Sunday, August 08, 2010

Time, gentlemen, please

This was going to be a different posting: I had intended to close our Canterbury Fortnight by encouraging all who can to go to Sheffield next year. I understand it's looking like it'll be a a stronger Championship than usual, for which congratulations will be due to everyone involved. I recommend Sheffield - I like it very much as a city and while it's been some years since I've been to the Fat Cat, if it's as good as it used to be, then that's pretty good.

But in the meantime, back to Canterbury, and specifically back to the controversy that emerged from the tenth round in the Major Open, and the game, if game it can be called, between Francis Rayner, the veteran Welsh Olympiad team member and pianist and Angus French, longstanding Streatham and Brixton Chess Club player and personal friend of the present writer. As well as declaring that interest, I should add that I was around 650 miles away from the University of Kent while the events described were happening, and while every effort has been made to establish the facts in order to write this piece, I'd be happy to accept any well-informed correction. But enough preface: to the narrative.

The Major Open functions as a qualifying event for the British Championship. There are various ways one can qualify for the Championship, but one of these is to attain a certain score in the Major Open. Any player who scored 7.5/11, or more, in the 2010 Major Open would have a place reserved for them in the 2011 Championship. There was also a first prize of £1000, a second prize of £500 and so on, down to £100 for fifth.

When the tenth round was drawn Angus, the long-time leader of the tournament, had lost to Caius Turner in round nine and the two of them shared second place on 6.5, half a point behind Paul Talsma and half a point ahead of six players on 6.0 including Francis Rayner. That's the players' positions relative to one another: but perhaps more important was their position relative to the magic score of 7.5. Angus, who had never qualified for the Championship, was a point off that target, so for him, a win would clinch qualification. Francis was a point and a half away, so for him, a loss would render qualification impossible.

Francis Rayner

Angus, who had the black pieces, arrived at the venue. The clocks were started and when the half-hour that represented the normal default time had elapsed, Francis had not yet arrived, though he did so very shortly afterwards. Angus claimed the game: Francis played his first move and pressed his clock. The arbiters conferred and declared that play should continue, a decision against which Angus then appealed.

It transpired that Francis had phoned, prior to the normal start time of the game, to say that he was going to be late. It is not 100% clear to me who he spoke to, nor what exactly he was told, nor on what basis he was told it - and so, though these things are of some importance, and in each instance I have a good notion, I won't pretend to know for sure. What is clear is that, for whatever reason, nobody communicated this information to Angus. He was not told that Francis had called. He was not told that he was going to be late, nor that this might result in the default time not being applied.

The consequence of this failure was that when that default time arrived, Angus had an entirely reasonable expectation that he had already won the game (and, not unimportantly, achieved qualification for the 2011 Championship). Moreover, his opponent, then arriving at the venue, apparently had a reasonable expectation that the game would be allowed to start. Clearly the two are irreconcilable.

Angus then had to submit his appeal in writing, which naturally meant that the game did not in fact continue. Nor did it do so while the Appeals Committee were considering his application. The Committee decided that Francis should not be defaulted, but that instead, he should be awarded a half point, while Angus should receive the full point. Among the consequences of that decision was that a game which should only have yielded a point yielded 1.5 to its two participants, something which, very understandably, did not entirely amuse all of their rivals for the prizes.

I don't want to paraphrase the Committee's reasons for making their decision, not having spoken to any of them or having the text of the decision to hand. For what it's worth I think they probably did their best with what, for reasons I'll enlarge upon below, I think was a stupid and impossible situation that should not for several reasons have arisen.

I'll also leave, for now, any discussion of the obscure but nevertheless comprehensible decision to pair the two players again in the eleventh round (though the comments box is available should other people wish to go into it) and I'll mention only briefly that that eleventh round game was a draw, which meant that Angus, with 8.0, came second in the tournament while Francis, with 7.0, missed out on Championship qualification by half a point and finished fifth, shared with five other players.

But what of the impossible situation which had arisen? As I've said above, I do not know exactly what Francis Rayner was told, nor who told him, nor the reasons for saying whatever was said. It appears that he was told that there would be no default: certainly he seems to arrived at the board under that impression and the decision of the arbiters not to enforce the default tends to back that feeling up. So does the decision of the Appeals Committee not to default him.

