2015 Commonwealth: Gupta leads; Humpy protests

by Priyadarshan Banjan
6/27/2015 – World Champions are always closely watched by the chess world, which follows their example at the board. The current World Champion Magnus Carlsen is no different, in that he has started a trend of… players losing on time! The 2015 Commonwealth Chess Championship witnessed top Indian woman players, GM Humpy and IM Sachdev, losing on time for not knowing the time control.

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World Champions are always closely watched by the chess world, which follows their example at the board. The current World Champion Magnus Carlsen is no different, in that he has started a trend of… players losing on time!  The 2015 edition of the Commonwealth Chess Championship witnessed top Indian woman players – GM Koneru Humpy and IM Tania Sachdev - losing on time for not knowing the time control.

To add to the drama, GM Humpy even withdrew from the tournament after the appeals committee turned down her protest. In fact, in round four the board one game ended when a player forgot to press the clock, again losing on time!

The 2015 Commonwealth Chess Championship is being held from June 23-30, 2015 in New Delhi, the capital of India. It is being conducted by the All India Chess Federation (AICF) on behalf of the Commonwealth Chess Association and FIDE, and is being organised with the support of the Delhi Chess Association at the Hotel Park Plaza in New Delhi.

Hotel Park Plaza

The Championship is open to all FIDE affiliated nations that are part of the Commonwealth Chess Association. This year delegations from eleven countries have turned up. The bulk of the players – 260 out of the 298 - are not surprisingly form India, with many talented youngsters making the most of the opportunity to play a quality tournament on their home soil. Most notable amongst the absentees are the English with a sole player representing the chief Commonwealth nation.

Despite being full of Indians, even among the top seeds, this event has seventeen grandmasters and 22 International Masters among the players competing for the top honours.

The main event is a nine-round swiss with a time limit of 90 minutes for the whole game plus 30 seconds increment per move from move one. This time control, simple as it may sound, has already caused quite a stir at the tournament. English WIM Sabrina Chevannes, who takes part in the event, reports:

"In the first round, there was an announcement made that the time control was 90 minutes plus 30 seconds increment plus 30 minutes. However, there was a complete ambiguity as the published time control was 90 minutes plus 30 seconds increment without any additional time. The problem was, that so many things had changed from the original publication of the details of the event. There were originally 10 rounds scheduled, but now there are only 9. The round times are all completely different and the sections have all changed. Therefore, when this announcement was made in round one, most players just assumed that the time control had also been changed."

IM Tania Sachdev (Elo 2413)

IM Tania Sachdev was the first player to fall victim to this confusion, when in the very first round of the tournament she was flagged at move 41 as her time ran out! Probably more used to the time-controls seen in many European tournaments, IM Tania seemed unaware of the time-controls of the tournament.

GM Koneru Humpy (Elo 2589)

The trend did not stop there. GM Koneru Humpy, one of the strongest woman players in the world, forfeited her fourth round game on time against IM Himanshu Sharma (2420), in a winning position. She ran out of time on her 43rd move and pleaded ignorance of the time-control used at the event.

In her protest to the appeals committee headed by veteran IM Mamood Lodhi of Pakistan, she complained that the arbiters erred in their judgment and could have been more communicative.

As Sabrina Chevannes reports, Humpy Koneru "wrote a letter to the appeals committee, not to have the result of the game reversed, but she simply wanted the organisation to recognise that this loss was due to the fault of the arbiter and that they should recognise this. Being on the appeals committee, I was involved in the discussion of this sad situation, but unfortunately, according the FIDE rules, it is always up to the player to know the rules of the tournament. This means, regardless of what announcements the arbiter makes, the players should still read the written regulations of the event. This is quite a shocking occurrence as it means that the arbiter can make whatever mistake he/she likes, but at the end of the day, it is the player who will always suffer. Since there was no breach of any rules, the appeal had no ground and there was nothing Humpy could do about the situation.

Therefore, GM Koneru felt that she could no longer play in the event due to the bad organisation of the tournament. She does not feel it is acceptable that the arbiter can make an announcement as such and suffers the consequences, but nothing happens to the arbiter.

Many will look upon Humpy’s withdrawal from the event very negatively, but she wants to know that she does not agree with the way things are being organised, or with the way the situation was handled. She said: 'I want everyone to know I quit the tournament in protest of the wrong announcement (poor communication skills of the arbiter), irresponsible organisation due to which I lost. I am writing this to get clarity for the betterment of chessplayers, so that in future no player should suffer because of arbiters fault.'

