Arbiter Regulations: Why are we proposing to change them?
1. The ECF Arbiter Title is de facto unnecessary in its current form
As the ECF Director of Home Chess, I am responsible for administering the ECF Arbiter titles. These titles actually convey very little of responsibility – we do not prevent tournaments from being graded if they do not have an arbiter – let alone a qualified one – responsible for making decisions at them. Indeed, the vast majority of league chess is played without arbiters present. The FA and IA titles convey meaningful rights and responsibilities with regard to being an arbiter at FIDE Title norm events. The proposal seeks to create meaningful reasons for people to acquire the ECF Arbiter title.
2. The ECF Senior Arbiter Title being beyond that of an ECF Arbiter is no longer necessary
The ECF Senior Arbiters are generally considered to be arbiters “good enough to be the Chief Arbiter of a big FIDE Open”. If we have a big FIDE Open, such as Hastings, Isle of Man, or the London Chess Classic, then it would be difficult to defend a situation internationally whereby International Arbiters are on the team of arbiters, but an ECF Senior Arbiter without a FIDE title was the tournament’s Chief Arbiter ahead of them. Internationally, this would be seen as a strange way of operating, and events such as those listed are international events, that attract international players.
3. Internationally, there is extensive National Arbiter training before becoming a FA/IA
In France, there are several regional arbiter qualifications before you acquire National Arbiter status, and only then can you aspire to FIDE Arbiter.
In Greece, there are several categories of domestic arbiter, and only a category A domestic arbiter is eligible to apply for the title of FIDE Arbiter.
In the United States, there are several categories of Tournament Director, starting at club and local, and building up to Senior. Only a Senior Tournament Director is eligible to be put forward for the title of FIDE Arbiter.
The countries that tend not to have a national qualification leading into the international qualification tend to be very small countries, or countries without a strong chess tradition in them. For example:
In Cambodia, there was a case of a player who switched his FIDE affiliation from the United States, so that he could
take the FIDE Arbiter test to become a FIDE Arbiter immediately, to benefit from Cambodia’s status within FIDE as being a country that needs to receive positive discrimination in this way in order to organise more tournaments and improve chess there.
In Jersey, there is no domestic arbiter system, because the chess-playing population is not large enough for there to be a particular need for it.
One of the reasons FIDE introduced the “National Arbiter” title when licensing arbiters was that the expectation was that the majority of significant countries would have their own National Arbiter process, with arbiters at the top rising through this into the FIDE Arbiter and International Arbiter titles.
4. The ECF would like to have its arbiters appointed to elite FIDE Events
In order to achieve this, we need to encourage more arbiters to go through the FIDE Arbiter system. At the moment, some Arbiters prefer to aspire to the ECF Senior Arbiter title, which will not help with this aim.
Changes to Arbiter Regulations: Full Proposal
There are at present two disjoint systems: The domestic arbiter structure administered by the ECF, and the international arbiter structure administered by FIDE. The main aim of this proposal is to unite these two systems.
ECF System FIDE System
1 Pass a Test 1 Attend a Seminar and Pass a Test
2 Become an ECF Arbiter 2 Become a FIDE Arbiter
3 Become an ECF Senior Arbiter 3 Become an International Arbiter
Levels in the new Arbiter system
1 Attend an ECF Seminar and Pass the ECF Test
2 Become an ECF Arbiter
3 Become a FIDE Arbiter
4 Become an International Arbiter
Details of Each Level
1 The ECF will organise a minimum of three ECF Arbiter Seminars per year, and advertise them on the ECF website. These Seminars will have a reasonable geographic spread around England. The title will be awarded upon achieving a Pass mark in the Test. Titleholders will be eligible to apply for a FIDE Arbiters Licence. The ECF will aim to increase the number of Seminars to a minimum of five per year by 2019.
2 This will require three tournament norm passes from a minimum of two Assessors. At least one of these three tournaments must be from a Tournament that is either Rapidplay or Blitz. At least one of these three tournaments must be from a Tournament that is Standardplay. These tournaments must have a minimum of at least 30 players. Level 2 norms can only be acquired once the candidate has reached Level 1. The title will be awarded by a majority vote of Panel consisting of the Director of Home Chess, Manager of Arbiters (Home) and Chief Arbiter.
