Friday, 10 October 2008

Duties of a Match Arbiter



The 1st World Mind Sports Games (WMSG) is the second such event dedicated to "game type" sports endorsed by and supported by the International Olympic Council that I have been involved in (the other of course being MAIGOC last year).

Both the WMSG and MAIGOC (as events of this type will) share two special charateristics which differentiate them significantly from "normal" chess tournaments but if FIDE chooses to continue to go down the path of chess as sport we will certainly have to get used to these type of events!

First is that we are part of a multi sport event and there are common rules and obligations that have to adhered to. It has been a learning experience for many players (even officials) to realise that the event is less about them than for all!

Second is that there are big physical demands. We have games from 10 to 7 daily, and in blitz and rapid play format (no classical chess as that takes too much time if the objective is to have many medals at stake). There is great stress and tension from having to perform game after game, in one match after another in quick succession, and a lot is at stake. 

The arbiters (we are called referees here) also realise our great responsibility as the wrong decision can be the difference between Gold and Silver and that first or second place in the overall standings.

Normal rules of play have had to be modified and we even have Yellow and Red cards to give warnings to players before the ultimate penalty of forfeit.

And the Appeals Committee must now start to understand that they have a big job and that if they agree to be a member it is not for a line in their resume or even some paid holiday (not the case here I think) but a big job demanding high standards of integrity and a desire to be pro-active to do the right thing.  

The experienced and competent arbiters amongst us (some which are representing a "Gang of Four" in the picture above which was taken at the Temple of Heaven!) understand that all arbiter jobs are diffferent but equally important.

A match arbiter has to immediately pick up a problem during a game and to intervene for fair play and also to make a call in case of dispute and if not also a strong and experienced player he or she cannot do this job (it is no accident that the four above together with me and a few others are all former chessplayers of a good level and so are handling the top boards and matches).

There is also the protocols involved in getting results confirmed by players and captains and the setting of DGT boards and clocks with various configurations of increment time controls.

Give me the supervising job anytime!          

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