Dispute Mero Jasiek / Discussion

Sub-page of DisputeMeroJasiek

RobertJasiek gives a simplified summary:

The round 2 game Csaba Mero - Robert Jasiek of the European Go Championship 2002 in Zagreb used the rules of play of the Ing 1991 Rules. After a succession of 4 passes, there were no stones of Mero on the board that could have been removed by wise alternating play if the passes had not occurred yet while there were still some stones of Jasiek on the board that could have been removed by wise alternating play if the passes had not occurred yet.

Uberdude's alternative summary: Both players passed. Jasiek was about 30 points behind. Jasiek insisted on a resumption. They resumed play. Jasiek captured all Mero's dead stones, Mero did not capture Jasiek's. Four passes ended the resumption. Jasiek claimed his dead stones were now alive and he had won.

RobertJasiek: This summary is partly wrong and partly misleading: It is wrong because it suggests a wrong order of incidents: The 3rd successive pass was made by Mero - not by Jasiek. It is wrong because at the regular first moment of a resumption, neither player insisted on it but Mero simply passed without saying anything at that time. It is wrong because, when the dispute arose after 4 succcessive passes, it was the appeals committee to insist on the game being in a Game Pause and on continuation of the game. It is wrong because Mero was happy with the referee decision while Jasiek was unhappy with it. It is misleading because "they resumed play" does not distinguish between the first resumption by means of Mero's 3rd successive pass and the second resumption after the 4th successive pass due to the appeal committee's decision. It is misleading because the order of incidents was not "Both players passed. Jasiek was about 30 points behind." but vice versa. It is misleading because having been 30 points behind is not qualified by whether that shall refer to positional judgement before the succession of 4 passes or to scoring after the succession of 4 passes. It is misleading because "Jasiek captured all Mero's dead stones" occurred before the succesion of passes - not after it. It is misleading because it is not said that "Mero did not capture Jasiek's." refers to the stage before the succession of passes. It is wrong because Mero did capture Jasiek's stones after the appeals committee's decision. It is misleading because the succession of 4 passes that ended resumption were not the first succession of 4 passes (in it, it makes more sense to say that only its last 2 passes ended resumption) but the second succession of 4 passes after the appeals committee's decision and the then resumed game. It is misleading because Jasiek did not simply claim "his dead stones were now alive" but he claimed that, after the first succession of 4 passes, the game must be scored according to the rules, which, according to him, meant that all stones on the board at that time must be considered alive because of not having been removed before the Game End and because of possessing breaths.

RobertJasiek: A correct alternative summary might have been expressed as follows: In terms of positional judgement, Jasiek was about 30 points behind. Jasiek made board-plays to remove all Mero's strategically dead stones while Mero passed in between. Then starting with Mero, both players quickly made 4 successive passes. Then Jasiek insisted on the game being scored as is, with all his not removed stones still possessing breaths being alive; Mero insisted on the opposite. Then the appeals committee decided that the game was in a Game Pause, i.e., the state after a succession of 2 passes, and that the players should continue the game.

Uberdude: Robert, my intention in adding that alternative summary was to allow people to get a brief description of what happened in clear and concise langauge. I did not want to create more text, as has happened. I will be more than happy to delete it if you can provide a clear and concise summary.

The referee Victor Bogdanov made a quick decision in favour of Mero that had barely any justification at all, so the dispute moved to the congress's Appeals Committee, consisting of Roman Pszonka, Zoran Mutabzija, Alexandr Dinerchtein. It judged that the game had been in a Game Pause and that the players should continue with the game accordingly. It did not explain clearly why the game could still be in a Game Pause but it then watched Mero removing stones of Robert (quite like one removes so called dead stones under Japanese style rules) and performing the Ing Fill-in Counting. So apparently its judgment was meant to be in Mero's favour. Since its judgment was not explained clearly, Robert appealed to its decision and the third and last instance of arbitration in EGF tournaments, the EGF Rules and Ratings Commission (without Robert, who otherwise is also a member) made the final decision that declared the Appeal Committee's decision to be right while not stating any justification.