3 The FIDE Arbiter title will be awarded by FIDE under the regulations in force at the time. The ECF will organise a minimum of one FIDE Arbiters Seminar per year, and advertise it on the ECF website. This FIDE Arbiters Seminar can be attended, and the test taken, before Level 2 has been reached, but must be done after Level 1 has been achieved. No application for this level will be made for a candidate who is not already a Level 2 Arbiter. The Manager of Arbiters (International) will be responsible for submitting applications for FIDE Arbiter.
4 The International Arbiter title will be awarded by FIDE under the regulations in force at the time. The Manager of Arbiters (International) will be responsible for submitting applications for International Arbiter.
The ECF will not use norms that form part of a Level 2 application for Levels 3 or 4.
FIDE Arbiter Classification
Within Levels 3 and 4, Arbiters are able to acquire a classification within FIDE. No FIDE Arbiter can be classified higher than C. In order to be appointed to elite FIDE events in senior positions, typically having a category of A or B is necessary. The ECF will attempt to increase its number of Category A and B Arbiters from 7 to at least 10 by 2022. The length of time is necessary, given such high classifications can only be awarded to arbiters who have held the International Arbiter title for five years. Please see the FIDE Arbiter Classification regulations for more details.
Other Arbiter-Relevant Regulations
The ECF will continue its policy that at least one Level 1 Arbiter must be present at a Congress in order for it to be ECF-graded.
From 1st September, 2021, for an event to be graded, at least one Listed Level 2 Arbiter or higher must be:
(a) Responsible for making decisions at an individual Congress, whether present or otherwise
(b) Responsible for making decisions in an evening league normally conducted in arbiterless conditions; for example, serving on a Committee of any organisation that handles disputes or appeals
A practical example of how this may work in practice:
The Birmingham League has a Rules Committee that rules on any Laws of Chess related disputes. The Rules Committee would need one Level 2 Arbiter on it. This may be someone who plays in the league, but it need not be – there is no reason why the Arbiter can’t be someone who is not a player in it.
Other Leagues might send their dispute to the League Secretary, and ask him to make a ruling. In examples local to me that I am aware of, the Secretary then contacts a local arbiter, and invites him to make the ruling in the case in question. The Secretary then communicates the decision. For the purpose of meeting this regulation, the person consulted by the Secretary would be the Arbiter.
This information will be required when the relevant tournaments are registered for grading.
FIDE Arbiter Regulations will continue to be in force for FIDE-rated events, specifically:
All arbiters working at a FIDE-rated event must be FIDE licensed arbiters
All FIDE title norm events must have a licensed FIDE Arbiter or International Arbiter on their list of registered arbiters
In addition, the ECF will not register any events with FIDE whose arbiters are not Listed at all by the ECF (see below).
Existing Senior Arbiters and Instructors will be grandfathered into this role. For new assessors:
Three Assessor norms are required. A norm shall be earned in the following way: Candidates will be required to mark an arbiter on their performance at an event. The Candidate and his Assessor will independently mark the arbiter. The Candidate and the Assessor must then discuss any differences in the independent assessments. If the Assessor is happy with the outcomes of this discussion, then he shall be empowered to award a norm. This norm must then be reported to the Manager of Arbiters (Home). The ECF will aim to increase the number of qualified Assessors required in this process from one to two from 1st September, 2019.
Must be Listed at Level 2 or higher
To pass the assessment, and acquire a norm, the pass mark is 13 out of 16.
When a Candidate Assessor has acquired the three norms, he may apply to the Manager of Arbiters (Home) to become an Assessor. The title will be awarded by a majority vote of the Director of Home Chess, Manager of Arbiters (Home) and Chief Arbiter.
Existing ECF Arbiter Instructors and FIDE Lecturers are grandfathered into this role. For new lecturers:
Must be an assessor
Must be at Listed at Level 3 or higher
Be an assistant at three Seminars (ECF or FIDE) delivered by a qualified Lecturer, at a standard considered acceptable by the Lecturer.
