Fair play in chess

by Assi Philosoph
6/7/2021 – Imagine you play in an important online event and your opponent makes a move that is obviously a mouse-slip. What do you do? Do you use the opportunity to exploit the blunder and to win the game? Or do you allow your opponent to take the move back or do you offer a draw? What, do you think, is fair play in this and other cases? Assi Philosoph shares some thoughts.

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Fair (enough?) play

Last week, the FIDE World Cup Qualifiers ended and the best players qualified for  the World Cup 2021, to be held in Sochi, 10.7-6.8. The tournament was played in hybrid form, which means that the candidates from each country played in the same room, under a supervision of a Local Chief Arbiter (I was the one in Israel) and a Local Technical Arbiter. The playing was held in the online platform Tornelo, where some special features were added for this kind of event like, for instance, the option of a direct connection to Zoom, and a move confirmation button, to avoid mouse slips.

The confirmation move button was used by the players successfully during the two games of the classical time control of each round, but when reaching the tiebreaks, in case of a 1-1 result, the players understandably dropped the confirmation move button, since the time control was 10 min + 3 sec per move.

So, what happened?

In the third round of the competition, the match between Boris Gelfand  (52y, ISR) and Jerguš Pecháč (19y, SVK) ended in a draw after 2 classical games. So did the first game of the tiebreaks. But the second one reached the following position after 15 moves, with White to play:

Unfortunately, Gelfand played 16.Qb4 in this position, leaving the Queen en prise, which instead of being taken, was answered with a gentle draw offer by Pecháč!. Gelfand, who is well known for being a gentleman himself, was surprised and complimented his opponent. Following this subsequent draw in the tiebreaks, Pecháč went on to score in a must win situation after he drew white for the Armageddon game.

Gelfand was not the only one to compliment the young GM, as he was cited by many top players and organizers on different social medias as an example of fair play.

Boris Gelfand | Photo: Vladimir Jagr

I found the incident very interesting, and started to think about the meaning of it, and how we judge a fair play in chess, and sports in general.

Unlike cheating, we are talking about a case when the player went beyond the rules being "fairer than needed", and such cases are perhaps even more interesting to analyse, ethically speaking. Consequently, many questions sprang to mind:

Would the player have offered a draw if it had been the first of the two games, and he had been playing White?

Would he offer a draw in similar situation, but in classical time control, knowing the player has the option of using move confirmation button?

Would he offer a draw if he were playing against a player who is not a legend as Gelfand is? And what about if the legend was a controversial character?

Would the player do the same knowing that his opponent would not do the same for him?

Of course, when I ask these questions, they are not directed at Pecháč himself, but as an ethical discussion about what fair play in sports is. In order to have a wider perspective, let’s analyse similar cases. Actually, it’s impossible to discuss Pecháč’s case without remembering the Alexander Moiseenko-David Navara match from the third round of World Chess Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk 2011.

In the second game of the match, on the 35th move, Navara accidentally touched both pieces, the King on f7 and the Bishop on e7. Clearly his intention was to move the attacked Bishop after White’s 35.Qe2:

A short clarification with the arbiter and the opponent clarified the situation, and Navara was allowed to play with the Bishop. However, after six hours of playing and 79(!) moves after the incident, Navara played 114…Kc6 reaching  a winning position and…offered a draw!

In the press conference Navara explained:

"Any move with the King [in the 35th move] would lead to the loss of the piece, however, Moiseenko did not insist that I make a move according to the touch rule. I did not want to be referred to as an unethical chess player who managed to win in an unfair way, that is why at the end, having achieved the winning position, I offered a draw."

It is interesting to notice that the law of the game says that the player has to play with the touched piece only "if the player having the move deliberately touches …[the piece]", which was not Navara’s case, especially when both players and arbiter agreed it was touched unintentionally. Yet, Navara felt uncomfortable with the situation, and only after a long game when he reached a winning position, did he offer a draw, conceding a half point to his opponent. Like Pecháč he also went on to win in the tiebreaks.

Comparing with the Pecháč incident, this one is even more extraordinary, since the opponent, Moiseenko, was not harmed by any means. Navara’s winning position was a result of better play, differently from the first one, who reached a winning position after a mouse slip of his opponent. The comparison between the cases raises another interesting question: Isn’t a mouse slip part of the game, like arriving at time at the board, pressing the clock after making a move, and of course - playing well in order to win? Isn’t it all part of the "package" of being a good competitor?

