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Today at the local tournament I noticed something strange. It was my turn, and my opponent's clock was running.

My opponent had pressed the his neighbor's clock by accident. We were playing two boards on each table, sitting four people on each table in a room. Some time had gone while our dear neighbor had lost time on the clock. How much extra time would our neighbor get, the one whose clock had been pressed accidentally?

I called the arbiter and we tried to correct the mistake in a very improvised manner.

We did not know how long it had been this way. What to do?

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First of all: unbiased sources might be available. A spectator might have noticed it or a player might have recorded clock readings on the scoresheet. DGT boards record the exact time, too.

Naturally, the player who lost time should get back exactly the time he lost.

Now three unreliable sources of information are available to the arbiter: the person who accidentally pressed the wrong clock and the two players on the other board. They should be able to agree on a rough estimate of the time elapsed. (Has it been five minutes or ten? You should be able to tell.) The arbiter should adjust both clocks accordingly, maybe adding a minute for the disturbance caused.

This is governed by article 6.13 in the FIDE laws of chess:

If an irregularity occurs and/or the pieces have to be restored to a previous position, the arbiter shall use his best judgement to determine the times to be shown on the clocks. He shall also, if necessary, adjust the clock’s move counter.

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  • "The arbiter should adjust both clocks" - Why adjust the clock of the one who made the error? They failed to hit their clock as required. You don't get time back if you simply forget to hit the clock, after all.
    – D M
    Nov 14 '20 at 16:33
  • @DM As in, the arbiter should adjust the time of both players on the affected board. Of course, the player who pressed the wrong clock should not get any time back. As per FIDE rule 6.1, I refer to one player's time display as a "clock".
    – chaosflaws
    Nov 15 '20 at 2:13
  • Hmm, so you want to reduce the time of the person on the other board whose clock should have been running but wasn't? OK.
    – D M
    Nov 15 '20 at 5:32
  • @DM I have just added the relevant section of the laws, which does indicate that the time of both white and black should be adjusted.
    – chaosflaws
    Nov 16 '20 at 7:26
  • It doesn't quite say that; it says the arbiter should use his best judgement. I'd say there are situations where it wouldn't be appropriate to charge time (like if that side only had a minute left - I don't think it would be appropriate to flag someone if this happened.) Regardless, it's a good answer.
    – D M
    Nov 16 '20 at 11:38

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