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General Tournament Rules

These rules apply to all tournaments. However, there may be additional rules for each specific tournament.

Rules for Players

  • Do not talk during the game except to say "check," "checkmate," offer a draw, resign, or to get help from the Tournament Director.
    • It's good sportsmanship to call "check" when you put your opponent in check, you are encouraged to do so.
  •  Before you move, examine the position carefully. “Touch Move” rules are in effect, meaning if you touch a piece and it has a legal move you can make, you must move that piece.
  • If you think you are hopelessly lost, you may end the game by saying, "I resign."
  • If there are any disagreements about your game, if your opponent makes a move you don't understand, or if you forget some of the rules, get help from the Tournament Director immediately. If you wait until somebody moves, you lose most of your rights to make a claim.
  • When you finish a game, report the score of that game to the Tournament Director's designated scorekeeper.

Rules for Spectators

  • Spectators must be passive and silent while any game is in process.
  • Spectators should stand or sit well away from the players and make no gestures of recognition; even a nod of the head could be misconstrued as approving a position or a move.
  • If you need to communicate with a player who is playing, talk to the Tournament Director (or an assistant).
  • The Tournament Director may do whatever is needed to make each chess game a fair contest, including banning spectators from the playing area.

Rules of Chess

You must know the basic rules of chess.

You can find copies of the rules with the instructions that come with chess sets, in books on chess, on the Internet, or in encyclopedias. The rules that cause the most trouble for new tournament players are touch move, castling, en passant capture, pawn promotion, and drawn games.

Recording Moves

  • In all Divisions, players may record moves.
    • Even if only one of the players is keeping a record of the moves, the move record will be used to help settle disputes about the position, drawn games, and what moves were made.
    • If one player is recording moves and the other player is not, the non-recording player cannot use his opponent's move record to make a repetition of position draw claim or a 50-move draw claim.
  • If the Tournament Director places a clock on a game in progress, the players are not required to continue recording their moves.

Chess Clocks

  • Chess clocks will not be used in the K-5th grade and 6-8th grade Division games except:
    • If clocks are not used from the start of the game, a clock will be put on games near the end of the official time control (typically, with 20 minutes remaining and clocks set at 10 for each player).
    • A tournament director (TD) may place a clock on any game at any point of the game to help ensure fair and equitable use of time.
    • A clock may be used from the start of a game if requested by one player and both players agree. A clock must be available to use for this scenario.(Time control will be game in 30.)
  • In 9-12th grade Division games, clocks may be used in games, if approved or required by the Tournament Director (Time control will be game in 30.)

* Game in 30 means the clock is set for 1 hour total and each player receives 30 minutes to play.


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