As a great fan of the Brazilian football National Team, I remembered the following case:

In the 77 minute of the final match of the Football World Cup 1998 between Brazil and France, held in Stade de France,  the locals were leading by 2-0 when the French star Zinédine Zidane fell to the ground, supposedly injured, after being tackled by a Brazilian player.

Rivaldo, as an act of fair play, threw the ball away so Zidane could receive medical treatment.

Edmundo, a Brazilian forward, started to scream at  his compatriot Rivaldo for being "too fair" since the Brazilians were losing, and were desperate to score their first goal to keep the game alive.

In Globo TV broadcast, The Brazilian narrator, Galvão Bueno, asked the former National player Romário:

- "Is it time to throw the ball away, Romário?"

- "Of course not Galvão, there’s no room for that kind of action. There are only 15 minutes left, it is time to score a goal!" Answered the legend.

It is important to mention that no rule would have been violated if Rivaldo had kept playing instead of stopping the game. The Brazilians had all the right to keep the game going, just as Pecháč could have captured the Queen, and Navara could have moved the Bishop. Let’s not forget that in the 3 cases we are dealing with knock-out stages of the tournament, so there is not a peaceful solution, like a draw.

The motivation behind Rivaldo’s action is defined as part of Internalism in Sports by Simon, Torres and Hager in their book Fair Play:The Ethics of Sport, 2015. The authors describe that every sport has unique non written rules that the players respect as part of a consensus of their common sport. For instance, in golf, the players themselves report about a self-rule violation, without the need for an arbiter. It is a kind of agreement between all the competitors, and if this agreement is broken, it usually will be followed by a moral judgement towards the "lawbreaker".

In chess, we can think about shaking hands before the game, or sharing our scoresheet with our opponent so he can add the missing moves to his own score sheet, as parallel cases. And in football, when one player is injured the other team stop the game to allow his treatment (today the arbiter has the power to do so in serious injuries cases).

But what happens when this "internal consensus" is broken? And when is it legitimate to do it? There are no easy answers, and the decision can certainly change the course of the respective game. Imagine a script where Rivaldo didn’t stop the game and Brazil scored a goal in the very next attack, following another one in the injury time, and ended up winning the game in the penalty shoot-out, the tiebreakers. Would it make the victory "less moral"?

Notice that after Zidane received his attention from the arbiter, subsequent to Rivaldo’s fair play action, he stood up and kept running as if nothing had happened. More frustrating was the way the French team gave the ball back to Brazil (common act of retrieving the fair play), kicking the ball to the corner of the field, forcing Cafu, the Brazilian defender, to run more and spend extra energy on putting the ball back to the game. The aim was achieved - stopping Brazil’s momentum and reducing their chances of scoring.

An interesting question is what Rivaldo’s decision would have been, if he had known that Zidane was not really injured, and that France would return the ball in such an "unfair way"? It is ironic that Edmundo, who disagreed with Rivaldo’s decision, is known as "The Animal" in the Brazilian football, for his sometimes aggressive temperament. In this case, in post-factum analysis, it seems that he understood better the rules of surviving, instead of the "civilised" choice of Rivaldo.

Going back to our case, it is absorbing to observe how an action in the third round of the tournament influences our judgement for the next rounds, since it is impossible to judge other mouse slips without comparing them with Pecháč’s game. This means that the way we judge, or at least reflect about, these type of incidents has unavoidably changed, adding in a real time moral relativism  to the tournament. It consequently changes what we are used to facing regarding what is considered fair play, thus creating two different possible actions, capturing the hanging piece or offering a draw, when both of them appear moral.

In the 18th century, the Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711–76) claimed that our moral (relative) conducts are based on our emotions, so one can claim that the respect for Gelfand, and the empathy for his mouse slip had an influence on Pecháč’s decision. The action is even "more relative" considering that no one expected this kind of gesture, since this decision could have cost the player his qualification to the next round.

The moral relativism brings new questions to our scenario:If Pecháč’s action is a moral one, should we criticize the ones who don’t act in the same way? And if the answer is no, can we claim that the original action was "too moral"? Additionally, we can assume that if the player had needed the win, after a hypothetical loss in the first game, he probably would not have offered a draw.  And if the answer is yes, it would "stretch" moral relativism even more, maybe creating a new type of fair play - an "ultra fair play".

To conclude, it is always stimulating to have discussions about fair play rather than cheating, and we hope chess will continue to survive as a great way of competing, even facing technological challenges, pandemics and whatever might come, with the help of the great sportsmen we have.

