I decided to continue this quest of finding out more about go tournaments from the past and Cris Bratu from Romania was kind enough to share with me a few other documents that he’d collected from that period. I chose this time a document that presents the rules of the tournament I mentioned above, the first National Romanian Go Championship. This document is much larger (6 pages) and, in my opinion, maybe more interesting than the previous one.
I decided to translate the whole document, since some parts of it might be interesting to some people and some to others. However, there are certain parts which I found surprising, and therefore I bolded them to make them stand out, and at the end of the translation I wrote some more about them.
Why do I find these old rules important? Because they (might) help us to better understand how today's rules came into existence. Also, Romania's go history (just like any other European nation) is relevant for the history of the European go.
I noticed that the rules at that time used to be stricter than they are today. Many situations that can come up during a tournament are explicitly mentioned, unlike nowadays where they are seen as just common sense and simply skipped over. Some of the special rules that they mention might still be used today, but since such situations happen way too rarely I am unaware if that is the case or not (e.g., “If the players switched colours and they realize it before the 4th move, the game will be restarted with the right colours”, otherwise it will simply be continued), if someone is aware of them, don't hesitate to write it as a comment.
I will include in the next part the translation of the document, which is not short. If you wish you can jump directly to my commentaries that highlight only the most surprising information I have found in the document or check out the parts that are written in bold, which are in my opinion the most interesting ones.
SET OF RULES – adapted by the go club of Cluj from the Dutch set of rules!
This set of rules is temporary.
We will discuss any possible improvements
at the technical meeting – 30 April '86, 20:00.
1. REFEREE. APPEAL COMMITTEE
The referee of the national go championship – 1st edition – Cluj-Napoca 1986 will be Dr Gheorghe PAUN, and the appeal committee will be comprised of 4 members: Dr. Walter SCHMIDT, Radu BACIU, Andras VENCZEL and Liviu OPREA – who will meet any time that issues in dispute shall come up.
The referee has the following obligations:
a) To ensure the smooth running of the competition
b) To pay attention that the players are strictly following the rules of the championship, the rules of the game and the rules of conduct in front of the board.
c) To take care that the decisions that he or that the appeal committee take after disputation or misunderstanding are then being followed.
d) To ensure that there is discipline and order during the whole time in which the tournament takes place, and this shall include both the players and the audience.
The appeal committee will meet anytime that it's necessary, when there is a protest against the decision taken by the referee. In case that the appeal comes from a member of the commission, another member will be chosen from the participants.
2. THE PLAYERS
a) All players must exhibit sporting conduct (fair-play, considerateness, calm, etc).
b) During the game the players are not allowed to move away from the board or to examine the games from other tables, to study any go-literature, or to study notes about the technical aspects of the game. It's forbidden to comment the moves (inclusively of your own game) aloud, even after finishing the game, an exception being if all other games are already finished.
c) It's allowed for players to study their own games, without any commentary, from the kifu where they wrote it down. It's not allowed to consult any other person during the playing time. Any warnings, remarks, comments, etc. of a third party will be strongly rejected by both players. Under no circumstance it is allowed for players to get involved in any discussion.
d) No one else, apart from the two players and the referee, is allowed to touch the board or the playing stones during the game.
e) The players have the obligation to respect the agreed hour for starting the game and to respect the playing time imposed by the organizers.
f) If some irregularities have been noticed or if it has been noticed that the set of rules has been broken, the players or the spectators are not allowed to inform the 2 players about this, but they have the obligation to inform the referee.
g) A player who starts the tournament must play all the rounds. He can leave the competition only under extraordinary circumstances.
3. TIME SETTINGS
a) Each player will have a limited thinking time. The thinking time will be registered by the playing clock (chess playing clocks).
b) The players will press their own clocks after the played move will touch the go board. If that move captures one or more moves of the opponent, then the clock will be pressed only after lifting the captured stones from the board.
c) Nobody is allowed to draw attention to the players who forget to press their own clocks.
d) The clocks (starting with black) will be started at the time decided by the organizers.
e) The clock can only be paused during the game by the referee.
f) The indication of the clocks is final; an exception will be made only if there is an obvious malfunction of the clock.
g) The byoyomi starts for a player in the moment when his thinking time expires.
- A player who is in byoyomi has a limited maximal time for playing a move. This amount of time starts after the opponent has moved.
- The seconds counter will count aloud the last 10 seconds. If the word zero has been spoken before the player finished moving, he will lose his right to play and the opponent will move instead.
