Sofia rule comments

What other media and players think about the Sofia rule

Mtel mobile operator

Sofia rule is one of the most discussed topics these days in chess media. Every day the comments support more and more the innovation brought by Mtel Masters. It is very probable that it becomes a Grand Slam event and set standarts in many other tournaments.

In respect to the change in rules several websites launched polls. On Chessvibes, a site ran by Peter Doggers, the readers vowed for a change in the current system. The results were similar in the poll launched by ACP. Susan Polgar’s readers also agreed that the change is positive.

Here is what Chess ninja said on March 25 regarding the upcoming Mtel Masters:

“Of course the “Sofia Rules” are in effect (at Mtel Masters 07), with no draw offers. It’s an easier life with the occasional (or frequent) non-game draw, but if we’re to build sponsorship and professionalism, in theory eventually bringing more money to the players, the draw offer has to go. It’s great to have an event as strong as the Mtel leading the way in this regard. I hope this also becomes a founding principle of the Grand Slam that Mtel organizer Danailov is working on.”

Mig’s words about Sofia rules as part of the Grand Slam may become soon true. In the news section on the official site of Mtel Masters we can find the following text:

“During the meetings in Linares there was a serious discussion of the idea all the tournaments in the Grand Slam be using the so called “Sofia rule” of M-Tel Masters.”

Veselin Topalov’s fan site expressed a worry about short draws in an article in November 2006.

“A draw is a normal score in a chess game. There are numerous positions that result in a theoretical draw. So a game finishing 1/2-1/2 is not strange at all. However, it is disappointing to see a game finishing in 12 moves or less in some cases. It is offensive to the audience, the organizers, the sponsors, the other participants, and chess in general.”

Veselin Topalov himself said in an interview for the Mtel Masters 07 website that he supports the Sofia rules. “Undoubtedly the using of the “Sofia rules” will spread. It is happening already,” Veselin Topalov shared.

Sofia rule

Should it be obligatory?

Mtel Masters Logo

Sofia rule started at Mtel Masters

There are only a few days left to the start of Mtel Masters 2007. Besides being the strongest tournament of the last several years, Mtel Masters brought an important debate into the chess world. It includes a simple rule that pretends to make the chess games more attractive to the general audience. The rule states:

“The players should not offer draws directly to their opponents. Draw-offers will be allowed only through the Chief-Arbiter in three cases: a triple-repetition of the position, a perpetual check and in theoretically drawn positions.”

The rule functioned well and made Mtel Masters 2005 and Mtel Masters 2006 very exciting. We saw fighting chess and all fans were pleased with the level of the games. It is clear, Sofia rule directly eliminates the possibility for fast (less than 15 moves draws). However, skeptics still debate if the Mtel Masters rule is the key to making games exciting. Here are some alternative suggestions and their effects:

1. Draw offer can be made after a certain number of moves have been completed.

Positive: This is a logical alternative of the Sofia rule since it will eliminate short draws as well.

Negative: It does not prevent draws in unbalanced equal endgame positions. Exactly there is the moment where chess gets exciting for the majority of the audience.

2. Every win is encouraged by financial incentive. The players receive parts of the prize fund not according to their final standing, but according to the number of games won.

Positive: Encourages the fighting spirit and makes the games exciting in unbalanced positions.

Negative: It is not fair for a player that drew all his games to take as much money as somebody who lost all his games.

3. A change the pointing system. For a win are rewarded 3 points, one point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss.

Positive: Encourages fighting chess, eliminates short draws, and increases importance of endgames.

Negative: Requires solid organization by FIDE and major tournaments to apply a global change. It will also be difficult to adjust to for experienced players.

4. Give different points for games drawn with black and white (0.45 to 0.55 for example).

Positive: Statistically it will bring down the number of draws by reducing the strive for draws with blacks.

Negative: This rule will make many last round games a draw for securing a certain place in the table.

There are many more interpretations of the need for change in rules. Obviously none of them is perfect. We would love to hear more options from you, the readers. Also, we want to hear your opinion on the pros and cons of Sofia rule. We are looking forward to your mails.

More on the topic:

Chess media about Sofia rule


the rule, not the joke

Topalov adjusts

GM Topalov adjusts

“Jadoube” is a key word in chess. It is used to inform your opponent that you do not want to move your piece and overrides the rule that touched piece should be moved.

J’adoube is a French word and stands for “I adjust”. It is internationally recognized and used in all tournaments. Many funny anecdotes can be found about “Jadoube”, as the one about GM Milan Matulovic. There is also the classical chess joke about jadoube that every chess player loves.

En passant

a rule that applies to pawns… and kings

En passant is one of the last move innovations introduced in chess. It was first applied in the 14th-15th century, a bit after the two-square first move for pawns was implemented.

The idea of the move is the following. When a pawn tries to make a two square move it is considered that it goes square by square. If it falls under attack by another pawn while it passes the first square, the pawn can be captured “in passing”. Here is what FIDE rule 3.7 d. states:

“A pawn attacking a square crossed by an opponent`s pawn which has advanced two squares in one move from its original square may capture this opponent`s pawn as though the latter had been moved only one square. This capture is only legal on the move following this advance and is called an `en passant` capture. This move must be made in the event that no other legal move is possible.”

En passant idea exists in other elements of the game. For example a king cannot castle through check (FIDE rule 3.8 ii.). Since the king can move one square at a time, it cannot cross a square under attack. That means the castle move is prevented by “in passing”, although the term is not used in that case.

If you are looking for alternative definitions of en-passant do not forget to check out our dictionary.