As a chess community, we are dealing with a broad and new range of ethical issues which are constantly appearing, as online games have become part of the professional game since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Before, online tournaments were played specially for fun. Nowadays, new ways of playing have arrived, and with them new ways of cheating, but also new forms of fair play - the other side of the coin - as Pecháč’s gesture provides.


Highlights from the European Hybrid World Qualifier

Assi Philosoph has a Bachelor in Philosophy and a Master in Cinema from Tel Aviv University. He likes to explore chess from many different angles, such as writing, filming and of course playing. He is also a former deputy director of the Israeli Chess Federation. His favorite player is Tigran Petrosian.


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Zdrak Zdrak 6/10/2021 10:18
When you are a 19-year-old kid facing a chess legend, you cannot win as a result of a mouse slip. You can win as a result of a hard-fought battle, or not at all.
Steven Gerrard Steven Gerrard 6/10/2021 10:04
If you are going over analysis morality in games, should note their is a difference between an individual choosing what to do, and someone in a team, particularly when representing their country. Basically an individual is free to do whatever suits their morality. The other case not so much,
dumkof dumkof 6/9/2021 01:11
Unless touched with at least 2 fingers (including the thumb), arbiters should be able to interprete it as "untouched". Top tournaments are recorded, so it should be easy to prove an unintentional contact/touch, even afterwards. Not everything is black or white, to be fully covered by regulations. We have experienced human arbiters, with logical thinking, to manage such (grey) situations.

Navara obviously didn't touch the piece intentionally, as also accepted by his opponent, so a draw offer in my opinion wasn't necessary, in ethical means. He simply outplayed him and should have taken the full point. If the arbiter had timely interpreted the contact as "untouched", Navara wouldn't have felt the necessity and pressure to offer the draw, and would have taken the deserved full point. Draw is not the fair result here.

Navara is just an exceptional gentleman. Much respect to him. May life treat him fair as well.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/9/2021 10:33
@Jason Rihel what an absurd way from your opponent to try and win by tricking you in time trouble with the clock. That player should have been penalized for that.

@Michael Jones it's nice from your opponent not to announce a win because you being late. I can imagine how stressed you were when you tried to arrive to the tournament and were watching the clock, assuming that you will lose and then see that your opponent actually wants a game. I had my share of this kind of stress as well.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 6/9/2021 09:13
I wonder whether interpretation by arbiters of the rules is in any way controlled by democratic means. It seems it isn't even generally open to the public, so I don't know whether these interpretations are uniform. I know the French association has a written set of them, but I have no idea if this also counts for other federations, or whether these work with the same set.
According to the FIDE Handbook, the arbiters have some freedom to make their own interpretations if the rules don't cover a situation. Are they bound by these unofficial sets of interpretations? I don't know. If they are not, I could well understand decisions to call the two situations I described as accidental.
fgkdjlkag fgkdjlkag 6/9/2021 04:06
@JackCrabb, I thought the rules specify that touch-move does not apply to accidental touching, so your example he would not have to move the King.

It's silly for the Gelfand game to end in a draw in the middle of a rich position because of a mouseslip. Easy fix - add to the rules for online games without move confirmation, that if both players agree, with the notification to the arbiter, the player can take back a move, or both players can repeat moves to get to the game position before the mouseslip.

Should there be no rules for mouseslips, as is suggested above? No way, that only favors younger players on the basis of their mouse skills, not chess-playing ability.

Why do we get a picture of Gelfand above, and not Pecháč, who was the one who made the noble gesture?

I think the fair thing for Navara's opponent to do, would be to resign when he was offered the draw.
Michael Jones Michael Jones 6/8/2021 09:46
@lajosarpad - It was noble of you to offer to play the game on level terms, and frankly absurd that your opponent subsequently objected to it. The arbiter was entirely correct to dismiss his objection.

