Basic Tournament Rules

For the benefit of both parents and students that are participating in their first chess tournament today, Yes For Chess has put together this informative sheet that explains some common misconceptions about tournament play, and also clarifies some of the rules that pertain especially to chess tournaments. Parents are advised to review these guidelines with their students so that there are no misunderstandings during the tournament.

  1. Touch-Move – The touch-move rule will be in effect for all games, meaning:
    • If you touch a piece, you have to move it.
    • If you let go of a piece, you have to leave it there.
    • If you touch an opponent's piece and can take it, you must take it.
  2. Chess Clocks – For many students, this will be their first experience playing with a chess clock. A chess clock is really two separate clocks that run independent of each other. The clock has two buttons, one for each player to press once they have completed their move. When the button on one side is pressed down, that player's clock stops and the other player's clock starts. The purpose is to keep track of the total time each player takes for his/her own moves. The players may take more or less time over any individual move, but if one player exceeds their total available time, that player has lost the game. An important rule is that if a player runs out of time, their opponent must point it out, and if it goes unnoticed, play continues. In order to stop both clocks in the case of confusion or a disagreement, simply control both buttons at the same time until they are level with each other.
  3. Third Party Interference - No third party can interfere in a tournament chess game in any way. Even body language can be informative and thus, illegal. A waiting area will be provided where parents can gather and even play some chess of their own while their students are playing. The only exception to this rule is in the case of the Tournament Directors (TD's), who can tell the players the definition of checkmate, stalemate, other types of draws, or pertinent rules. Therefore, it is important for every student to heed this advice:
    If you don't understand what is happening at your chess board, or you and your opponent disagree on a rule, immediately stop both clocks and raise your hand. A Tournament Director will come to help resolve the issue.
  4. Talking & Distractions - Chess is a quiet game! Therefore, with a few exceptions, talking during a tournament game is not allowed. There are also numerous ways that a player can distract or bother his/her opponent during a game: making noises, moving the table or pieces, making distracting motions, playing with the chess clock, obscuring all or part of the board, etc. All distracting behaviors are forbidden. The times that it is okay to talk are:
    • When stopping the clock to get a Tournament Director.
    • To indicate a rules violation, such as an illegal move.
  5. Have Fun – The most important rule of all is to remember that chess is a game, and like all other games, it should be fun! Playing in a chess tournament is a unique experience that everyone should be able to look back on fondly, regardless of the outcome. This tournament is a chance for our Yes For Chess students (and parents!) to make new friends, play chess with people they've never played before, and enjoy a Saturday afternoon. Let's all work together to make the experience as fun and enriching as possible for everyone involved!