We also have a Chess Tournament Introduction that you may want to read.

Before start of the game

To find out where you are supposed to be, look at the yellow pairing sheets. The number at the FAR LEFT-HAND SIDE is the number of the board where you will play. (Do NOT confuse this with the number next to your name, on the left - This is your player number on the wallchart, NOT the board number.)

Go to your board and begin your game. MAKE SURE you are playing the right person, ASK YOUR OPPONENT HIS/HER NAME, and that you know who is playing White and who is Black.

After end of the game

As soon as your game is over, WRITE THE RESULT OF THE GAME ON THE YELLOW PAIRING SHEET and leave the tournament room - go to the skittles area outside to analyze your game. Do NOT remain in the tournament room and disturb others who are still playing.

Write a "1" after the name of the person who won and a "0" after the person's name who lost. If your opponent has not shown up after 30 MINUTES (after 60 MINUTES in the Varsity sections); write "1F" after your name, write "0F" after your opponent's name. Don't forget to write the "F"(forfeit), ONLY if your opponent DOES NOT SHOW UP after 30 minutes (60 minutes, in the Varsity sections).

Do NOT change anything written on the yellow sheet WITHOUT THE DIRECTOR'S PERMISSION, and DO NOT write on any other charts EXCEPT for the yellow pairing sheets!

EVEN IF YOU LOSE, YOU MUST STILL POST YOUR RESULT ON THE YELLOW PAIRING SHEET! Don't trust your opponent to mark your result - if he forgets, you both may be penalized!! If you do not post the result on the yellow sheet, you may find that you are NOT paired for the next round, and you may cause YOUR ENTIRE TEAM TO LOSE TIEBREAK POINTS!

Clock and time settings

Each player has 30 minutes plus 5 seconds delay (60 minutes plus 10 seconds delay in the Varsity sections) for the entire game. Both players should set their clocks at 5:30 (5:00 for the Varsity sections), so the game ends by 6:00.

Players are responsible for supplying their own clocks. If you don't have a clock, borrow one from another player or start without one. Later, when other games finish, borrow one of their clocks, and subtract from each player's clock half of the elapsed time since the round started. Black has the choice of equipment if he has standard equipment - if not, the Director may rule which equipment is more standard. If Black is late and White has already set up, then White has this choice.

Exception: Any player who arrives on time may use his time delay clock.

Claim of win on time

A player can claim a win on time when his opponent's flag falls. To claim a win on time, STOP BOTH CLOCKS (your flag must still be up). If your opponent does not concede, get the Tournament Director.

DO NOT DESTROY THE POSITION WITHOUT CHECKING WITH THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR - you may destroy your claim as well! You must also have enough pieces left on the board to be able to force checkmate (mating material) to claim a win on time. You cannot win on time with a lone Bishop, a lone Knight or two lone Knights (no Pawns).

Touched piece

If you touch a piece, you must move it, if possible (unless you first warn your opponent that you are adjusting). If you touch one of your opponent's pieces, you must take it, if possible. THINK BEFORE YOU MOVE!

Illegal move

If a player makes an illegal move and presses his clock, two (2) minutes shall be added to his opponent's clock, if the opponent has not already made another move. The player must also move the piece that he originally touched, if possible.

If an illegal move was made during the game, the position may be put back to what it was before the illegal move, providing that it can be shown that less than ten moves have been made since the illegal move occurred. (Exception: If it's pointed out during the game that any pieces were not on their correct squares at the start of the game, those pieces may be placed on their correct starting squares, if none of the pieces in question has already moved).


BOTH PLAYERS ARE SUPPOSED TO WRITE DOWN THE MOVES OF THE GAME! For every move, write down your move and your opponent's move on your scoresheet, as soon as the move is made. All experienced tournament players here are required to keep score of the game, move by move, until either player has less than five (5) minutes left on his clock. Everyone who can keep score of the game should do so. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU GET INTO THE HABIT OF WRITING DOWN THE MOVES. When you play in adult tournaments, you are required to keep score, and this is good practice!

Brand new players may be excused from scorekeeping, but A PLAYER WHO IS NOT WRITING DOWN THE MOVES OF THE GAME WILL HAVE 5 MINUTES SUBTRACTED FROM HIS CLOCK (10 MINUTES IN VARSITY SECTIONS), if his opponent is keeping score of the game. This is not a choice the player can make, only the TD may decide that the player is too inexperienced to write down the moves.