I have been late for local league games on two occasions, both of them due to public transport. In both cases I was able to call my captain, who in turn notified my opponent that I was going to be late. Both times I was sufficiently late that my opponent would have been entitled to claim a win by default, but both declined to do so. Both started my clock, so by the time I did arrive I had half an hour or so less than them, but I don't blame them for doing so - if evening games go on too long, it might get to the venue's closing time, and even if not it would result in the players getting home later than they might have liked when most of them would have had to work the next day. As it happened, I lost both games anyway, but I don't suppose my opponents would have regretted their gesture if I had won; in such leagues there is no money at stake and players take part solely for enjoyment - most of them would prefer to play a game, regardless of the result, than to claim a win by forfeit. I did once gain a default win when my opponent failed to turn up at all, but I was disappointed to make the journey and not get a game rather than being pleased with the free point.
Pemoe6 Pemoe6 6/8/2021 04:59
@Frits Fritschy: There are objective criteria for intention, as I learned from a discussion with an arbiter a couple of years ago. If a piece is touched by the hand from above, for example, that is intentional by all means. If a piece is brushed with the sleeve while the hand reaches over it, it's definitely not intentional and so on.
adbennet adbennet 6/8/2021 04:44
@ChessBase - We need a "report post" button, please. I believe the latest post by fabiomax should be deleted, and even the username shows ill will. Thank you for listening.
Jason Rihel Jason Rihel 6/8/2021 02:58
@lajosarpad, Hilarious that a player given more time wanted to try and use that to nullify the game. Just wow.

In OTB chess, I've seen a lot of what I would call unfair play in time scrambles at the end, especially in the older days without digital clocks and delay functions. One that cost me a tournament win: I had a simple Q and King vs. King and pawn time scramble, no time delay. Two moves from a forced win, my opponent called, "Flag!", causing me to exhale a moment, squint down at the clock (those little red flags weren't always to easy to see!), and realize that my flag wasn't down yet! Non-plussed, I tried to execute the final few moves, but those extra seconds he shaved off my time caused me to flag for real, with an easy mate coming in one more move. I complained about this bad behavior, and although it was against the rules to do this kind of thing, it was impossible to arbitrate at that point. I might have had a case if I stopped the clock immediately and called a rule violation, but in the heat of those time scrambles, you can forget to do that properly. And I suspect he would have denied doing it, given that he clearly did it on purpose to squeeze me.
Roxy_Knight Roxy_Knight 6/8/2021 02:49
You cant take moves back ... total nonsense and bunny talk. If you play a bad move , then you have played a bad move that's Chess ... it's that simple
Keshava Keshava 6/8/2021 12:35
You seem to mean well but you imply that the 'fair and square' way to decide the result was by pushing back the clock when in fact you were aiding a player in the tournament unjustly. You don't even know why he was late but even if it was traffic then it was his responsibility to leave earlier to avoid that - just like other players in the tournament had to. I say this as one who is habitually late. 'Fair' means equivalent conditions for all, not special conditions for those who are fortunate enough to be paired with a generous benefactor such as yourself. Now if you knew beyond a doubt that he was late for noble reasons then I agree with you.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/8/2021 12:05
Would I risk now being discualified from a tournament or punished otherwise by the arbiter by doing the same to avoid taking advantage of unwanted luck? Absolutely. Would I do it for the player, who, back then was okay with erasing his time disadvantage, at the start, but accused me of "cheating" when his position became untenable? Absolutely not. Why? Because the arbiter is outside the universe of the game, he/she has the exact same role as 'fate'. On the other side, the opponent is inside the universe of the game and my noble gesture is directed to him. As soon as he proves to be unworthy of it, he will no longer receive it.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/8/2021 12:04
It so happened that my opponent was late by 15 minutes from the game and I really wanted to play him, so we can decide fair and square the result. When he arrived, I was releaved, because I was not forced to accept a win by default. To make sure that I do not have the upper hand due to traffic problems in the city, since, I of course assumed my opponent had a good reason for being late, I switched back his clock, to ensure he has as much time as me, so we could fight it out on equal ground. My opponent was okay with that at that point, but once he was outplayed and he has seen no way out, he chickened out from the fair fight and reached out the arbiter, accusing me of cheating by setting back his clock, as if he had not lost time due to being late.

The arbiter looked at him and told him that cheating is done in order to advance one's own cause, not his opponent's. Maybe the strict rules would have favored my opponent. Maybe not. I felt that the arbiter did not want to punish me for playing in a noble manner, so, whatever the rules were, he was bound to reject my opponent's objection. Then, my opponent swept the pieces from the board in anger and lost the game. In the end, we were tied first and had a rapid playoff. He won the first game, then I won the second, so the playoff was tied as well. Since I have beaten him in our direct encounter, I won that tournament.
lajosarpad lajosarpad 6/8/2021 12:03
Let me first outline that I would separate the concept of fair play from the concept of noble play. Fair play is the collection of moral expectations that a player needs to comply to in order of not losing reputation and the sympathy of fellow players and the crowd. Noble play is ignoring the expectations of other players or the crowd and aims to altruistically alter the course of events.

