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In a situation when you are playing on a DGT board as white and your opponent has not yet arrived at the board, should we still make the move on the board after the game has started?

Let's say your opponent is still on the way to the tournament and therefore has access to the live broadcast and you have made a surprise first move. Now your opponent is not surprised anymore. Since this is just 1 move it won't matter much but he/she can quickly go through some previous games in the DB to see if you have played the same first move.

If you didn't make the move and wait for the opponent to arrive your time is running.

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  • I once had a similar dilemma in a team match. The opposing team had not arrived yet, so I didn't even know who my opponent would be when the clocks were started. However, I had prepared 1.c4 against one possible opponent, but against another I was planning to go 1.d4, and I didn't want to play my first move without knowing whom I was playing with ! I negociated with the Arbiter for the opponent's clock to be started until the team's composition was given...
    – Evargalo
    Nov 29, 2022 at 8:08

2 Answers 2

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Do I have to make a move on a DGT board at the start of the game when opponent is not present?

The standard approach, even before the advent of DGT boards, was that your clock is started, you then write the move down in the presence of the arbiter and press the clock. This move is played when your opponent enters the playing area. You are not allowed to cross the move out and change it before (or after) pressing the clock.

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  • ah makes sense. a doubt is if we press the clock without making a move on the board would it break the broadcast for that game or something like that
    – cmgchess
    Sep 1, 2022 at 16:33
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    Is that approach written down in the Laws of Chess or anywhere else? I had never heard of it, and in my very amateur experience the standard practice is you just make your move. But there is no broadcast of my games, of course! :-)
    – itub
    Sep 1, 2022 at 17:11
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    @itub I've also never seen it written down in something as formal as the FIDE Laws of Chess. I have played in leagues where that is the national rule. The first time was more than 15 years ago. My opponent was late. I played my move and pressed the clock and my captain took the move back, told me to just write the move down and remember the next time not to play the move on the board until my opponent came in.
    – Brian Towers
    Sep 1, 2022 at 17:23
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    @cmgchess Messing with the clocks only affects the live board if you switch it off during play. Hence also no problem if the arbiter adjusts the clock to apply a time penalty. Arbiters are advised at the end of the game to position the kings (if the players haven't already done so) before switching off the clock.
    – Brian Towers
    Sep 1, 2022 at 17:26
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Actually, I am somewhat surprised with the original answer given. I am an International Arbiter, Category A, and have been arbiter at many top-level events and with many world-class players, including the current World Champion and two former World Champions.

Here are the applicable sections of the FIDE Laws of Chess:

Article 6.2.1 - "During the game each player, having made his move on the chessboard, shall stop his own clock and start his opponent’s clock (that is to say, he shall press his clock). This “completes” the move."

Article 6.6 - "At the time determined for the start of the game White’s clock is started."

Article 7.5.3 (probably the most applicable and important in this situation) - "If the player presses the clock without making a move, it shall be considered and penalized as if an illegal move."

Article 8.1.2 (also applicable and important in this situation) - "It is forbidden to record the moves in advance, unless the player is claiming a draw according to Article 9.2, or 9.3 or adjourning a game according to Guidelines I.1.1"

I understand in these times when potential cheating is something that we need to consider, so it is up to the organizer, if the games are being transmitted, to take the necessary steps to incude delaying the transmission. That said, nowhere in the FIDE Laws of Chess is there a rule stating that a player may just write the move and later make the move when the opponent shows up.

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