- If a move captures stones, those stones will be lifted from the board immediately and outside of the allowed byoyomi time, with the observation that the capturing stone must be obviously played within the allowed time frame.
- The counting of the seconds is final as long as it's correctly made and in the normal tempo.
- If only one of the players is in byoyomi, both players will press the clock in the normal way, after each stone. After the second player is in byoyomi as well, the clock will replaced by the timekeeper.
- In the moment when the basic thinking time of a player expires, and, particularly when the other player is almost in byoyomi, the seconds counter will announce “byoyomi” respectively “byoyomi for black (white)”.
- It's recommended that a chronometer (?) should be used in such a situation.
- The chronometer allows a player to visit the restroom in byoyomi, and this time interval won't be taken into account.
Obs.: A player can inform the referee about the malfunctioning of the clock and its consequences, starting from the moment in which he observes it.
4. RECORDING THE GAME
It's not mandatory that each player records his own game, but in case of a dispute or of an irregularity that can involuntarily appear at the board – it will be almost impossible for him to defend his cause.
5. THE BEGINNING, THE COURSE AND FINISHING A GAME
a) The position of the board.
The short side of the board will face the player and the point A1 on the lower left side of the player who plays with the black stones.
b) 5.5 komi for the white player.
c) The start of the game will be decided by the referee at the exact time decided by the organisers. The playing time can be prolonged only by the referee.
d) At the beginning of the game “black's” clock will be started. This will also happen in the case that both players are absent.
e) The player who shows up over one hour late will lose the game. If this happened because of an important reason, he can play the game ONLY in the amount of time that he has left.
In case neither of the players shows up, the game will be declared a loss for both players.
f) Once a stone is played, it stays in that same spot; the move cannot be changed, not even with the consent of the opponent.
g) The prisoners must be kept in a visible place. A player can ask his opponent during his own thinking time to count his prisoners.
h) The players can end the game only when:
- one of the two players resigns (if there is a very big difference of points, resigning is recommended)
- deciding the winner through counting (see the rules of the game)
Even playing the neutral points will be done through successive moves. “PASS” is the only method through which a player can let his opponent know that the game is over.
i) Protests regarding the result of the game will be presented to the referee as fast as possible, and in the worst case at least less than ½ hour before the start of the next round.
6. THE RULES
a) If the players switched colours and they realize it before the 4th move, then the game will be restarted with the right colours.
After move 4 the game will continue normally and the result will be treated as if the right colours are being used, which means that white will still have 5,5 points komi.
b) In case a player doubts the exact position of the stone his opponent just played, he can ask his opponent to specify the correct position of a stone on the board (Q10, F5, H12, etc).
c) An illegal move (or the wrong turn) will be played again if this has been noticed before 3 more moves have been played. The 3rd and the 2nd moves will be removed from the board, and the first one (the illegal one) will be played somewhere else.
After the 3rd move, a previous illegal move will not be replayed and the game continues normally.
d) If a player realizes that the clock has been set the wrong way, the mistake will be shown during the period of time in which the referee can accept it (in general, even in the moment when the game starts – afterwards it will be more troublesome to prove it).
e) The malfunction of a clock can be determined by either of the players, after which the clock will be reset by the referee who will correct the time settings accordingly. If the thinking time that's left is less than 10 minutes, the time correction will not be given anymore.
f) If during the game one or more stones are out of position, if extra stones are added, or if stones have been removed and the game continued like that, the following measures should be taken: (the decision becomes final when both players accept one of the following things):
1) “The mistake” from the position on the board will be corrected and the game continues.
2) “The mistake” will not be corrected and the game continues.
3) The position gets adjusted by common agreement (in case the mistake has been noticed later and other moves have been played) as if no irregularity had taken place.
4) One of the players resigns the game.
5) The unfinished games gets annulled and the players will start a new game (taking into account the time that's left).
Application mode: the previous variants are proposed to the players in the order from 1 to 5. If one by one the 5 are not accepted by the players, then the option 6) will be used:
6) The referee calls together the appeal committee who will listen to both parties involved in the conflict and who will list the solutions that they came up with for solving the conflict.
The appeal committee will decide the procedure according to one of the points 1, 2, 3 or 5.
At point 3, the appeal committee will mention the exact position from which the game will be replayed.
The appeal committee will also decide if the game is a jigo or if it should choose one of the players as a winner.