When Topalov and crew accused Kramnik of cheating, refused of shaking hands, that was unfair, because it violated the expectations of the crowd, the majority was horrified at the thought that a man with such manners might become the unified World Champion.

Navara's draw offer was also adhering to perceived codes of fairness, as he said he did not want to be considered to be unfair. This was a nice gesture, but due to the fact that the cause was that he worried about his own reputation and that complied to his gesture, I consider his action to be fair play and not noble play. However, Moiseenko's gesture, according to me was noble play, since he did not attempt to enforce some rules that were clearly favoring him.

Another example from the time when I still played at tournaments. There was a local tournament I played in and due to historical events, there are several nationalities in my region. There were two leaders of the tournament, me (a Hungarian) and a Romanian guy and there are tense relations between Romanians and Hungarians, so, besides our individual incentive to win the tournament, we also represented our nationalities.
Nordlandia Nordlandia 6/8/2021 11:23
What about castling. It happens every now and then that players don't pay attention to the correct order, like for instance when Karpov castled with the rook first against Nepomniachtchi and play resumed with Nepo upset since the arbiters didn't do anything. Another case was when Nepo himself castled with the rook first in FRC. This was according the official FRC castling rules legal but the arbiter was not aware of it himself. Starting a huge dispute when totally unnecessary. I think the latter case was good because it had to happen sooner or later anyway. So my point is that > arbiters need to know FRC castling rules.

So it's likely Karpov got away simply because > there is pressure not enforce the rules against a famous person.
Keshava Keshava 6/8/2021 11:22
What if you have the advantage in a rally and think that you are going to win an important point in a tennis match. Then the opponents racket breaks on his attempt to return the ball to you. Should the point be played over? I don't think so because the opponent's faulty equipment cost you an opportunity to win the point on tennis ability alone.
Ajeeb007 Ajeeb007 6/8/2021 06:56
Way over-analyzed. Do to others what you would have them do to you.
Phillidor Phillidor 6/8/2021 06:34
An interesting article, as well as discussion. I think it's hard to put oneself into the shoes of Navarra, Pechac, Rivaldo or any other fair-play devotee, as it is impossible to capture the whole picture. There are numerous factors that influence the decision to prefer 'justice' over the result in a specific case. I believe the right questions are raised in the article. I'd say psychologically the decision to play 'fair' is basically simple: a player prefers the 'right manner' over the result, because this is more important for him in this exact moment (or even generally). They rather lose as a gentlemen than win in a questionable way. But in this sense it's important to notice that it is practically impossible to point out what would be an "ethically questionable, but legal win". It is kind of a paradox and in a way it goes against the essence of chess. If it would be unethical to accept free gifts (queen oversight), then why do we happily capture a piece after a sophisticated double attack? If it would be unethical to win on time in a time scramble, are we supposed to wait for the opponent and lose on time just to show how fair we are? To me the comparison in the article of fair play with gifts was very well on point. We all are generous sometimes (I usually don't want to win on time drawn blitz positions), but it's a matter of principles how far we are prepared to go with generousity. One factor is also the opponent: if we consider him well-mannered, it's more likely the gestures will be returned somehow. At the same time, if these gestures go to far, it kind of goes against the main goal of sport and chess: to beat the opponent. In this sense I'd say the 'pure' act of fair play does not expect the generousity to be returned. Still, it is nice that examples of fair play are talked about and remembered.
jeanalvarez jeanalvarez 6/8/2021 06:02
Excelent this report about the fair in the sport...chess and football. Thanks Chessbase!
adbennet adbennet 6/8/2021 04:11
`For instance, in golf, the players themselves report about a self-rule violation, without the need for an arbiter. It is a kind of agreement between all the competitors, and if this agreement is broken, it usually will be followed by a moral judgement towards the "lawbreaker".`

No, I don't think so. It's not at all an agreement between competitors, it's the tournament rules that all players must sign a correct scorecard. Course officials are tracking every stroke and the penalty for the player failing to count all the strokes as well is elimination from the tournament. For an actual example of fair play you need to look at playing "partners" (actually direct competitors) who might help each other with their scorecards. In casual play indeed there is no arbiter checking the scorecards, that's why cheating is rampant and so-called "scratch" golfers are everywhere.

And trying to relate football to fair play? Please, no. Sorry to all the football fans, in my opinion there is no worse sport for fair play. It's all divas competing for acting awards, the only time this is not happening is when one team is safely controlling the ball and the teams are not in contact. The women play a clean game however.

