Saturday, April 16, 2011


Yesterday afternoon, on my way to gym (in which is my first session with my personal trainer, vomit half way but continue and still manage to finish the torturous drilling...Yes!) I was informed about a recent game incident at Unisza Open between Nabila and Ahmad Rizal Othman.

What happened?
I did not witness what really happen. This is my understanding of what happen. Ahmad Rizal Othman checkmated (Take note. checkmated, not about to checkmate) Nabila but he has overstepped his time limit. Arbiter award the game to Nabila because Rizal has overstepped the time limit.

OK, I will do a little research on this since this is quite interesting. Both side got valid points.

The Research
Lets begin the research by consulting FIDE Law of Chess.

Article 5: The completion of the game

5.1 a.The game is won by the player who has checkmated his opponent’s king. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the checkmate position was a legal move.

b.The game is won by the player whose opponent declares he resigns. This immediately ends the game.

Meaning, the game is complete (over) when player has checkmated his opponent king or one player has resigned, silent on overstep the time limit.

Of course we need to consult same clause at article 6 (Clock) as well to get clearer picture.

6.9 Except where one of the Articles: 5.1.a, 5.1.b, 5.2.a, 5.2.b, 5.2.c applies, if a player does not complete the prescribed number of moves in the allotted time, the game is lost by the player. However, the game is drawn, if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player’s king by any possible series of legal moves.

My understanding of this article is if player did not checkmate his opponent, or opponent did not resign or both player did not agree to a draw only then the game will be decide by the clock.

The Verdict
Based on above, i think arbiter has make a mistake. Ahmad Rizal should be declared as a winner of that game and not Nabila.

Similar Posting
Few years ago Hairulov posted a similar article

Based from his game against Julian Navaratnam, Hairul is one move from checkmating his opponent, overstepped his time limit but still arbiter award the point to Hairulov even though he practically has 'lost' on time. (Though i have different view on Hairul's case -he about to checkmate, not yet checkmated so basically i think Julian should be the winner when hairul overstepped...sorry Rul :) )

"Checkmate ends the game , so subsequent flag claim is irrelevant" Chee Meng...(Jimmy Liew?)


  1. In this case, the checkmate wins and overrules the clock.

    In the event where it is one more move to mate, the clock rules because the check mate has not been delivered. "About to deliver" is not a win because there are cases where players have missed to checkmate his/her opponent in the most obvious position.

    Najib Wahab

  2. If the final position is checkmate, then that is final. However in practice a player could claim win on time, but opponent continued to play the checkmate move. The player claiming time cannot prove that he claimed first as the position on the board shows checkmate.

    The reason is that the FIDE rule does not require the checkmating player to press the clock.

    The arbiter is wrong in this case.

  3. Ahaaa...Ilham now know how to make a hyperlink! :)

    About the issue, i still think player who is about to checkmate but lost on time still win.

    Maybe IA Hamid Majid can explain !?

  4. Hi Najib,
    Agree with you on "about to deliver" is not a win. If chess law started to award a win in one move mate position, then it should also need to consider two moves, 3 moves away 'force mate, though like what u said, sometimes is not that obvious', which will lead to a win to those with superior forces (though he lost on time), since there always hidden x number of force mate there somewhere...which is very confusing and debatable.

    Hi Jimmy,
    Thanks for the info. That is something new for me "FIDE rule does not require the checkmating player to press the clock"

    Hi Hairul,
    On Hyperlink, yeah, thanks to your explanation...ta tara! my first hyperlink!

    On checkmate vs time, i still think 'about to checkmate', lost.

    Lets agree to disagree and it will be great if IA Hamid Majid ( i assume he is the arbiter in yr game) could explain.

    Maybe the rule is different btwn rapid/blitz, maybe the law on this is different 13 years ago or maybe there is other specific reason he awarded the win to you.

    Mr Hamid !?

  5. With reference to my game against Julian, my time drop and he claim winning on time while i was holding my queen to deliver the checkmate. I managed to deliver the mate in the final position. The drama happen on split second - as always happen in a blitz game.

    We then call the arbiter and the arbiter said checkmate win.

    I believe the arbiter can't decide i lost on time because the final position is checkmate. He can only decide i lost on time if the final position is not checkmate.

    I'm not really and expert on chess laws but from my experience, arbiters often decide on the favor of any players who 'deserved' to win by 'merit' (read: checkmate).

    In chess, the spirit of using time (clock) is basically to control the period of the game, not the outcome of the game.

    However, chess law permit players to claim a win if his/her opponent lost on time.

    Every chess players prefer to win by checkmate rather on time.

    In last year USIM blitz tournament, i reached a theoretically drawn position against Musa who has 1 second left on his clock. If i play the best move, the position will be absolutely drawn but I can "win" the game by entering a lost position ( with some pawns left) and Musa will definitely needs more then a second to checkmate me.

    Musa offered me a draw and i agreed.

  6. I disagree with Hairul. Clock is part and parcel of the modern game of chess. And why should my opponent benefit if I manage my time better than him? Just because the position is drawn does not mean I will agree to a draw, except in cases where there is no checkmate possible.

  7. Years ago, I won on time in my lone King against King + Queen. Ibrahim awarded the game to be drawn. Was that decision right?

  8. Hi abdoss,
    My personal opinion, it should be draw because you cannot checkmate yr opponent. I think Ibrahim's decision is correct.