If he was told this, though, I do not think he should have been. It was certainly within the powers of the arbiters not to enforce the default: the relevant clause (under INFORMATION FOR COMPETITORS) reads
Default time:- Players arriving 30 (10 for Rapidplay) minutes or more after the start of a session shall lose, unless the arbiter decides otherwise. Repairing will normally be offered after that time.
Shall lose, unless the arbiter decides otherwise. Or put more briefly, does unless it doesn't, or will unless it won't. It's a real crock of a clause, saying, effectively, nothing at all, giving neither competitors nor arbiters any guidance whatsoever as to what circumstances will cause the default to be applied, or otherwise.

However, let us try to offer such guidance, albeit retrospectively, and suggest what should have been taken into account. There are, of course, very different philosophies when it comes to the framing, interpretation and enforcement of rules, whether these relate to default times, or start times, or mobile phones, or players' behaviour, or any of a myriad of situations and circumstances that may arise during a tournament.

I probably tend to the stricter end of the spectrum in most instances, partly because I believe that that way, people know where they stand and partly because otherwise, I think people who manage to comply with the rules are penalised for doing so, to the benefit of people who do not. Be that as it may, I accept that not only are there legitimately differing approaches, but that the rules of this particular competition gave particular scope for different approaches to be taken.

However, my view is that no assurance should have been given to Francis Rayner (if indeed it was) that the default time would not be applied, because such exemptions should only be made in exceptional circumstances, and these would be circumstances which are wholly beyond the capacity of the player to anticipate. His reason for phoning was, as I understand it, that he had missed his train because a cashpoint hadn't been working.

Which to me, is not within a mile of good enough. It is really up to the player to get to the venue on time. It is up to him or her to anticipate that traffic jams may occur, that trains may be late or cancelled, that cashpoints may not always operate, that there may be queues at the ticket office. Ash clouds causing the cancellation of your flight? That would likely be good enough, provided that there is space to reschedule your game. Hurricanes, blizzards, plagues of frogs? Fair enough. But "the cashpoint didn't work" is about as good, as an excuse, as "the dog ate my opening preparation".

That may not be the most generous view ever taken. But why should it be? This wasn't a mid-table, end of season fourth division club match. This was the tenth round of the Major Open, with qualification for the country's most important tournament at stake. There was too much to play for it to be treated trivially, If, in the British Championship itself, in the penultimate round, on a high board, one of the players had phoned in and said they were going to be late, does anybody imagine that this would have been accepted and a default not applied? I do not think so. So is there really any reason for treating the qualifier for that competition so very differently?

I think Francis Rayner should have arrived at the venue under the clear impression that if he was not there within the stated time, he could expect, subject to appeal, to be defaulted. But he didn't. And if he didn't, if he was definitely and clearly told, by an arbiter, that this would not happen, then he was quite right to have the expectation that he would be allowed to play. Otherwise, the arbiter's word means nothing. But if that was the case, then plainly, for all sorts of reasons including basic courtesy, the player who was waiting surely had to be told. Angus wasn't.

Angus French

This is incomprehensible to me. It blows my mind. I can imagine no good reason for it. None. Even if Angus left the board after thirty seconds and came back to it after twenty-nine minutes and forty-five seconds, I can imagine no good reason for his not being contacted. [EDIT: but see comment from John Saunders which may very well provide a good reason.] Nothing better than "gross incompetence", at any rate. At the very least, if a player is not at the board and can be nowhere seen - and these are very sizeable ifs - it is quite possible to leave a note on their side on the board saying something like


Is this not the case?

I appreciate that arbiters have many things to do, but I do not believe that in half an hour - or more, assuming that the call came before play began - it is impossible either to contact a player who is present either at his board, or elsewhere in the venue, or to leave him a note. I can only conclude that if he was not contacted it was because it was not considered necessary to do so.

If that's the case - and believe me, I'd be glad to be informed of any circumstances which somehow made it impossible or undesirable to contact Angus - then the arbiter responsible made a rod for their own back. Because they put two players in a position where they were entitled to expect opposite, mutually exclusive things, and they put the subsequent Appeals Committee in a position where they had no way of resolving this without being unfair to somebody.

To summarise. Francis Rayner called an arbiter, and asked if it was all right if he was late.
a. If they did tell him it was all right, they should not have.
b. If they didn't tell him it was all right, he should have been defaulted.
c. If they did tell him it was all right, they should have informed Angus French of the situation and of their intentions.
I would fault, and fault seriously, the phrasing of the rule relating to the default time, the decision (if such decision was made) to allow late arrival and - perhaps more than anything else - the failure to inform Angus.

