According to the FIDE Laws of Chess:

12.9 Options available to the arbiter concerning penalties:

12.9.1 warning,

12.9.2 increasing the remaining time of the opponent,

12.9.3 reducing the remaining time of the offending player,

12.9.4 increasing the points scored in the game by the opponent to the maximum available for that game,

12.9.5 reducing the points scored in the game by the offending person,

12.9.6 declaring the game to be lost by the offending player (the arbiter shall also decide the opponent’s score),

12.9.7 a fine announced in advance,

12.9.8 exclusion from one or more rounds,

12.9.9 expulsion from the competition.

In a FIDE rated competition (or one in which the FIDE laws apply) when is it appropriate to apply a time reduction as a penalty?

I know of one such, which I will give as a separate answer. I would like to know if there are more.

  • It is similarly difficult to make a difference between 12.9.4 to 12.9.6. Nov 24, 2019 at 13:04

2 Answers 2


The matter of Art. 12.9 is delicate. There is no rule of thumb when to choose one penalty over another. So the values taken from the preface prevail: necessary competence, sound judgement, absolute objectivity.

In some cases, the Laws of Chess (LoC) don’t let the arbiter choose from 12.9 but give a fixed penalty (e.g. 7.5.5, 9.5.3, In other cases, there is international custom as you describe in your answer. A penalty of 10 min for a player who does not write with sound reasons but without disability is quite usual. It is recommended for every arbiter to read a lot about such decisions to get a feeling for appropriate penalties.

But in the end, every case is special. You have to consider all circumstances, look at all rules, and make a decision. If you give a time penalty for a player, you consider his offence worse than one where you would give his opponent additional time but not so bad that you will give the opponent additional points. Other arbiters might make other decisions, but this is OK. If of interest, I could give you an example where every possible decision (1-0, drawn, 0-1) is considered correct.

I myself have never given a time penalty, and I cannot imagine a case where I would. So I was taught when I still learned, and I never met a fellow arbiter who said that he did. But that’s only the limited experience of me and some others, and cannot be generalized.


According to the FIDE Laws of Chess:

8.1.1 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 legibly as possible, in the algebraic notation (Appendix C), on the ‘scoresheet’ prescribed for the competition.

In Israel a lot of the leagues play on a Saturday between 10 am 2 or 3 pm. Obviously all of the people who play have religious beliefs which are consistent with this, unlike Samuel Reshevsky who refused to play on the Sabbath. There are, though, a very small number of players who's beliefs allow them to play chess on the Sabbath but not write the moves down because that resembles the work of a scribe, could therefore be construed as work, and is there fore forbidden to them.

In this situation it has been agreed with the the arbiters overseeing the competition that these players may be excused the requirements of article 8.1.1 but must suffer a time penalty of 10 minutes. So, in a 90+30 game (all moves in 90 minutes with a 30 second increment from move 1) they start with 80 minutes on the clock plus increment instead of 90.

This is actually mentioned in article 8.1.6:

8.1.6 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. This adjustment of the clock shall not apply to a player with a disability.

It is worth noting that players with disabilities are not subject to this time penalty.

I've applied this principle in mid-week tournaments where a player has refused from move 1 to write the moves down and also refused to give an explanation. Such a solution is obviously preferable to trying to coerce the player or to exclude the player from the competition, both of which would be highly undesirable.

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