Adjudication FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions
about Adjudications

Much of the FAQ concerning close-out dates obviously applies to postal chess events. Server and email players will find the discussion on adjudication due to an opponent's withdrawal or death applicable to their venues.


Q. What is adjudication?

A. Adjudication is a formal process by which the final position of an unfinished game is analyzed by an unbiased third party, who then declares that position a win for one side, or else declares the game drawn. In some instances, this evaluation is based on specific analysis leading to a definitive conclusion, i.e., forced mate, forced draw, a "won ending" whose technique is documented in the literature, etc. In other cases, definitive analysis is not possible and the adjudicator must rely on general guidelines. Here he will usually award a win for material advantage but not for "positional" advantage alone.


Q. Why are games adjudicated?  Why can't they be played to a
    finish?

A. To award prizes and/or assign pairings for advanced rounds on a timely basis, it is absolutely essential for an organization to have an efficient way to score unfinished games at the end of the time alotted for play. CCLA uses the close-out (unrated) draw. For players who find such a result unacceptable, there is an adjudication procedure, to seek a win instead of a draw, a rated result as opposed to an an unrated result.

Besides running out of playing time, a player also has to deal with the situation where an opponent dies or withdraws from play. In these cases, CCLA awards an unrated win to remaining opponents. Results occurring before the death or withdrawal are not cancelled (and the reason why taking early draws in a two-year event is unwise.) Again, the player has the option of seeking an adjudicated (and rated) result, although great care should be exercised here. While he may gain some rating points, he cannot improve his tournament standing and risks losing ground on both counts!


Q. How does adjudication occur?

A. Adjudication of a game can only occur when one of the players requests it. An adjudication request consists of a legible gamescore, diagram of the final position and any analysis (optional) supporting a claim of win or draw. Adjudication requests are sent to the CCLA Tournament Director, who may handle the adjudication himself, or pass it on to another. A player who submits an adjudication request will receive written disposition.


Q. When does play stop?

A. In CCLA, players are allowed 24 months to complete their games (30 months in Finals sections.) The start and end dates are always included on section assignments distributed to all players. Per CCLA Rule 26, players may not break-off play and submit adjudication requests until one week before the close-out (end) date of the section. (Exception: if your opponent dies or withdraws, submit your adjudication request at once, do not wait for the close-out date.) No moves may be exchanged after the adjudication request has been submitted. Additional moves by either player are illegal and will be ignored by the adjudicator/T.D. If you continue play, even if you checkmate your opponent or he resigns, the adjudicated result will be the official result and will be based on the position submitted.


Q. Should I tell my opponent?

A. You do not need your opponent's permission to request adjudication. However, should you receive another move after sending in your adjudication request, common sense and common courtesy would indicate that you respond, advising your opponent you have submitted an adjudication request per CCLA Rule 18, and no more play is allowed. Your opponent may or may not submit his own request.


Q. What if I don't want my games decided by a third party?

A. The best way to avoid close-outs and adjudications is to observe the time limit and insist that your opponents do the same. Send repeats according to the schedule specified in CCLA Rule 18 , not "whenever." Rarely would a domestic postal game run into a close-out/adjudication situation if both players adhere to the time limit. Games played in CCLA server and email sections would only be closed-out if players abandon them.

Instead of adjudication, you and your opponent may request a six month extension, renewable in six month increments, from CCLA's T.D. Extensions are always granted unless they would delay the awarding of prizes and/or assignment of advanced rounds of play. In those instances, the T.D. will advise you if an extension cannot be granted. Your options then are to seek adjudication or accept a close-out draw. Be sure to request an extension well ahead of the close-out date. Note: both players must agree to an extension. If your opponent will not agree to an extension, then request adjudication at the proper time. Your opponent does not have to play beyond two years, but you don't have to accept a close-out draw, either.

Q. What if I don't agree with the adjudicator's decision?

A. Most adjudications are trivial (result is obvious,) do not involve a counter-claim, and are filed because the opponent has died, withdrawn or just refuses to resign a lost game (hoping for a close-out draw.) Because the process is administered by the CCLA T.D., it is he who issues the decision, even if an independent adjudicator is involved. Any decision by the T.D. may be appealed to the CCLA President, per CCLA Rule 4, whose decision is final.


Q. Should I automatically request adjudication when my opponent
    dies, withdraws, or the two-year limit approaches?

A. Certainly not! An adjudication request is not some formality to gain rating points. Never request adjudication unless you are convinced your position on the chess board merits the result you are claiming.

For example, if your opponent withdrew, per Rule 24 you get an unrated win toward your section total. If you submit the game for adjudication and the verdict is a draw or a loss for you, then you lose rating points and that +1 is replaced by 1/2 or even 0. Team players must give this careful thought, as they could cost their team a crucial point or half-point in the standings, chasing after rating points via adjudication. If you don't have a sure win, you're obviously better off taking the unrated win (or even the close-out draw) as opposed to a rated loss. Moral: do not submit frivolous adjudication requests.


Q. One player forfeited all his games in this section. Should I send in the game for adjudication?

A. If you have received a +1(F) forfeit win via the time complaint process, or ByLaw VII (opponent's failure to renew his membership,) do not also submit the game for adjudication. +1, +1(A) and +1(F) all mean exactly the same in terms of rating points and section scores. One is not "better" than another, nor can you get the same result rated twice.


Q. Am I at a disadvantage if I make a mistake in my analysis?

A. Submitting analysis is not required. Rarely does a participant submit objective analysis; he is trying to "prove" his win or draw claim and doesn't put enough effort into examining his opponent's resources. Experienced adjudicators largely ignore analysis submitted by the players, instead performing their own independent assessment. Many players mistakenly believe the adjudicator will note their superior play, higher rating, etc. and award them the win on the assumption they will continue to outplay the opponent. In adjudication, both sides take on the strength of Bobby Fischer! The adjudicated result is a realistic, objective evaluation of the position, not of the players or their rating disparity.

Ideally, the adjudicator works "in the blind." He should not have access to the tournament name, players' names or ratings, or even the gamescore. His only concern is the position to be evaluated, determining the most likely outcome based on best play by both sides.


Q. What can I do to improve my chances with the adjudicator?

A. If your opponent withdraws or dies unexpectedly, you're stuck with the position at hand. But as the close-out date approaches, there are steps you can take to maximize your opportunities in the adjudication process:

  1. Do not sacrifice any material for "position," for a speculative attack, etc. If you feel you must sacrifice, be sure you can recover the material before the adjudication (or can demonstrate forced recovery of the material in the analysis you send the adjudicator;
  2. Do not exchange, pieces or pawns, if such exchanges can be safely deferred. Instead, make safe moves that centralize your pieces. Look for posting squares that maximize the mobility of each piece. Leave the pawns alone; one ill-considered pawn push can ruin an otherwise solid position;
  3. Be extremely diligent in examining your opponent's possibilities. Guard against leaving a piece or pawn en prise. Check that you have not exposed your forces to a combination, your king to a mating attack;
  4. Last but not least! Please put forth the time and effort to submit a legible and accurate gamescore and a correct diagram (or Forsyth notation) of the final position. It is not the Tournament Director's task to try and figure out why the diagram is wrong, why it doesn't match the gamescore, why the gamescore contains ambiguous or even impossible moves, etc. If you don't provide the adjudicator with the proper materials to work with, how can you expect a fair and impartial decision about your game?


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