Two-handed castling at the World Cup

In the final Armageddon game in the match Nakamura – Nepomniachtchi, Nakamura castled with two hands on move 5. Following a Facebook discussion with a lot of intelligent people, I have come to two possible opinions of the arbiter’s responsibility in this situation.

First a few clear things:

1) This is an illegal act. You have to move the king, then the rook

2) The game is not a blitz game according to the rules, so the arbiter can step in should he find it fitting

3) The penalty would be an extra minute awarded to Nepomniachtchi

So the vote is on the following: How do you see the arbiter’s primary role?

a) To make sure that the rules are followed to the letter

b) To make sure the game is performed in a fair and fluent manner

a) Would mean that the arbiter intervenes no matter if the player looks annoyed or not.

b) Would mean that the arbiter tries to see if the player is disturbed or awaits for the player to complain. In this case the transgression was minimal and if the player is not showing clear signs of being disturbed, there is really no advantage to the transgression.

The rules says that the arbiter must act in strict accordance with the rules, but also that he should act according to the interests of the competition. But here we are not talking about what the rules are, but how we would like to see them implemented.


Last week’s poll saw a healthy majority in favour of the top vs bottom seeding system:


25 thoughts on “Two-handed castling at the World Cup”

  1. This is a very silly rule in light of the fact that Naka picked up both pieces essentially simultaneously and he would have to put the King obviously on the side relevant to that rook and not a not touched rook, period, – end of story. Nepo needs to grow up and take it like a man. Seriously, please. Ah, I forgot,…he wanted some kind of advantage against World No. 2! Sorry Nepo, not happening. Haha.

  2. It would really be a case if Naka picked up both with more time in between because this might look like he was going to try one thing first and then later decide to castle. THAT would be an egregious error on his part.

  3. I think the arbiter bottled it, it was clear Nakamura broke the rules and the arbiter should have intervened. I think they were too afraid to interfere in such a high profile game, that was the main problem in my eyes, we need arbiters that are not afraid to intervene when it is right to do so.

  4. I think that if player who is complaining after the game doesnt have right. He should stop the clock after illegal move was made. Its too late now.

  5. I vote for b) but consider castling with both hands in an Armageddon game as an unfair attempt to gain time which should get punished by the arbiter. Of course if the arbíter doesn’t react the offended player should make a claim on his own immediately and not after the game.

  6. The arbiter should definitely intervene.
    To play an armageddon game in a worldcup competition after quickchess and blitz must be absolutely nerve wrecking. Noone can expect a proper claim from such a player, it’s up to the arbiters to make it a fair game.

  7. In my opinion, if he was bothered, Ian should have stopped clocks and complained when it happened. To complain after the games in my opinion just bad sportsmanship. I don’t think the arbiter should be so pedantic interfere either. A lot of nonsense that ruins the chess. Ian should be ashamed to even bring this up! and a huge apology to Hikaru is in order.

  8. As an arbiter, I officially hate this question. I can’t make up my mind.

    I feel that if the arbiter acts, then the extra minute for Nepomniachtchi doesn’t make up for the loss of concentration due to the inevitable heated discussions. The arbiter basically changes the whole game for something that is really quite minor.

    On the other hand, if he never acts, then Nakamura can just keep on doing it, gaining a tiny advantage each time.

    Donner said that a good arbiter was an arbiter who you never noticed as a player, and that sounds about right. Nobody wants arbiters who jump in at every tiny infraction.

    I wish there was a way to add some time to clocks with a single button press only available for the arbiter, that would never be argued with…

  9. @Remco G
    I am sure that Nakamura would complain that time is added. On the other hand I do not think Nakamura would castle with both hands repeatedly in the same game :-).

  10. I believe Nakamura has done this Two handed castling in other games. I think rule 4.1 applies and the castling move should be one handed according to the rules , but is it 100 percent clear to me , can anyone clarify it?

    Why have observers at each board if they are not going to take action unprompted? Does Nakamura do this to psyche opponents out or maybe to shave a second or two.
    Still Nakamura is a great fast chess player with only a handful of rivals nowadays.

