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The Carlsen - Inarkiev controversy

by Sagar Shah - 30/12/2017

Magnus Carlsen was playing Ernesto Inarkiev in the first round of the World Blitz 2017. Magnus gave a check to Inarkiev's king. However, instead of moving the king or capturing the rook, Inarkiev gave a counter check to his opponent's king. Of course, this was an illegal move. But Carlsen did not claim it. He moved his king. Inarkiev now stopped the clock and called the arbiter to claim for a win. The Russian was awarded a full point and later the result was reversed with a win for Carlsen. What happened? What is this controversy all about and was the decision given by the arbiter correct. We asked IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran, who explains the intricacies.

The Background:

Magnus Carlsen versus Ernesto Inarkiev, round one World Blitz 2017 | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

Magnus Carlsen and Ernesto Inarkiev were paired against each other in round one of the World Blitz 2017. These are the first few moves of the game before the position of discussion is reached:

Magnus Carlsen - Ernesto Inarkiev, World Blitz Round one, position after 26...Kb6

In the above position White took the pawn on b7 with Rxb7+. Instead of taking the rook or moving the king, Black played ...Ne3+. Now instead of claiming the illegal move, Carlsen played his king to d3. At this point Inarkiev stopped the clock and claimed the win. According to him Carlsen's last move Kd3 was an illegal move.

 

Here's a video of all that happened:

This 44 second video shows you all that happened

The arbiter came to the board and listened to what Inarkiev had to say | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

Carlsen was in disbelief that he had missed his opponent's illegal move | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

The arbiter awarded a win for Inarkiev | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

Carlsen was not satisifed with the result and a huge crowd gathered around the World Champion | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

Magnus speaks to Henrik about the incident | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

Chief arbiter Takis Nikolopoulos (right) talks to Ernesto Inarkiev about the result of the game | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

The following post by Emil Sutovksy on Facebook tells you about the conversation that took place between Inarkiev and chief arbiter Takis Nikopoulos:

Inarkiev was not ready to resume the game and he was given a loss.

Not sure what's happening Chuky! | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

The look of a man who got the full point after being awarded a zero! | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

Inarkiev is clearly not happy with the decision | Photo: Riyadh2017 official website

Was the decision taken by the arbiters correct here? We decided to ask one of the most competent arbiters in India IA Gopakumar Sudhakaran who sent us the following:

The Carlsen - Inarkiev incident by the FIDE regulations

By Gopakumar Sudhakaran

 

As the tournament is happening before 01 Jan 2018, the current rule regarding Blitz game which is effective till 31 Dec 2017 will be applicable.

 

A Blitz game can be governed in two ways

1. With Competition Rules (B.2) or

2. B.4 according to Rapid Chess Laws as in Article A.2 and A.4

I am not sure in which way the tournament being played. With competition rules or without competition rules, but I will explain the situation in both cases.

With competition rules:

To apply competition rules, one Arbiter needs to supervise one game (B.3.1.1) and each game is recorded by the arbiter or his assistant and, if possible by electronic means (B.3.1.2).

 

In such scenario the game will be governed just like standard chess and only change is that the penalties mentioned in Article 7 (irregularities) and 9 (draw claim) of the competition rules will be one minute instead of two minutes (B.2).

 

So it is clear that if the tournament is played under Competition rules then the position before the irregularity must be reinstated and the game will continue from that position after awarding one minute to Carlsen’s clock for the illegal move committed by his opponent. The game will be restarted from the position 27. Rxb7.

Without competition rules

The second situation is when the competition rules are not applied. The game will be governed under B.4 and Rapid Chess Laws as in Article A.2 and A.4 will be applicable.

