14H, a dispute...

At a club tournament last month, my opponent, with three seconds left on his clock, stopped it and declared the game drawn based on Rule14H. The rule centers around the concept of insufficient losing chances. Nearing the end of the time control (5/0), the position whittled down to a king and rook ending with my opponent having a passed F pawn. With my king in front on his pawn and my rook behind his king, it looked like a drawn position. I had more than a minute left on my clock.

My opponent, a tournament director in his own right and the club president of another club, did not grant me an explanation but stood up and walked away, muttering words of disgust about his bad play. He, thus, scored the sheet a draw and went on to play his next round. Pretty arrogant stuff, don't you think? My opponent's demeanor can lead anyone to believe that he calls the shots in the tournament. If I had the presence of mind, I should have summoned the official TD to adjudicate the matter. This was my mistake, not to recognize the proper adjudicating authority in the tournament at the moment of the infraction. I feel pretty dumb about that, even today.

The next day, after some thought, I sent an email to the club President about the matter in which I argued that if my opponent cannot properly and exactly cite the provision in 14H that accorded him a draw he should lose the game. So, in effect, I filed a formal complaint. I cited two witnesses to our game. Both witnesses did not come through for me since they essentially took a neutral stand. People don't want to get involved, you know. My opponent, when questioned via email, argued that the position was a well-known drawn position, and if he had more time he could even win it.

After almost a week, following consultations with my opponent and the witnesses, the club President delivered his decision. His strong point was that 14H is a " draw claim " and not a " draw declaration. " My opponent, in order to achieve a draw, should have asked the TD to adjudicate the situation and not to grant himself a draw in a tight, usually losing situation. It was my opinion that my opponent acted as the judge, jury, and executioner of his own case, and the decision essentially agreed with me. That game result was ruled a win for me, much to the displeasure of my opponent who accused me of being unsportsmanlike. He, also, requested that he not be paired with me again. This request was denied as it would wreck havoc in the pairings of future tournaments. Interestingly enough, the president argued that if his request was granted the club would run out of people who could be paired with him. Ah, so it seems, my opponent has had previous run-ins with other club members. Sometimes, the ghosts of your former enemies rise up from their graves and haunt you.

Now, the President did not completely let me go scotfree. He reprimanded me for not knowing the provisions of 14H, and I assured him that I will familiarize myself with the many provisions of the rule. In my complaint, I admitted that I did not have a good understanding of the rule. It's a complicated rule requiring some knowledge of known drawing techniques, textbook draws, and many combinations of pieces that could very well end in a draw. The President further argued that my opponent use his vast experience as club president and TD for the benefit of the club rather than to gain an advantage over his less experienced opponents by aggressively applying the rules against them. In an effort to maintain harmony, the President asked that we shake hands at the next meeting. I sent word that I would shake hands and play whoever i was paired with in the future. It's about rules, nothing personal. No reply from my opponent. Two meetings have gone by, and no show. Too bad. My opponent was club champion at least once and he is master-rated---credentials that could have a positive influence over the club, otherwise.


  • 9 years ago


    Interesting story. Sucks that it's real life! Glad you were awarded the win, which you deserved! Let us know when you finally shake hands... Wink
  • 9 years ago


    wow! that is an amazing story. don't you love the sense of entitlement?


  • 9 years ago



    I can understand the spirit of the rule though I can't necessarily agree with it's application, deciding a game on theory rather than actual play.  It looks very convoluted and the term "insufficient losing chances" is more than a bt ambiguous. But rules are rules.

    It seems obvious your opponent acted inappropriately, and actually broke the rule, which says: "a player with less than five minutes of remaining time may stop the clock and ask the director to declare the game a draw..."  clearly stating the decision lies with the director not with either of the players. As a TD himself, he should know better. 


    Welcome to the human race... sigh.

  • 9 years ago


    Here's 14H:  USCF

    14H. Claim of insufficient losing chances in sudden death.

    14H1. Explanation. In a sudden death time control, a player with less than five
    minutes of remaining time may stop the clock and ask the director to declare the game a draw on the grounds that the player has insufficient losing chances.

    The draw shall be awarded if the director believes that a Class C player would have little chance to lose the position against a Master with both having ample time. The exact losing chances of any position cannot be calculated, but a director wishing a more
    precise standard may consider "little" to mean less than 10 percent. A director unsure about whether a position meets the standard should temporarily defer a ruling by using option 14H4c or 14H4d.

    14H2. Ratings of players irrelevant. The director should not consider the ratings of those playing in making the decision. A low-rated player who claims a draw vs. a Master should obtain the same ruling as a Master with the same position who claims a draw vs. a low-rated player. However, see 14H5, which may allow a player's ability to be of assistance.