For clarity, the Appeals Committee might have explained its decision about as follows: Mero's third pass in succession and then Robert's fourth pass in succession were considered as if they had not occurred at all. This would explain why the Appeals Committee considered the game to be still in a Game Pause. For even greater clarity, the Appeals Committee should have explained why 1) making a pass that, according to the Appeals Committee's opinion, might not have been made (starting with Mero's third pass in succession) did not lead to any adverse consequences for the player and 2) an Appeals Committee has the power at all to nullify moves made the players.

Was the Appeals Committee right about its decision? Probably the most relevant background is seen in the report on the 4th meeting of the International Go Rules Forum:

  • Jasiek: Under Ing Rules, what exactly happens after the endgame and before the Ing Fill-in Counting?
  • Yang: I do not understand the question.
  • Jasiek: Exactly what and exactly when do the players do from the first pass of a game until the last pass of a game?
  • Yang wants to set up a whole board example. Jasiek intervenes and says that a much simpler example will do, so he sets up a very simple 5 by 7 position.
  • Yang: He tries to explain Ing Rules for the example position. In particular he says the following: a) After any play, another 4 passes and in between another option for each player to remove stones will be necessary. b) After exactly 2 successive passes, EITHER player may remove some of his own stones. It does not matter in which order the players would remove some of their own stones. c) The author: Back at home, the author realizes that Yang's explanation of the relation between a player's voluntary removals and the opponent's next pass has not been precise enough. 1) Do both players remove some of their own stones and then a 3rd and 4th pass may happen or 2) does one player remove some of his own stones, then the opponent passes, then the opponent removes some of his own stones, then the player passes? The latter does not work because alternate moving might be violated with unexpected consequences for captures in a ko after an intervening pass. However, it is still unclear to the author whether the Ing Rules intend (1) or (2) and are without flaw here or not. d) Any clarifications of removals are done averbally only. A player's next pass after some voluntary removals is the confirmation of his opponent's removals and that pass may not be undone.
  • Jasiek: This is more than any European ever knew before. The author: The rule texts of the Ing Rules are by far too ambiguous and imprecise about the game end. Therefore in Europe several mutually contradicting interpretations have coexisted.
  • The author now tries to write down the intended meaning of passes for the Ing Rules precisely. Ing or Yang should correct him where his understanding is wrong. - 1) The players alternate plays or passes. 2) The game might end due to the following succession in order: a) There are exactly 2 successive passes: one pass by the player P followed by one pass by his opponent Q. b) There is the GAME PAUSE with neutralized time: The players (note: PLURAL) MAY AVERBALLY remove ANY of their OWN stones from the board. c) P may EITHER I) play OR II) pass. d) Q may EITHER I) play OR II) pass. IF and ONLY IF BOTH (cII) AND (dII) have occurred, THEN and ONLY THEN the GAME END occurs and scoring applies to the now final position. IF (cI) has occurred, then any stones removed during (b) remain removed, alternation continues, this game ending procedure is quit, and this game ending procedure might be entered again later during alternation. IF (dI) has occurred, then any stones removed during (b) remain removed, alternation continues after (cI)-(dI) or (cII)-(dI), respectively, this game ending procedure is quit, and this game ending procedure might be entered again later during alternation.

zinger: Robert, it would help me understand if you posted the final position from the disputed game.

RobertJasiek: I do not recall the position. See the subpages of this page for a similar example and assume a positional judgement of, I think it was, 30 points in favour of my opponent.

zinger: So, are we to understand that you were 30 points behind, both players had passed, and you decided to make a dispute? If this is essentially correct, then I would say that it sounds a little unsportsmanlike, to say the least.

RobertJasiek: It is correct that - in terms of positional yose judgement - I was ca. 30 points behind. (I do not recall the exact value.) Before completion of that succession of passes that consisted of four passes, I did not intend to have a dispute; I did intend to win the game by passing. After that succession of four passes, the dispute arose when my opponent wanted to remove stones while I said that at that stage of the game no further removals were allowed to take place. So what you write is not essentially correct.

RobertJasiek: Here is an interesting citation from the Ing 1996 Rules: "Any disputed shape should be verified for life and death by removal, no adjudication."

ThorAvaTahr: I am curious to know how you (Robert) asses this particular incident in terms of fair play. Do you think you it is an acceptable way to win a game by using your expertise of go-rules over a rule-noob. Or did you choose to try to win the game because it was more important than the social aspect of fair-play at the time? Maybe I am being presumptious, please forgive me for that.

