While browsing the Chess and Puzzling Stack Exchange sites, I've come across several instances where people have found loopholes in the rules of chess, causing these loopholes to be patched out eventually. In fact, while reading through the current (since Jan 1, 2018) FIDE Laws of Chess, I noticed the following paragraphs:
3.7.1 The pawn may move forward to the square immediately in front of it on the same file, provided that this square is unoccupied, or
3.7.2 on its first move the pawn may move as in 3.7.1 or alternatively it may advance two squares along the same file, provided that both squares are unoccupied, or
3.7.3 the pawn may move to a square occupied by an opponent’s piece diagonally in front of it on an adjacent file, capturing that piece.
Now I'm curious about the wording of these paragraphs, especially the phrase "in front of it". This "front" direction is not defined or mentioned anywhere in the Laws. Its usual meaning is "towards the rank furthest away from the pawn's initial location", but what if it weren't?
Suppose "front" is taken to mean the facing of the physical pawn (imagine figurine pieces with a clearly identifiable "front"). In that case, if a pawn is placed facing a different direction than usual, White could move a pawn to a lower rank or capture on a lower rank. Moving along the same rank is forbidden by the wording of 3.7.2.
Here are two examples I'm thinking of:
1. e4(facing e3) e5 2. e4e3
1. e4 d5 2.e5(facing d5) d4 3. e5xd4
In this case, it could even be technically permitted to rotate a pawn (changing what is "in front of it") using "j'adoube" before moving it.
Alternatively, the "front" direction could be defined as the direction the player is facing. However, in this case, Article 2 insufficiently defines how the chessboard is to be placed:
2.1 The chessboard is composed of an 8 x 8 grid of 64 equal squares alternately light (the ‘white’ squares) and dark (the ‘black’ squares).
The chessboard is placed between the players in such a way that the near corner square to the right of the player is white.
2.3 The initial position of the pieces on the chessboard is as follows: [depiction of standard positions]
It is not mentioned which pieces start closer to which player, so according to this interpretation, it is technically not illegal to start with the white pieces on the side of the board closer to Black. "Front" would then mean that pawns could only move one step (assuming you get the pieces out of the way), but not promote afterward (since the promotion rank is defined in paragraph 188.8.131.52 as "the rank furthest from its starting position"). Alternatively, a player could rotate the chessboard by 180° before moving.
I'm aware that all this is nitpicking the rules, of course, that's not the intended way to play chess, I get that. So here's the question I'm actually interested in: Suppose that during a FIDE tournament, some player makes a move that is legal only by one of the above interpretations of the rules. How would this situation be resolved properly, considering Articles 11 and 12 of the Laws?