Chess Club » Tournament Play: Rules of Behavior

Tournament Play: Rules of Behavior

Tournament Play - Some Basic Rules of Behavior

Generally, we want to represent our School in the best manner possible. That includes not only demonstrating “every-day” good manners, but also demonstrating good chess manners. We also want to make sure we hold our opponents to similar rules of behavior.

Some basics for you to follow;

GETTING HELP FROM JUDGES: During a tournament, if you have any questions or difficulties, simply raise your hand and quietly look around for a tournament judge to see you. Once the judge comes over to you, ask your question or explain your issue. The judge will guide you through the problem by asking some questions of you and your opponent. The judge WILL NOT make all of the decisions for you so knowing for yourself the rules of chess and what is and is not legal is very important. Watch your opponent very carefully and DO NOT accept everything he or she tells you as necessarily correct. If they say checkmate … MAKE SURE you are checkmated and cannot escape. Don't just take their word for it. Examine the board and be sure you agree that you are checkmated before giving up a game. Focus … concentrate and watch the game very carefully to make sure you and your opponent follow the rules. If you think your opponent has done something illegal, ask a tournament judge for a ruling.

POLITE AND QUIET TALK: Generally, as little talk as possible is a good idea for your chess play. Since there are usually hundreds of people at a chess tournament, you can imagine how noisy it would be if everyone were talking in their normal voice. So a quiet, polite voice is needed. Before your match, while you are sitting with your opponent, you might have some friendly conversation at a VERY LOW level. It is actually best and most polite to sit quietly until your match begins and concentrate on all of your chess thinking! During your match, only talk when pointing out an error or rules violation. Otherwise, remain quiet and concentrate on your game. Also, you do not need to say “check” each time you check your opponent. It is considered polite to assume that he or she knows they are in check. If they do not see that they are in check and they try to make a move that does not remove them from check, it is OK for you to point out that their move is illegal and to remind them that they are in check. When your match is over and others are playing, the quiet rule is even more important. Please be polite and respectful to the concentration of others who are still playing their best while you are finished and reserve your conversation and noises until you are in an area of the tournament away from the players.

SAY “NO THANK-YOU” TO A DRAW: A trick that many experienced players might try on newcomers to chess tournament play is to offer a draw. If ANYONE reaches their hand out to you and asks if you want a draw … SAY NO!!! Generally, in your early play, it is best to play through to the end of a game to learn from your mistakes, rather than accept a draw. This will also keep you from mistakenly accepting a draw from an opponent trying to trick you! JUST SAY NO THANK-YOU TO A DRAW!!!

TOUCH MOVE: You should examine the chessboard with your EYES ONLY before deciding on your moves. Once you have touched one of your pieces … YOU MUST MOVE THAT PIECE! You cannot touch, pick-up and play with a piece and then put it back and move another, unless there is no legal move for that piece. This can be a very difficult part of learning tournament play because at home or with your friends, this rule may not be used. Start following this rule in your friendly games, so you develop it as a good chess habit. Also, if you move one of your pieces to capture and touch the opponent's piece YOU MUST MAKE THAT SAME MOVE AND CAPTURE. You cannot move the piece to another square. So don't touch a piece until you are sure that you want to make the move … EVEN IF YOU REALIZE IT IS A BAD MOVE AFTER YOU TOUCH IT. It is too late and you must obey the touch move rules. Remember to USE THE RULE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE too! If your opponent touches a piece and then tries to move another … politely say “Touch Rules … you must move the first piece you touched.”

“I ADJUST” or “J'ADOUBE:” The only time you may touch a piece (or pieces) that you are not moving is to adjust or align them. If one or more pieces are not lying squarely centered or are not properly on the board, you may adjust them. To do so, it MUST be your turn and you MUST ANNOUNCE that you are not making a move but are adjusting your pieces by saying “I Adjust” … or the French phrase “J'Adoube” just before you adjust them.

COACHES, MOMS, DADS and OTHERS: It is not legal or polite to have any interaction, signs, hand-gestures or conversations with other people while you are playing. During your games, please avoid looking around and making contact or worse talking with anyone! You are supposed to concentrate on your game play, observe quiet rules and focus only on yourself and your opponent. Tournament judges are the only other people you should speak with while you are playing and then only to ask a question or get help with a problem.

GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP … WIN, LOSE or DRAW: It is critical that no matter how your games end, you demonstrate good sportsmanship. No one enjoys losing. Losing can only be made worse if you also act poorly or angry after a loss. While you may be a little embarrassed, you should see every loss as an opportunity to learn from the mistakes you made. (This is why chess notation is so important, if you document your games, you can always review them and see where you went wrong.) Always end a game in which you lost by shaking the hand of your opponent, congratulating him on a “good game” and keeping a positive attitude about your chances in your next game. Good sportsmanship does not only apply to losing. When you win a game, try not to make your opponent feel too badly about his or her loss. Graciously shake their hand and tell them that they played a “good game” too. Some players demonstrating the best in sportsmanship will offer each other some advice on their play, as part of a nice way to end their game together. Be careful to observe the quiet talking rules if you do this.

To learn more about the official rules governing U.S. Chess Federation Tournaments you may order the USCF's OFFICIAL RULES OF CHESS 5th Edition (2003). To order, call 1-800-388-5464 and ask for BR940CP. Members price is $14.95.