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Enrico M Sevillano vs Charles Lawton
US Championship (2009), St. Louis, MO USA, rd 2, May-09
Modern Defense: Standard Defense (B06)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
May-10-09  parmetd: For all wondering... why it says "1-0" instead of "1/2-1/2." I was live on site for this game.

it was impossible for white to ever win in that position. I was sitting with Robert Hess, Joel Benjamin, Jennifer Shahade and the club staff who were all complaining about enrico's lack of sportsmanship not to give a draw. It is dead drawn. I made the comment that anyone could draw said position and Robert Hess readily agreed anyone above 1400 could hold the draw quite easily.

The situation was Lawton had 6minutes to Enrico's 5 minutes Lawton had missed some moves recording and the arbiter demanded he catch up his score sheet. he did. Then she said it wasn't correct or legiable enough and he needed to redo it. He pointed out he had only a minute left on the clock now thanks to her and he had no time to redo it. She said it would take only 30 seconds to do and if he didn't do it she'd forfeit him. He let his time run out.

Robert Hess pointed out that yes he needs to keep score cause of the 5 second increment but he can start taking score from that initial move which is what Joel Benjamin said the ruling was.

as to the game itself I watched it live and enrico's sac was totally unsound! It was amazing to me that Lawton did not play 20... Nxd4 after which Rxe7+ Kf8 is forced and both Qe4 and Qf4 doesn't matter white is dead lost lets say then 20... Nxd4 21. Rxe7+ Kf8 22. Qf4 there is either 22... g5 or 22... Nf5 but white's only hope is a draw if black messes up with 22... g5 23. Qe4 Rd8?? 24. Bh5 Qxd5 25. Re8+ Rxe8 26. Qxe8+ Kg7 27. Qg6+ Kf8 28. Qe8+ with a draw by perptual check.

May-10-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: This loss by Lawton on this basis really does seem outrageous, but my anger is directed towards the arbiter rather than Sevillano (who had every right to continue playing). Whether USCF or FIDE rules take precedence for this tournament, Lawton probably should have been excused from keeping a scoresheet at least after his own clock went under five minutes.

For example, USCF Rule 15C reads as follows:
“15C. Scorekeeping in time pressure, sudden death time control. If EITHER [emphasis added] player has less than five minutes remaining in a sudden death time control, BOTH [emphasis added] players are excused from the obligation to keep score. A scoresheet is not required to win on time in a sudden death time control (13C).”

FIDE Rule 8.4 provides (in relevant part):

“If a player has less than five minutes left on his clock and does not have an additional time of 30 seconds or more added with each move, then he is not obligated to meet the requirements of Article 8.1. *** “

I am not certain how long an increment is being used for this tournament, but I believe it is less than 30 seconds per move.

May-10-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: I just noted that Hess's comment quoted by <parmetd> refers to a 5-second increment, so unless I am relying on an out-of-date version of FIDE Rule 8.4, Lawton definitely should have been excused from keeping a scoresheet during several minutes' time when the termagant arbiter was apparently continuing to hector him.
May-10-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: As far as Sevillano's right to continue playing is concerned, <acirce> notes on the tournament page ( US Championship (2009) ) that both players apparently overlooked a potentially winning possibilty for White. His comment there includes the following cogent observation:

"Why not 88.Rc7 here, picking up another pawn (88..Bf6?? 89.d6 )

"Did they both miss it? Sure, it may still be a draw even two pawns up, but surely nobody can argue that it would have been completely dead? And if they can both miss such things, which is natural in time trouble and when nervousness sets in, why wouldn't it make sense to play on?"

May-10-09  Libispusher: I followed the game online and was somewhat disappointed white missed 36.Bb5 securing the queenside pawn mass, and probably sidestepping any issues that would cloud the conclusion of the match.
May-11-09  acirce: <I just noted that Hess's comment quoted by <parmetd> refers to a 5-second increment, so unless I am relying on an out-of-date version of FIDE Rule 8.4, Lawton definitely should have been excused from keeping a scoresheet during several minutes' time when the termagant arbiter was apparently continuing to hector him.>

The details about the arbiter intervention still confuse me. It certainly can't have been wrong to intervene if Lawton indeed had 6 minutes left and had "missed some moves recording", on the contrary that is exactly the arbiter's job. Now I am not sure exactly how to interpret the rules as they stand but it would feel pretty odd if you're right that he wouldn't have had to bother about the score sheet again just because he gets under 5.