I wouldn't fault the Appeals Committee. What could they do? They could have told Francis that he was to be defaulted, but if he was given an arbiter's assurance, that would be very harsh. (If he wasn't, then he should have been defaulted, end of story.)

They could have told Angus to play, but given that he had done absolutely nothing wrong, and had arrived at the default time with every legitimate expectation that he had won the game, it would have put him in a completely unfair psychological position. He was present at the default time, his opponent was not and he had been given no reason to think that the default time would not apply.

They could have instructed the players to play, or they could have suggested that half a point be awarded to both players unless both were willing to play. That would have been possible. But that would have posed the problem of treating both players as equally responsible for the situation, whereas one had arrived on time and one had arrived more than half an hour late.

It's a common cop-out, in all sorts of situations, to wave one's hand and say "let's split the difference" regardless of whether all the parties concerned are equally responsible, and to my mind the Committee are to be commended, rather than criticised, for not taking that easy route. In the end they seem to have said that one player should have won on default, hence he gets a point: the other should have lost, but was unwisely told that he would not, so we'll give him half a point.

This of course, neglects the question of the interests of their rivals, who were penalised themselves, at least potentially, as a result of 1.5 points being awarded for a game when only 1.0 should have been available. In the event, I think the only adverse consequence from their point of view was that a five-way tie for fifth became a six-way tie. Although you could argue that had the Committee decided to split the point (which I think would have been wrong) the two players who shared third and fourth would have shared second to fourth with Angus instead.

Either way, it is an an absurd situation whereby 1.5 points have to be awarded for one game, actually or potentially penalising players in other games, players who have played within the rules and arrived within the stipulated time. This is why you have clear default times - so that everybody knows the rules. If you don't apply them, that is when you cause problems for everybody else. If you bend over backward to accommodate people who are late, you penalise other people as a result, people who have managed to comply with the rules. This is why it is weak, and wrong.

I would hope that lessons are learned, and that this doesn't happen again in the future. Specifically, I would hope:
  • that the rules relating to the default time are rephrased ;
  • that they are tightened, and that it is made clear that a player will in normal circumstances be expected to arrive within the default time, i.e. that the phrase "default time" has real meaning ;
  • that on any future occasion where a player's reason for arriving late will or may be accepted, their opponent is informed as a priority ;
  • that the concept of the 1.5 point game does not become commonly applied as a get-out clause to cover bad arbiting practice and decisions.

I've no desire to get on anybody's back about what happened, partly because I think it turned out all right in the end, partly because arbiters are people who give their time to enable the rest of us to play - and often do it for plenty kicks and little thanks. But at the same time, when there is so much at stake, there really cannot be this kind of circus. For some players, qualification for the British Championship might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance. That has to merit better practice than occurred last Thursday.

[Francis Rayner photo: Gibraltar Chess Congress]


Anonymous said...

Oddly enough the same situation occurred in the next round. There had been traffic congestion reported which was affecting the minority of players commuting by motorway. An announcement was made at the start of the round - difficult to hear in full because of the fans and seagulls - that the normal default rules were suspended. This affected at least two games in the British - both mid table ones with little other than pride and rating points at stake. In one game, a default win was awarded. In another game, play was started late with the agreement of the player present at the start.

Major Open Player

Lee said...

Nice post ejh,

i can enlighten you a bit more. I was there when it all happened. I was the filler player and was there as Rayner arrived. I agree that the arbitors to not let french know that Rayner was going to be late is unbelievable.

I had a game in the u120 section and was runnig about 20 mins late a few days before this and phones ahead and they got message to my opponent no problem. I made it with 4 mins to spare anyway but was told they would allow me grace time as I had phones ahead.

Something nobody has mentioned in the threads online is that French would have played the game if he had been told of this lateness. Also that even though he was not told if Rayner had apologised when he arrived he also would have played the game.

I talked to both players quite alot just after it all happened as I was due to play if a game became avalable.

I agree something needs to be in the rules that is more concrete. But in saying that surely discretion and common sense needs to be in the rules also.