When an Arbiter has been an assistant at three Seminars, the assistant may apply to the Manager of Arbiters (Home) to become a Lecturer. The title will be awarded by a majority vote of the Director of Home Chess, Manager of Arbiters (Home) and Chief Arbiter.
Regulations for ECF Arbiter Seminars
Lecturers cannot unilaterally decide to run an ECF Arbiters Seminar. ECF Arbiter Seminars must be organised by the Manager of Arbiters (Home). Organisations that wish to organise a Seminar must do it through the Manager of Arbiters (Home). The Manager of Arbiters (Home) will appoint one Lecturer and one Assistant Lecturer, considering factors such as the location of a Seminar, and any recommendations or requests by an organisation that wants to run a Seminar.
The Chief Arbiter will create a minimum of three different tests, one of which shall be distributed to the Lecturers of each course. Each test will have a mark scheme accompanying it. The test will be marked out of 100, and 20% of the course will be composed of pairing-related questions. After each year, one of the tests shall be replaced with a new test. In addition, a mock test will be distributed to candidates in advance, which will be half the length of the full test. Additional materials may be produced centrally, such as PowerPoint slides. The exam may be answered either by typing the answers or handwriting them.
The cost to attend a Seminar will vary from Seminar to Seminar depending on venue costs, but the minimum charge is £30. The money will be paid to the ECF centrally. The ECF will cover the travel (at 25p/mile if driving) and the accommodation expenses of the Lecturers attending the Seminar.
The topics for the seminar will be:
The Laws of Chess
Pairing Systems (Jamboree, All-Play-All, different types of Swiss pairings – e.g. Accelerated, Dutch system, CAA system)
The Seminar will need the following requirements:
A minimum of 16 hours, including a 3-hour test period
Suitable presentation facilities (e.g. a projector and a screen)
Within 21 days of the test, the Lecturer will have:
Marked the tests
Returned the marks to the candidates
E-mailed an announcement to the ECF Office regarding the people who passed the test
E-mailed the necessary updates to the List of Arbiters maintained on the ECF website
All Seminar attendees must be ECF members at the time of submitting an entry to the Seminar.
The ECF Arbiters List
Arbiters will be listed in accordance with these regulations. It is a condition of being Listed that the public List contains the following information about the Arbiter:
ECF Grading Reference
FIDE Identification Number
A contact e-mail address
A contact phone number
Their level of qualification
Their county of residence
This information will ensure that organisers who are looking to appoint Arbiters to their events will have the necessary information to contact an Arbiter, as well as having an idea of their location.
Addition of Non-English Arbiters to the List
Arbiters whose FIDE registration is something other than England may apply to join the ECF Arbiter List if they meet all of the following criteria:
They are ECF members
They are, at the time of application, resident in England and have been for a period of 1 year
They hold either their country’s full domestic arbiter title, or the FIDE Arbiter title, or the International Arbiter title
In order to be Listed, applicants must Pass one assessment as set out in the regulations above. Upon achieving a Pass, the applicant will be listed in the following way:
Any holder of their full domestic arbiter title may apply to be listed at Level 2.
Any licenced FIDE Arbiter may apply to be listed at Level 3.
Any licenced International Arbiter may apply to be listed at Level 4.
Should the applicant subsequently gain a higher title, then the ECF will increase their Level upon notification.
This notwithstanding, any ECF member may go through the full ECF system if they choose to do, regardless of their nationality.
Other Grandfathering Issues
No arbiter’s level will decrease as a result of the change to this new system. Anyone at Level 1 who has passed the FIDE Arbiters’ Seminar will remain Level 1, but the next tier to aspire to will be the new Level 2, the ECF Arbiter title.
Roles of Other Officers
Chief Arbiter [appointed by the Board annually, must be Level 4]
Produce documents etc. about any changes to FIDE Laws of Chess – documents are advisory on how arbiters should change their behaviour, but should also help players to understand the changes too.