Now to the chess: We reap what we sow. A player known for sharp practices and rulesmanship will become the one never shown any mercy. A player known for fair play and generosity will sometimes receive the same in return. Although most players will be in the middle and not have a reputation either way, they will compete against those with reputations, and their collective actions will weigh heavily or lightly depending on the nature of that reputation. Would another player than Gelfand have received a draw offer? Some players absolutely not, most players maybe yes maybe no, a few other players definitely yes. Something to keep in mind.
Jason Rihel Jason Rihel 6/8/2021 01:17
Physically touched pieces are not the same as a mouse slip. A mouse slip can be caused by glitches in the Matrix when sending signals from mouse to computer to internet server, and can also be caused by the poorer fine motor skills that comes from aging. Over the board, it is usually quite easy to see the intent of the player. I think Navarra's draw offer from a winning position after a clear case of non-deliberate King touching was unnecessary (and he somehow still felt the need to prove that he won the game, else why not just offer an immediate draw?). Offering Gelfand a draw after an obvious mouse error is just respectful. Clearly, mouse slips cannot be allowed in the rules, else there would be endless bickering about what was a "mouse slip" and what was "atrocious blunder". But professional GMs and even probably most tournament players would know a mouse slip when they see one and should be able to account for it with some fair play. Think, Queen moves to a square with a simple capture. Or maybe when seeking to exchange rooks down a file but dropping the rook one square short.

Now, what if Gelfand was already in a badly losing position and mouse slipped? In that case, offering a draw would be silly. But where do you draw the line at how bad the game must be lost? And.. And... And...

Clearly, we just need to get back to OTB chess!
keithbc6472 keithbc6472 6/8/2021 12:12
A mouse slip is not a blinder. Instead of offering a draw, just take the move back as it was obvious NO oNE would play such a move. No player should lose out due to failings of technology
JackCrabb JackCrabb 6/7/2021 10:55
Imagine you're black in an important game. After 1.e4 d5 2.ed5 Qxd5, your opponent is to make his third move. Obviously he wants to play 3.Nc3, for which his right hand has to fly over the bulk of his army. Suddenly, because of some nervous malfunction, his hand begins to tremble when still over the kingside. So he involuntarily touches his biggest piece, which is the king. Would you insist on touche-move then ?
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 6/7/2021 10:09
In the Gelfand-Pecháč game, I think a professional like Gelfand should have refused the draw and resign instead. A king shouldn't accept alms, he should give them. For myself, I would be ashamed to accept such a draw offer.
In the Navarra case, the rules are a bit mistifying. See the Handbook, art. 4.3.1: '[if the player having the move touches on the chessboard,with the intention of moving or capturing:] ... one or more of his own pieces, he must move the first piece touched that can be moved'. If it is impossible to ascertain which piece is touched first, it is not clear what should happen.
If Navarra first touched the king, I don't know whether this should be considered 'purely accidental'. Arguing that a top level GM like Navarra wouldn't leave a bishop en prise might be going down a slippery slope. His 'intention' might have been to move it on the next move, something that happens even to the best players - but you can't call that an accident.
There have been other cases where touching probably was accidental. An old book I have by B. Weinstein about pitfalls in the opening gives two examples: Horseman-Larsen, Hastings 1956 where white played Ke1-b3, Qd1-b3 being intended (although someone else might use this when seeing just in time that castling would have lost a piece...) and, clearer, Bagirov-Korchnoi USSR ch. 1960 where the latter played Ba6xRe1 (Bc3xe1 intended) where there was no useful move for the a6 bishop. (Back then, both had to play the piece.) In cases like this, when both your opponent and the arbiter agree that there was no intent and you are sure about it yourself, I don't see any harm in continuing and even winning the game. If that is not clearly the case, one should maybe offer a draw immediately, to make things clear for your opponent and other contestants.
Michael Jones Michael Jones 6/7/2021 09:40
I'm reminded of another recent case - when Ding Liren lost an online game against Carlsen due to being disconnected, so in the next game Carlsen deliberately hung his queen in the opening and immediately resigned in order to even the score and avoid profiting from Ding's misfortune. In both cases we can reasonably say that although it was a sporting gesture from the opponent, they were by no means obliged to do so and should not have been criticised if they had chosen not to.
Aighearach Aighearach 6/7/2021 08:54
"Would he offer a draw if he were playing against a player who is not a legend as Gelfand is?"

Absolutely not. It is just like when Kasparov violated touch-move against Polgar. There is pressure not enforce the rules against a famous person.