7. RULES OF CONDUCT IN FRONT OF THE GO BOARD
a) All players must exhibit sporting conduct, one that's respectable, orderly, modest and conducive to fair-play.
b) It's strictly forbidden to insult, to offend, to speak aloud during the game, or to disturb your opponent in any way.
c) It's forbidden to move around your hand over the go board more than is needed to play a move.
d) It's forbidden to “drop” a stone on the board, even accidentally. The referee and the appeal committee have the right to take drastic measures in such cases, and they can go all the way up to excluding the player from the championship.
*For simplicity I used the masculine whenever a player was involved, but it could at any moment have been a she as well.
My observations about these rules
2. THE PLAYERS
“b) During the game the players are not allowed to move away from the board or to examine the games from other tables” - this is something that has changed radically during the last years. When I go to tournaments it's fairly common for people to move around the playing room and watch some of the other games as well. Don't imagine that nobody is staying at the board during their games, it's just that once in a while you might notice someone getting up and watching the other games for a few seconds. Maybe it's not something included in the “best practices” guide, but as long as it's done in a fairly small amount and it doesn't harm others, I don't see why it shouldn't be fine. Why wasn't it allowed back in the '80s? Maybe the organizers considered that the players could get too much inspiration from others or that they would be disturbing the others?
“f) If some irregularities have been noticed or if it has been noticed that the set of rules have been broken, the players or the spectators are not allowed to inform the 2 players about this, but they have the obligation to inform the referee.” - Again this is kind of common sense, but as far as I know there are cases when the observer informed the player instead of the referee and then the players went to the referee and decided what should happen.
“g) A player who starts the tournament must play all the rounds. He can leave the competition only under extraordinary circumstances.” - Dropping some rounds of a tournament is again fairly common nowadays. It's true that it's not particularly nice to drop rounds (unless there is some urgency), since, for example, your opponents may suffer because of having a lower SOS tiebreaker.
3. TIME SETTINGS
“c) Nobody is allowed to draw attention to the players who forget to press their own clocks.” - Does “nobody” include the opponent as well? It is common nowadays to tell our opponent when he forgot to press the clock. Now who would imagine that this against some rules?
“e) The clock can only be paused during the game by the referee.” - This rule is not followed literarily anymore, since it's mostly the players who do it, but they do it mostly in order to call the referee, so it's pretty much the same thing.
“g) (…) The seconds counter will count aloud the last 10 seconds. If the word zero has been spoken before the player finished moving, he will lose his right to play and the opponent will move.” - For me this was maybe the most shocking part. I had to triple check the original document to make sure that I didn't translate it the wrong way. I don't know if it was common at that time or if it was an exception that if a player didn't play a move on time, then he wouldn't lose the game, he would just lose his playing turn (so it would be like a pass).
5. THE BEGINNING, THE COURSE AND FINISHING A GAME
“b) 5.5 komi for the white player.” - The komi has obviously changed.
“if there is a very big difference of points, resigning is recommended” - I personally enjoyed reading this in the rules. I do believe that in some games at times the proper moment to resign comes. Sure, trying a little bit more after that first moment is fair, but over-trying and not resigning games that are clearly lost by very many points (again, there are exceptions) might be considered rude by some players.
“g) The prisoners must be kept in a visible place. A player can ask his opponent during his own thinking time to count his prisoners.” - This can happen nowadays, but it is surely not common.
6. THE RULES
“b) In case a player doubts the exact the notation of the stone his opponent just played, he can ask his opponent to specify the correct position of a stone on the board (Q10, F5, H12, etc).” - The idea that someone actually records the game like that is pretty hilarious. I can understand that there were no kifu notebooks at that time, but at least for someone who has never done this it seems like a hassle. Has anyone tried it?
“c) An illegal move (or the wrong turn) will be played again if it is noticed before 3 more moves have been played. The 3rd and the 2nd moves will be removed from the board, and the first one (the illegal one) will be played somewhere else. After the 3rd move, a past illegal move will not be replayed and the game continues normally. “ - I have never encountered such a situation before. Nowadays the referee would be the one deciding what would happen, but to be fairly honest I have never heard of this before.
There might be a few things that I didn't understand well because I am not familiar with certain aspects that were part of reality at that time. Therefore, if you notice anything that I might have gotten wrong, please let me know. I would be very glad to read in the comments your own opinions about these rules, or perhaps some others, which you have encountered :-).
Here you can see the original papers: