What to do when a pair leaves early
by David Stevenson
The following question was asked:
In a Simultaneous Pairs tournament one player acted in such an obnoxious fashion that the Tournament Director used his disciplinary powers and suspended the pair for the rest of the session. What should be done to score the boards that this pair played before suspension, and the boards that they would have played afterwards?
Having consulted various top authorities, this was my reply:
There are three methods that might be employed:
- Delete all the scores that this pair has obtained. Treat this pair for scoring purposes as though this pair never played. Factor all their opponents' scores accordingly.
- Let all the scores this pair has obtained remain. For the rest of the boards that they were going to play give no score, and factor all their opponents' scores accordingly.
- Let all the scores this pair has obtained remain. For the rest of the boards that they were going to play give their opponents average-plus.
There is no question that the pair that caused the trouble should be deleted from the final list. But which of #1, #2 and #3 above should be employed? The general opinion is that they are all legal.
It has been suggested that if a pair was cheating and was found out part way through we would employ #1 because they may have cheated on the boards played, and that this case is analogous. I disagree with this strongly: it would be easy to explain to players that we could not let a cheat's scores remain. However, when a player has got a good score in good faith, to take it away from them when there was no irregularity at there table will lead to justifiable upset. It is my view that #1 cannot be considered, and the authorities I consulted agreed with this.
Let us consider #2 and #3. What are the pros and cons? The following comments have been made:
- There is no difference to a pair sitting out whether they were originally due to play boards at that time or not.
- Law 12C1 says that average-plus should be given when there is no score owing to an irregularity.
- For a pair doing well [60% or better] average-plus and factoring scores are the same.
- Note that this is correct whether relevant or not. Average plus means 60% or the session average, whichever is greater [see Law 88]. Factoring in effect gives a pair their session average on any unplayed board.
- Factoring is reasonable only when a pair were never scheduled to play that board.
- "Withdrawn" pairs are normally doing badly, which helps to support the case for average-plus. A disqualified pair is a somewhat different matter, but it seems wrong to consider the reason for the pair being unavailable.
- It seems wrong to have different approaches for boards unplayed at the start [late arrival] and the end [withdrawal or disqualification].
- The mistake in applying #3 is in defining this as an irregularity. Law 12C1 does not apply to an irregularity in the movement caused by no infraction of the Laws - eg no opponents available to play this round.
What are the conclusions from this? In my view:
- If a pair does not play boards they are scheduled to play then the scoring should be the same whatever the reason, eg late arrival, disqualification, slow play, withdrawal.
- Scores obtained fairly should stand, so #1 above should not be considered.
- There are arguments for and against #2 and #3 above. It would be reasonable to choose either.
- Conditions of Contest should be written which say whether #2 or #3 should be followed in future cases.
- If you want further help on this subject, why not write direct to
- I shall be happy to help!