  11. As a FIDE IA my vote is clearly for b). Why I think so:
    1) Arbiter must not intervene on every action in the game as otherwise it is not chess, but something else. Especially in such a decisive game with very short time control interventions must be avoided and if necessary – only in obvious cases to be used like mate, illegal move, incorrect promotion etc.
    2) If you read carefully FIDE Arbiters Manual (2014) and it contains full laws of chess you must pay attention to Article 12 a/b/c/d. In my opinion the match-arbiter (in this case looks like it was deputy chief arbiter) acted correctly and thus ensuring at least 3 of those 4 points covered and followed.
    3) If during the game the player (in this case Nepo) did not approach the arbiter and complained, then after his next move he loses the right to claim anything at all, so the whole discussion is pointless and for me is just a try to find an outside reason for the lost match (and money).
    4) Last but not least we must not forget that the arbiter has the obligation also to write the game moves (in addition to electronic board), and it is obvious that especially in the opening moves happen very fast and while writing a sequence he/she can simply miss how exactly they were performed.

  12. a) and b) read the same to me, so either – is my answer.

    Both Armageddon players could and should have been penalized (from warning onwards) by either the arbiter on the spot, or by any authorized penal body after their game has ended and verbal, written, and video footage surfaced as public evidence.

    Why penalize both players?
    During the game:
    The Black player because of the castling offense (after White’s next move, not immediately), and immediately after White’s next move – the White player, for not reporting the offense.
    An arbiters’ benefit: because of waiting for the offender’s opponent to make his move, he gets a split second or more to react.

    Justice is in this way served to both players, and to the game of chess.

    Separately and also seriously, this was simply too much. Russia vs USA, etc.
    Who dare to intervene?? (for castling the King reportedly into safety)

  13. @Milen Petrov
    4) There were several arbiters there. Not applicable.
    3) Nepo’s complaint was based on the arbiter’s manual saying that the arbiter should always react.
    2) Elsewhere you can see that the move is not legally executed. Unless Krasenkow made it all up :-).

    Thus the question is not about the rules as they are, but as they should be.

  14. The player needs to stop the clock and ask the arbiter to ‘get involved’.

    I’ve seen Nakamura castle with two hands on several occasions. It usually gets a negative reaction from the opponent. Based on that reaction alone, his two-handed castling is unsportsman-like.

    Organizers could emphasize two-handed castling is not allowed.

    In this event Nepomniachtchi doesn’t stop his clock and, indeed, breaks a rule by moving before Nakumura has pressed his clock. Here it is in slow motion:

    Here’s another example of Nakamura castling with two hands, this time against Carlsen:

    I’d add, the protest both highlights Nakamura’s barbaric castling and is a warning to Nakamura. When he repeats this primitive behavior he will be punished.

  15. In 2015 players in these elite events should not need to have to worry about stopping the clock and asking arbiters. They have better things to do like concentrate on the game. There is no point of having an arbiters sitting there watching, if they’re not going to step in when they see blatant rule breaking.

  16. @Jesse Gersenson: it is perfectly allowed to make your move before the opponent has pressed the clock. As soon as the opponent lets go of the piece, he has made his move and you can make yours.

  17. @Remco G As soon as the player lets go of the piece he has ‘made his move on the chessboard’. But, the move doesn’t end there. To complete his ‘move’ he must also stop his clock.

    6.7 a. During the game each player, having made his move on the chessboard, shall stop his own clock and start his opponent’s clock. A player must always be allowed to stop his clock. His move is not considered to have been completed until he has done so, unless the move that was made ends the game. (See the Articles 5.1.a, 5.2.a, 5.2.b, 5.2.c and 9.6)
    The time between making the move on the chessboard and stopping his own clock and starting his opponent‘s clock is regarded as part of the time allotted to the player.

  18. @Jesse Gersenson
    For what it’s worth, you quoted from the FIDE laws “for competitions starting before 1 July 2014”. The current version, in section 6.2a (things have moved around a bit), says “A player must be allowed to stop his clock after making his move, even after the opponent has made his next move“, which implies to me that the opponent may make his move on the board before the current player has pressed the clock.

  19. Is it correct that in Wojtasek – Giri the arbiter intervened without waiting for Wojtasek to complain?
    Wojtasek got an extra minute when the arbiter warned Giri not to adjust the pieces while his opponents time is running…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top