An Appeal for Fair Play – Introduction

4NCL Online Season 2 commences 25th August, and feature a re-launch of their so-called “Fair Play Guidelines” [1] The intention behind these is laudable: to stamp out cheating in the competition, and create a level playing field for all in which achievement is based solely upon talent, effort and expertise.

Yet, notwithstanding best endeavours, the 4NCL’s efforts to enforce these led to a number of controversies in Season 1: including high-profile walk-outs from Northumbria Vikings, Surbiton, and Anglia Avengers own dramatic withdrawal from the semi-final.

A number of you have asked me: what do I think of the new guidelines? Are these any improvement on the earlier version? The short answer to both questions is: “Not much”. Here is the longer answer.

The organizers and arbiters will doubtless want any set of rules to be as clear as possible and easy to enforce. Doubtless, the 4NCL FP Guidelines are admirable from this point of view. However, the primary requirement which chess players will focus on is fairness.

Difficult though it is to breakdown this value into tangible objectives, I’ll hazard that chess players would want any set of “Fair Play” rules to meet 3 criteria:

  1. Players can participate in the event reasonably free of the fear that other players are or can cheat undetected;
  2. Players will not be harassed by unreasonable and unjustified accusations of cheating;
  3. If a player is incorrectly accused of cheating, then, however seemingly convincing is the evidence, they are given a reasonable opportunity to clear their name.

To what extent does the new look 4NCL FP rules satisfy these requirements?

[to be continued]

(c) AP Lewis 2020

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