For most people, being an arbiter is a great way to promote chess in their communities. Most of the times, arbiters are coaches who simply want to contribute to the organization of tournaments. Learning the Laws of Chess is not something trivial however. The Laws of Chess change every 4 years and it requires a lot of study, analysis and experience to interpret them correctly.
The best way to keep up with the changes in the Laws of Chess and with the recommended interpretations, is to visit the official website of the Fide Arbiters Commission. Fide publishes the Handbook that includes the Laws of Chess, the Arbiters Manual and the Arbiters Magazine that includes difficult arbiting cases from around the world. All these are available for free at the Fide Arbiters Commission website.
My passion for arbiting led me to create a public group on Facebook called “Fide Arbiters Study Group“. Originally, I created the group to help people learn how the laws of chess are currently applied. The group has grown beyond that though, and it now unites arbiters around the world, who discuss all kinds of arbiting scenarios and cases. We have more than 1200 members there, as of January 2018.
How to become an arbiter
There are various levels to becoming a chess arbiter and also various titles that the world chess federation grants, upon fulfilling certain criteria. First of all, one has to become an arbiter at a national level. This usually involves attending a local seminar and passing successfully the exam.
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 a high enough grade that reflects the higher category, and have specific tournament 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 (pairing 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.