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The players probably want much the same thing, plus the certainty of knowing when a game is drawn or not without having to think about when to claim, or rely on the speed of vision or chessplaying ability of an arbiter.The non-applicability of the normal threefold repetition rule in electronically recorded rapidplay chess seems positively prehistoric.You can gauge the tension from Simon Williams’s reactions. I particularly loved it when Simon told us “it’s like a football match here” – a refreshing change from football commentators who make foolish analogies between their petulant ball-kicking, injury-simulating nonsense of a sport and our vastly superior game.Simon doesn’t pretend to be unbiased: he’s an Englishman so he was unashamedly rooting for his fellow countryman, but in a comical and self-deprecating way. Game one started by veering slightly in favour of Short, playing the black side of a Nimzo-Indian Defence, and Vitiugov started using up significantly more time.Without it, a player can seemingly go on repeating (and gaining ten-second bonuses) as long as they feel like it, or at least until an arbiter feels constrained to step in... As things stand, it is not clear (a) how many times a player can repeat until the opponent can claim he is making no effort; (b) on what basis the arbiter makes a ruling; and (c) whether any existing law of chess is applicable at all.
Nigel himself came into the press room after game one of the final and asked me whether he could have claimed.
FRANTIC FINISH It wasn’t over yet as Short managed to mix things up as his opponent’s time ran down to just the ten-second increment with a queen and minor piece endgame on the board. It occurred after White’s (and indeed Black’s) 69th, 71st and 73rd moves. (We’ll return to this further down.) Vitiugov played on, often with only his ten-second increment, and eventually won the game.
Vitiugov was reduced to boosting his time allowance with queen checks and twofold repetitions. I was following intently but I confess I didn’t spot these during the game. Not to mention a new fan: by the end commentator Simon Williams was lauding Vitiugov’s amazing endgame technique and coolness under pressure.
Vitiugov went out on a limb with his clock and his queen.
It was remarkable brinkmanship, going three minutes down on the clock and putting his queen out of play but somehow he held it together, won a pawn and established a stable advantage.
No matter: my laptop was only a few metres away in the press room so, after taking a few pictures, I nipped back to my desk and watched the games there whilst listening to Simon Williams and Irina Krush commentating as the moves came thick and fast.