I think giving the 1 and a half for 1 game opens many problems as what if players now think ok thats a precedent. If we agree to create the same situation then surely the same outcome has to happen. If one player in the future needs half and one needs 1 then can you blame them when something so serious is at stake? Now its not something most people would even consider and I wouldnt myself be that cheap, but im just saying it opens up future probs. Heres the Link which I may put this post of mine on it.

Anonymous said...

The rule should be that if a Player is late, for whatever reason, whether they telephone the arbiter or not, that they can only play their game if the opponent decides to play.

Major Open Players last few words in the previous comment are 'play was started late with the agreement of the player present at the start.' If this person wanted to claim the game, they surely could have.


ejh said...

It's perhaps a point worth making that if you were going to be late, you might consider specifically saying "could you inform my opponent?" just out of courtesy. Though that doesn't affect the fact that the arbiter should surely do so anyway.

Lee said...

Yes exactly. Im sure Rayner did not say on hes phone call to please let my opponent know as Im sure he did think it goes without saying he would be informed. But for him to not apologise in the 1st few minutes or arriving made French decide to claim the game. french did not claim the game as some said in the Chess forums. I was with him and he said to me before he claimed that he had not apologised so he may claim. I said I agree as thats not on. And then French turned and said he wishes to claim. Then the arbiter went away and come back with they are deciding against that and game should go ahead as Rayner had phoned. Then French appealed that decision which think he was wrong to do so looking at the rules.

Rules stated that its down to arbiters discretion. So harshly on French he should have been forced to play or lose the game by default. To give him 1 and Rayner half seems crazy as Rayner was within Rules and he missed out on 1 half a point in the end on qualifying for next year! He should be given a place in my opinion.

ejh said...

Then French appealed that decision which think he was wrong to do so looking at the rules.

I don't think you can ever be wrong to appeal, in a strict sense: you have the right to do so. The question is whether any given appeal should be allowed.

ejh said...

I'd add (sorry, I should really have said this with the last comment) that I would certainly have appealed if I had been in Angus' place. I might have done so less because my opponent had said nothing, than because the arbiter had said nothing. I'd want to know why: I'd also want to know why the decision had been taken to allow the default time to be missed. And then I would appeal against that decision.

I very much concur with what George says above, and I'd repeat something I've said in the piece and on the EC Forum: this would never have happened if the top players had been involved, and if it were to happen, they would never have accepted it. And in a FIDE-rated tournament I don't think any other player should.

Lee said...

I understand why he appealed but in the rules it states at arbiters discretion. So if a player does phone ahead they will if good reason give him extra time to arrive and play. French was annoyed that he had not been apologised to. Also its very important to say French claimed the game before he knew that Rayner had phoned in. Not sure what difference that would have made. But the decision of awarding 1 and a half between 2 players is totally wrong. opens up a precedent for the future unless they bring in new rules regarding this.

John Saunders said...

One further fact, which I have on good authority - Francis Rayner called the arbiter's mobile (from a call box) at around 12.35pm, having just missed a train, and left a message.

So he did not talk directly to said arbiter and as far as I know, no response was made to his message (he did not have a mobile phone on him so was effectively incommunicado until he arrived at the venue).

It is of course perfectly understandable that an arbiter's mobile phone should be switched off as they spend most of their time in the playing hall. It seems quite possible, or even probable, that the message was not picked up.

This of course makes a material difference to some of the arguments and observations. It means, for example, that the floor arbiter(s) making the decision on the default was/were not tied to any commitment given to FR by themselves or a colleague as no such commitment was made.

On EJH's point about the tournament default rule - I totally agree. I detest FIDE's zero minute default rule but I also dislike giving the arbiters the discretionary power to give rulings in such instances. I should hate it even more if I were an arbiter as it is a recipe for becoming very unpopular very quickly, particularly if one gave a ruling against a high-profile player. I am not at all sure that the FIDE regulations allow such latitude anyway (although they too are badly drafted).

ejh said...

Thanks ever so much for that. One point more than worth making is that it the arbiter concerned did not receive the message, it would indeed provide a reason why Angus might not have been informed. If the arbiters didn't actually know about the message, then it makes that particular criticism, which I've made quite strongly, invalid, and I would therefore withdraw it.

It would also, though, mean that in fact Francis Rayner did not enter the hall with any reasonable expectation that he would not be defaulted if late. As John says, the arbiters cannot be tied to a commitment which they have not made. (Though in those circumstances, the reasons for their allowing the default to be waived are a lot weaker.)