RobertJasiek: Ignoring for the time being the fair play aspects or interpretation of my opponent, the referees, the kibitzes and third persons and answering only about the fair play aspects from my own perspective, I have this opinion: a) Unless violating higher rights like, e.g., human rights, applying and enforcing currently used Go rules is always just and a duty. b) Fair play is a default that is applicable only when currently used Go rules are inapplicable. c) As a consequence of (a) and (b), one must try to apply the currently used rules by all means before considering to fall back to the default of fair play. d) Rules apply to all players equally in principle. e) As a consequence of (d), each player has equal duty to apply the rules as well as possible. f) As a consequence, prior rules knowledge or missing prior rules knowledge cannot be a just excuse. A rules expert and a rules newbie have exactly the same duty of (a) and (c). g) To make it equally possible for both rules experts and a rules newbies, it is always a good idea to set rules that both can apply essentially equally well. This is a responsibility of the bodies setting the rules. h) For me, it was not an issue of fair play because it was possible in principle (but not done in practice) to interpret the rules well enough to solve the dispute. i) As a consequence of (h), for me it was not related to the social aspect of fair-play, except that abiding by the duty of (a) might be called fair play in a broader sense of that phrase. j) According to the rules, it is each player's duty to try winning the game. k) As a consequence of (j), I tried to win the game. l) Winning or trying to win a game can be a conflict with social aspects but, as a consequence of (j), each player has the duty to try to win the game nevertheless. I.e., social aspects should not corrupt a player so that he would possibly not win because others might be putting social pressure on him. (Similarly, a player may not lose intentionally to improve a friend's tournament winning chances on SOS.)

ThorAvaTahr: Thanks for your response. I understand your point of view and in that sense i believe you are correct. Naturally I disagree, but i see no need to deliberate on that.

Kirby: Hi, Robert. I think that your argument is interesting, and to some extent I agree with (j) - it is each player's duty to try winning the game. However, to consider this a concrete "rule" would seem to imply that the act of resigning is against the rules, provided that a legal sequence of play existed, such that the opponent could make a mistake and lose. In other words, following this logic, it also seems that one should also never resign a game if there is the slightest of chances that their opponent could make a mistake to turn the result of the game in one's favor - for if they resigned, they would be violating (j). But many people believe that it is not beneficial to continue to try to win in such situations. So, while it may be in accordance of the rules to make such a dispute in an effort to win the game, it may be beneficial toward sportsmanship and future growth as a player to admit defeat in such situations... Even if it means resigning, which is definitely against the spirit of (j), which you outlined above.

RobertJasiek: Of course, you can make my basic line of argument more complicated by also considering other aspects, of which resignation is one. Resignation is a right - not a duty. Every player has his own resignation style. Mine is roughly: "Don't resign when chances to win are still greater than 1:1,000,000. Don't resign shortly before or during counting. Don't resign if you can still learn something (like the exact count) from the rest of the game." Others have other styles, they may have them, quite like I may have mine. - Disputes have a tendency to be related to winning or losing the game. IMO, this is not a reason not to have any disputes at all. - Beneficial towards sportsmanship is first of all application of the valid rules - not their ignorance. - From not playing I learn less than from playing, so I do not get your future growth argument.

Kirby: I suppose that playing out a lost game doesn't take away from growth. It probably has little affect on it at all. In my personal case, I do not find playing on in a lost game, or trying to win by rules to be beneficial toward my learning of the game. I agree completely that resignation is a right, and not a duty. I am simply saying that I don't find it useful to try to win in such a manner, especially if the means by which winning could happen is based on rules-knowledge, rather than go knowledge.

That said, perhaps my preference is different than yours, since I do not care as much about go rules as you do. I rather enjoy to simply play the game.

Dieter: The main reason why you want to resign sometimes is to start another game, where chances are again 50/50 and not 1/999 999. There is probably more to learn from such a new game. In tournaments the number of games is limited, so you naturally cling to the ones you have. But if you cling to them to the point of being insupportable, then other players may decide not to attend a tournament anymore if they see your name on the subscription list. In Belgium we had such a case and eventually that person was expelled from tournaments organized by the federation. Perhaps his definition of being obliged to win was that it is every player's respnosibility to catch an opponent red handed while cheating.