Resolve any Laws of Chess disputes sent to the ECF
Create the exam and syllabus for the ECF Arbiter Seminars as outlined above
Manager of Arbiters (Home) [appointed annually by the Director of Home Chess, Director of International Chess & Chief Executive]
Administering the domestic Arbiter system:
Organise and publicise ECF Arbiter Seminars
Appoint Lecturers to deliver ECF Arbiter Seminars
Manager of Arbiters (International) [appointed annually by the Director of International Chess & Director of Home Chess & Chief Executive]
Administering the process to apply to FIDE for the FIDE Arbiters or International Arbiter
Co-ordinate the organisation of FIDE Arbiter Seminars
Appoint Lecturers and other necessary staff to deliver FIDE Arbiter Seminars
Liaising with organisers and candidates to try to find suitable opportunities for Arbiters to
ECF Arbiter Assessors’ Report Form – Assessors Guide
Candidate Candidate Grading Reference
Assessor Candidate Membership Number
Tournament Number of Players
Objectives of the Assessment
The assessment process is designed to provide an objective measure of the standard of arbiters. Assessors are expected to provide candidates the opportunity to pass the test. If they are also an Arbiter at the event in question, then they should try to arrange for suitable opportunities to carry out the tasks required to earn particular marks. Assessors will nevertheless need to use an element of judgement on these things, because
Use of Comments Boxes
Each section will have a comment box. The Assessor should try to be very liberal in their use of comments. The comments should cover things that the candidate has done well, and ways in which they could improve in future. It is helpful for the comments to be as specific as possible.
It is expected that the candidate is able to speak English to a satisfactory level to speak to players and Arbiters. They need not be fluent or native English speakers. Where marks are awarded for communication, the candidate should not be awarded the marks if the level of English does not enable the candidate to communicate effectively. A candidate cannot score more than 12 out of 16 if the Assessor is not satisfied with the candidate’s English.
The pass mark is 13 out of 16.
1. Image & Appearance
+1 The Arbiter has a professional appearance.
The Arbiter should appear professional for the competition being administered. The dress of an Arbiter, for example, will vary depending on whether the Arbiter is running an inter-school rapidplay, or the World Championship match! In all cases, the arbiter should look smart. Where competitions have specific uniform requirements, the Arbiter should be expected to meet these. The Arbiter should not be using their mobile phone in the playing area during play, and act appropriately for the tournament. The Arbiter should show a keen interest in the tournament, and not be pre-occupied with non-tournament related things.
+1 The Arbiter is visible to the players and available to make decisions when required.
The Arbiter should be available if any decisions are being made. The Arbiter can be, for example, in the playing area, or in the Tournament Office, depending on the nature of the problem. The Arbiter should regularly patrol the playing area.
+1 The Arbiter makes decisions authoritatively without favour or bias to individual players.
The Arbiter should be authoritative and confident when making decisions, and should do so without favouring any players. The Arbiter should therefore take measures not to involve himself in any disputes involving players with whom he might have a connection. Additionally, the Arbiter should not come across as overly friendly to one group of people, and very strict to another. “Authoritative” means “commanding and self-confident”. There is a difference between this and appearing arrogant, or as a know-all. Making decisions authoritatively is good, but being arrogant should not be rewarded with a mark.
+1 The Arbiter works as part of a team with the rest of his colleagues and communicates effectively with them.
The Arbiter should communicate any matters of importance to his colleagues. For example, if a player makes an illegal move, a colleague may need to know in case a further illegal move is made, in which case the game ends. There may be an issue that only a more senior on-site Arbiter can deal with, and the information should be passed on effectively.
2. Decision Making
Part of the decision making process may involve changes to clock times. The below descriptions for each mark include both the decision-making process, and their ability to adjust the clock times.
0 The Arbiter has insufficient knowledge of either the Laws of Chess or Tournament Regulations.
Award this mark if the Arbiter doesn’t have the required knowledge to make decisions. This form will not usually be filled in for candidates who haven’t passed the test, and if they have passed a test, then this should not apply.
1 The Arbiter appears indecisive and hesitant; decisions are unconvincing.
Award this mark if the Arbiter looks panicked, and takes some time to make a decision not in accordance with the Laws of Chess or Tournament Regulations; or seeks confirmation of a decision from another Arbiter.
2 The Arbiter appears indecisive and hesitant, but is able to make correct decisions in accordance with the Laws of Chess or Tournament Regulations.
