Wednesday, 10 August 2011

FIDE Arbiter's Seminar & Exam

Last weekend I attended a FIDE Arbiter's seminar run by International Arbiters Shaun Press, Gary Bekker & Charles Zworestine. Plenty of information was covered over the four days of the seminar & it finished up with a gruelling 3 hour exam. The pass mark for the exam was 80%, so I was pleased to pass the exam, particularly with only around half of the attendees managed to pass.
One question in particular was a tough one ... and one where I dropped some marks in answering.
The question gave the following position:
The question stated something along the lines of ... White has just played Rf8+ & their flag has fallen. What is the result of the game & why did you come to this decision? In some ways, the correct answer is counter-intuitive, but in others it makes perfect sense.
Ultimately the game is a draw, as there is a forced stalemate sequence. The only way for black to get out of check is to play Qxf8+ ... likewise, white can only get out of check by playing Qxf8+ ... and black can only get out of this check by playing Kxf8, leaving the white king stalemated.
I answered (incorrectly) that the game should be a win for black, but noted that there was the forced stalemate sequence, so received some marks for the question.
In terms of the logic of the decision, it initially seems odd that you can run out of time, with your opponent having mating material on the board, and still not lose the game. However, when you consider the situation in a 'big picture' view, it makes sense, as the general priority is to decide games on the board, rather than by some 'off-board' technicality, like a clock, or arbiter's decision to declare the game lost. An analogous situation to this would be a game where you play a move that checkmates your opponent, however your flag falls before you can press the clock. In this case, the checkmate stands (not simply from the 'board has priority', but the rule that states that checkmate ends the game immediately, so there is no need to press the clock to complete the move).
The exam itself consisted of 20 multiple choice questions, 12 'short answer' questions & a pairing exercise where you needed to manually pair 3 rounds of a tournament where you were only given the number of players (and ratings) and the round results in board order, as well as any other information (such as one round where a player took a half-point bye). Ultimately it was a very tough exam & I barely managed to finish it in the time limit.
This is the first step (for me at least - some of the participants had fulfilled the other requirements) towards the FIDE Arbiter, with the exam counting as one of the requirements for the title, along with 3 'norms', which can be aquired by running a range of FIDE rated tournaments (1 norm per tournament). To use an analogy, I suppose this will be another string to my bow in terms of chess, in addition to my playing & coaching experience.

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