For example, you are at 5:30, there follows a long series of very quick moves, and to save time you don't write them down although you have to. You are at 5:10 when the arbiter tells you you have to complete your score sheet. You start scribbling a few moves down but stop as soon as you are on 4:59, claiming that you don't have to record the moves any more.

You'd be right, you wouldn't have to record <new> moves. But going from this to say you suddenly have no duty to complete your scoresheet down to 5:00 isn't exactly obvious to me.

May-11-09  Ezzy: "In a footnote to yesterday's round two, local player Charles Lawton discovered the hard way the difference between the standard of play at the U.S. Championship and local tournaments he's more used to ruling the roost in. In a time scramble when he was down to his last 5 minutes, he opted to save valuable seconds by stopping to score his game, only to flagged for an infringement of the rules by chief arbiter Carol Jarecki as she warned him he had to continue to keep a score of the game.

But Lawton lost on time in the ensuing dispute with the arbiter as he tried to keep his score up to date as he fell foul of International FIDE rules (which govern all national championships) and local USCF rules. With FIDE (the French acronym of the governing body of world chess), if you have 5 minutes or less on your clock you still have to keep a score of the game, with USCF rules you do not have to do so."

I believe FIDE also exempts you from keeping score when under five minutes if the increment is less than 30 seconds. (Rule 8.4) But as I said above, if he had more than five minutes when Jarecki intervened, he has only himself to blame. There should be a statement from the arbiter and, if they want, both players, when a dispute like this happens. On the other hand, if nobody files a formal protest it's not up to the organizers or arbiters to martyr themselves for kicks. It would just be nice to have all the information out there from official sites, which too often feel they should sweep disputes under the rug.

http://www.chessninja.com/dailydirt/

May-11-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: I agree, <acirce:>, that there is some room for interpretation with regard to moves played (but not recorded) prior to the relevant clock going under 5:00, but I think the fundamental intent of USCF Rules 15B and 15C, as well as FIDE Article 8.4, is that in the applicable situations, the players should be allowed to concentrate on the game and that moves played over-the-board should determine the outcome, not be overridden by a pettifogging application of the scorekeeping rule. The opposite interpretation seems rather obviously to me to get the priorities absurdly backwards.

I should also add that my perspective on this matter may be affected by my deep loathing of all sudden death time controls. If I were writing the rules, I would make scorekeeping optional throughout any SD time control (with the understanding that a player who stopped keeping score would lose certain privileges, most notably the right to make draw claims based on threefold repetition or the 50-move rule).

May-11-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: BTW, for those unfamiliar with USCF rules, by way of analogy and with reference to my opinion that scorekeeping should be optional throughout any SD time control (although not specifically relevant to the issue involved in this game), under USCF Rule 5C, scorekeeping is optional throughout any "Quick Chess" game (TC of at least G/10 but less than G/30), as well as Blitz games (Chapter 11, Rule 1 of USCF Rules).
May-11-09  acirce: <I think the fundamental intent of USCF Rules 15B and 15C, as well as FIDE Article 8.4, is that in the applicable situations, the players should be allowed to concentrate on the game and that moves played over-the-board should determine the outcome, not be overridden by a pettifogging application of the scorekeeping rule. The opposite interpretation seems rather obviously to me to get the priorities absurdly backwards.> But it would be the player's own fault entirely since he didn't comply with the rules in the first place. I think it would be weird in more than one way if you could get away with that with nothing happening in a scenario such as the one I described. One could easily break the rules and get away with no punishment at all, in the process gaining an unfair advantage. Huh?
May-11-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <acirce: *** I think it would be weird in more than one way if you could get away with that [non-compliance with the scorekeeping rule] with nothing happening in a scenario such as the one I described. One could easily break the rules and get away with no punishment at all, in the process gaining an unfair advantage. Huh?>

A player who fails to keep a reasonably complete scoresheet can never do so “scot-free”.

