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A recent question asking about exploiting possible loopholes in FIDE chess laws for gaining more time has received 5 downvotes, and the reason given in the comments is that it is not nice to get benefit such a way. I understand the reason, but (currently) I don't think it's a good enough reason to close a question.

My thinking: Discussion about loopholes in rules in general is a good thing, because it allows the people who decide the rules to improve them. Similarly, I think questions about loopholes in rules are good questions in SE - for example, they allow people to understand the rules and arbiters and tournament organizers to prepare for possible incidents.

If this question is closed because the OP should not be given advice on how to exploit the rules, nothing would stop someone else from asking a question that is essentially the same but not written in the first person. I don't think it should matter who actually asks the question, so I ask here: Should questions that are likely to yield answers that may help players to cheat or exploit loopholes in rules in unsportsmanlike manner be allowed? Naturally, I'm talking about questions that are otherwise suitable for chess.SE, i.e. they are related to chess, they have an answer etc.

A few months ago I asked a similar question in Meta, Questions about ongoing games. I think there is an important difference: a question about an ongoing game is very specific and is less likely to be asked by someone else than a question about cheating. I understand that drawing the line is going to be arbitrary, so probably this question cannot be answered simply by a yes/no vote. I'd like to hear other opinions on the subject.

  • Do you really think that people in FIDE who are in charge of changing rules are reading this forum? – Salvador Dali Jul 13 '14 at 10:13
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    @Salvador: There's no reason to assume they don't. Furthermore, he also said "they allow people to understand the rules" and "arbiters and tournament organizers to prepare for possible incidents", and those people definitely do read this forum. I certainly hope no one here is under the illusion that these kinds of loopholes aren't already being exploited in every tournament. Helping people to be aware of them is only beneficial to the chess community as a whole. – Azrael Jul 13 '14 at 14:05
  • This is a tricky subject. How do other SE sites deal with it? – Rauan Sagit Oct 20 '14 at 16:04
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Discussion of the rules should be allowed.

It doesn't make sense to not allow such discussions, just because the asker may gain an improved understanding of the rules and give themselves a gameplay advantage. Considering the question you linked to wasn't about cheating, but was instead about working within the established rules of chess, it was certainly a valid one.

As for actual cheating, such as "Is it possible to have someone secretly tell me the moves I should make during the game?", I'd say this should not be allowed.

In my mind, the difference is that cheating is specifically trying to work outside the parameters of what defines "chess", and is thus no longer applicable to Chess SE.

Exploiting the rules, on the other hand, is specifically trying to work inside the parameters of what defines "chess".

The only reasons I can see for someone to downvote a question like "Can I benefit myself by getting penalties?" is because they are thinking "I wouldn't want someone doing that to me" or "I wouldn't look kindly upon someone doing that". That's pretty poor reasoning, in my opinion.

On a side note, questions like that have a net benefit. The number of people who learn to look out for that behavior is going to be far higher than the number of people who will actually engage in that behavior themselves.

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I believe an expert on this subject could answer those posts. Still, this could be risky for those who answer those questions with successful way to abuse the rules. If the OP or anyone else who saw the question uses this to cheat and gets caught, he/she could "bail" on answerer and Chess SE which could bring them trouble ( possible law suit/fine... ).

That is why I am against finding loopholes in rules and analyzing ongoing correspondence games and so on... Why making things complicated? We are here to help users with concrete problems, not to create potential problems for ourselves...

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    If it's technically allowed (whether through oversight or whatever) it's not cheating. Whether the interpretation goes for or against, closing a question because someone might sue is shortsighted at best. – JohnP Jul 11 '14 at 16:12
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Should such questions, asking advice about possible ways to cheat, be allowed? Absolutely!

Should people be free to downvote them if they want? Absolutely!

Let me just add a few comments.

1) This forum is read by people with a wide range of knowledge, expertise and experience. There are members of this forum who are national arbiters, FIDE arbiters and even International arbiters.

2) The FIDE Laws of chess are, for the most part :-), carefully and intelligently written. There are some key elements.

First in the preface a very clever "common sense" clause:

The Laws of Chess cannot cover all possible situations that may arise during a game, nor can they regulate all administrative questions. Where cases are not precisely regulated by an Article of the Laws, it should be possible to reach a correct decision by studying analogous situations which are discussed in the Laws. The Laws assume that arbiters have the necessary competence, sound judgement and absolute objectivity. Too detailed a rule might deprive the arbiter of his freedom of judgement and thus prevent him from finding a solution to a problem dictated by fairness, logic and special factors. FIDE appeals to all chess players and federations to accept this view.

and in Article 11:

11.1 The players shall take no action that will bring the game of chess into disrepute.

If the arbiter thinks you are cheating he is well within his rights to punish you all the way up to throwing you out of the tournament. If you set out to cheat you should be aware of this risk.

That said there are definitely grey areas. The question the OP refers to is one of them. If I have 30 seconds left on the clock and a very difficult but winning position against my opponent's 5 minutes a deliberate illegal move giving my opponent an extra 2 minutes could certainly be to my advantage if the arbiter takes 2 or 3 minutes changing the clock settings. Even if he does it in 30 seconds that could make all the difference to me.

Note that from the arbiter's point of view this comes within the preface call for the arbiter to use his common sense. The arbiter does not have to give the extra time immediately. He can wait until the player needs it. He also has the power to deduct time from the felon's clock.

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