. He is responsible for the smooth running of the competition and he has the responsibility of taking decisions in every case or incident during the games and to settle all disputes, before they end to the Appeals Commission.
Only in his absence these responsibilities go to the Deputy Chief Arbiter.
After the end of the competition the Chief Arbiter submits in due course his Report (Chief Arbiters’ Report) to the organizing body (FIDE, Continental Federations, National Federation, etc.), in which he includes: the list of participants, all pairings, results, final standings, list of Arbiters, any norm reports and certificates, any incident that happened during the games, any appeal that was submitted and the decision taken and everything he thinks important for the organization of the event.
The successful arbitration during the games plays a very significant role in the success of the event.