Award this mark if the Arbiter looks panicked, but does make the correct decision on his own in accordance with the Laws of Chess or Tournament Regulations.
3 The Arbiter makes decisive, considered and correct decisions in accordance with the Laws of Chess or Tournament Regulations.
Award this mark if the Arbiter looks calm, and makes the correct decision.
4 The Arbiter makes decisive, considered and correct decisions in accordance with the Laws of Chess or Tournament Regulations. The Arbiter is able to communicate these decisions effectively with the players.
Award this mark if the Arbiter looks calm, makes a correct decision, and communicates this decision effectively with the players. A decision has been communicated effectively if it is clear that both players understand the arbiter’s decision. It may be necessary to speak to the players after a game to seek clarification on this point.
3. Playing Conditions
In general, the Arbiter should seek to minimise the following sources of noise:
Arbiters themselves resolving disputes at the board distracting nearby players, or being a source of noise themselves
0 The Arbiter is a source of noise in the playing area and distracts players.
Award this mark if the Arbiter is eating, talking loudly to colleagues, or tapping away loudly at a computer, or carrying out any noisy task that need not be done in the playing area; in such a way that players or spectators in the playing area notice them. Signs of a player noticing will include them looking in the direction of the Arbiter, or worse the player actually going to talk to the Arbiter.
1 The Arbiter takes action when a player requests certain measures are taken to reduce the amount of noise and distraction in the playing area.
Award this mark if the Arbiter responds positively to players who ask them to take action in any of the ways listed in the bullet points above.
2 The Arbiter proactively takes measures to minimise the amount of noise and distraction in the playing area.
Award this mark if the Arbiter proactively takes action in any of the ways listed in the bullet points above.
3 The Arbiter proactively takes measures to minimise the amount of noise and distraction in the playing area. Effort is made to minimise the noise and distractions in areas immediately outside the playing area, to ensure the playing area remains quiet.
Award this mark if the Arbiter proactively takes action in any of the ways listed in the bullet points above, both inside the playing area and in any areas where noise will filter through into the playing area.
+1 The Arbiter proactively takes measures to control the temperature and lighting of the room, where necessary.
The Arbiter should also try to minimise the problems caused by any poor lighting in the room. The Arbiter should also try to minimise the problems caused by heating in the room, including use of air conditioning where available. The Assessor should recognise that in some venues, the Arbiter may be able to do nothing at all about lighting and temperature, but the Arbiter should attempt to improve things, even if these things are ultimately unsuccessful. For example, if the Arbiter asks if fans are available (even if they aren’t), or for a key to open the windows; or attempts to draw curtains that are broken and won’t shut, or attempts to fix lights that have gone out but there are no spare bulbs – these are proactive measures that can be taken, but they might not work!
4. Pairings & Results
Assessors should note the use of “and” in these criteria. So if an Arbiter is perfect at recording results, but has no knowledge of pairings, then 0 should be awarded. Conversely, if the Arbiter has excellent knowledge of pairing rules, but keeps getting numerous results wrong, a 0 should be awarded. All results requirements that refer to a number of mistakes are published mistakes – mistakes that get caught and corrected in a checking process are not counted as part of the total of mistakes when calculating them in the marking below.
It is acknowledged, particularly with result reporting, that an Arbiter may sometimes struggle to work out what the result of the game is. For example, result slips may be submitted to the Arbiter with opposing results, and the Arbiter has no idea what the actual result is, and the players are impossible to contact. Or, perhaps another Arbiter has said that on balance of probabilities, one of the results was more likely. The Arbiter processing the results should not be penalised in cases like this, and it should be taken into consideration when awarding a mark.
It is acknowledged that some Arbiters will use computer software to record results and produce the pairings. The marks can be awarded below whether or not a computer is used, because the skills requested are still in use.
0 The Arbiter makes a number of errors in recording the results and producing the pairings.
Results requirement: The Arbiter makes in total a number of result errors equal to or more than one-third of the number of rounds in the tournament. The Arbiter may make an error when using computer software of several results being wrong as a result of one error, for example, a board may be missed out for some reason and the Arbiter works down the list and gets all of the results wrong. This potentially has such a significant impact on the pairings for the next round that this mark should be awarded if that happens in any round.