 

According to A.4.2, if the arbiter observes an action taken under Article 7.5.1, 7.5.2 or 7.5.3 for the first completed illegal move by a player, the arbiter shall declare the game lost by the player, provided the opponent has not made his next move.  If the arbiter does not intervene, the opponent is entitled to claim a win, provided the opponent has not made his next move. 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. If the opponent does not claim and the arbiter does not intervene, the illegal move shall stand and the game shall continue. Once the opponent has made his next move, an illegal move cannot be corrected unless this is agreed by the players without intervention of the arbiter.

 

So we come to the present case, Carlsen made his move Rxb7 giving check to his opponent but Inarkiev committed an illegal move by playing Ne3 check. In this position arbiter shall intervene and declare a loss to Carlsen’s opponent or Carlsen claim a win for illegal move committed by his opponent. Instead of this Carlsen played Kd3. Now as per the rules, if the opponent does not claim and the arbiter does not intervene, the illegal move shall stand and the game shall continue. Once the opponent has made his next move, an illegal move cannot be corrected unless mutually agreed without intervention of arbiter.

 

So the game must be continued after Carlsen’s last move of 28. Kd3 with a check to his opponent with Rxb7.

 

If competition rules are applied the position before irregularity (27. Rxb7) will be reinstated and game will be continued after granting one minute to Carlsen and if competition rules are not applied then the game will be continued from the last position of Carlsen’s 28.Kd3. According to me in either case if competition rules are applied or not applied the game must be continued. The only change will be in the position and penalty. 

About Gopakumar Sudhakaran:

Gopakumar became an A-grade International Arbiter during the FIDE Arbiter's Commission meeting. He is only the fifth Indian to achieve this feat. He was the chief arbiter at two 2600+ double round robin events, Asian Youth Chief Arbiter at South Korea, Deputy chief arbiter at Asian Youth and Asian Junior at New Delhi. He dedicates his success to the Air Force background that he comes from. 

Update: Appeals committee report

29th December 2017, Riyadh Appeals Committee, 2017 King Salman World Blitz Chess Championship

Appeal of GM Ernesto Inarkiev against his loss against Magnus Carlsen

The game Carlsen-Inarkiev reached the following position after 27.Rxb7+

In this position, GM Inarkiev (Black) played 27…Ne3+, an illegal move as his king was in check. GM Carlsen did not notice and continued 28.Kd3. The arbiter was not present and therefore could not intervene. GM Inarkiev claimed that GM Carlsen’s 28.Kd3 was illegal and stopped the clock. The arbiter, citing Appendix A Article 4.2 asked GM Inarkiev to continue the game. GM Inarkiev refused and the game was awarded to Carlsen.

 

In Appendix A of the Rules of Chess Article 4.2 is as follows:

A . 4 . 2 If the arbiter observes an illegal move has been completed, he shall declare the game lost by the player, provided the opponent has not made his next move. If the arbiter does not intervene, the opponent is entitled to claim a win, provided the opponent has not made his next move. 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. If the opponent does not claim and the arbiter does not intervene, the illegal move shall stand and the game shall continue. Once the opponent has made his next move, an illegal move cannot be corrected unless this is agreed by the players without intervention of the arbiter.

 

The Appeals Committee considered GM Inarkiev’s claim that GM Carlsen’s move 28.Kd3 was illegal. The Appeals Committee decided that according to A4.2 above, the illegal move 27…Ne3+ should stand and the game should have continued and that the arbiter acted correctly. Effectively what GM Inarkiev’s claim is that in the position after 27…Ne3+, GM Carlsen’s only legal move is to claim the game. While accepting that the precise sequence of events which occurred (the player claiming the game) is not specifically covered by A4.2, the committee felt the meaning of: ‘the game shall continue’ in A 4.2 means exactly that and that Carlsen’s move, which was legal under rules 3.1-3.9, was in accordance with the meaning and spirit of A4.2 Therefore the appeal was rejected. The committee also decided that the appeal fee should be returned as the claim was not frivolous.

 

Jorge Vega (Acting Chairman), Malcolm Pein, Hisham Al Taher


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