Anonymous said...

According to the National Rail Enquiries website, the weekday train service between Hastings and Canterbury is hourly departing at 12.36 and arriving at 13.54. This should give enough time to reach the venue by 14.15 (possibly with the help of a taxi - It's uphill from the station)

The next train would have been at 13.36 not reaching Canterbury until 14.54. As he was in the hall at 14.46, he must have made alternative travel plans.

Major Open (Two Sheds) Player

Anonymous said...

I agree that the reason given for lateness does not seem to be in any way an exceptional circumstance- cashpoints are often out of order. Sure phoning up is better than saying nothing at all, but doesn't seem a good enough reason to be let off for a non-exceptional event. Would have thought it was better to have got the money the evening before on the way back from the last game (or indeed carrying a spare £20 as a matter of course)rather than have to rely on getting it soon before the game. Of course I have no knowledge of the circumstances and there may have been some reason why this could not have been done.
My best junior title (North London Under 16 champion) was actually achieved when I exceeded the default time in Round 2. I was travelling with David Watts who himself ended up winning the Under 18 title. I think the organiser let us off because they believed we would turn up as they knew we were travelling together and knew we were regulars at tournaments with no record of defaulting etc. We actually thought the round started later than we thought which was not a good excuse (not that we were asked to provide one).
Possibly an urban myth but probably true was that in the 1980's in the Major Open, a player was 45 minutes late (1 hour default time). He then decided he would turn up at the board 1 minute before default time for pscyhological effect and hence waited another 15 odd minutes. Arriving at his board after 59 minutes he sat down opposite his opponent, who admittedly didn't look that concerned- it was a computer!
Does the blog think that Angus should be playing in the British or will he be adding to the problem of the long tail? Personally I think he is a lot more deserving of his place than many who will have been invited to play or who got 4.5/6 in some open where higher finishers didn't fancy shelling out the best part of a grand (taking all expenses into account) to play or had already qualified.


Jonathan B said...

Does the blog think that Angus should be playing in the British or will he be adding to the problem of the long tail?

Although I am concerned at the disproportionate number of players in the lower-middle order at this year's championships it doesn't necessarily follow that I would want to point to specific players - Angus or otherwise - and say "You. You shouldn't come in."

The problem of a bottom-heavy tournament can be solved by strengthening the top as much as sifting out some of those at the bottom.

Jack Rudd said...

It's possible to get between two places faster than the National Rail Enquiries site thinks you can, if you make an implausibly tight connection. (I have frequently taken the train from Barnstaple that gets into Exeter St Davids at 16:48 and then caught the service that leaves Exeter St Davids for Manchester Piccadilly at 16:53 - the site doesn't think that's enough time to make the connection.)

Anonymous said...

Jack is correct about the trains. You can get to Canterbury at 14.39 with a 4 minute connection at Ashford. Just enough time to get up the hill for 14.45 presumably with the help of a taxi.

It's only the Hastings to Ashford leg which is one an hour.


ejh said...

Am I writing a trainspotting blog now?

Martin Smith said...

On the other aspect of the affair - re-pairing them in the next round.

I don't do tournaments anymore, so confess I've no idea whether pairings are done by hand or computer, but it seems to me asking a lot of the guys concerned to make them play in the following round. It looks like they showed the toughness and strength of character to see it through.

A draw was, of the three results, not the most unsatisfactory from the competitive point of view, which is something I suppose; that would have been a loss for Angus, which would have left so many, too many, questions hanging in the air, and in everyone's minds.

As I say, I don't know how these pairings are done, and maybe given everyone's scores etc it was unavoidable, leaving no room for sentiment - but having said that, it seemed to me that if there were alternative pairings available, and if the controllers had any discretion, they might have avoided this exquisite form of psychological torture .

Jack Rudd said...

Pairings are done by hand; they are also checked against the computer to see if the latter spots something the arbiters have missed. (This is rare. Much more common is the case where the computer does something bizarre and unexplainable.)

ejh said...

Meanwhile, more information reaches me..... appears that the phone message was, in fact, received and heard. But it wasn't passed on to the Major Open desk, so the arbiters there didn't know about it. Hence they were presented with this information after the default time had been reached, placing them in an impossible situation.

If this is correct, I'd reinstate "blows my mind" and "gross incompetence", but directed at whoever knew about the message but failed to pass it on.

