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In chess, “adjudication” is the process of determining the outcome of an unfinished game by a third party, usually a strong player, a panel of judges, or a chess engine. This practice is sometimes used in tournaments when a game is adjourned or when players agree to a draw but the position is unclear.

Similar terms: judgment, evaluation, assessment, appraisal, arbitration, decision, ruling, verdict, determination, conclusion

Why is Adjudication important?

Adjudication is important because it allows tournaments to conclude in a timely manner, even when some games are unfinished.

It also helps to prevent players from agreeing to draws in unclear positions, as they know that the game may be adjudicated if they do not play it out. However, adjudication is not always accurate and can sometimes lead to controversial decisions.

Examples of Adjudication

  1. In a tournament, a game is adjourned after 60 moves, and the players cannot agree on a result. The tournament director sends the position to a strong player for adjudication.
  2. Two players agree to a draw in a complex position, but the tournament rules state that all games must be played out or adjudicated. The position is sent to a panel of judges for evaluation.

Variations of Adjudication

  1. Engine adjudication: Some tournaments use chess engines to evaluate unfinished games and determine the likely outcome. This method is considered more objective but may not always reflect the practical chances of each player.
  2. Player adjudication: In some cases, the players themselves may be asked to evaluate the position and agree on a result. This is more common in friendly games or when both players are highly skilled.

How to Adjudicate

  1. Analyze the position thoroughly, considering factors such as material balance, pawn structure, king safety, and piece activity.
  2. Evaluate the practical chances of each player, taking into account their skill level, time management, and any other relevant factors.
  3. If using a chess engine, set it to a reasonable depth and time limit, and consider the evaluation over multiple lines of play.
  4. Make a decision based on the analysis and the tournament rules, ensuring that the outcome is fair and unbiased.

Famous examples of Adjudication

  1. In the 1984-85 World Chess Championship match between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov, several games were adjudicated by a panel of judges due to the high number of adjournments.
  2. The controversial adjudication of the game between Viktor Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov in the 1974 Candidates Final, where Korchnoi’s position was deemed winning but the game was declared a draw.

The Limitations of Adjudication

While adjudication can be a useful tool in certain situations, it is not a perfect solution.

Adjudication can sometimes lead to controversial decisions, as the outcome of a game may not always be clear-cut. Additionally, adjudication may not always reflect the practical chances of each player, as factors such as time management and psychology can play a significant role in the outcome of a game.

As a result, many modern tournaments have moved away from adjudication and instead use faster time controls to ensure that games are completed in a single session.

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