[updated: 2021-06-12]
Sometimes it’s not clear how we should apply the rules, and we need to appeal for help to some higher-level principle. I think these principles are generally recognized.

When a player has performed an illegal action, the motive or cause for the illegal action is irrelevant when considering what to do next. Often it is impossible to tell intentional cheating from an unintentional accident. But we don’t need to be able to do that. Players are responsible for playing carefully as well as ethically. Carelessness and sloppiness (manifested as ignorance of the rules, clumsiness, mistakes, or accidents) are as unacceptable as deliberate cheating.

The No Unfair Advantage Rule — An offending team may not benefit from its illegal action. If the offending team performs an illegal action (deliberately or not) and thereby gains some advantage, that advantage is unfair because it was gained illegally. That advantage should be removed by whatever corrective action we decide to take.

The Advantage Rule. The Advantage Rule is a corollary to The No Unfair Advantage rule. When an illegal action has been performed, then the offended team may choose how to proceed. Typical choices for the offended team include: (a) undoing the effects of the illegal action, and then continuing play, or (b) leaving the effects of the illegal action unchanged and continuing play.

Reasoning by analogy is permitted. This is especially true and necessary when there doesn’t seem to be ANY rule that covers a particular situation.


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