Under USCF rules*,

[* - I am aware that this championship is primarily governed by FIDE’s rules, but I would assume that USCF rules, which address many of these issues in much greater detail, have subordinate jurisdiction and should be applied to the extent they can resolve a matter left ambiguous under the FIDE Laws of Chess, and certainly can be considered analogically where FIDE rules require subjective interpretation due to lack of completeness and/or precision.]

it is clear that a player who fails to maintain a reasonably complete scoresheet is thereby disabled from claiming a draw based on three-fold repetition of position or the 50-move rule, as well as from claiming a win by time forfeit in any finite (i.e., non-sudden death) time control period. Perhaps you consider these contingent penalties (i.e., relevant only if in the course of the game the non-compliant player finds himself wishing to make such a claim) less than condign, but the threat of forfeiture presented to Lawton as his clock was running down below five minutes was way too severe in my opinion.

It is also worth noting that there is nothing I am aware of in the USCF rules that expressly and specifically provides for a player to be forfeited based on failure to comply with the scorekeeping requirement (Rule 15A). Rule 13I (Refusal to obey rules) in general terms does provide for declaring a game "lost by a player who refuses to comply with the rules", but to declare such a forfeiture in the case of failure to comply with Rule 15A in any instance not involving willful, wanton and wholesale flouting of the rule (i.e., no attempt whatsoever to keep score from the outset of the game) seems absurdly Draconian to me. I do not know the particulars of Lawton’s failure to keep score, but it is quite common for the time constraints and stress of a sudden death time control (all forms of which are an abomination) to cause a player who has a good faith intent to comply with Rule 15A to fall seriously behind and/or to allow substantial inaccuracies to be reflected on his or her scoresheet.

I would finally note that pursuant to USCF Rule 13C7, a player does not need a perfect scoresheet to claim a win by time forfeiture even in a finite time control. That rule provides that a scoresheet “that has no more than three missing or incomplete move pairs” (as further defined in the rule) is considered reasonably complete for purposes of making such a claim. Particularly in light of this recognition by USCF Rule 13C7 that perfection in scorekeeping should not be required even for such significant purposes as making a claim of win by time forfeiture, the approach taken by Chief Arbiter Jarecki in this instance was way over the top, in my opinion.

May-11-09  acirce: Statement from the arbiter:

http://saintlouischessclub.org/Arbi...

<Lawton’s scoresheet was inaccurate due to some earlier missing moves and the fact that he stopped recording moves entirely when he still had over 8 minutes on his clock. At that time he was warned by the Arbiter that he had to record the missing moves and continue to record move by move. He wrote a few moves then stopped again. The Arbiter ruled that Lawton should correct his scoresheet, bring it up to date first, then continue to keep score until he had less than 5 minutes remaining. He protested, saying it would take too long. At that point he had 6:53 minutes on his clock and his opponent had 4:34. He was provided with his opponent’s MonRoi scoresheet and instructed, again, to correct and complete his scoresheet. While doing so, interrupted by much objection, making moves and pressing his clock, Lawton’s time went under 5 minutes and he claimed that he now could stop writing since he had met the requirement of Article 8.4. However, the Arbiter ruled he should first accurately record all moves missed during the time he had ample time to write and while he was infringing that rule. The opponent’s scoresheet had been provided to help with the process. The arbiter even offered to read off the moves to him (other games in the room had finished).

Lawton chose to refuse to bring his scoresheet up to date, while not being allowed to continue the game until he had done so. This ultimately led to him losing the game on time.

Carol Jarecki, IA

Chief Arbiter>

May-11-09  acirce: From this it's hard to pity him the least really, but his own story may be quite different, of course.
May-12-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <acirce: From this [Chief Arbiter Jarecki’s statement, as set forth in another <acirce> post] it's hard to pity him [Lawton] the least really, but his own story may be quite different, of course.>

First, I would be interested to know of any relevant precedent under FIDE rules, specifically, any instance of a player being forfeited (or even expressly threatened with forfeiture) for failure to comply with Article 8.1. So far, my perspective on the matter is based upon a reading of the FIDE Laws of Chess, analogous reasoning based on substantial familiarity and experience with the USCF Rules, and my fundamental sense of fairness. I would welcome any enlightenment in terms of any actual precedent of a forfeiture (or explicit threat of forfeiture) based on a scorekeeping violation (of which I am presently aware of none).

