This past weekend I directed at the state scholastic championships. I worked on the floor as opposed to my normal computer duties that I perform at our local events. When I'm the computer tournament director my main responsibilities are input the scores, do the pairings and post the results. For the most part I'm fairly immune to the dramatics that sometimes occur on the playing floor. There are times I can end out contributing to the dramatics because a result was reported incorrectly (players' or floor TD's error) or I had a case of dyslexia and put in the wrong result. (my error). Fortunately it doesn't happen often and it's usually pretty easy to fix.
Working on the floor at tournaments can be far more challenging when faced with difficult situations. Touch move disputes tend to be the bane of every tournament director's existence. It takes a patient tournament director to be able to ask the right questions and come up with a fair decision based on the answers given by the players involved. One has to be very diplomatic in handling a situation of one player's word versus the other. As I explained in this post a few years ago there are a number of things the TD can do to try to resolve the back and forth of "He touched the bishop." "No I didn't!". Most of the touch move disputes I dealt with over the weekend were pretty straight forward and the final decision didn't impact what was going on in the position. However my luck ran out on Sunday in the K-1 section.
I was called over to this position by the player with White. He claimed Black touched the pawn.
At this point I realize that moving the pawn to e3 is going to turn this totally won game for Black into stalemate allowing White to get out with a draw. I tell Black that it's touch move and that he has to move the pawn. He then proceeds to tell me that he doesn't know the touch move rule and that because of that he should be able to make a different move. I tell him that it doesn't work that way. The rule is the rule. He continues telling me that it's not fair because he didn't know the rule. I look at the pairing sheet and notice that he has a rating in the high 900s. A first grader with that rating clearly has some idea of what he's doing and certainly knows about touch move. He keeps insisting that since he didn't know the rule or that he forgot the rule that he should not have to move the pawn.
I have to come up with a simple explanation of ignorance of the law doesn't excuse one from breaking the law. Quick! How do you explain that to a 6 year old? I used an analogy of my going through a red light. I told him that even if I tell the cop that I didn't know I couldn't go through the red light, I still was going to get a ticket. Same thing applies here. "Move the pawn." The tears didn't stop, but he did finally make the pawn move. I try to be patient and kind in these situations, but at the same time I want to just tear my hair out and tell the kid "Cut the crap. I know you know the rule. Stop giving me this sob story, and just move the #$& pawn!" However what I may be thinking can't be said out loud. Instead I have to make a fair ruling and try to help the kid learn from the experience.
That was only one of the draw dramas I dealt with over the weekend. Stay tuned for part 2.