She cannot believe that what the arbiter says has no value and that nowhere in the FIDE rules does it have anything to do with situations like this. In light of this she said: 'If it is so, I request the chess fraternity to confirm this, so that in future we players can keep deaf ear for their announcements and follow only regulations.'"

It should be noted that the rules and regulations are available in the tournament hall or may be crosschecked by referring to the arbiter. The onus is clearly on the player for not being aware of the rules. Humpy Koneru's appeal was turned down and she withdrew from the tournament.

GM Abhijeet Gupta (Elo 2605) leads with a perfect 5.0/5

GM Abhijeet Gupta made full use of his opportunities to be the sole leader at the end of five rounds with 5.0/5. The time-control drama in the fourth round was not just limited to GM Humpy’s game. GM Gupta was playing IM Ramnath Bhuvanesh in round four and was a pawn down, when his opponent tragicomically forgot to press the clock and lost on time!

IM Ramnath Bhuvanesh (Elo 2420)

GM Lalith Babu M.R. (Elo 2563) with 4.5/5

GM Sahaj Grover (Elo 2509) with 4.5/5

Defending champion GM Deep Sengupta (Elo 2571) with 4.5/5

Veteran IM Mahmood Lodhi (Elo 2339) from Pakistan with 3.5/5. India is at constant loggerheads
with its estranged neighbor but when it comes to chess, Gens Una Sumus!

This eleven-year-old has already become the darling of chess lovers, especially in India, with many
marking him as the next big thing in Indian chess. If you know who Nihal Sarin is, you probably also
know how rare it is to find him seated at the board! More about him in the final report.

Standings after round five

Rk
SNo
Ti.
Name
FED
Rtg
Pts
 TB 
1
1
GM
Gupta Abhijeet
IND
2605
5.0
14.5
2
4
GM
Lalith Babu M.R.
IND
2563
4.5
15.0
3
6
GM
Grover Sahaj
IND
2509
4.5
14.5
4
15
IM
Das Arghyadip
IND
2459
4.5
14.5
5
21
IM
Himanshu Sharma
IND
2420
4.5
14.0
6
3
GM
Sengupta Deep
IND
2571
4.5
14.0
7
9
GM
Rahman Ziaur
BAN
2500
4.5
13.5
8
14
GM
Ankit R. Rajpara
IND
2461
4.5
13.5
9
32
 
Visakh Nr
IND
2375
4.0
15.0
10
16
GM
Murshed Niaz
BAN
2457
4.0
15.0
11
8
GM
Karthikeyan Murali
IND
2502
4.0
14.5
12
36
IM
Akash G
IND
2354
4.0
14.5
13
7
GM
Aravindh Chithambaram Vr.
IND
2504
4.0
14.0
14
11
GM
Kunte Abhijit
IND
2483
4.0
14.0
15
140
 
Athul Krishna S
IND
1992
4.0
14.0
16
10
GM
Deepan Chakkravarthy J.
IND
2497
4.0
13.5
17
48
FM
K. Praneeth Surya
IND
2305
4.0
13.5
18
44
 
Sanjay N.
IND
2310
4.0
13.5
19
13
IM
Sunilduth Lyna Narayanan
IND
2462
4.0
13.5
20
17
IM
Saptarshi Roy
IND
2452
4.0
13.5

Click for complete standings

Note: The organisers have informed ChessBase that the live transmission of games has been abandoned due to an unfortunate technical issue that may not be resolved in time. The games will however be made available in the coming days and will be presented in the final report.



Priyadarshan Banjan is a 23-year-old club player from India. He works as an editor for ChessBase News and ChessBase India. He is a chess fanatic and an avid fan of Vishy Anand. He also maintains a blog on a variety of topics.
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Steven E DuCharm Steven E DuCharm 7/2/2015 10:20
40 moves is not mentioned/shown in any announcement. Miss Humpy assumed that it was.
pat-adv pat-adv 6/28/2015 07:58
This report is garbage; not because it is inaccurate, but because it avoids clarity.

It is one thing to state that the arbiter gave incorrect information; if that were the case then I'd have sympathy for Humpy. All that is given here is is that the arbiter could have been more communicative - what the hell is that supposed to mean!??!!

