Meanwhile in the main ballroom the action was rather intense as West Orange Krush won the battle for top honors. The final score was 2.5 - 1.5.
West Orange Krush -USATE 2011 Champions
Jose Fernandez, Peter Radomsyj, Victor Rosas, IM Mikhail Zlotnikov
I can't take credit for having them pose with the oranges. That was Al Lawrence's idea. I was just tagging along for the ride and taking pictures along side him. He was covering the tournament for Chess Life Online. Since the team is from the West Orange (NJ) Chess Club they came up with the idea of Orange Krush (Krush as in Irena) for their team name. Al thought it would be fun to have them pose with oranges and squeeze them as if they're actually going to crush the oranges.
Their win did not come without a little controversy. The deciding game came down the opponent's player running out of time on move 39. Even though the player's score sheet indicated only 39 moves had been made, he thought he had made 40 based on the fact that the clock added the extra hour for the second time control. A "move" counter setting had been used. I use quotes for the word move because the clock is not really counting moves. It's counting how many times the button has been pushed. The number of button pushes may not necessarily coincide with the number moves actually made on the board. This particular incident demonstrates how that can happen.
For those readers not familiar with the clock used I will attempt to explain the different ways of being programmed for the time controls of 40 moves in 2 hours, followed by 1 hour for the rest of the game. These were the time controls for this particular tournament.
One setting does not make use of specifying any number of moves that need to be completed in the first time control. The clock will count down from 2:00:00 to 00:00:00 and then additional hour will be added. It doesn't matter how many moves have been made on the board, the clock will keep running until all three hours have elapsed for a player. If a player has not completed 40 moves it's going to be apparent he overstepped when the clock goes from 00:00:00 to 1:00:00 and counts down from there. The opponent will be able to claim a win on time as long as he has a reasonably complete scoresheet. A reasonably complete scoresheet is defined as one that has no more than three missing or incomplete move pairs. The USCF rule differs from FIDE rules. FIDE rules don't require a complete scoresheet and the director can call the time.
There are several settings where a "move" counter is set. When the prescribed number of "moves" for the first control have been made, the clock will add the the additional hour for the second control. I use quotes when writing the word move because the clock program isn't really counting moves. It's counting clock button presses. If someone forgets to press the clock or if White starts the clock first before moving the counter will be off by a half "move" or more. When using the "move" counter setting one has the option of having the move counter displayed as shown below, or as shown in the second picture.
White has completed his 4th move, Black is on his 4th move.
Move counter is displayed at all times. Time displayed in hh:mm
White has completed his 4th move, Black is on his 4th move.
hh:mm:ss replaces move counter while player's time is running
after 5 second delay has elapsed.
In this particular game Black was late. White started Black's clock without making his move first. Rule 16I and 16J discuss the procedure for starting the clock at the start of the game. This can be found on page 65 of USCF Official Rules of Chess, 5th Edition.
"16I. Starting the clock. At the time determined for the start of the game, after the board and pieces are set up, the clock of the player with the white pieces is started."
"16J. Black not present. If Black is not present for the start of the game, White shall start his own clock, make his move on the board, and start Black's clock."
After these two rules there is a rather lengthy TD Tip discussing what should be done if White pressed the clock before moving. "If a director observes that White has started Black's clock without moving, the director should remind White to make a move immediately. If, upon arriving, Black observes that White has started Black's clock without moving, Black may immediately start White's clock or stop the clock and make a claim. Either way, if the clock has a move counter, it may be necessary to adjust it before the game continues. The director may access the standard penalty (IC2A), or other penalties, if appropriate, against the player who improperly started Black's clock without moving."
"If White makes a move before the clock is started, the move counter may be off by a half-move. If White starts Black's clock without moving, the counter may be off by a half-move or full move. The director should, at an early stage in the game, verify the setting of the move counter, and ask the players to correct it if necessary."
In this situation Black most likely arrived at the board and pressed White's clock. This will make the move counter be off. Black's side will display 01, and White's side will display 00 until he makes a move. The clock will "think" Black is White and White is Black. Black's clock will always be a move ahead of the number of moves Black has actually played. When Black played his 39th move the clock "thought" White completed his 40th move so it added 1:00 to the remaining 00:08 seconds. When White made his 40th move the clock "thought" Black made his 40th move and added the time. The player playing Black thought he had made his 40th move and spent more then his remaining 8 seconds on what was really his 40th move even though he only had 39 moves recorded on his scoresheet.