There is much more in the world of Go than winning that single game. Of course, when rules are your area of attention, a rules dispute can be very interesting, an opportunity for growth, and worth while fighting. I do respect that. I also respect that some games will hinge on the outcome of a rules discussion, mostly 1 point games. Detecting in your opponent a misinterpretation of the rules and taking advantage of that, accords roughly to seeing that his clock is running while it is your turn and plunge into deep thoughts. It's not forbidden, but it doesn't harm to solve the mismatch before the game ends. Like: "Sir, your clock" or "Sir, you do know that after next pass these stones will live according to the rules?


RobertJasiek: Be sure you do not misunderstand the resign probability condition. 1 in a million is not that small. It means that my opponent of roughly equal strengths might overlook a fairly simple tesuji but won't overlook a simple atari.

Dieter: It literally means that if you play out the game a million times, one player will win once and the other will win the rest. That one time must be due to a truly exceptional condition, such as extreme fatigue after the 999 997th game, or boredom, or an astute usage of non-strategical devices. It does not represent the chance for an opponent to miss a tesuji.

RobertJasiek: 1 per million is defensive. It ensures to give the opponent every chance to overlook a tesuji (1 per thousand). Beyond that, probabilities drop fast and the million is reached quickly.

RobertJasiek: 1 in a googol would be different: like some little children do against me when testing each not pass-alive string until they do not have any remaining legal play. Tesuji tests etc. are pretty efficient though. They work in maybe every 100th real world game and more frequently in faster online games. In KGS fast games, I throw away maybe 40% of my strategically won games as Black when the opponent tries cheap strategic tricks like, e.g., moyo aji testing that I would defend without much problem in real world games because of the sufficient thinking time there. I do not complain and I do the same as White. It just shows that early resignation is stupid.

Dieter: I agree that early resigning is stupid, especially in fast games. Fast games are designed to increase the rate of mistake, so that after having suffered a loss due to a mistake, you can expect a comeback due to an opponent mistake.

RobertJasiek: Many games are won because of opposing mistakes. - Sentences like those you suggest I consider as giving advice to the opponent during the game, which contradicts the game aim.

Dieter: I do not consider constant vigilance over the clock or expert rules knowledge to be part of strategic skill. Neither aspects of tournaments are what Go is really about. They facilitate play, nothing more. So, when my opponent clearly forgot to push the clock, or clearly mistakes the ruleset in vigor, pointing it out is a matter of courtesy. Pointing out a tesuji would be belittling and disrespecting, because such techniques are what the game is about. You can debate the exact border: some people will point out atari or other things that are obvious, because they think the game is not about that. When my opponent retakes a ko immediately, he makes a forbidden move and in many tournament rules could lose the game. I could not possibly take a win that way, but rather would point out "Sir, you have retaken the ko"

RobertJasiek: I would feel disturbed if reminded to press the clock. But then I hardly ever forget it. (I can't even recall to have forgotten it once.) It's because I recall it being a duty.

RobertJasiek: A player is responsible for his own plays, passes, and clock button pressings.

Dieter: Suppose the tournament rules forbid smoking, because it disturbs the game. Would you first kindly ask your opponent to put out his cigarette, or would you walk up to the referee immediately to clinch the game?

RobertJasiek: It depends on other circumstances, too. Either might occur. E.g., if the opponent would lead the smoke directly on me, I would probably call the referee immediately. In practice it is not a problem though. In Europe, players do respect prohibited smoking at tournaments.

Dieter: Suppose the tournament rules require you to hold stones in the traditional fashion, would you agree losing a game because you forgot once? The potential for winning a game by a skill other than playing well is endless.

RobertJasiek: Assuming it has been announced and explained well what traditional fashion of holding a stone is, if I entered such a tournament, I would accept immediate loss. But I am not a fan of traditions; I might well not participate because of such a rule. RobertJasiek: In the meantime Dieter withdrew his discussion here while I have already been busy answering it. So I am afraid you need to withdraw again or make a sort of WME of this part.

isd It's like you are on KGS and playing by new zealand rules. Your opponent passes, you fill a dame, the sequence continues, pass, dame, pass, dame, pass, dame, pass, dame, pass, dame , pass, dame, pass, dame, pass, dame, pass, dame, pass, pass. The opponent loses by 1 point and cannot understand it. My observation is that Robert sees nothing wrong with winning like this.