I suspect it means that the arbiter didn't know the time controls, and so didn't mention them. If that's the case then Humpy is behaving like a child; good riddance....
johnmk johnmk 6/28/2015 02:11
So much angst could be avoided once clock makers change the design to send a warning to a player. For example, one possibility is that when a player punches his clock, it flashes briefly the amount of total time left until he would flag.
Eric Peterson Eric Peterson 6/28/2015 01:55
The arbiter made an incorrect announcement of the time control before Round 1. If someone lost on time in Round 1, I think they have a very legitimate complaint. But Humpy lost in Round 4. How did she not know the correct time control by Round 4? She had no games in the first three rounds that went 40 moves, and didn't watch any other games that went 40 moves? And no players discussed the incorrect announcement by the arbiter in the days between Round 1 and Round 4? Humpy should have known the correct time control by Round 4, in my opinion.

But of course a tournament that changes the number of rounds, the schedule of the rounds, annoucnes an incorrect time control, and cancels the live transmission, is a poorly organized tournament. There should be some penalty for the organizers from FIDE.
Eight by eight Eight by eight 6/28/2015 08:57
Simple solution - have a large banner on the wall or by the entrance clearly stating the time control. This would be of benefit to spectators as well as players.
sushruthareddy sushruthareddy 6/28/2015 04:04
This article has created a furore in the Commonwealth Tournament amongst the players.
TaoPhoenix TaoPhoenix 6/28/2015 12:06

Wow, some of the recent events are really altering the culture of chess! First the Wesley So incident ... so is that now a "weapon" any player anywhere can use?! David Bronstein once worked on the idea of writing down the times elapsed after each move - does that now count as a "note"? Sky help an opponent who makes an annotation mark on his sheet after a brilliant move, only for that to count as a note and then forfeit?!

And then we get this one. I'll add some details I haven't seen mentioned yet. If tons of stuff changed since the original announcement, thus making no confidence in the original, *and* then the *arbiter* announces a *false* time control ... culturally you're supposed to respect the arbiter because that's who you call when you get into squabbles about everything else - they're supposed to know stuff cold to answer questions like illegal moves no one can prove in time scrambles or something - and then they get the time control for the event wrong in an announcement?!

And even so, they announce this to an entire room full of people who make their living knowing that playing something like pawn e7-e6 on move 8 is safe and forgetting and playing it on move seven gets you mated ... no one went to the arbiter and asked "hey?!"

Or if they did (poll needed!?), then the arbiter ... did nothing?

How many copies of this "one valid copy of the rules" are there on the walls of the site? (If at all?) Humpy hit it on the head - if the entire event was so badly organized, what if the wall copy was wrong as well, differently? Let's say someone typoed the time control on the wall copy, so something really bizarre, say 45/90 30 sec inc then +30min 30 sec inc, and exactly half people in a room of eighty notice and keep it as a secret.

This episode is saying "the wall copy rules them all" (what if there are two different wall copies!?) What exactly will happen if all 40 out of 80 people in a hall then lose on time ... what then?!

And the last round of Norway added a new one: What's the minimum number of moves before a draw by repetition becomes legal?

Then there's the women's event with the false accusation with the collaboration of players - who says that won't happen again?

Chess is losing its innocence!
: (
TLemanczyk TLemanczyk 6/27/2015 09:47
A lot of confusion can be avoided very simply if FIDE just implements a new rule for the organisers: force them to print the time controls on the players' score sheets.
The recent incidents just show that the organisers are also responsible for creating smooth tournaments and have to be more careful regarding the pressure under which the players are acting. Don't blame just the players...
Aighearach Aighearach 6/27/2015 09:12
To respond to the responses to my earlier comment, first I will say I stand by what I said; and no new detail would change it! I am a tournament director myself, (same as an "arbiter") and once the game has started, whatever the official time control is, that is what the game is being played under. If a player had a miscommunication with an arbiter, that is a separate thing than the question, "what is the time control of this game?" The time control of the game is not subjective, and cannot change after the game has started. A player should consider the time control in their opening selection, so even with only 1 move played, you would interfere with the game by interpreting the time control as being subjective.

