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Quoting the FIDE rules (E8.1§3): "A player may reply to his opponent’s move before recording it, if he so wishes. He must record his previous move before making another."

Quoting any arbiter: "(unprintable)"

This is practically asking for it, especially in time trouble phases, when it can be weaponized against a player low on time. In a tournament just played, I had two cases where this got discussed.

To avoid any opinionated formulation, please use the comment function if you want to deal with the aspect "Is counterblitzing bad sportsmanship?". Instead, I ask the objectively answerable:

  • Had the rule been different in earlier times, especially possibly in the form "each move must be notated immediately?" Specifically, did the invention of the Fischer mode (meaning you must then notate even in time trouble) change anything? (EDIT: With respect to counterblitz - the 10.2. aspects were nicely summed up in Brian's answer below)
  • Did the FIDE rule commission comment on why not the simpler "each move" rule was chosen? (Not that probable, but maybe some protocol says something.)

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did the invention of the Fischer mode (meaning you must then notate even in time trouble) change anything?

Most certainly. It meant the virtual demise of the infamous "10.2". This in turn meant that the job of the arbiter became much easier and the game became much fairer.

"10.2" does live on in the FIDE Laws of Chess but it has moved from the "Laws" to the "Guidelines", specifically "Guidelines III. Games without increment including Quickplay Finishes" and it is likely to disappear altogether in the next version.

First what is a "quickplay finish"?

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

What are the unjust rules in this case?

III.4 If the player having the move has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may request that an increment extra five seconds be introduced for both players. This constitutes the offer of a draw. If the offer 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.

III.5 If Article III.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 6.12.2). 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:

III.5.1 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.

So, in this case it is not the play of the players which decides the game but the decision of the arbiter, who is often a much weaker player than either of the two players, who decides the result of the game. Note that neither player has broken any rule nevertheless the arbiter can bring the game to a premature close on the grounds that the game cannot be won by "normal" means.

By extending the game time allotted by 30 seconds every time a player makes a move (Fischer mode) the game becomes much fairer because the players decide the game not the arbiter.

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  • I am old enough to have been an active player before Fischer mode, and I am pretty sure that the rule allowing to answer a move before writing already existed and hasn't changed since...
    – Evargalo
    Jun 14 at 13:04
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    @Evargalo: So am I, but I can hardly critisize Brian's answer when I should have written more precisely "change anything w/r the counterblitz rule". He is of course 100% right that dropping 10.2. makes any arbiter's life much easier, including mine. :-) Jun 14 at 17:31

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