Tournament Games

Night-Before Tournament Rule Reminders

Most tournaments are run by USCF rules. The rule book is hundreds of pages long, but some rules can’t be emphasized enough.

  • Raise your hand:

    If you are confused by anything your opponent says or does, raise your hand right away and ask a judge for help. The judge will not help you play the game but will clear up confusion, settle disputes, or clarify rules. After the game is over, it’s over — too late for help from the TD.

  • No kibbitzing:

    Parents, friends, and spectators are required to keep silent. Sometimes it is difficult. A player’s flag has fallen? Someone makes an illegal move? Not a word! It is 100% up to the players themselves to make the call. Severe penalties may be imposed for giving or receiving advice. You don’t like your child’s move? No grimaces, no slumping! You like your friend’s position? No “thumbs up,” no grins! In most tournaments, spectators are welcome but they will be asked to leave immediately if they communicate with players in any way, including not just words, but facial expressions, hand signals, body language, or yogurt flavors!

  • No Chat:

    You may not comment on any game in progress — including your own! Generally, you should hear only, “check,” “checkmate,” “I adjust,” “that move’s not legal,” “I offer you a draw,” “let’s ask the judge,” and so forth.

  • Players own the outcome of their games:

    Once both players agree to checkmate, stalemate, or a draw, that is the result of the game. No changes are allowed after the result is agreed to. If your opponent says it’s checkmate, but you are not sure, raise your hand! Spectators cannot interfere. A TD will not interfere either unless asked by one of the players.

  • Touch Move:

    If you touch a piece and there is a legal move available for that piece, you must move it; once you remove your hand from the piece, the move is complete. If you touch one of your opponent’s pieces in the process of moving, and it is a legal capture, you must take the piece. If the other player violates this rule, it is ok to calmly and respectfully say something like, “You touched your bishop, first.” Or “You have to take that pawn.”

  • Castling:

    To make your intent clear when castling, move your king two spaces in the desired direction, then move your rook. Remember that you cannot castle out of check or through check, and you can’t castle after you’ve previously moved your king.

  • Adjusting pieces:

    If you need to adjust pieces that are awry, announce clearly, “I adjust” before you touch the piece.