In passing, I'd remark that among the reasons people have had to speculate about events is that they have not been given an official account of what happened. Yes, of course, arbiters are busy people and have much to do. But in the given situation, which was not only highly controversial in itself (not least for the 1.5-point game award) but had implications in terms of setting precedents, bringing procedures and practices into question and so on, it might have been a good idea had the officials explained exactly what had, in their opinion, happened and exactly what, if anything, they felt had been done wrong.

Anonymous said...

Gosh - all this discussion...

I'd like to make a few of points:

1. I understand that the reason my opponent, Francis Rayner, was late was because he had a problem with a cash machine and subsequently missed his train. This is what I overheard Francis explaining to "Arbiter C" - I'll explain this designation in a later point – if I recollect, after I had claimed the game but before I'd decided to appeal against the Arbiter's (or Arbiters') decision. Later, after I’d submitted my appeal, Francis confirmed to me the reason he was late.

2. I did claim a win by default (as to why I did this is another matter and I’ll just say that it wasn’t an easy decision to make). But I’m now wondering: should I have had to? Shouldn’t Arbiter C have stepped and either declared the game lost or, with an explanation, not lost? Maybe it’s immaterial as Arbiter C would have retired to consider and consult before making a ruling anyway.

3. I made my claim and Arbiter C went, with Francis (or maybe Francis followed), to the Arbiters’ desk while I stayed put, by the board. Arbiter C returned and informed me of the provision allowing arbiters to exercise discretion and said that, in this case, discretion was being exercised as Francis had phoned ahead to say he would be late. I was told that Francis’s message had been picked by “Arbiter A” who had relayed it to “Arbiter B”. Arbiter B had attempted to communicate the message to me but, since I wasn’t sitting at the board, was, apparently unable to do so... OK, so three different Arbiters were involved. I’m not really sure about naming them so I’m not going to.

4. I decided to appeal. I did this principally because I believed that Francis didn’t have a good reason for being late. But I was also pretty disappointed that I hadn’t been informed of his likely late arrival.

5. I can understand why other competitors in the Major Open are unhappy at the decision of the Appeals Committee (to award 1.5 points for the game). Though I appreciate it was a difficult decision for the Committee to make and that they may have taken into account facts of which I’m unaware. Maybe they’d like to publish a statement to explain their reasoning?

6. I’m curious about Lee’s reference (above) to being “the filler player”. Does that mean an arrangement had been struck for me to be repaired with Lee? Can you enlighten us, Lee?

7. I didn’t expect to be paired with Francis again for round 11 (and nor did Francis expect it, he told me, at the start of round 11). As soon as I saw the draw – at about 10.15pm on the night before the round – I emailed Alex McFarlane, as Chief Arbiter and Congress Director for the Championships, to question the decision.

8. I do appreciate that arbiters have a difficult job. I know there were fewer of them than in previous championships and that they were stretched. I also know that they are volunteers – their expenses are covered but they don’t get paid for what they do.


ejh said...

Francis’s message had been picked by “Arbiter A” who had relayed it to “Arbiter B”. Arbiter B had attempted to communicate the message to me but, since I wasn’t sitting at the board, was, apparently unable to do so.

Angus - did Arbiter A or B explain at what stage this message had been relayed? Because for reasons explained in the main piece, I find this explanation highly unsatisfactory. Unless they only got the message about two minutes before the default time.

Anonymous said...

Angus - did Arbiter A or B explain at what stage this message [the one from Francis Rayner] had been relayed?

I don't think so. I had no contact with Arbiter A. I somehow had the impression that Arbiter B had tried to tell me early after the start of the round. I did ask Arbiter B why he hadn't been able to find me. I did also ask him: couldn't he have left a message at the board (just as you suggested). I don't think I had a response to either question.


Anonymous said...

Just to clarify, in point 3 of my post, I said:

I was told that Francis’s message had been picked by “Arbiter A” who had relayed it to “Arbiter B”

Probably "picked up" is the wrong expression - "taken" would have been better. My impression - which now appears incorrect, given what John Saunders has said - had been that Francis and Arbiter A had spoken.

Tom Chivers said...

I think the Appeals Committee could have defaulted Rayner on the basis that the arbiter used their discretion poorly. They could have refunded his train ticket. Obviously they cannot directly refund the time wasted, but an offer of a reduced entry fee for next year may have been reasonable compensation.

