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As it stands right now, FIDE does not have any minimum Elo rating requirement for arbiters. In fact, there's no test to check whether one can play chess or not before being awarded a FIDE arbiter-related titles. Isn't it time FIDE introduced such minimum requirements as a way of raising the standard of the game?

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    There are already a number of requirements for the title of FIDE Arbiter, which can be found here: fide.com/fide/handbook.html?id=41&view=category - the statement that "there's no test to check whether one can play chess or not" is completely false. – konsolas Jul 23 at 20:37
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    I have visited the hyperlink that you have provided and there's nothing whatsoever about the minimum rating prerequisite for one to become a FIDE Arbiter. Kindly point me to minimum ELO requirement clause or tell me what's the minimum ELO points for arbiters. – Phemelo Khetho Jul 23 at 20:42
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    Kindly reread your own question: "In fact, there's no test to check whether one can play chess or not before being awarded a FIDE arbiter-related titles.", and, in the linked source: "successful passing (at least 80%) an examination test set up by the Arbiters Commission" – konsolas Jul 23 at 20:44
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    The FIDE examination has no minimum Elo rating requirement nor does it check whether one knows how to play chess to a certain Elo rating level. – Phemelo Khetho Jul 23 at 20:46
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    I don't think Stack Overflow is a good fit for "Should FIDE...". Those are going to be opionion-based. Maybe "does playing strength matter for arbiters" would be better? – RemcoGerlich Jul 26 at 11:45
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No. A good arbiter needs to know the Laws of Chess, but that's about it. There's no need to refer to tactics or openings or strategy when you're arbitering. After all, the days of adjudication are over.

I've heard that there are a lot of arbiters with titles that aren't good arbiters, but that wouldn't be solved with imposing a minimum rating. In fact, such a minimum would end up excluding good arbiters who don't even play (my country's only active International Arbiter doesn't compete at all, she has no rating, but she does a great job at being an arbiter).

  • I would like to believe that introduction of minimum rating for arbiters will raise the level of chess. Over and above that, there are tournament situations such as three-fold repetitions which requires an arbiter to possess a certain level of chess understanding in order to make a sound decision. eg a three-fold position with an en-passent position before and no en-passent after, castling or no castling rights, etc – Phemelo Khetho Jul 24 at 21:19
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    That sort of situation is still about knowing the Laws of Chess, it doesn't require playing strength. In fact that situation is covered in the Arbiter's Seminar, and on the exam you take at the end of the seminar. – Rafael Caetano Jul 25 at 2:24
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In the pre-2014 FIDE Laws of Chess article 10 said this:

Article 10: Quickplay Finish

10.1 A ‘quickplay finish’ is the phase of a game when all the (remaining) moves must be made in a limited time.

10.2 If the player, having the move, has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He shall summon the arbiter and may stop the clocks. (See Article 6.12.b)

a. If the arbiter agrees the opponent is making no effort to win the game by normal means, or that it is not possible to win by normal means, then he shall declare the game drawn. Otherwise he shall postpone his decision or reject the claim.

b. If the arbiter postpones his decision, the opponent may be awarded two extra minutes and the game shall continue, if possible in the presence of an arbiter. The arbiter shall declare the final result later in the game or as soon as possible after a flag has fallen. He shall declare the game drawn if he agrees that the final position cannot be won by normal means, or that the opponent was not making sufficient attempts to win by normal means.

c. If the arbiter has rejected the claim, the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes time.

d. The decision of the arbiter shall be final relating to (a), (b) and (c).

In the 2014 to 2017 FIDE Laws of Chess this moved to Appendix G and was expanded.

Appendix G. Quickplay Finishes

G.1 A ‘quickplay finish’ is the phase of a game when all the remaining moves must be completed in a finite time.

G.2 Before the start of an event it shall be announced whether this Appendix shall apply or not.

G.3. This Appendix shall only apply to standard play and rapidplay games without increment and not to blitz games.

G.4 If the player having the move has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may request that a time delay or cumulative time of an extra five seconds be introduced for both players, if possible. This constitutes the offer of a draw. If refused, and the arbiter agrees to the request, the clocks shall then be set with the extra time; the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes and the game shall continue.

G.5 If Article G.4 does not apply and the player having the move has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He shall summon the arbiter and may stop the chessclock (see Article 6.12 b). He may claim on the basis that his opponent cannot win by normal means, and/or that his opponent has been making no effort to win by normal means

If the arbiter agrees that the opponent cannot win by normal means, or that the opponent has been making no effort to win the game by normal means, he shall declare the game drawn. Otherwise he shall postpone his decision or reject the claim. If the arbiter postpones his decision, the opponent may be awarded two extra minutes and the game shall continue, if possible, in the presence of an arbiter. The arbiter shall declare the final result later in the game or as soon as possible after the flag of either player has fallen. He shall declare the game drawn if he agrees that the opponent of the player whose flag has fallen cannot win by normal means, or that he was not making sufficient attempts to win by normal means. If the arbiter has rejected the claim, the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes.

The movement from the main articles to an appendix is significant and this trend continued in 2017 and the latest version of the rules. In the latest version of the FIDE Laws of Chess it has moved to a new section "Guidelines".

It is not too dissimilar to the 2014-2017 version so I won't repeat it.

There are two key points:

  1. The arbiter requires real chess skill to fulfil his/her function. "The opponent cannot win by normal means" is not a straightforward decision to make. A minimum rating for arbiters would make a lot of sense. I believe such a suggestion has been made at the level of the Arbiters Commission and I will try and find a reference. I believe a rating somewhere in the region of 1700 to 1900 has been suggested and no doubt argued over.
  2. The clear trend for this rule is deprecation and elimination. The next revision of the rules is due in 2021. I think it is a better than even money bet that this rule (along with adjournments in Guidelines 1) goes away. If this happens the argument for a minimum rating for arbiters is much diminished but currently I don't see how an arbiter with only a weak grasp of the game could adjudicate such positions.
  • The first part of the answer is too long and does not address the minimum Elo rating for arbiters. Therefore without it is hard to assess the arbiter's chess skill to be in a good position to make decisions as such as "The opponent cannot win by normal means". – Phemelo Khetho Jul 24 at 7:42

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