[EDITED to include followup - EDIT 2 to include definition of position]
This is in part a genuine question on the FIDE Laws of Chess, and in part a small puzzle to solve.
Suppose that during a long time control tournament game under FIDE rules the endgame is reached. Black tries to make a move to reach the following position, but the flag falls before he manages to press his clock.
8/8/8/8/k7/8/1K6/q2N4 w - - 0 1
The arbiter is called. Naturally, the arbiter needs to know the details of exactly what happened in the last moments. The sequence of events is exactly as follows, no more and no less:
- White pressed her clock after moving, completing her last move.
- Black placed the queen on a1 and released it.
- Black's flag falls and white calls it.
The arbiter rules that white wins. (This is my understanding.) Why?
The main argument for giving a draw is that in the diagram, white can never checkmate black, so under 6.9 black might draw.
I disagree with this; I argue that under article 4.7, the actions black took were not enough to complete his move, so the diagram position was not reached and 6.9 doesn't apply. (Yes, I am saying that releasing the queen on a1 is not enough to be considered having made the move!)
Edit 1 (light spoiler)
So the first part is fairly easy to figure out: to reach the diagram, black must have been trying to play ...a2-a1=Q. (The queen can't legally come from anywhere else.)
The scenario is therefore that black placed the queen on a1, and the flag fell before the pawn on a2 was removed. Now comes the part about applying the FIDE Laws. There are two arguments for a draw:
Annatar makes the argument that invoking 4.3, black has "moved" the queen onto the board, and so must promote to a queen. By 6.9 therefore black can claim a draw.
RemcoGerlich cites a different article, 4.4.4, to justify that when promoting, "the choice of the piece is finalised when the piece has touched the square of promotion", so again black has finalised the choice of a queen and under 6.9 a draw can be claimed. (This was the other argument I had in mind when posting the question.)
My viewpoint is different. Looking at article 4.7.3, a promotion move is considered to have been made if "the player's hand has released the new piece on the square of promotion and the pawn has been removed from the board". Black has not removed the pawn here, so the move has not been made.
Then looking at 6.9 in more detail, it says "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". It refers to "the position", which is not defined as such in the Laws, but I would interpret as the board position plus information such as side to move and castling rights. Now, despite that black has "finalised" the promotion to queen (I don't dispute that), the move has not actually been made, so I argue that "the position" remains the one with a black pawn on a2 and no queen on the board. And from here there does exist a helpmate (...a1=N/B/R, etc.) so I would conclude that white wins.
So, to refine the question: which interpretation is correct? And have there been precedents for similar situations? (e.g. Article 4.3, touch-move, about to play the only legal move with the piece - mate - but flag drops before releasing it.)
- Argument for draw: Under 4.3/4.4.4 black has indicated intention to promote to queen. Then draw under 6.9 assuming black "obliged" to promote to queen in all legal sequences.
- Argument for white win: Under 4.7.3, the promotion was not made. Therefore under 6.9, "the position" means the one with a pawn still on a2. From this position black can underpromote for a helpmate, so white wins on time.
- Which is right?
EDIT 2: Further clarification
In the comments, IA Petr Harasimovic has helped to further clarify the issue and narrow down exactly where my disagreement with a draw lies. (A draw seems to be the intuitive outcome.) I take issue in particular with the term "position" referenced in 6.9 - nowhere in the FIDE Laws is this term defined (strangely enough). So my working definition is:
The location of units on the board, plus side-to-move, castling rights, e.p. and 50-move information - a purely abstract notion, and no clock information. And for me, a position is changed only when a complete move is made - i.e. in full accordance with article 4 [and 3], and without reference to article 6.
(Quoted from a response to Laska's answer.) I mention when I consider a position changed as a kludge fix to avoid illegal moves changing the position in nonsensical ways. (I should also mention that article 3 is a given?)
I feel that this might not be everyone's understanding of the term, and so to determine exactly what article 6.9 means I want to ask for clarification: What is the definition of a "position"?
I also want to apologise for the amount of text this question has engendered - seems like it's not exactly straightforward.