Being a chess arbiter is a fascinating experience.
First of all, learning and applying the Laws of Chess is a complex and intriguing procedure. The Laws are complex enough to make them challenging to master, but at the same time easily and quickly learned, due to their small volume.
Enforcing the Laws is an area where the personality of the arbiter plays an important role. One learns to be direct and confident enough in enforcing decisions, but considerate enough so as not to cause further disputes. It is a delicate task to prevent bigger violations from occurring and smaller violations from escalating, by using a professional and yet calming attitude. Let us not forget that chess is an antagonistic game and it is difficult, especially for amateurs, to remain calm when they believe an injustice has taken place.
The arbiter has to solve a dispute as quickly and as silently as possible, so as not to disturb the other players, and at the same time he/she has to be 100% certain that the dispute is solved correctly. There are no margins for errors or for displaying uncertainty. Experience is the key here.
Being a chess arbiter also, gives the opportunity to chess enthusiasts to become more involved with chess, without necessarily being professional players. Unless one aims at becoming a top level arbiter where it is necessary to have the skills of a professional player.
How to become an arbiter
Generally you have to attend a seminar, pass the test and then acquire experience in specific types of tournaments.
In many countries, the local chess federations have their own national arbiters. To become a national arbiter, you need to attend a seminar, pass the test and then be an arbiter in specific types of tournaments. In Greece, there are 3 categories of arbiters C, B, A and all arbiters start at C. To be promoted to a higher category, one needs to have passed the test with enough points that reflect the higher category, and have specific experience. Only one promotion per year may occur, so it takes at least 3 years to reach category A. Only then, can one apply for the arbiter titles of Fide. There may also be other requirements like passing tests regarding Swiss System and more.
Fide Arbiter (FA) and International Arbiter (IA)
The first Fide title is the FA (Fide Arbiter). One needs to attend the related seminar and pass a difficult test. Also, experience in specific types of tournaments is required. Plus, if your federation has national arbiters’ categories, you need to have the highest one. The second title is that of the IA (International Arbiter) and it is the absolute mark of a very experienced arbiter. Here are the Fide regulations regarding the titles of arbiters.
Read also: Understanding the Laws