Mixed FIDE and US Chess rules at same event

It would take winning the lottery for me to play the main event at the World Open this year, but I checked the TLA anyway…and noticed the top three sections, down to U-2000, are FIDE-rated, while the lower sections are not.

That makes sense on the surface, but leads to the issue of different rules sets for different sections of the same event—and not just FIDE rules for Open and US Chess rules for all lower sections, which I have seen. In this case the U-2200 and U-2000 sections will also be FIDE-rated.

Is that new this year? This is the first time since before Covid I paid attention to the World Open TLA. I can tell you to near-certainty that FIDE rules will be an adjustment if not a shock to many U-2200 and U-2000 players.

Also, it is not explained in the TLA or at the CCA site that FIDE-rated requires the use of FIDE rules. At this point, maybe we can expect Masters and professional players to know that, but not the Class A players I know from tournaments where FIDE rating or rules is not an issue.

Does this mean TDs will call flag-fall in the top three sections but not in lower sections? That would seem to be mandatory in both cases, as I understand the rules sets. Will the U-1800 and lower sections be physically separated from higher sections?

Interesting stuff. Between this and 30-second delay rather than increment, I might take a ride to Philly to see how it goes. Even if I do not win the lottery.

It is not the first year. Last year U1800 and higher were in one ballroom while U1600 and lower were in another. TDs/arbiters can call the flag in the FIDE rated sections. Only NAs, FAs and IAs can make rulings in FIDE-rated sections.

Most of the time, whether one is playing under FIDE or US Chess rules makes no difference since most of the rules are the same.

I’ve played in four FIDE rated tournaments over the last several years (U2100 section of the 2021 and 2022 National Open, U2100 section of the 2022 North American Open, and Class A (1700-1999) section of the 2023 Western Class Championships) and it hasn’t made any difference to me that the sections used FIDE rules over US Chess rules.

I thought arbiters must call flags they observe in FIDE-rated games? Is that wrong?

Interesting. Was there any announcement or posting that the FIDE-rated sections would be played under FIDE rules, including TDs calling flags?

“observe” is the applicable verb. It might not have been observed by an arbiter.

Honestly, I don’t recall, LOL!

Also, based on the FIDE clock standard that a clock must show how much time is left for a player at all times, would it be mandatory to use Bronstein mode rather than straight delay in the FIDE-rated sections? Would clocks that support Bronstein mode at least be preferred over those that do not?

Some of the FIDE certified clocks only do “straight” delay so I don’t think FIDE cares if one uses “straight” or Bronstein delay.

See: handbook.fide.com/files/handboo … ndards.pdf

When the GCT elite events such as St. Louis used 30-second delay rather than increment a few years ago, they used Bronstein mode, which shows at all times the time available to complete a player’s next move. (The FIDE standard from the link above.) Chris Bird confirmed that in answer to a question on the forums at the time.

This is similar to the question of whether keeping score is required when under five minutes left in a control with 30-second delay. I doubt FIDE considered 30-second delay when it certified clocks such as the Leap.

If 30-second delay will be standard in FIDE-rated CCA events going forward, these details need to be clarified. There are still one or two chess lawyers out there.

I know what the document says but FIDE doesn’t seem to care about how delay is shown on the screen. That’s basically the response I got from FIDE when I asked them a few years ago how the LEAP KK9908 clock got FIDE certified without it showing how much time is left for a player at all times when using delay.

Time controls with delay (although not 30 second delay) have been used regularly in FIDE rated events in the US for a long time and as far as I know there has never been an issue whether Bronstein or “straight” delay was used.

Chris Bird simply stated they used Bronstein instead of “straight” delay in the high level event he directed that had a 30 second delay because for “straight” delay, the DGT 3000 shows the delay countdown in small digits that can be hard to easily see and thus it was thought that Bronstein was preferrable.

It is very important that announcements are made, not least so that the players know which members of the staff are licensed arbiters so that they can seek them out in case they need help. FWIW, when I have staff members who aren’t properly certified, that is not a licensed arbiter in a FIDE rated section or a certified TD in a US Chess rated section, I tell them that they’re allowed to answer player questions only to the extent of directing them to stop their clock and find an authorized person.

Alex Relyea

Pssst – dirty little secret (I can’t really say this from personal observation, but I suspect it’s true sometimes) – I have a hunch that some arbiters in FIDE-rated sections of USA tournaments make it a point not to be in the tournament room during time trouble. That way they can say they didn’t observe any flag falls. Besides, it’s more fun for a TD to stay in the TD office and exchange anecdotes with other TDs.