Second, both FIDE and USCF rules are extremely vague with regard to the imposition of such a sanction. Article 13.4 of the FIDE Laws grants the arbiter general authority to declare a game lost by a player WITH NO EXPRESS STATEMENT OF CONDITIONS OR LIMITATIONS defining when this is appropriate. There is not even any express statement of limitation in the FIDE Laws that such a declaration of forfeiture must be based on any rules violation. Apparently a FIDE arbiter has literal authority to forfeit a player if she does not like the cut of his jib. This is just one instance of how pathetically vague, incomplete and inadequate the FIDE Laws as written are. (The Preface to the FIDE Laws tries to make a virtue of this deficiency - in terms of not “depriv[ing] the arbiter of his freedom of judgment” - but this argument is utterly unpersuasive to me.) The USCF Rules apparently contemplate that forfeiture can be an appropriate sanction for a scorekeeping violation by reason of a cross-reference to Rule 13I at the end of Rule 15A, but there is no guidance whatsoever how egregious the violation should be before this sanction should be imposed.

With reference to the hypothetical postulated by <acirce> yesterday (a deliberate breach of the scorekeeping requirement going entirely unpunished), it seems to me that the advantage to be gained even by a deliberate decision to stop keeping score is rather small, and my fundamental sense of fairness tells me (1) that as much as possible the outcome of a game should be determined by moves played over-the-board rather than by rigid application of a formal rule of secondary importance; and (2) that loss of the privilege to make claims requiring a reasonably complete scoresheet is a proportionate and sufficient penalty for even a deliberate violation of the scorekeeping requirement. If a player has allowed his scoresheet to become substantially incomplete inadvertently due to the stress of a sudden-death time control period (which time controls are among the most malicious contrivances of the Prince of Darkness), a consequent forfeiture of the game (or threat thereof) seems to me outrageously excessive.

<acirce: *** but his [Lawton’s] own story may be quite different, of course.>

Lawton has apparently decided with exemplary grace to let this matter pass, so his account is not likely to be forthcoming. We do know, however, that Jarecki’s account is substantially contradicted by the account of neutral observer <parmetd>, as set forth at the beginning of this thread. If one accepts Jarecki’s version, it would be fair to characterize Lawton’s non-compliance as willful and wanton, and his attitude as unrepentant in the face of timely admonition. According to <parmetd>, however, Lawton originally made a good faith effort to bring his scoresheet into compliance, which Jarecki rejected on the grounds of legibility. Although legibility is an express requirement of FIDE Article 8.1, if such a ruling was really made while Lawton’s clock was running down in time pressure, it was an egregious abuse of discretion.

Finally, the last thing any chess tournament needs is arbiters and directors who think the event is “all about us” and their authority, with the players being there only for the purpose of providing the arbiters with opportunities for the wanton and abusive exercise thereof.

May-12-09  Riverbeast: Incidentally, this is the same Carol Jarecki who once caught a well known GM cheating (I won't mention his name)....And gave him a slap on the wrist

I know of it because he was playing someone I knew, and he told me the story...The GM got up from the game, WHILE HIS CLOCK WAS RUNNING, and took a walk....

His opponent, curious, followed him, and saw him looking at a book in the bookstore....

He was looking up the same variation they were playing!

The guy called over Carol Jarecki, who simply told the GM "You can't do that!"...And she let the game continue....

The guy I knew ended up losing the game....And I couldn't believe my ears when I heard the story....Shouldn't a player be instantly forfeited if caught cheating??

I'm not trying to demean Carol Jarecki's skills as a TD, since she has had a great reputation for as long as I can remember.....And it sounds like she may have handled this situation correctly (as far as I know)

But it seems the TDs aren't always even handed in their application of the rules, especially when it comes to certain people that they favor or dislike

May-13-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <Riverbeast: ***
But it seems the TDs aren't always even handed in their application of the rules *** >

In fairness to Jarecki and other arbiters and TDs whose rulings on such points may come under criticism, the goal of consistent and even-handed application of the rules is severely undermined by the fact that even the vastly superior USCF Rules (not applicable in this instance) contain significant lacunae (for example, the lack of any useful guidance what sanctions are appropriate in the case of a scorekeeping violation) and the FIDE Laws of Chess are essentially one comprehensive omission of any useful provisions on secondary issues (anything other than the rules of over-the-board play, such as the movement of the pieces, how a game is won/lost or drawn, touch-move rule, etc., which points are essentially adequately covered). I would assess the FIDE Laws as, BY A WIDE MARGIN, the most woefully inadequate document of their type (a supposedly definitive rulebook governing the play of any sport or game) that I have ever perused.

