[Retros] Ch3: The missing 3R and 50M retro conventions

Guus Rol grol33 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 13 07:17:01 EDT 2014

Dear retro-friends,

The previous chapter concluded that the 3R and 50M conventions are
different from the typical retro conventions which merely aim to fill
information holes. Let us continue by investigating a popular view in the
retro community.

Some if not most hold the honorable viewpoint that the drawing rules in the
FIDE laws apply to the 3R and 50M situations as well as the automatic
drawing conventions in the retro field. Even though nobody ever explained
when and why the rule applies and when and why the convention, the opinion
has some justification in the fact that no retro conventions bans the
related FIDE laws explicitly. And the overall consensus is that FIDE laws
apply whenever possible.

The next step in the evaluation is to check what the WFCC (or its
predecssor) has done to assure the viability of the drawing laws in a retro
environment. The answer is: absolutely nothing! Conventions have been drawn
up to decide uncertainties on castling and en passant moves but not to
protect the drawing laws. Had there been one, it would have read something
like this: *If can be proved in all games that an identical position
occurred (or is about to occur) for the 3rd time, then players can claim a
draw in accordance with the 3R FIDE law.* And of course, a similar
convention is needed for 50M. Some will say that this convention is
unnecessary since one must prove 3R to the arbiter in a standard FIDE chess
game already. This is just a repeat of the #1 mistake in the field namely
the idea that FIDE laws can apply to a set of games as well as to moves in
a game. No FIDE law is capable of handling sets of games with uncertain
states, only to handle one game with known states.

What it means is that any player in almost any retro-diagram can claim an
immediate draw by virtue of the fact that proof games exist in which the
diagram position occurred for the 3rd time. At the same time someone
else might argue that there are also proof where such is not the case and
so the play must continue. This results in an absolute deadlock. No
solution exist as retro-convention are required te resolve it and no such
convention exists. Some will argue that play must öbviously" continue but
such is another logical fallacy. There is no preference to continue a game
rather than stop it as "termination" is not a retro-active property with a
preferred state. I explained that in an earlier post but will repeat it
later in the current step-by-step approach. What remains is the question of
why the automatic 3R drawing convention doesn't step in to handle the
situation. The answer is simply that automatic draws do require proof in
all proof games and such it not yet the case.

This analysis leaves us with the question what the WFCC/Codex committee had
actually in mind when creating the 3R and 50M conventions. Why didn't it
provide conventions to support the FIDE draws? Why didn't it deliver tools
to decide the interactions between claimed draws and automatic draws? Why
didn't it elaborate on the important issue of a preclaim in 3R (claiming
half a move before the 3rd position occurrence). Why in heaven did it
design conventions that do nothing to provide clarity and only provoke
debate? Think about it for a while before you read my answer.

When attempting to read minds, we obviously leave the domain of formal
deduction and enter the domain of psychology and opinion. When I did this
analysis in 2006 I approached it without any agenda. I concluded that the
Codex club could have intended just one thing and that was *"to replace the
existing FIDE laws on 3R and 50M by the automatic conventions". *By the
way, this is only partly true for 50M which therefore needs treatment in
separate post. It is clear that on this approach all uncertainty and
ambiguity is instantly resolved. But it also carries grave consequences on
the status of the Retro Rule Book whereby we enter Kevins favorite

One thing we cannot hope to achieve is that FIDE changes its rules to suit
the retro field. We are no computer boys, we do not bring in the money.The
moment we conclude that the FIDE rules don't work for us 100%, we must
create our own Rule Book - as any fairy form must do as well. And it must
be clear to everyone in the community that we play by different rules. Such
as to avoid endlessly repeated debates on the premise that we have to take
into account the possibility that players do not claim a draw or have not
claimed a draw and whatever. No, such is by the FIDE rule book and not by
the Retro rule book. Retro chess cannot exist without any of its basic
sets, the DGC-set and the Game-set and we must assure the consensus on
the rules in the Game-set or every retro-debate will only lead to
uninterrupted chains of miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Best, wishes, Guus Rol.
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