RobertJasiek: Of course, it is not like KGS dame. That is very easy to understand on the rules level. - Some opponents indeed do not understand what is going on. They are becoming scarce though. Maybe every 100th opponent now. - Among them some (ca. 35%) don't like being given advice at the beginning of the game like "NZ rules mean..."; they consider such insulting. So it creates less irritation not to inform them (unless they ask by themselves). - It is not exactly correct that I see nothing wrong with it but my reservations are hardly related to application of the rules or the opponent's duty to know the rules. Rather what is wrong on KGS is the server scoring bugs when dame remain unfilled, especially under KGS-Japanese Rules. This makes it particularly strange to fill all the dame while an opponent passes to almost double the time needed for filling the dame.

For an orderly discussion, let us start with the facts, assumptions, and contested assumptions.


  • The rules of play that applied to this game were the rules of play contained in the Ing 1991 Rules booklet, i.e., Chapter 1, Articles 1 to 4.
  • The tournament rules were the EGF Tournament Rules of August 1997, the Fujitsu GP Guidelines of August 1997, the Fujitsu GP Regulations of August 1997 and a context of verbal, "precedental" rules valid at the time of the dispute.
  • Players are assumed to know the rules of the game, however intricate they are.


These are not facts but can be assumed (move them to contested if you contest them)

  • The Ing 1991 Rules are in their printed booklet.
  • The ing rules that to this game can be found [ext] here and [ext] here (Add links to other pages if you disagree with this link, but links to pages on [ext] Jasiek's rules webpage, how ever good they are, are deemed partizan and are therefore contested.) (It is allowed to link to pages that are linked to from one of Jasiek's webpages.)

Contested assumptions

  • Ing rules on Jasieks website are here (still to add) [RobertJasiek: Note that at the time of the dispute the Simplified Ing Rules did not exist yet. Which Ing rules on my webpage do you mean?]
  • It is unclear whether the rest of the Ing 1991 Rules booklet served as valid context information for interpretation of the rules.
  • "Csaba was either aware or unaware about the intricate rules on dead stones." (this is a tautology not an assumption) maybe better: "Csaba was probably unaware about the intricate rules on dead stones."
  • At the end of the game Jasieks (I think playing Black as i found at the EGF database? There were capturable black stones that were surrounded by uncapturable White stones. (not living in seki). [RobertJasiek: If you want to make assumptions, then be clear to define the used terms.] [willemien: feel free to update, it is more or less a more technical restating of "Robert was estimated to be about 30 points behind." and in Blacks territory there were no white stones present] [RobertJasiek: You want to express something here, so you must also provide a good wording. I merely point out where your wording is so unclear that it should not serve as an assumption. The word Jasieks appears to have no meaning in your text, the words capturable and uncapturable are undefined.]
  • tapir: And as of yet no go player publically endorsed Robert's point of view. RobertJasiek: Depends on which public you mean and how far-fetching you want support to be. Do you recall any public support for Csaba's 3rd pass in succession without having made any attempt to seek agreement about removals? Can you denote any public support that unequivocally derives the arbitration bodys' decisions from the rules texts? It is possible to state weak support for either player's actions. So stating such for only one player is partial.
  • tapir: I've not seen public support for Csaba 20th move and 1st pass in the game either, however this is irrelevant as you made a claim and an unsuccessful appeal against a ruling in favour of Csaba. 1) So tell, did anybody but yourself [ext] object to this ruling? 2) Did anybody ever say to you even privately something like actually it was your legitimate win, 2A) how unfair that they have taken it from you. 3) No? 4) Guess why? RobertJasiek: Answers: (1) What do you mean by "object"? Do you mean a) officially lodge a protest to some of the officials while the dispute was being active, b) agree with my interpretation of the Ing 1991 Rules, c) agree that my interpretation is a possible but not necessarily the only interpretation, d) something else? (2) Publically: yes. Privately: most discussion was public. (2A) This addition of "unfair" is yours. (3) see (2). (4) There can be different motivations.

Comments on Facts

  • Unfortunedly this has no link to the egf website where they are spelled out.


Dispute Mero Jasiek / Discussion last edited by RobertJasiek on February 27, 2010 - 17:53
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