Bill Smythe

Hmm, let’s see.

  • Bronstein mode always shows the total time remaining, so I guess it’s thumbs up for Bronstein mode.
  • As for “straight delay” (or USA delay or whatever else you want to call it), if both the main time and the delay time are displayed as digits at all times, then technically it is always displaying the total time, because all you need to do is add together the two times. I guess that’s a “maybe” thumbs up.
  • If the clock shows only the delay time during the delay, and only the main time at other times, that sounds like a big thumbs down, because that way the “total” time is never displayed.
  • If the clock always displays the main time as digits, but displays the delay only as a flashing colon or as a misplaced hyphen or as the word “delay” flashing, that might be a moderate-sized no-no, especially if the delay is 10 seconds or more.

Add to this the possibility of the clock not being able to display all five digits (h:mm:ss) all the time, and thus displaying three digits (h:mm) for the first part of the game, that’s yet another possible monkey wrench in the works.

But, most people (at least in the USA) probably prefer “straight” delay over Bronstein mode, so maybe that partially explains why FIDE seems to yawn at the concept in the case of delay (as opposed to “bonus” or “increment”).

Bill Smythe

True enough, but that can get tedious at times. I remember one arbiter that went out of his way to maximize all possible differences (FIDE vs U.S. Chess) in his opening remarks. “If you promote to an upside down rook, it’s a rook, not a queen.” “If you move a pawn to the last rank and leave it as a pawn, first of all you can be penalized, and second of all it’s a queen, even if you say “rook” or “knight” as you make your move.” “If you make an illegal move, there is a time penalty. If you make a second illegal move in the same game, you lose.” “You must write down your move after you make it, not before.” And on and on for about five minutes.

Bill Smythe

The promotion rule is not trivial. That could happen at the World Open, especially in the U-2200 or U-2000 with players not used to FIDE rules.

Example was one of my games at USATE this year. Background: When packing my gear I found my trusty tournament set was missing a pawn, so I turned to my backup set, also fine for tournaments…except it does not include extra Queens. Of course I should have thrown in the Queens from set one, that was rejected for missing a pawn.

Right on cue, in round five my opponent queened a pawn as a diversionary tactic. (I had to capture it, costing a tempo.) His Queen was still on the board, there was no extra Queen on the table, so he pushed the pawn to the 8th rank, said “Queen,” and pressed his clock. He did not replace the pawn with an upside-down Rook. (I think he had one Rook on the board and one captured, but need to check the game score.)

I restarted his clock and told him, gently, to find a Queen on his own time. He grabbed a captured Queen from a teammate’s board, replaced the pawn on the 8th rank with the Queen, pressed the clock and I resigned a few moves later.

But I could see a player in the U-2000 at the World Open, in that scenario, replace the pawn on the 8th rank with an upside-down Rook.

Most opponents might not know the FIDE rule, and at another tournament most opponents might not make a fuss about it. At the World Open, it is much more likely to find A players who both know the FIDE rule and insist their opponents follow it to the letter.

Not to mention that a TD/arbiter might see it happen.

Micah is right that most of the rules are the same across both rules sets. But in rare cases the difference in rules can change the result of the game.

With 30-second delay, there is near-zero chance the stronger-side player’s flag will fall in K+R vs. K+N. Also near-zero chance that a player will overlook that an opponent’s flag fell, but an arbiter will notice that.

But things like the upside-down Rook can change game results. Very rare, perhaps, but possible. At another tournament, players might see that as a lesson learned. At the World Open…could be trouble and disputes.

Apparently that has not happened. Very good. But it could.

I understand that you want the arbiter to explain all the differences between US Chess and FIDE rules for the benefit of the players who might not be familiar with them, but for practical reasons it isn’t possible. There are so many small differences between the two rule sets that elucidating each and every one of them would greatly delay the start of the round. CCA publishes a long time in advance of the tournament which sections will be FIDE rated at the World Open. It is the responsibility of those wishing to play in one of them to familiarize themselves with those differences. Unlike US Chess, FIDE publishes their rules on-line, so no one can say s/he didn’t have access to them.

Under US Chess (and I assume FIDE) rules, you can stop the clocks to find a promotion piece.

Simply posting a list of the major differences between FIDE rules and US Chess rules would seem sufficient to prevent 90% of problems.

Most of the US Chess rules are online now too.