[Retros] The basics of the relationsship between laws and conventions

Guus Rol grol33 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 13 07:30:01 EDT 2014

Hi Kevin,

I have taken a leaf out of your Rule Book in my latest post on the 3R and
50M conventions. Please let me know your opinion on what I have done to the
"FIDE laws".

As a general note: the main objective of my research is the retro-active
domain. Though it touches on various types of laws and conventions, these
are not my targets. I know Andrew at one time set out to redesign the laws
and I am not sure whether that work came to a conclusion. I am happy to use
whatever consensus is out there as long as it is workable for the

Best wishes, Guus Rol.
On Thu, Jun 12, 2014 at 4:53 AM, Kevin Begley <kevinjbegley at gmail.com>

> Guus,
> I certainly will agree that a more fundamental understanding is the proper
> direction.
> I also appreciate your efforts to disambiguate our Laws from our
> Conventions.
> However, some of the terminology I find needlessly confusing.
> Worse, I find one term particularly troubling:  "FIDE Laws"
> Let's be clear on this point: FIDE is a federation of chess players (it is
> not the institute for the preservation of one sacred chess variant).
> It may sound blasphemous to say this, but FIDE laws (and any alterations
> thereof -- experimental or otherwise) should have no impact upon problem
> chess (neither upon our notion of Orthodoxy, nor upon our problem
> classifications).
> The WFCC charter was carefully constructed to provide problemists with
> ample independent space to create the laws governing problem chess;  as
> such, it is WFCC's responsibility to formally standardize a universal
> language by which all chess problems may be expressed.
> It is our language -- which depends entirely upon our own dictionary, and
> our own coherent rules of grammar.
> WFCC requires its own definition of Orthodox Chess (which need be nothing
> more than a static set of universal default rules, which provides us with a
> foundation to express problems in all possible genres).
> Problem chess has a variety of rule books (some may share common features
> with many aspects of FIDE rule book), and a variety of conventions.
> Rules govern the size and shape of the board, and the interconnections of
> its squares.
> Rules govern the movement of specific units upon any board.
> Rules govern a number of presumptions about the history of the diagram
> position (castling rights, en passant rights, rebirth rights, etc).
> Rules govern the termination of play (checkmate, stalemate, dead reckoning
> -- perhaps even 3R and 50M).
> Stipulations express the contract of a chess problem (the motivation, the
> goal, the aim, and the limitation in number of moves).
> Conventions govern the correctness of a problem (cooks, duals, promotion
> duals, illegal positions, etc).
> Beyond all that, many of our tourneys are governed by thematic
> definitions.
> Sometimes, our titled judges will not even agree what constitutes the
> publication of a chess problem (like when a few judges tossed out all
> studies employing fewer than seven total units, alleging anticipation by
> the EGTB).
> Only a few of our rule books are currently consistent with the FIDE Laws.
> But, FIDE laws can change... do change... whereas our universal language
> for describing formal chess problems should avoid all such changes.
> FIDE has its own unique charter -- to benefit the game of chess (their
> audience, their players, their sponsors, etc).
> Despite having a vast crop planted in the field (and thousands more
> problems are planted every year), WFCC laws currently offer no solid
> foundation for growth.
> Instead, WFCC has been fixed upon the mercies of a chess gaming federation.
> To illustrate...
> Yesterday, while listening to coverage of Norway's "No Logo"
> super-tournament, I was particularly interested in GM Nigel Short's
> assertion that a stalemated player earn no half-point.
> Without getting lost in the weeds of the controversy, just absorb that
> information...
> He even expressly stated (paraphrasing) that chess enthusiasts should
> acknowledge that a number of beautiful studies exist, in which stalemate is
> considered as something less than a win.
> We can all acknowledge that, neglecting possible side-effects, it is
> virtually certain that the change GM Short suggests would achieve his
> desired outcome:  his alteration of "FIDE Laws" would undoubtedly yield a
> significant reduction in the threshold for victory, in a chess game.
> In fact, as he rightly points out, this change is not even a new rule for
> chess -- it's actually a return to an older rule.
> FIDE enthusiasts (their audience, their players, their sponsors, etc) are
> free to promote a wide range of alternative tournament formats, in the
> interest of improving game competition. In fact, they have experimented
> with a number of alternative ideas (changes to the scoring, changes in the
> tiebreak resoultions, changes to the clock, changes to the rules of draw
> offers, etc).
> Like it or not, FIDE is primarily committed to its own federation -- those
> affiliated by an enthusiasm for the chess game competition -- and these
> experimental modifications are completely coherent with their charter.
> Problemists have no grounds to dictate FIDE Laws.
> Nobody can argue that a beautiful stalemate study should prohibit FIDE
> from adopting whatever rules are in the best interest of chess players.