    14H3. Times on clocks irrelevant. The director should not consider the times on the clocks in making a decision. If the draw is awarded, this may save a player with a few seconds left from an otherwise inevitable time forfeit, but it is precisely the intention of this rule to protect players from losing on time when they are very unlikely to lose otherwise.

    14H4. Resolution: The director has four possible ways to resolve the claim:

    a. A director who believes the claim is clearly correct should declare
    the game drawn.

    b. A director who believes the claim is clearly incorrect should deny the
    claim and subtract one minute from the claimant's remaining time.

    c. A director who is uncertain regarding the validity of the claim may
    temporarily deny it, make no adjustment of claimant's remaining time, and
    watch the game with the intent of upholding the claim if the opponent is
    making no progress.

    d. A director uncertain regarding the validity of the claim also has the option of temporarily denying the claim, making no adjustment of claimant's remaining time, and inviting a later re-claim if the opponent is making no progress.

    This option is particularly useful when the claimant's opponent has 
    substantial time remaining and the director cannot commit to lengthy 
    viewing of the game. The director should attempt to view the game on
    occasion and may rule a draw if appropriate, even without a re-claim.
    To resolve a "no-progress" re-claim, the director has the same four 
    options listed above, 14H4a through 14H4d.

    14H5. Conferring with players. A director who is unsure how to rule may confer
    privately with either player or with both players separately regarding the player's 
    plans. The director should be careful not to say anything which might assist the 
    player if the game is resumed.

    The USCF rulebook goes on (in section 14I) to list various positions which may or may not fall under 14H. The most important of these sections is the following:

    14I2. Types of positions. In complex positions often neither side has a valid claim, while in simple positions both sides may have one. For instance, with much material on the board a Master may be down a piece without compensation but still have better than a small chance to beat a C player. But in endings such as described in 14I3, even a player behind in material should sometimes be awarded the draw.

    Other examples listed include reduced material opposite color bishop endings (14I3, usually a draw under 14H), queen vs. queen or rook vs. rook (14I4, a draw under 14H), bishop or knight vs. rook, rook vs. rook and knight, queen vs. queen and bishop or knight (14I5, claim denied but watching for progress suggested under 14H), king vs. king plus rook pawn, king vs. king plus wrong rook pawn and bishop (14I6, a draw under 14H), rook vs. rook and bishop (14I7, claim denied and time penalty assessed).

  • 9 years ago


    I can't seem to find any such rule in the FIDE handbook. Is 14H some USCF rule?



  • 9 years ago




    How about when a player sticks out his hand at the end of a hard fought game without a word I assume he wants to resign because his position on the board is smashed toast stick a fork in it he's quite done but the minute I shake his hand to accept his defeat you know show sportsmanship the guy announces very loudly it's a draw by mutual agreement :(  


    Be careful folks if one of your opponents ever tries that make sure he tips his King before shaking his hand.






  • 9 years ago


    Banging the pieces on the board, screwing them into the square, or hanging them in mid air for a few seconds before putting them down are mannerisms ( usually intentional ) that can take your focus away from the game. I try not to react immediately to them. I look away, stand up, nod a friend, check my scoresheet, all in an effort to deny him an immediate reaction. It's like being inert. I bring so much joy and respect to the table that I cannot even think of myself doing those things to an opponent. I've seen a grown man bang the pieces on the board when playing against a 9-yr old boy at the Foxwoods Open. It's ugly and uncivilized. I told the man that at the skittles room after the game. I guess I didn't make a friend that day.

  • 9 years ago


    weird person don't u think?


  • 9 years ago


    Chess has always been a game between two people. The psychological tricks are probably endless. Read Josh Waitzkins' book "The Art of Learning" and you will read about the old (or still current) Russian chess school trick of taking your opponent off his game sub-consciously.

    In the end you are dealing with humans. I can't tell you how many times I have faced opponents who slam the pieces on the board when they make a move in a critical situation. This too is aimed at ruining ones concentration. And on, and on it goes.

    Chessbuff you did the right thing.  People in general, and not just with chess, don't like to always follow the rules. That is a life lesson as well. So kudos to you again for presenting your point of the situation in a proper and professional manner.

  • 9 years ago


    A very interesting note, considering I am so away from competitions... It is a nice way to remind me that Chess is not just 16 pieces in a board, but also, its players and the competition context. As I venture myself into the competition world (something I'd like to do) I must study all the possibilities, inside and outside the board.
  • 9 years ago


    Facing the fact, sometimes people are like that, they do what ever it takes just to win and nothing's wrong with that if it is in a legal way. But it depends in the situation, if there must be a correction it must be corrected.

    The attitude he/she shows is not a good example for other players looking at him as a champion.

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