White claimed a win on time when Black's clock ticked off to remaining 8 seconds of time. Needless to say, Black wasn't happy with this claim and vigorously protested. Part of his complaint was that the clock indicated he had made 40 moves. However regarding move counters rule 42B2 states: "Players rely on the count at their own risk" Given that, Black doesn't have much of an argument. He and his teammates felt perhaps White had deliberately started the clock first without moving in order to throw off the move counter. Though one would think during the course of the first 40 moves one would notice the move counter was off by a move.
Having had my share of mix ups with Chronos settings on my opponent's clock, I've become far more vigilant in making sure I know how the opponent has set it. I've also seen the move counter get out of sync when someone has forgotten to press the clock. Depending on the situation sometimes the opponent or I have stopped the clock and adjusted it. Other times when it's clear there will be no time pressure issues on the first control, we've just ignored it.
About 3 weeks before the tournament there had been a discussion on the USCF Chess Tournament forum about move counters. Click on the link if one wants to read the entire discussion. The original poster had started the discussion with the following post:
"This year, as a change of pace, I ponder setting my Chronos with no move counter for the USATE.
The more I think of it, the less I like move counters on digital clocks. This belief was reinforced by a game at our club last week; the players started late, thus played by mutual agreement at a faster-than-announced time control.
In the rush to re-set the clock---an Excalibur Game Time II---the move counter was set to "Off"....and as I watched the time scramble at the end of the first time control, (40/75 in place of our standard 40/90) I thought to myself, "This is a Good Thing." One player made the control at move 40 with two seconds to spare---but he could not take an educated guess that was so by glancing at the clock. (Yes, you take a chance on the move counter being wrong, but still.)
Here's my question: Has enabling the move counter---by far the most common approach, in my experience---been anointed with official "preferred" status? (If so, would that make the Saitek less -preferred than other digitals?) I expect at least one opponent to complain if I show up in Parsippany with my Chronos set sans move counter.
At least we are clear on deducting five minutes from the main clock time to compensate for delay....at least for this year. "
There were varied opinions. On Jan 31st NTD (National Tournament Director) Harold Stenzel gave his opinion.
Based on my years of TD experience, move counters create more problems than they solve. At the 2009 National Chess Congress I counted 6 different games in which I was called to the board because of questions/problems created by the move counter. Although I solved all of them to the players' satisfaction, they also were unnecessary. I point out to the players that they count clock presses, not moves and therefore cannot be trusted. While I don't require them to be turned off, when asked, I recommend the game be played without it.
Ironically enough he would be the one to have to rule on this particular dispute. He ruled in White's favor, upholding the claim. When I asked him about it on this thread he posted the following:
The ruling was quite simple but also unfortunate for the loser. He relied on a move counter that added an hour after 40 clock presses even though both score sheets indicated 39 moves had been played by Black. Rule 42B2 states: "Players rely on the count at their own risk."
The Chronos' setting used did not display the "clock press counter". Even so, Black (and his teammates) recounted that at the start of the game White had started tardy Black's clock without making a move. When Black arrived he started White's clock. No one complained about the improper starting of the clock to any TD until after Black's flag fell almost 4 hours later. I felt that to allow the game to continue would be to permit Black to play with a primary time control of 39/2 while White would have 40/2. Black's team appealed my ruling to NTD Carol Jarecki who, after hearing all of the evidence, stated that she "could not disagree with Harold's ruling".My only question is why did it take the player until move "40" to see the discrepancy between his score sheet and the move counter? Correction: Clock button push counter.
This case was very similar to a ruling I made at Foxwoods in 2009 about an Excalibur's move counter. The Foxwoods loser then appealed to that tournament's chief TD (NTD Bill Goichberg) who also supported my ruling.
On a personal note, I, and most or all other TDs, would prefer that games be decided without TD intervention and not be required to make a ruling that could determine the winner of the tournament, but it had to be done.
The ruling was appealed by Black, but Carol Jarecki the chief tournament director and also an NTD upheld the ruling. I don't think there was anything else that could be done at that point. The clock indicated the time had gone past two hours, and the score sheets both showed 39 moves completed by Black. Even if White had concocted this evil plan to deceive Black there was nothing to be done. Any complaints or claims would have to be made before the game was over. Time exceeded, game over. Game over, no claims against opponent. It's the same thing I tell kids when they complain to me after they've lost.
I've always liked the move counter because I like to see the next time control added after the first one has been reached. However having watched the heated discussion and seeing the tough spot the directors were in, I think I'll pass on the move counter. It's too much like work to keep track of.
This weekend I'm in Saratoga Springs to direct at the New York State Scholastic Chess Championship. I'll probably be directing in the Primary section. I'm sure I'll have some interesting stories to share. I also have a few more games from the USATE of interest. I already added one to my previous post that neeeded editing anyway.