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My questions concern section 12.6 of the FIDE rules handbook (http://www.fide.com/component/handbook/?id=124&view=article) which states that it is forbidden to distract or annoy the opponent in any way.

Imagine that Player A and Player B play each other and Player B complains to the arbiter that some action of Player A is a distraction. My question is about when the complaint is reasonable. My view is that in some situations, Player A's action is legitimate and for others, the arbiter may ask Player A to oblige. For the situations below, is Player A's action legitimate or not?

2.1 Player A leaves the table (not the hall) - it is Player A's turn to move.
2.2 Player A stands behind Player B's chair on Player A's turn.
2.3 Player A stands behind Player B on Player B's turn.
2.4 Player A plays without sitting down - it is player A's turn.
2.5 Player A is seated and fidgets continously.
2.6 Player A stares continually/makes faces at Player B.
2.7 Player A does not write down the moves.
2.8 Player A's mobile phone is switched off but its alarm rings. Will Player A be forfeited?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Quite a few of these are already covered elsewhere in the rules. In the rest it would be up to the arbiter to use his judgement. I will quote the rules where relevant and state what I would have done as an arbiter.

2.1 Player A leaves the table (not the hall) - it is Player A's turn to move.

Explicitly covered by article 12.2:

12.2 Players are not allowed to leave the ‘playing venue’ without permission from the arbiter. The playing venue is defined as the playing area, rest rooms, refreshment area, area set aside for smoking and other places as designated by the arbiter.

The player having the move is not allowed to leave the playing area without permission of the arbiter.

So player A is free to leave the table, but not the playing area.

2.2 Player A stands behind Player B's chair on Player A's turn.

This type of behaviour is not explicitly covered outside of article 12.6, but unless player A was doing something unreasonably distracting like leaning over player B, I don't see a big problem with this, however if player B does make a complaint about being distracted by it I may ask Player A not to do so. It's at the arbiter's discretion.

2.3 Player A stands behind Player B on Player B's turn.

2.4 Player A plays without sitting down - it is player A's turn.

2.5 Player A is seated and fidgets continously.

These are all pretty similar and would be handled as for 2.2, it would be at the arbiter's discretion to decide what if any action to take about it.

2.6 Player A stares continually/makes faces at Player B.

This time the behaviour is clearly distracting and the arbiter should take action if the behaviour can be proven or was seen by the arbiter. If player B makes this complaint and I/other witnesses did not see player A doing anything wrong, I could not take any action directly, but would make sure to observe player A from then on to see if any such behavior takes place.

2.7 Player A does not write down the moves.

Explicitly covered by article 8.1:

8.1 In the course of play each player is required to record his own moves and those of his opponent in the correct manner, move after move, as clearly and legibily as possible, in the algebraic notation (See Appendix C), on the scoresheet prescribed for the competition.

It is forbidden to write the moves in advance, unless the player is claiming a draw according to Article 9.2, or 9.3 or adjourning a game according to the Guidelines of Adjourned Games point 1.a.

A player may reply to his opponent’s move before recording it, if he so wishes. He must record his previous move before making another.

Both players must record the offer of a draw on the scoresheet. (See Appendix C.13)

If a player is unable to keep score, an assistant, who must be acceptable to the arbiter, may be provided by the player to write the moves. His clock shall be adjusted by the arbiter in an equitable way.

So both players are required to write down the moves anyway.

2.8 Player A's mobile phone is switched off but its alarm rings. Will Player A be forfeited?

Explicitly covered in article 12.3:

12.3 ... Without the permission of the arbiter a player is forbidden to have a mobile phone or other electronic means of communication in the playing venue, unless they are completely switched off. If any such device produces a sound, the player shall lose the game. The opponent shall win. However, if the opponent cannot win the game by any series of legal moves, his score shall be a draw. ...

So yes, player A would be forfeited. The rules state only that the device needs to make any kind of sound for the player to be forfeited.

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1  
Would "playing venue" have the same meanings with regard to places a player is allowed to go and where the player cannot access electronic communication devices? –  supercat Apr 4 at 0:03
    
@supercat I believe so, yes. Article 12.2 defines what is to be considered as the 'playing venue', and article 12.3 says you are forbidden to use electronic communication devices in the playing venue. I see no reason why the definition of 'playing venue' from 12.2 would not be the one applied when used in 12.3. –  GrizzlyRawrz Apr 4 at 0:33

I'll answer; for items I can only offer observations about what seems to be acceptable in practice; for some I can only offer an opinion; and for some items I can give some backing in rules.

2.1. This happens all the time, also when it's Player B's turn to move. I've never heard anyone complain about this, and I wouldn't expect an arbiter to take any action.

2.2., 2.3. (Just an opinion.) As an arbiter, I'd consider this a reasonable complaint and I'd ask Player A to refrain from standing behind Player B.

2.4. As a followup to 2.1., I've seen this happen regularly. Also here, I haven't heard anyone complain and wouldn't expect an arbiter to take action.

2.5., 2.6. (Just an opinion.) I'm afraid these would come down to a judgement call of the arbiter after observing the situation. I would guess from "though luck" for the fidgeting to at least a warning for making faces (but then, would player A keep making faces when an arbiter is looking on?).

2.7. This would be a violation of Rule 8.1., requiring in each player to keep score, and should be dealt with accordingly.

2.8. This is explicitly dealt with under Rule 12.3. Player A forfeits the game. Funny enough, it deals with "mobile phones" or "electronic means of communication". Now what if the alarm on Player A's watch goes of? I would expect this to be dealt with in exactly the same way.

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Related to the watch: rule 12.6 covers this by "introduction of a source of noise into the playing area". In this case, the arbiter may decide which punishment is appropriate. It is possible that the arbiter then decides to rule a victory for the opponent, although it's also possible that the arbiter gives a warning and confiscates the watch until the match is over. –  Nate Kerkhofs Apr 4 at 9:14
    
Standing behind the other player to see the board from a different point of view is perfectly reasonable. Standing right behind them, looming over them and invading their personal space would be a different matter but standing at a reasonable distance is... well, reasonable. –  David Richerby Apr 4 at 11:14

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