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In round 1 of the recently concluded 4th EJCOA IM norm tournament this game was played:

[Title "Rajat Makkar vs Neil Berry 4th EJCOA IM Norm 2022"]
[fen ""]
[Startply "36"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. c5 c6 8. b4 b6 9. h4 a5 10. a3 h6 11. Bd3 Ba6 12. Bxa6 Rxa6 13. b5 cxb5 14. c6 Qc8 15. c7 b4 16. Nb5 a4 17. Qc1 Ne4 18. Qc6 Nb8 19. cxb8=N Ra5 20. O-O g5 21. hxg5 hxg5 22. Bc7 1-0

In the position above Makkar had a long think before getting up and saying something to one of the Black players on an adjacent board who was watching the game. The player smiled, nodded, went back to his board, took a white knight he had captured and handed it over to Makkar who then made his stunning move. All great for the arbiter who didn't have to get out of his seat.

I wondered, what if it had gone differently? Suppose White had captured the knight with the pawn, left the pawn on the 8th rank, paused the clocks and raised their hand to call the arbiter to ask for a knight. Suppose Black had immediately flashed out the move QxQ. What should the arbiter do?

Just to recap some of the rules.

  1. A player is allowed to reply to their opponent's move after the move is made but before the opponent complete's the move by pressing the clock.
  2. If a player completes (by pressing the clock) a promotion move leaving the pawn on the board then that is an illegal move. Along with the usual punishment the arbiter should remove the pawn and replace it with a queen.
  3. If a player touches one or more of their pieces, they must move the first piece touched that can be moved
  4. If a player touches one or more of the opponent’s pieces, they must capture the first piece touched that can be captured
  5. Only the player having the move may adjust one or more pieces on their squares provided they say “j’adoube” or “I adjust” or something similar
  6. Any other physical contact with a piece, except for clearly accidental contact, shall be considered to be intent
  7. A player is said to ‘have the move’ when the opponent’s move has been ‘made’.

What should the arbiter do?

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  • My answer felt familiar... seems like this is close to a duplicate of chess.stackexchange.com/questions/39770/… .
    – D M
    Oct 30, 2022 at 14:15
  • @DM Related perhaps, but very different. From the other question: "White immediately captured the pawn with his piece (as it is the only "reasonable" move in this position) ". Promoting to a queen in this position is losing while promoting to a knight is winning. Ironically the IM from whom Makkar borrowed the knight lost a game he should have won a few weeks earlier by failing to promote to a knight in a similar position where the promoted knight would have protected his attacked queen.
    – Brian Towers
    Oct 30, 2022 at 16:09
  • Sounds good. I'm never quite sure where the line is there, and I didn't quite think it was a duplicate which is why I didn't vote for closure, but thought I should bring up the possibility. Plus now that related question is linked.
    – D M
    Oct 30, 2022 at 16:49

1 Answer 1

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Rule 4.7.3 says:

The move is considered to have been made in the case of... promotion, when the player's hand has released the new piece on the square of promotion and the pawn has been removed from the board.

The move has not yet been made; there's no way a move can be "half made" under the rules. So Black does not "have the move".

This is technically not an illegal move, because

3.10.2 A move is illegal when it fails to meet the relevant requirements of Articles 3.1 – 3.9

The player has violated the rules, but not any of the rules in 3.1 - 3.9, which govern how the pieces move but not when.

It is also not a touch-move violation, as 4.3 and 4.4 specify that the player must have the move to violate them. It is perhaps best categorized as a violation of rule 1.2:

The player with the light-coloured pieces (White) makes the first move, then the players move alternately, with the player with the dark-coloured pieces (Black) making the next move.

The arbiter should proceed in the same way as if one side had made two moves in a row. There does not appear to be a specific penalty for this, but proceeding with the same penalty as an illegal move would seem appropriate, since it's the same general sort of violation even if it's not technically an illegal move.

So, Black is not under any obligation to move his queen or take White's queen because he did not have the move when he touched them, but should be penalized for moving without having the move. White, having touched the pawn and black knight, must take the knight and promote, but does not have to use the knight he's getting from the other board. (Although, if he doesn't, he may be subject to penalties since then he's paused the clock without a good reason.)

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