EXCEPTION: In games where either player is in grade 1 or below, scorekeeping is not required, with no penalty. All claims of opponents not keeping score must be made before the game ends or before either player has less than 5 minutes.

Insufficient losing chances

If a player in time trouble (under 2 minutes left) has reached a position with no reasonable losing chances, and his opponent is playing on merely to win on time, the player may stop the clocks, WHEN IT IS HIS TURN TO MOVE, to get the Tournament Director. This is also considered a draw offer! If the player has no reasonable chances to lose the position, the Director may declare the game a draw. If it can be shown that the opponent does have reasonable chances to win, the game shall continue, and the player will lose up to one minute on his clock -- possibly causing a loss by time forfeit, as a penalty for making an invalid draw claim (in close calls, the Director may rule no time penalty, and continue the game using a special "time-delay" clock). The opponent now has the opportunity to agree to the implied draw offer before his next move.

NOTE: A position with "no losing chances" for one side is much more than just a "book" draw! The standard which the U.S. Chess Federation uses is that the position must be so clear that "a Class C player would reasonably be expected to hold a Master to at least a draw, if both players have ample time." Some examples of valid claims of "no losing chances" are: Queen & King vs. Queen & King; King & Rook vs. King & Rook (unless a forced mate can be shown); King & Pawn vs. King, if the defender has the Opposition; King & Bishop vs. King & Bishop of the opposite color (with the Pawns blockaded); etc. However, most positions, such as King, Rook & three Pawns vs. King, Rook & three Pawns, even though they may be drawn with correct play, would probably not be so clearly drawn as to offer one side "no losing chances."

When to make a claim

To claim a draw if the exact same position is about to happen the third time, by the Fifty Move Rule, etc., it may be necessary to have evidence (an impartial witness or a scoresheet). If you have already stopped keeping score, you may resume writing down the moves to make a future claim.


TO MAKE A CLAIM OF ANY KIND, or in the event of a dispute or a problem, EITHER PLAYER MAY STOP THE CLOCKS and get the Tournament Director. DO NOT MAKE ANY KIND OF CLAIM WITHOUT FIRST STOPPING THE CLOCKS - ON YOUR MOVE. If you stop the clocks without good reason you may receive a time penalty. If you raise your hand and wait for the Director, he or she may not see you right away, and you may waste time on your clock!

If your opponent does something incorrect during the game - tell the Tournament Director about it immediately! IT'S USUALLY TOO LATE TO COMPLAIN ABOUT SOMETHING YOUR OPPONENT WAS OR WASN'T DOING AFTER THE GAME IS OVER.

Assignment of color

If both players are due the same color, the players are assigned the color opposite to the color they had in the most recent round in which their colors differed. For players with identical color histories, the player with more points gets the color he is due. If both have the same score, the higher rated player gets his due color - NO last round tosses.

Players from the same school will not be paired against each other if it is possible to make other, legal pairings. After Round 2, it may be necessary to pair players who have low (minus) scores with players who have different scores, in order to avoid pairing players from the same school. Score has priority over color in determining pairings, and color total (equalization) has priority over color alternation. We try to avoid extra blacks, or three straight, but it's not always possible if many players are all due the same color.

Tie breaks

The following system will be used to break ties: If two or more players in any section win all their games, they will have a special speed playoff to decide the actual winner. Otherwise, Modified Median, Solkoff, Cumulative, then Cumulative Tiebreakers of the Cumulative Tiebreakers (CTBCTB) will be used. Cumulative tiebreaks are used to break ties among teams, starting with the last and going back through the earlier rounds.

NOTE: If computers are NOT available to calculate tiebreaks, Modified Median, then Solkoff Tiebreaks will be used to break ties for players with 4.5 points (5.5 points in the Varsity sections). Cumulative, then CTBCTB Tiebreaks, will be used for all other ties.

Playing area



Interfering with games


Additional rules

The Tournament Directors may draw upon a wide range of options and powers, based upon similar or identical situations in previous tournaments, to solve disputes.

CHESS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN! It's not the end of the world if you lose a game! EVERYBODY LOSES GAMES! It's more important to get experience playing in tournaments and in exercising your mind than it is to worry about losing a game. If you should lose, play over your game and see where you could have improved (use your scoresheet to play over the game), and try harder next time! THERE WILL BE OTHER GAMES!

(Additional Tournament Rules Appear in the USCF Rule Book, 6th Edition)