> If beautiful compositions were a valid criteria for dictating FIDE rules,
> their players would be forced to play the chess game in reverse.
> Let FIDE be FIDE.
> We have to tend to our own set of unique laws, for the benefit (and
> integrity) of problem chess.
> Let's get away from this false pretense that FIDE Laws and WFCC Orthodoxy
> can be one in the same -- these are inherently irreconcilable ideas.
>  Best,
>   Kevin.
>  On Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 10:46 AM, Guus Rol <grol33 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>  Dear retro-friends,
>> In the past weeks I have reacted on several posts related mostly to 3R.
>> Now this is kind of a random subject to plunge into the retro-field and not
>> easy to handle as an isolated item. It is part of a larger structure of
>> concepts I developed many years ago. You can find the results of that
>> research in Probleemblad since 2007 starting with R309. Not many problems,
>> but all the essentials to demonstrate the scope and power of this approach.
>> In this post I go back to the very beginning of that research which is
>> the understanding of the retro-active subject - everything retro that is
>> not purely analytical but contains uncenrtainty - through its conepts and
>> structure. Nothing in this analysis is based on opinion. Everything is
>> either fact or inevitable. That is probably not true for everything in my
>> theory but it is for this part.
>> *The first environment to define is the one where the FIDE laws
>> operate. It is filled by the set of all (partial) games played according to
>> the FIDE laws. There are operations such as moves and there are positions
>> and players and others things. We cal this set the Game-set.*
>> *The second environment is the one of chess diagrams. Every diagram
>> represents billions of proof games leading from PAS to the diagram. We call
>> it DGC, the Diagram Game Cluster. All DGCs together form a superset of the
>> previous set and we name it the DGC-set. There are no FIDE rules defined
>> for the DGCs, no moves and no other charateristics associated with games.*
>> And there are chess problems. Most problems like #3 are formulated by
>> diagram. Formally you cannot solve any problem since there are no 'playing'
>> rules for game clusters, but one may assume - as a necessity - that FIDE
>> intended that you can reduce the DGC to an arbitrary game in the Game-set.
>> As long as it doen't matter which game you take!
>> *Here complexity starts. In retro-active problems the solution may change
>> with the game you pick from the DGC and therefore FIDE laws cannot decide.
>> They were only made to decide moves in known states and not for unknown
>> histories. Here - as a necessity - something is needed to reduce the DGC
>> to games where FIDE rules can apply. And these are "the conventions".
>> Whatever personal opinion you may have about the conventions, it is clear
>> that there are no other concepts or items anywhere in chess that are
>> capable of performing this task. And so, this is what conventions do, as a
>> bare minimum necessity: The conventions reduce a DGC to a game or
>> games that can be handled by the FIDE laws. It does not mean that
>> everything is decided all at once, it only decides what must be decided in
>> view of an intended action.*
>> Examples: (1) you wish to play e.p.; the e.p. conventions evaluates it
>> and hands back 0 games where e.p. is allowed. The request is denied (2) you
>> wish to play e.p. but this time under Petrovic a posteri logic. The
>> convention and logic allow it (provisionally, you must prove somrthing
>> later) and hand back all games where e.p. is legal. The move is then
>> executed by FIDE law (3) you do not castle and think you can get away with
>> it; the convention on castling detects however that you play reflex chess
>> and must mate by castling which is the preferred assumption. It returns 0
>> games without castling rights and your request to 'not castle' is thereby
>> rejected.
>> In a mathematical sense we have a very simple set - superset combination
>> here which basically represents the whole retro-active spectrum. The
>> functions for the DGC-set are "selections" - queries in database language -
>> designed to deliver games that can be handled by the Game-set functions
>> such as "moving". Many posts I read show that the authors (con)fuse the
>> functions performed on both sets. There exists no FIDE law - DR, mate ,
>> stalemate, 3R - that requires that a conditions is true or false for "all
>> games", only for "all moves in a game". The decision on which games can
>> only be delivered through the conventions.
>> The impact of these very simple principles is fantastic. It uplifts the
>> status of the conventions to stellar heights. Not only are they equals to
>> the FIDE laws, they preprocess all input for the FIDE laws, they have a
>> domain all of their own where FIDE laws cannot possibly enter. And finally,
>> they are required for any fairy type which pretends to support the
>> retro-field. Provided that these fairies introduce new retro-active
>> attributes which is quite often the case..
>> Does this resolve issues such as DR and 3R, or dynamic castling
>> evalautions in relation to 3R? Not quite, but you may be able to see that
>> it takes us quite a long way in the right direction. I hope to show that
>> some other time.
>> Best wishes, Guus Rol.
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