Pairing requirement: The pairings are systematically produced in accordance with the wrong pairing rules, or it is clear that the Arbiter’s knowledge of rules is generally inadequate to produce the pairings.
1 The Arbiter makes few errors in recording the results and producing the pairings.
Results requirement: The Arbiter makes in total fewer result errors than one-third of the number of rounds in the tournament. For example, a 5-round or 6-round tournament should have no more than one result error.
Pairing requirement: The Arbiter has a good knowledge of the pairing rules, but nevertheless makes occasional mistakes. This should be awarded if the Arbiter can explain the rules adequately, but has just made a “careless” mistake.
2 The Arbiter makes few errors in recording the results and producing the pairings. Measures were taken to check the results and pairings in advance of publication.
Results requirement: The Arbiter makes in total fewer result errors than one-third of the number of rounds in the tournament. For example, a 5-round or 6-round tournament should have no more than one result error. Additionally, the Arbiter has checked the results with another Arbiter.
Pairing requirement: The Arbiter has a good knowledge of the pairing rules, but nevertheless makes occasional mistakes. This should be awarded if the Arbiter can explain the rules adequately, but has just made a “careless” mistake. Additionally, the Arbiter has checked the pairings with another Arbiter.
3 The Arbiter made no mistakes in recording the results and producing the pairings. Measures were taken to check the results and pairings in advance of publication.
Results requirement: The Arbiter makes no mistakes in recording results. Additionally, the Arbiter has checked the results with another Arbiter.
Pairing requirement: The Arbiter makes no mistakes. Additionally, the Arbiter has checked the pairings with another Arbiter.
4 The Arbiter made no mistakes in recording the results and producing the pairings. Measures were taken to check the results and pairings in advance of publication. The Arbiter is able to explain to players the reason for a particular pairing, in accordance with the pairing rules being used at that competition.
Results requirement: The Arbiter makes no mistakes in recording results. Additionally, the Arbiter has checked the results with another Arbiter.
Pairing requirement: The Arbiter makes no mistakes. Additionally, the Arbiter has checked the pairings with another Arbiter. If questioned by players, the Arbiter should be able to explain a particular pairing. The Arbiter is allowed recourse to the pairing rules, and should be allowed some time to come up with an answer. For the purposes of this mark, if a player does not ask the Arbiter, the Assessor should ask the Arbiter a question about the pairings, in order to award this mark.
5. Other Skills (Not part of total)
+1 The Arbiter is confident in his ability to use FIDE-approved Pairing Software.
The Assessor should comment on which piece of software this is, and is expected to be aware of the relevant approved pieces of software. The tournament may not be using software to administer the tournament, in which case, the Arbiter may need to proactively shadow the tournament so that this mark can be awarded. If so, this is only necessary for one round, and the important information the Assessor should try to gain is the general sense that the Arbiter knows how to use it properly. It doesn’t matter if, in the process of using it, mistakes are made (e.g. result reporting) – that is assessed elsewhere!
+1 The Arbiter is confident in his ability to use a liveboard to assist in making decisions where necessary.
The Arbiter should be able to explain to the Assessor how to end a game on liveboards; e.g. where to put the Kings. The Arbiter may demonstrate things like:
A 50-move/75-move claim
If these things do not come up in practice, or if liveboards are not being used at the event, the Assessor should ask the Arbiter how he would use the liveboards in any two of the bullet points above.
+1 The Arbiter is able to input games into Chessbase (or equivalent), and can use this to assist in making decisions where necessary.
The emphasis on this should be the use of Chessbase (or equivalent) for arbiting decisions. For example, the Arbiter may demonstrate things like:
Helping to clarify a questionable result
If these things do not come up in practice, or if inputting games is not part of the Arbiter’s responsibilities at this event, the Assessor should ask the Arbiter how he would use Chessbase in any two of the bullet points above.
+1 The Arbiter is able to generate accurate ECF-grading files.
The Assessor can award this mark by contacting the ECF Grading Administrator, and asking if the candidate is a Grader. In the medium-term, the ECF intends to publish a list of graders.
Comments on 1-5 above
Signed Total Mark / 16 Date / /