Regardless of what some official may or may not have said before the tournament, the time control used was the one published both before the tournament, and at the tournament hall. When the player was deciding if they were going to compete in this event, and included it in their schedule, they should already have taken the time control into consideration. There is no accusation that the time control used was different than advertised. It sounds like some players might have managers who choose their tournaments for them, maybe non-professionals like family members, but they don't have the benefit of a full support team with on-site seconds. This leaves the player with less information about the tournament than amateurs arrive with, and nobody to keep track of the details for them. So then they just "ask an arbiter" and take it as gospel. But the rules of chess are actually rather clear about how, when, and where the time controls are to be posted by the organizers.

If a player misunderstands an arbiter, or even if a player is given incorrect information by the arbiter, the most important question is how does this affect the other players in the tournament, especially the opponent. If a player doesn't know the time control, that is a real "chess advantage" that their op has. Arbiters aren't supposed to take that advantage away. Relying on spoken information instead of the posted tournament information might save you a few minutes of walking around and finding an information sheet, but you risk getting incorrect information. The source being an arbiter doesn't stop it from being casual, informal information. Another example, lets say your opponent's flag drops. It is up to you to see it and call it; the arbiter can't help either player with time management during the game. If you don't see it in time and your own flag also drops, now it is a draw. That is a real chess result.

Many players don't know or understand the parts of the rules that relate to fair play; they only know the rules relating to moving the pieces! It is sad but true; even at the professional level.

Time is an important part of the game. Not knowing the (unchanged, original!) time control is crazy. That is like knowing what board you're playing on but not bothering to check which color. What if both players make the mistake? It can/has happened! Once I arrived 10 minutes late for a round and my clock was running, but my opponent (a relative of the state champion) had set up the board sideways. Whoops! If neither of us noticed for a few moves, we'd have had to play it out that way.

It is like an own-goal in soccer. It is a real point, it is part of the game. What if you said to the referee right before it happened, "gosh that sun is really too bright in my eyes" and he answered, "hey, don't worry about it, it won't matter." Then you can't see and "score" an own-goal, then complain, "but the ref promised it wouldn't matter!" It is silly. Even the arbiter's "mistake" (I dispute it is an arbiter-mistake, because it is just spoken words outside their actual role) would have no negative result beyond causing the player to double-check the official posting. Only the player not knowing information they're required to know can lead to this.
genem genem 6/27/2015 08:20
Humpy wins this debate.

"The problem was, that so many things had changed from the original publication of the details of the event."

The Tournament Directors cannot issue forth a storm of misinformation, and then claim themselves harmless by saying things like:

[A] "... according the FIDE rules, it is always up to the player to know the rules of the tournament. This means, regardless of what announcements the arbiter makes, the players should still read the written regulations of the event."

[B] "... the rules and regulations are available in the tournament hall or may be crosschecked by referring to the arbiter. The onus is clearly on the player for not being aware of the rules."

Rediculous. The rules and regulations should be available on a simple website the players can access from the comfort of their hotel room. And the webpage must have a 'Latest Updated DateTime:'.

--- --- ---

IF the Tournament Director could honestly say the following, the TD would have a stronger case:

"To compensate for the earlier incorrect or subsequently changed announcements, the TD handed to each player a handy sheet explaining all the final details about rounds, time control, etc."

But the TD makes no mention of helping the players in any way like this.

"'I want everyone to know I quit the tournament in protest of the wrong announcement (poor communication skills of the arbiter), ..."

--- --- ---

Many tournament announcements state the time control in an poorly designed, sloppy, or ambiguous notation. For example, consider the following two-segment time control:

40/60, G/30 +10

Clearer, and clear enough for newbies, would be:

40mov/60min +10sec incr, SuddenDeath/30min +10sec incr.

Even the term 'time control' is used ambiguously to mean different things. On some occasions it refers to the collective of all the segments and increments. On other occasions it refers to just one segment of the collective time control.
suyu28 suyu28 6/27/2015 05:16
Worst organisation ever seen....No games...shit!!
Justjeff Justjeff 6/27/2015 05:08
Based solely on the reporting here, it seems that the organization is sloppy at best. Ms. Chevannes remarked on the numerous changes (number of rounds, times of rounds, etc.) and concluded that players simply assumed that the new time control was just another of these.

Of course, players are not responsible for poor organization but they can and should protect themselves from its consequences. Although I fully agree that competent organization would not make this extra work necessary, every player should have realized it was not safe to make assumptions - especially experienced and titled players such as GM Koneru.