JamesK said...

Would have been better for Angus to agree to play the game rather than take easy option of default point. Not a great way to secure qualification...

Lee said...

Hi Angus,

I was a Filler player for the major or Open or Senior sections that if any game did not go ahead or there was a spare space and a player wished to play me then I was just there to help and give that person a game.

I dont think any of my games would have counted as points for me or my opponent. But I was told it would be rated. I was really excited that I may get a game v such high level of opponent as Im only around 1400/1500 fide I think. Not played in 20 years so would have been out my depth a bit but I was it as experience.

Anyway as far as I know I was only there to play a game if there was a no show of if a game was claimed and then the player with no game if he so wished could play a friendly v me.

Its obvious Angus chickened out in the end ;-)

Anonymous said...

James K said:

Would have been better for Angus to agree to play the game rather than take easy option of default point. Not a great way to secure qualification...

Well that wasn't my view and it wasn't a decision I took lightly. Also, I would wager that there's an aspect to the situation which you don't appreciate and which I'm not going to publicize.


Anonymous said...

"Would have ...". Excellent, JamesK. Much better than the shocking four instances (at least) "would of ..." or "should of ..." in an ECForum post just now. Standards of education really are slipping.

(I noticed the phenomenon in an earlier comment on this thread - the SB&CC moderators did too, it appears, for that has now been anglicised.)

mychess51 said...

The position is clear in my mind - if Rayner was told that he would not be defaulted if he was late then it would have been wrong in all circumstances to default(even if the reason for him being late was that he had stubbed his toe).

I think the best solution would have been to have made Angus play but treated the game as a win for him in terms of qualifying for the British - unfair on him, but had I been in his position after it was confirmed that his opponent had been told he could start late (and I had seen the rules allowing the arbiter not to default after half an hour) I would not have been so unhappy with the guarantee of the British place.

DRS said...

Firstly, many congratulations to Angus on qualifying for the British Championship 2011.

I've made a number of comments on the English Chess Forum about various aspects of the matter and on the main issue I'd prefer to leave it at that.

However I would just like to repeat here what I said there about the related but distinct issue of the Round 11 (re-)pairing.

"Pairing the two players again is permitted by the rules. I've had a quick look at the alternatives, but they would have resulted in other players meeting an opponent with a higher rating (Rayner) or on a higher score (French) than the pairings which we actually have. I can quite understand the other players in contention feeling aggrieved by the turn of events [edit - because Rayner and French had received 1½ points between them in Round 10]. Would they not feel still more unhappy if they were to be given more difficult Round 11 pairings?"

David Sedgwick

Comment Moderator said...

"Would have ...". Excellent, JamesK. Much better than the shocking four instances (at least) "would of ..." or "should of ..." in an ECForum post just now. Standards of education really are slipping.

You watched Sherlock last night didn't you ;-)

Anonymous said...

catching the last possible train with no money in your pocket is asking for trouble.
meanwhile the official website seems to have eradicated the 10th round result altogether -

JamesK said...

Fair enough Angus, my comment was based solely on what I have read in this thread. That said, if the 'other aspect' relates to the suggested lack of an apology, then perhaps starting 31 minutes down on the clock was sufficient remorse...

Anonymous said...

ejh said:
I recommend Sheffield - I like it very much as a city and while it's been some years since I've been to the Fat Cat, if it's as good as it used to be, then that's pretty good.

There is also, as Carsten has told me, the Kelham Island Tavern – CAMRA National Pub of The Year not once but twice – and in consecutive years (2008 and 2009). Oh boy! (FWIW the 2010 CAMRA National Pub of The Year is the Bree Louise in Euston.)

David S said:
... many congratulations to Angus on qualifying for the British Championship 2011.

Thank you. The 2010 Major Open was my best tournament and I am chuffed to have qualified for the main event.

Lee: I just wondered if you’d been asked, specifically, to step in for Francis Rayner had he not appeared. I guess, rather, that you were generally available to play, should the need arise, in all rounds.

James K: Apologies – I expressed myself too strongly in a previous comment.


JamesK said...

No problem Angus. Anyway congrats on an otherwise fine tournament performance and best wishes for Sheffield!

Dave Tipper said...

Francis Raynor checking his points tally in the Major Open - scroll down bottom right !