Tournament Rules – Basics

Rules:  We will be using the USCF Official Rules of Chess, 6th edition, along with the annual updates as of January 1, 2018.  This document only highlights some of the more common rules basic to tournament play.  Ultimately, players should familiarize themselves with all the USCF Official Rules of Chess.

Disputes:  The players of a game are the first level of referees in a chess match.  If the players cannot agree on a question about their game, the person wanting clarification should pause the clock, raise their hand, and wait for a Tournament Director to come assist their dispute.

Clock Use:  Clocks should be used in all games, if available.  Black has the choice of what clock to use and what side of the board to place it.  There is a priority on what kind of clocks to use.  Digital clocks with a delay setting have the highest priority, followed by a digital clock without delay, and finally an analog clock.  If White has a clock that has a higher priority than Black’s clock, White’s clock will be used, with Black having choice of which side to place it.  If both players have the same priority clock, Black gets first choice.  Always push the clock with the same hand you move the piece with on that turn.

If a game does not have a clock, and the time of the round to be over approaching, a Tournament Director will place an available clock on the game with equal time for both players (aiming for 5 minutes per player, with 5 second delay).  It does not matter how much time either opponent has used prior to the time a clock is placed on their game, the clock will be split with equal time.

If a player runs out of time, only the players of the game can call the flag down. No other players should interfere in a game.  A tournament director has discretion to intervene according to the USCF rules if neither player is aware of the time situation.

Notation:  All players should notate/record their games on a notation sheet, which will be available to players.  This is important to resolve disputes should one arise in the game, as documentation of the game played.  There are certain rules that require an accurate scoresheet, such as draw by repetition, 50-move rule, illegal positions, etc.  Notation can be simple as naming the square a piece moves from to where it moves to, like e2-e4 or g1-f3, or using the algebraic notation.  In tournaments, players who choose not to notate typically have 5 minutes removed from their time, however this tournament will not deduct time today.  Another benefit of notating your game is the chance to replay it later to review how you played with a coach or another player.

Touch Move:  USCF Tournament Rules follow the “Touch Move” rule.  If you touch a piece that can legally be moved, you must move it.  When castling, touch the king first, moving two squares in the direction of your rook.  This clearly indicates castling.  If you touch an opponent’s piece, you must capture it with a piece you touched, or by any legal move if you have mot touched one of your pieces.  If no legal move is available, then you are free to move any other piece.  When promoting, push your pawn to the promotion square, then replace it with the piece you choose, then push your clock.  Once a piece touches the promotion square from off the board, it must promote to that piece.

Ending the game:  When you and your opponent agree that the game has ended, shake hands, and fill out the result paper.  Raise your hand and wait for a Tournament Director to come and confirm that both players agree to the result, then you will be asked to setup the pieces.  Without waiting for a Tournament Director to verify your result, the game will be scored as a double forfeit.