I'm not surprised there are reports of "technical difficulties". If I were a player I would take special care to verify that my results are reported correctly after the event.
thlai80 thlai80 6/27/2015 05:06
Ok, so I now have a different standpoint vs my initial comment. Take note the early reader comments were posted before this article was updated with additional information of the last few paragraphs. Perhaps Chessbase should have add notes about editing after the article first appeared.
solskytz solskytz 6/27/2015 04:41
From the talkbacks above me, I take the one most poignant and second it - the one saying -

"if what he says should be ignored, this guy shouldn't be an arbiter".

Honorable mention also goes to -

"If arbiters are to be ignored, than why should we even have arbiters?"

Absurd from the land of absurds.
solskytz solskytz 6/27/2015 04:30
Obviously GM Honeru is right on this.

Who cares if the "regulations are consultable in the tournament hall"?

Just like a cop can override a red light in the street by commanding a driver to go through - and would the driver now get a ticket for crossing at a red light because it's the red light that decides, not the cop??

For _____s sake (fill the blank) - the arbiter is standing there in the middle of a hall full of players and announces a time control. Why shouldn't he be believed?

GM Humpy should be refunded any expense she can prove she made in preparing for the competition (fees, hotel, travel, loss of work, anything) and shouldn't suffer a rating change as a result of that game.
fons fons 6/27/2015 03:20
If we should disregard what the arbiter is saying, why do we have arbiters in the first place?

This "ruling" makes no sense whatsoever.
Karbuncle Karbuncle 6/27/2015 01:42
Aig, losing on time once in a while is not the same as losing on time because of a misunderstanding. Regardless of who's fault it is, that's a different situation than simply being absent-minded about the time left on the clock.
imdvb_8793 imdvb_8793 6/27/2015 01:40
"Many will look upon Humpy’s withdrawal from the event very negatively"

Not me. I support her decision 100%, and I think everybody should. If you make official announcements (that you do not then rectify) and they're not binding in any way or, even more so, they should be ignored, then you shouldn't be an arbiter. Abysmal organization! I would never play under such conditions. Bobby Fischer had the right idea... Draw attention to the problem. Make an example, and make them pay for their indifference! The only way you can (which is the sad part).

Why does it not surprise me that there are further problems with the organization?!... (See note at end of article.)

To the fellow above: she didn't complain about losing the game (she didn't ask for a "takeback", as you put it, and she even specified that she isn't asking for such), she complained about the organization and (rightly) demanded an apology. But, like I always say, people never (publicly) admit to their mistakes, unless they have no other choice. Which is wrong...

Yes, she made a mistake (which I'm sure she understands), but so did the organizers. Why should she be the only one to suffer consequences, when both mistakes are just as bad? (And I would argue that the organizers' mistake is much, much worse, actually, because it affects other people, potentially a lot of them.)
fistoffury fistoffury 6/27/2015 09:53
This magnifies the class of our World Champion Magnus!

Maybe noisy humpy tried getting 14 other signatures but the difference was they signed that she be kicked out!
thlai80 thlai80 6/27/2015 09:37
While Carlsen has a huge appetite for winning, he shows a true champion who is graceful in defeat. He never threaten to withdraw even though it went on to be his worst tournament in years.

Much to learn for Humpy, who should have realized and noticed by move 43 that the increment is different. More understandable would be IM Tania Sachdev who was flagged on move 41 in which the increment (if any) just kicks in.
Aighearach Aighearach 6/27/2015 08:22
Time losses are real losses, not forfeits.

I remember in a tournament in 1995, the time control was G30. My opponent was up a piece, but with over 10 minutes left on his clock he rushed out to use the restroom. Problem... the restroom on that floor was closed! Nothing on that floor of the building was even open, except the chess club. Perfect day for maintenance! The restroom that was actually open turned out be 3 or floors up. He flagged long before he made it back.

A lot goes into winning a tournament. It is more than just chess knowledge and opening preparation. There is also nutrition, exercise, managing travel to reduce distractions, etc., etc. Knowing about the site and the time control seems pretty basic to me. How can you even prepare openings without considering the time control?

And what poor sportsmanship to complain, when your flag really did drop. If your complaint is that the clock malfunctioned and you still had time, that is a reasonable complaint. But you didn't understand the time control, that is a blunder, a chess blunder. Your flag really fell, your opponent really won. That is like demanding a "takeback" after being mated, poor form at any level, but somewhat incomprehensible from a professional.

Most players lose on time once in awhile. It happens. Even to professionals. In fact, it is even already factored into everybody's rating. ;)
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