As far as what occurred in this game is concerned, it certainly would have been within the range of the arbiter’s reasonable discretion to have added time to Sevillano’s clock and/or even to rule the game a draw if Sevillano’s clock had flagged (both of which remedies are specifically authorized by FIDE Laws, Article 13.4), but to threaten Lawton with forfeiture for an incomplete scoresheet and to prevent the completion of over-the-board play on account of such an issue was to exalt formality over substance and involved abysmally bad judgment, in my opinion. What was done here recalls to my mind a comment that was made some years ago regarding the then-incumbent director of the U.S. OMB, viz., that he "knew the price of everything and the value of nothing". Jarecki may know the letter of the rules (such as they are) very well, but the calibre of her judgment here seems to reflect the perspective of someone who has apparently never herself played a tournament game of chess.

May-13-09  Riverbeast: Yes, but rules are rules...And if she had given Lawton too much leeway, then Sevillano may have had reasonable cause for complaint.

If she made a judgement call in this game, it seems like she had some 'legal' backing, so I don't know if she necessarily did anything wrong here...But then again, I'm not an arbiter and I'm not that familiar with the rule on this (I'm basically going by what you're saying).

But in the other situation I mentioned, it seems clear to me the GM should have been instantly forfeited...and I suspect he was not forfeited BECAUSE he was a GM, and his opponent was not really a favorite in the chess community (I won't go into the details of that)

May-13-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <Riverbeast: ***
If she made a judgement call in this game, it seems like she had some 'legal' backing, so I don't know if she necessarily did anything wrong here *** >

As far as "legal backing" for the ruling is concerned, Article 13.4 of the FIDE Laws of Chess sets forth various possible remedies WITH ABSOLUTELY NO GUIDANCE how to select among them (which is one reason why I have previously inveighed against the egregious inadequacy of the FIDE Laws). Unquestionably her ruling was within the letter of the rules, but so also would have been the imposition of a lesser sanction. What is involved here is a matter of judgment and proportion, and based on my sense of fundamental fairness, it is not a close question: Jarecki's judgment was abysmal and the sanction was grossly excessive. Her actions reflect the perspective of someone who has never had the experience of trying to keep an accurate scoresheet in a sudden death time control (which can be extremely difficult even before the final five-minute period addressed in Article 8.4).

As indicated, my opinion is based on my sense of fairness, as well as considerable experience in tournaments governed by USCF Rules. I do not know what precedents may exist in FIDE-regulated events, and in a prior comment I invited others to inform me of any such precedents they may know of that might lend support to what, on its face, seems to me a grossly excessive sanction. I am aware of no such precedent, and no one else has so far provided any examples.

May-13-09  Riverbeast: Well, I do remember that some directors would allow someone to just check or mark the scoresheet if they were in a time scramble....To keep track of how many moves were made

But those were smaller tournaments, and they were no doubt going by USCF rules, which sound (based on what you're saying) a lot more flexible than FIDE rules

May-13-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <Riverbeast: *** those were smaller tournaments, and they were no doubt going by USCF rules, which sound (based on what you're saying) a lot more flexible than FIDE rules.>

I do not think "more flexible" is the right contrast. I would say the USCF Rules are more comprehensive and vastly superior to the FIDE Laws, which are really rather pathetic in their lack of detail.

The most important point, however, is that I am not aware of any instance in which an arbiter or director is required to impose forfeiture as the sanction (excluding such cases as a loss on time, which is a claim by the opponent, not really a sanction of forfeiture by the arbiter or TD). If such cases do exist, a scorekeeping violation is certainly not one of them. The sanction of forfeiture threatened by Jarecki in this case (and de facto imposed) was absurdly excessive.

May-19-09  AnalyzeThis: This is terrible. Lawton defended manfully in this game, and by all rights, should have had a draw.
May-19-09  blacksburg: word of the day - <manfully>
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